Back to School Organization: Mid-Term Reboot Series

Before the school year started I knew I was going to need a system to control all the paperwork that my three elementary school kids would bring home. So I bought some pretty magazine holders and set them on the kitchen counter with a pretty flower pot full of pencils and pens and a calendar propped up against the wall. I had seen it on Pinterest, so I KNEW it would work. I would place their artwork into their individual files and sort it at the end of the week…Here’s how it went:

Looks, nice...right?

Looks, nice…right?

When I got the kids’ school schedules, I wrote all the days off on the calendar. I used my prettiest handwriting and within about 30 minutes, I was done. It came in handy because I always knew when the kids had a day off or an early release. #nailedit

When the paperwork started rolling in, each kid had a magazine file that I put their papers into. It was mostly artwork at first. Then came the reading logs and math pages and homework calendars. With all of that stuffed into the magazine files, it started looking really messy and disorganized. I didn’t anticipate having so much stuff! The system was supposed to be easy…I place their papers in the files and at the end of the week I sort through them and …and… well, I guess I hadn’t thought about what was supposed to happen next…file them somewhere else? #pinterestfail

Eventually I was just grabbing the papers out of their folders and throwing them into whichever file looked like it had room. We didn’t log their reading minutes. We didn’t do their homework calendars until the night before they were due. And I never knew which artwork belonged to which kid. Plus – I didn’t know what to do with all of it at the end of the week so I ended up just stuffing it in drawers or bags or putting it in piles all over the place.

Have you been there? I thought so…click here to see some spectacular Pinterest Fails. You deserve the laugh.

Here’s where the story is leading us…(glad you stuck around!)

MORAL OF THE STORY: There is never any reason to assume that because you tried and failed at something – that you’re a failure. On the contrary, you are that much smarter for the experience and with an extra notch on your belt you’ve now earned the tools necessary to overcome adversity in the future!

“Success is most often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.”
― Coco Chanel, Believing in Ourselves: The Wisdom of Women

I’m reading a book right now <giveaway alert> that addresses the fact that clutter and sky-high piles of paper and the “organized chaos” around the house is an outward display of inward turmoil. Our disorganization is a great way for us to bury our troubles, literally and figuratively. This epiphany lead me to a great discovery!

As my husband and I enjoyed our daily afternoon walk, we began discussing our new “Time Budget”. (I’ll write about that later.) We were planning fun things to do with our children and complaining that, often times, when we want to do something nice with the boys, they are acting like complete lunatics and we don’t want to reward that kind behavior…anyway <insert long story> it seems that both my husband and I want to love our boys well – but feel completely defeated when they don’t want to receive our love. AHA! AHA!

  1. First revelation: I’m not alone in my frustration with my boys! What a relief!
  2. My husband and I feel hurt when the kids won’t accept our love, on our terms…which means we need to love our boys on their terms. Whew! Easy-peasy.

What does this have to do with organization and why did you have to read this far to get to the juicy stuff?!?!?

It’s time for a REBOOT. We’ve tried something – had a good go of it…but it didn’t work. It’s time to reassess what works, get rid of what doesn’t work, and fix the system to make it better.

I’m keeping the files, because at least they divide the kid’s papers up nicely. I’m keeping the calendar – but I’m going digital. The large desk calendar – although it looked pretty – just got in the way and covered my pretty back-splash.

I’m asking for my husband’s help! Yes! He and I are in this together and we agreed that we need to work more as a team than as a tag-team.

Last – I’m implementing a genius little system that I found over at Jen uses a system to corral the kids papers during the week then she keeps the things she just can’t live without and pops them into this handy little file box. Apparently this is what I was supposed to do at the end of each week. Guess I missed that step…

Yearly folders to collect the really precious works. Photo courtesy of

I’ll also be using this happy little idea to keep the kid’s artwork on display – instead of in a file cabinet. I will, of course, keep a few of the originals for them to have when they get older…but this way we get to enjoy the artwork for years to come.

Scan, Shrink, Collage, Print. LOVE.

I hope you’ll join me in celebrating the small successes and revamping the not-so-good things that we’ve tried over the past year. Honestly, life is not about being perfect – it’s about being better – better today than you were yesterday, better this year than you were last year.

better than yourself

In the next post, I’ll share with you an easy way to track how well your new or revamped organizational system is going.