School Command Center

Filed under: Kids,Office,Uncategorized — Colleen at 11:08 pm on Tuesday, August 26, 2014

My kids headed back to school today.  In preparation for the back to school season, we recently transformed our sunroom into a “School Command Center”.   Since our sunroom has an outside exit, we started using it as a “mud room” last year and had the kids exit and enter the sunroom door to and from school.  This prevented the kids from dropping their school items throughout the house.   (Imagine 3 bookbags, 3 sets of shoes, 3 coats on a small living room floor!)    We saw a significant improvement last year, so this year we stepped it up to make our school supplies a little less visible.

First, we needed a place for the bookbags.  We decided to hide our bookbags by repurposing an old kitchen pantry into a “locker”.  Our backpack “locker” is pictured below.  Each child has a section and the lower portion houses our arts and crafts.

Next, we needed to hide the shoes.  With 4 kids, we were constantly tripping on shoes.  We had shoe racks last year, but they just didn’t look nice in the space.  So we solved that problem with a trip to Ikea.  We purchased the TRONES shoe cabinet (sold in sets of 3 for $39.99).  Each child now has their own cabinet for their frequently worn shoes.  Since we need to buy 2 sets of cabinets (for 6 separate bins in all) , we are using the 2 extra cabinets to house their sports shoes, having 2 kids to  a cabinet.

Here is the TRONES shoe storage system.  I love how it is low-profile and can be  installed behind the door.   The older kids have the higher bins.  I am really enjoying not looking at shoes anymore!

As shown below, the two “extra” shoe bins are being used to house the seasonal sports.  Right now they are storing basketball shoes, soccer shoes and chin guards, and ice skates!  How awesome is that?  Above the bins is a filing organizer I got from 31 Gifts.  Each child has a section for me to put any school papers they may need to reference (or that I find laying around the house).  The bottom file is devoted to general school papers, like the school transportation forms, the calendar, and the school directory.  A small bulletin board posts the kids’ weekly activity schedule, the kid’s weekly “specials’ in school, and (most importantly to them) the Hot Lunch calendar.

Here is a close up of our bulletin board:

And finally, what drive me the craziest with back to school is getting 3 kids ready.  It is so exhausting to ask each child if they are ready for school and if they have brushed their teeth and packed their lunch and whether they have library that day.  So instead of repeating myself everyday, I created “The Nagging Mom Morning Checklist”.  Posted on the exit door is every question I tend to ask them in the morning.  It is their job to read it each morning to make sure that they are ready.  I’m sure it will evolve as the year goes on!

I’m happy to report all well well this morning.  They were actually all ready about 20 minutes early.  And I didn’t have to nag once. :)

Traveling with kids: Trip Tickets

Filed under: Kids — Colleen at 1:14 pm on Thursday, July 11, 2013

We recently returned from a fantastic vacation that included over 2000 miles in the car with four children ages 3-11.  And yet I still describe the vacation as fantastic.

Amazingly, they never asked “Are we there yet?” and got along better than they usually do on a 2 hour drive to Philadelphia.

My secret? Trip Tickets.

Before we go on a long road trip, I make tickets for each child. I create boxes that list each state we will be traveling through and then create additional boxes that break the trip down to 100 mile increments. Every time we enter a new state or hit a 100 mile mark I announce, “Tickets! Tickets please!” and the kids pass their tickets forward for me to mark the progress. Because of the visual cue, they get a sense of how long we will be in the car and do not even ask when we will arrive.

For this trip I also had carnival tickets with me and handed them out throughout the trip as awards for good behavior.   Occasionally I would make announcements like “If you have 5 tickets at the next rest stop, you can get a dessert!”.   I love leverage.   It worked!

Sure, the trip wasn’t “perfect”.  The kid’s each had their moments.  They are kids.  But having the kids mentally  prepared for the long trip and having a nice trip down set the tone for the rest of the vacation.

I can’t wait for the next road trip!

What traveling/organizing tips do you have for traveling with kids?


Get organized for back to school with an on-line calendar!

Filed under: Kids,Office — Colleen at 2:21 pm on Friday, September 4, 2009

If you’re like me and your kids have just headed back to school, you’re probably drowning in the back to school paperwork.  I’ve been inundated with important dates, activity schedules, hot lunch schedules, and contact information.  What works for me is using an on-line calendar.  I prefer because it allows me to merge multiple calendars and can be viewed from any computer.  My husband can also access the information and I pay a small fee to access the information from my cell phone. I can also print the calendar so that I can have a hard copy.  Each morning the calendar emails me reminders of what I have scheduled for the day.  I think I would be lost without it.
There are other online calendars available that I haven’t personally tried,  such as, and Check them out!
I encourage you to leave a comment as to what type of calendar system works for you!

Before/After: Playroom/Bedroom

Filed under: Bedrooms,Before/After,Kids — Colleen at 1:43 pm on Thursday, March 19, 2009

Does this look familiar?  Three young children share this bedroom/playroom.   In just four hours, the client and I were able to transform this room and even sort a large collection of toys being stored.  We filled my van with donation items and moving toys with small pieces to an area where the mother can regulate these toys.  Here are the fantastic results:

(Click the photos to enlarge).
Before:                           After:
IMG_5495.JPG    IMG_5500.JPG

Before:                             After:
IMG_5497.JPG     IMG_5501.JPG

Cool Products: Organized….with kids

Filed under: Cool Products!,Kids — Colleen at 1:00 pm on Monday, October 1, 2007

It’s hard to feel organized when kids have you going in every direction. Here are some great products to help be organized… even with kids!

hangingcanvasshoe.jpg Want to promote self sufficiency with your children? Place matched outfits in each space and your children can pick an outfit each morning and you’ll no longer have to explain why that Hawaiian shirt doesn’t match soccer pants. This is also great for spouses who “can’t find” anything to dress the kids in. Just match up outfits as you put away the laundry.
Fridgemate.jpg Kids tend to generate a lot of paperwork. Easily reference their schedules with this refrigerator organizer.
ClosetDoubler1.jpg Double your closet space! This “Closet Doubler” is especially great for making the most of a children’s closet.
Anti-tip1.png When you’re organizing a room for children, don’t forgo safety. Secure furniture to walls to prevent injuries.

toylabels.jpg Make cleaning up a game! Use these labels to label your toy bins. You child can match the toys to the picture or word.
photohook.png Organize your entranceway or mudroom. Teach your children to hang up their clothes and backpacks. Place a picture of your child in their corresponding hook.

Hangingjewelry1.jpgHaving trouble finding hair ribbons, barrettes, and rubber bands for your daughters? Need a place to store dress-up jewelry? Or need a place to house your Polly Pocket or Barbie accessories? This hanging organizer does the job!

bathtub.jpg Bath toys are great, unless you’re stepping on them first thing in the morning! This frog attaches to your bath tub stall and has a detachable scoop to house bath toys. My kids love using the scoop to fish out their toys when bath time is over.

cdwallet.jpg Do your kids love movies, but the DVD cases end up all over the floor and the DVD’s never end up back in their cases? Ditch the cases and put them in a DVD wallet. Most kiddie movies have pictures on the face of the DVDs. Since my kids can’t read yet they just flip through their movie wallet to make a selection and I can easily return the DVD to the wallet when they are finished viewing it. Bonus: their movies are alway portable for trips!
View more organizing products for kids here.