Getting Ready for School– Survival Skills for Mom

July 29, 2008 at 3:32 pm 9 comments


The school supply lists are in the paper.  I’m having the kids cut those out and tell me what we still need.

I bought some stick-on plastic tabs for my day-planner to make sections I NEED.

  • dividers with pockets for meetings and one per child
  • plastic stick on tab dividers

This is my planner of choice.  Basic black, metalic closure so that odd size papers can stick out.

Most people tire of lugging these around…I only use it for meetings and heavy paper days or errands, or for papers I CAN’T lose.  Works great.  I keep a coordinating “book bag” to help me carry it and a book…for those times when I’m stuck in line or waiting on people for a meeting.  If I’m doing a Bible study, I’ll throw that in, and a small Bible.

There is generous room in the front to tuck things.  See the pocket dividers?  I’ve been needing these! So glad to find something.

I like a month at a view.  There is plenty room for post-it notes for daily planning, or I just use the notepad at the back for daily check-lists when I need them.  A month at a glance helps me.  Each year, I copy over birthdays to the top (not that I remember them yet, but I’m trying!)

People tire of them and don’t use them, so you can often find them second hand if you want to try one.



Last year, I made up some personal cards to give to teachers at open house.  I printed them on a spare pack of business cards I had from working days.  I asked them to call me any time and gave them out at open house.  They kept them in their desk drawer or on their bulletin board.  I listed name, phone number, cell number, and all the names of our family members and their grades. They all told me they loved it and wished every parent would think to do that. I stocked up on those to hand out again.


Get some parents names and introduce yourself…if you need their help in the year, you have it.

  • School Information:

Phone number, teacher emails, important dates, school schedule, club meetings-contact people, support staff names.

  • Teacher Letters:

I’ll review those closely and read them a couple times the first couple weeks to be sure we are on track with teacher expectations and test schedules.  If I see my kids not on that schedule, I’ll contact the teacher to be sure her standard changed or relaxed, not my child!

  • Each Child’s Daily Schedule:

This is the most important thing in there.  I make a one page guide, and an index card for my purse to keep handy with all teachers names on it and where the kids are each hour of the day.

That way, if I want to join them for lunch, need to talk to them, or take them something, I know when and where they are.  It helps the school staff stay friendly as I tend to the kids…they don’t have to help me.


(I’ll replace with three whole punched pad)

Today, I found this thin 8.5X11 zip one with a solar calculator, brand new, $3.00.  Yay!  It will be MUCH easier than my 3 ring zip-up when I travel.


The Laundry Room

Having the laundry room reorganized has SO helpful with my laundry problems.  I didn’t realize how much it can help to just invest a little and get organized so that it feels good to be in there again.  We all just want to go in there and hang out lately…especially with the rest of the house currently tore to pieces with walls and flooring needs some serious attention.

I’m usually up until 2AM the night before school starts trying to get the laundry area ready for full school service again…I’m so happy it’s done early this year.

This year, the hub wanted me to try a new system.  He didn’t like that little Red was always pulling everything out of the old day-of the week-type stackers.  They landed in a pile on the floor.  He’s usually not picky, so I figured after a couple years of him not liking it…he probably had a valid complaint.

This is me and The Hub, after Target.  My old $30.00 solution worked out, but they were just outgrowing it.

The deal is…I don’t store any clothes in my kid’s bedrooms.  Their rooms are upstairs, and my laundry room and the place where they bathe is downstairs, so it just made sense to try to store it all in my laundry room.  It is a fairly generous sized room, thankfully.  So, the couple hundred I spent on this, in perspective, isn’t too bad.


I’ve always wanted a laundry sign.  I found one last week used and it makes me very happy to see my own signage.

It says “Open 24 hours”, which is not technically true, but I do feel I’m doing laundry that much!

The room very much needs painting or touch up, but I don’t think they left the paint for this room.  I’ll check.

The colors they had are ALL their individual favorite colors right now!  I know it was for us.

The socks go in one drawer at the bottom, underwear in the other.

Shorts are in one, and shirts another.  Goldi has a few extra containers for belts and odds and ends.  On top are baskets I already had used for extra play t-shirts.

My New Sock Match Solution (I hope it’s a solution–my how I do hope):

We usually have a laundry basket below the dryer that I just throw all mis-matched socks in. Five people with dress, athletic, and colored socks, that became a huge grief after one month or so of no matches.

So, I took those Upward mesh bags we get Upward uniforms in and hung them by sticky-hooks on the side of the unit–one per person. Now, when a sock comes out, I can look only at that person’s stray socks and match them quickly.  It’s working well so far.

I don’t like all our mismatched hangers, but we still need a bunch of different sizes, so I just threw them all in this basket by the dryer, also a great solution for me.

There’s the needed trash can for dryer fuzz and melted crayons and such.


Ah, it look so much better I had to take a picture in case it didn’t last.  This is week 3-4, so I’m thrilled that it’s lasting!  This closet was SO overflowing you couldn’t get the door shut.

I got rid of a TON of stuff, and used these plastic bins for storage.  Before, I’d turned them on their side to stack clothes.  I may have to do that again for jeans and sweaters in the fall-winter.

I try to buy all my plastic storage white so that it mixes and matches as needed through the house as storage needs change.

The botton of the closet:

The closet is deep enough for the baskets–glory!

I sort of wish I had a before picture, but whew…I don’t think I do.  If I find one, I’ll post it.

I keep closet I don’t want them wearing anywhere but home in baskets in here for now…for four-wheeling or whatever.


These were here when we bought the house, but they were an old looking plywood, dark-stain with brassy hinges and wooden, undecorated knobs.

Just a sanding, coat of oil-based paint, new hinges and knobs.  I did it myself  with The Hub’s electric screwdriver thingy (the kids held them in place for me).

It took about four afternoons.  I didn’t plan on tackling this project this summer, but after we got the organizing unit in, it made me want to work on other things in the room.

Hat-robe-jacket rack and pull down ironing board on the closet door (as if I iron).

Laundry sorter, on wheels.  I can roll it to the washer and dump stuff in quickly,  assuming the floor is clean.  Lately, it has been, and I’m likin’ it.

The half chair is a consignment find so I can sit, fold, and roll to put them away as I’m folding.  We’re at whole new levels of laundry here, baby. For $2, if I can feel efficient and high tech?  Yeah, it’s grand to me.

THE DRESSER: mine when I was a girl.  I just applied some very fine sandpaper to the bright knobs so they’d match the stainless steel knobs better.  It hosts my kid’s sleepwear.  I plan to add a knob to the work sink to match, just because it’s only $3.00 and I can.  It’s dirty because we are still painting stuff.

I painted all the trim in the room white…it was like an antique cream before. It brightened the room a lot.

I also painted the natural wood door and trim on the sink white.

Took down linty curtains…aah.  The tree is a great view, and I can see the kids in the pool with no curtains, so I’ll likely leave them off.  There are mini-blinds for night.

The left of the room

The right of the room.

I use those blue bins on top of the hanger rack to thrown in outgrown stuff, or the next season’s stuff.

I moved all the boy’s hanging hurch shirts to another closet–I only hang clothes there as I’m folding now.  You can see into this room from outside, especially the hanging rack, so it looks a lot better clean.

I keep thinking that I’d like to find a prettier way to store all the detergent since you see it when you walk in the door, but, it’s awfully handy there on a shelf.

UPDATE:  I found another old basket laying around here.  I looked at it again and realized some bottles were extra detergent and dry-cleaning stuff, so I think this will work.  Looks better to me, if I don’t know off that pine cone thing.

This is behind the door.  I wish I could say that I was pleasantly surprised to find that this contraption worked, but things fall off of it pretty regularly.  It works just enough of the time that I leave it.  The rest of the time, it scares everyone when things fall. I would also like to say I was fixing this problem, but the inspiration to do so has not yet occurred.

On the dresser:

I can grab this quickly from the kitchen for fast entertainment or quick clean-up.  I like having it looking neat and fun.

Okay, so that’s all the laundry room stuff.


  • Sunglasses for bright days to school.
  • Kleenexes for morning sneezes.
  • A pen for signing papers they forgot to give you.
  • Snacks on special days or days.  If they waited outside on a hot day cold popsicles are fun.  (Bring paper towels).
  • A bottle of purple Dimetapp, some Tylenol chewables, and some Pepto-bismol tablets

Well, those are some “Mom Survival Skills” I’m working on getting ready for school–do you have tips?  What’s your routine?  Anything unique and creative?  I’m interested!  Comment below!

Entry filed under: Everyday.

I Need That Before…and After

9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Cousin Misty  |  July 30, 2008 at 1:02 am

    Wow, what organization! I’m envious. We are moving this week and I’m feeling like I’ll never see organization again! You’ve done a great job with everything!

  • 2. "Maggie"  |  July 30, 2008 at 8:00 am

    Wow! Are you moving in with your Mom?

    That’s going to be an adventure! I’m glad it is working out. Have you sold
    your house?

    I’ve been thinking of you a lot lately…I almost called you yesterday.
    It’s funny you should email!

    Great to hear from you, Cousin!

  • 3. ~E  |  July 30, 2008 at 9:01 am

    I echo your cousin’s comment of, “WOW!” That is the kind of organization I crave, but I have not yet invested the time or the money to get that way. I am still slowly working my way through my “piles” this summer. I will have about two weeks after the kids start back to school before I start my classes and keep thinking that I will use a lot of that “alone” time to get some things done. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • 4. Cindy  |  July 30, 2008 at 11:29 am

    Looks like you are ready to go! Your laundry room was my inspirtation to get a move on things here. I’ve tackled the fridge, laundry room and scrapbook area. Today’s challenge—-my closet!

    Like your planner. Mine is almost exactly like it, except red – a little drama for me. I, too, prefer a month at a time. Over the years, I’ve found lots of little zip compartments and folders. I keep a small, flat version in my purse to jot things in when I don’t have the big one, then I transfer. Still, I think there are things with it I could do more efficiently. Always a work in progress.

  • 5. "Maggie"  |  July 30, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    Thanks, Cindy! I like your new word “inspirtation”. It made me laugh!

  • 6. Misty  |  July 31, 2008 at 8:24 am

    Looks like you got it down to a science! I’m not quite that organized yet, but I have done a few things. I’ve bought Meg’s school supplies and they’re sitting here ready to take to Open House tonight. I am still waiting on Zoe’s supply list for Pre-K, but she doesn’t start til week after next.

    Since they’re gone this week, I’ve been able to clean up a bit more. Yesterday, I went through their room and cleaned out old (or annoying) toys 🙂 I’ve got a big box to deliver to the Pathway. Just organizing the toys made things look better and easier to find. I also went through their shoes and pulled out ones that they’ve outgrown. I washed their sheets and put them back on very neatly.

    Today’s goal is to do their laundry and get their clothes in their cubby. I have a clothes basket for each girl in their closet and a days of the week cubby that they share hanging near the closet. I’m sure they’ll grow out of it eventually, but right now, that thing makes getting ready much easier.

    Maggie replies: Taking supplies to open house! Why didn’t I think of that? I need to get busy and do that, too. That will make the first day of school SO much easier, and it will occupy them ALL DAY today! Thanks! Fresh sheets! I need to do that, too. Great idea! Ooh, toys, I’ve not tackled that one. Mine may wait until it cools down up there for that!

  • 7. cookingupafamily  |  July 31, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    I am so in love with your organization! Everything looks right out of a magazine and so nice!

  • 8. Before…and After « M A G N A N I M I T Y  |  July 31, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    […] Closet and other walls of this room here. […]

  • 9. Jill Scott  |  July 31, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    I absolutely LOVE your laundry room. It makes me want to do laundry. It’s so organized and clean. Great job!

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Magnanimity (derived from the Latin roots magn- great, and anima, soul) is the virtue of being great of mind and heart. It encompasses, usually, a refusal to be petty, a willingness to face danger, and actions for noble purposes. Its antithesis is pusillanimity. Both terms were coined by Aristotle, who called magnanimity "the crowning virtue."

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MAGNANIM'ITY, n. [L. magnanimitas; magnus, great, and animus, mind.] Greatness of mind; that elevation or dignity of soul, which encounters danger and trouble with tranquillity and firmness, which raises the possessor above revenge, and makes him delight in acts of benevolence, which makes him disdain injustice and meanness, and prompts him to sacrifice personal ease, interest and safety for the accomplishment of useful and noble objects.[1] (Source: Wikipedia)



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