Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Back-to-School Command Center for a Small Space

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As a parent of a little one in school, there is so much to keep up with that it can be completely and utterly overwhelming.  There are forms to fill out, behavior charts to initial, book bags to carry, lunch boxes to pack, snacks to bring, homework to keep track of, events to attend, show and tell items to bring, special attire to remember (church days, spirit days, etc.), and the list goes on... 

… and on and on and on. 

I have always been an extremely organized and have-my-biz-together kind of person, but I have never felt quite so unprepared and overwhelmed as I did when Jacob first started school.  When he started Pre-K4 (AKA real school) three years ago, I was stressed out TO THE MAX.  I knew that I had to figure out a way to get organized and stay organized… otherwise I was going to lose my mind. 

But how?  I’ve always coveted all of the spacious, organized mudrooms I see on Pinterest with their individual cubbies and drawers for each member of the family along with ample room for umbrellas, hats, shoes, and anything else you could possibly need to take with you when you leave the house.  But sadly, we don’t have a mudroom. 

Since we don’t have one, I decided to utilize the space that we do have (which isn’t much) and I have to say, the space might be small, but it sure is mighty!

We always park our cars in our garage, so the garage door that opens to our kitchen is the door that we use 99% of the time.  Just behind that door there is a little corner comprised of two very narrow walls.  One is about 25 inches wide and the other is a mere 12 inches wide.  Even though it’s small, I decided to make the most of that space and create a command center there since it’s right there when we walk in the door each day.

I knew that I wanted to have a place to hang up notifications and newsletters, a place to file paperwork, a place for the kids to hang their jackets, and a place for the kids to put their book bags and other things they have to take to school.

First things first, I searched for a bulletin board to fit the space, but since my needs were so specific (I needed something taaaallll and skinny) I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for.  Instead, I headed straight to Lowe’s and picked up a piece of soundboard for $9.  Soundboard works exactly like a bulletin board, and it is CHEAP.  As a matter of fact, the sheet that I bought was so large that I was able to make another bulletin board for my home office from the same sheet.  The guys at Lowe’s cut it down to size for me right there in the store, and then I was on my way!  I then picked up some fabric and ribbon and I made my bulletin board using this tutorial.  B hung it for me and it fit just perfectly in that space!

I ended up finding a paper file hanger (similar here) for the kids’ school papers at Marshall’s and I also found a little hook hanger (similar here) at Marshall’s for the kids’ jackets.  Finally, I grabbed a couple of plastic baskets at Walmart (similar here) to hold their book bags.

The bulletin board contains the following:

1.      A page that I typed up containing all of my notes – church dress days, dismissal times, uniform requirements, a list of things that each child needs to have each morning while we’re getting out the door (book bags, lunch boxes, snacks, homework, signed folders, and a blanket for Olivia), and other random notes that I need to remember
2.      A copy of the school calendar with all of the holidays and early dismissal days
3.      A pocket folder that holds Jacob’s class handbook and weekly newsletters (I just used a 10x13 envelope and cut out the top to create a pocket)
4.      A pocket folder that holds Olivia’s class handbook and weekly newsletters (I just used a 10x13 envelope and cut out the top to create a pocket)
5.      A pocket folder that holds Jacob’s homework requirements, AR information, and homework assignments for the week (I just used a 10x13 envelope and cut out the top to create a pocket)
6.      A pocket folder that holds Olivia’s homework requirements, which isn’t much right now (I just used a 10x13 envelope and cut out the top to create a pocket)
7.      A copy of Jacob’s Daily Checklist (this is placed inside a plastic page protector which turns it into a dry erase surface so they can check off their daily duties with a dry erase marker)
8.      A copy of Olivia’s Daily Checklist (this is placed inside a plastic page protector which turns it into a dry erase surface so they can check off their daily duties with a dry erase marker)

As you can see, I put the kids’ names on the bulletin boards and then all of the folders, notes, and daily checklists for each child are under their names. 

Jacob’s jackets hang on the left hooks of the coat rack and Olivia’s hang on the right hooks.

The baskets on the floor under the coat rack hold the kids’ book bags as well as their bibles that they bring to church on the weekends.  The baskets are large enough to also hold Olivia’s ballet bag as well.  Jacob’s basket is on the left under his stuff and Olivia’s is on the right under her stuff.

The metal file hanger was originally bought to hold the kids’ school work, but since it has three slots, I decided that one of them could be used to hold Brian’s mail.  He was really bad about letting his mail stack up a foot high on the countertop and I just couldn’t stand it, so I designated the bottom slot for his mail, and then the top slot is for Jacob’s school work and the middle is for Olivia’s. 

With regard to school work, every day when they come home, I remove all of their work from their folders, look at all of it, toss the non-important stuff in the recycling bin, and save the items that are special (artwork, excellent grades, special projects).  The items I save are placed in their file slots each day and then twice per year (once at Christmas break and once at the end of the school year) I go through their file slots, photograph each item, save the very special pieces that we want to keep forever (only a select few) and then recycle the rest.  The items we save forever are then placed in their School Paper Keepsake Boxes that are in kept in their closets.

This method allows me to quickly and easily put away their school work on a daily basis instead of having to photograph our favorites and run upstairs every single day to dig out their keepsake boxes.  When the time comes to clean the files out and move them to the keepsake boxes, the process is pretty streamlined and only takes about 30 minutes.

I also found another little metal wall organizer (similar here) that fits perfectly under the file organizer and that is where B keeps his wallet and hangs his keys.  No more stuff all over the kitchen counters!  WOO HOO! 

During the summer all of the school stuff comes down from the bulletin board and the Summer Bucket List goes up!

I’d say that’s really making the most of our space, huh?

If you want to see a live look at the command center, head on over and follow me on Instagram!!  I posted several stories about it and they are saved in my “Simplify 4” highlight in my Instagram bio.  I posted these before everything was totally done, but it’ll still give you a good idea of where everything is.

And if you want to make a similar station of your own, I found some items on Amazon that would be perfect!

Bulletin Boards – here, here, here, and here
Folders for Bulletin Board – here
Plastic Page Protectors for Bulletin Board – here
Coat Hook Hanger – here, herehere, and here
Baskets – here and here
Paper File Hanger – here, herehere, here, and here
Wallet and Key Hanger – here and here

Happy organizing!

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  1. This is such a great idea! In hindsight, I wish we would have picked a house plan with a mudroom so I love how you've utilized the little space you have! We need a better system for mail so I need to figure that out for us haha!
    Sarah at MeetTheShaneyfelts

  2. Such a great use of space! It really seems like you have everything you need in one spot - perfect!

  3. I just LOVE how this space turned out!! So clean and functional and I bet makes like easier!! GREAT job pretty lady!

  4. What an amazing use of space - plus it looks great! Love it!

    1. Thank you! I tried to use up every single tiny bit of space that I could! Mission accomplished!

  5. Such a great idea and a great way to maximize that space. I'm already getting overwhelmed at the things A needs and I can image more just get piled on as they get older. Sierra Beautifully Candid

  6. You did so GOOD!! This is such a great use of space! So smart.
    That Inspired Chick

    1. Thank you! It is a total sanity saver, too. I seriously wouldn't be able to function without it now. It has made life so much easier these last few years!

  7. I am pinning this for one day when the man I combine homes, all the kid stuff is so much and this makes it so manageable! I just love how it turned out!

  8. We have a small space just like that between our garage door and kitchen and that's exactly what I need to do with it! We have hooks and a bulletin board but I can definitely fix it up. Thanks for the inspiration!

  9. I love how you took a small space and made it for school and everything for the kids. Great idea.

  10. It looks so great and will be so functional throughout the year. I need to do this somewhere in my house! Thanks for the ideas!!

  11. What a great way to use such a small wall area. You will be super organized this year!

  12. Perfection!!! Cheers to a new year!

  13. Wow I love this lindsay!!! great tip on the soundboard too!!!

  14. Such a great space, I need to copy this in the mudroom when Serena starts "real school". Hope the kiddos have an amazing new school year <3
    Green Fashionista

  15. Your little area looks amazing and so functional.

  16. I am very impressed! We have a big closet in our new house, and I've already told Matt we're converting part of it into something similar. He kinda just rolled his eyes, but I am very serious about it. This gives me great ideas!


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