Tuesday, September 2, 2014

0 Our Favorite Organizing Tips for a Smooth School Year

Happy Monday Tuesday!  Did you have a great long weekend and soak up those final summer days?  I actually refuse to believe summer is over and plan to continue on loving up our nice weather every last day that I can.

So.... the boys went back to school this morning!  It is always so bittersweet and I got a little teary during our family dinner last night as we chatted about how quick the months went by and thinking of how quiet the house would be during the days again.  Yet at the same time, it will be so wonderful to get back to a good routine and find a productive groove again.

In celebration of the back-to-school season, I thought I would round-up some of my favorite posts for organizing with kids throughout the school year.  We didn't do anything new this year because last year we finally buttoned things up and had a good thing going.  No need to fix what is not broken, can I get a cheers to that?



One of the best things we ever did was create a cubby system for the boys.  We used the IKEA Besta cabinets to give the kids a space for their everyday shoes / boots, backpack, lunch sack, study boxes and electronics.  These cubbies are low to the ground and right inside our front door, so they are easy for the boys to access and the clutter is concealed in a pretty credenza style piece of furniture.


Inside of each cubby, is a study box for each boy to use at the counter, table or desk while working on their homework.  Inside is everything they may need to get a worksheet or project completed, and I have found that giving them each their own prevents any "battles" between them.


When school projects go beyond the basics, or when the crafty mood strikes, our organized craft cabinet holds all of the rest of their art supplies.


To display their art projects and to keep track of those important daily school correspondences, labeled fridge clips do the trick to keep the entire family up to date.


What do you do with all of the daily schoolwork and art projects that come home each day from school?  I prefer to file away the best of the best in an annual file and recycle the rest.


Another item we like to keep within reach is reading material.  We have book stations all over the house and have especially loved these DIY crate book bins.


Our younger two boys like to do their homework wherever mom is.... our oldest prefers a quiet and private spot.  So, we accommodated his request with a work zone ideal for a teen.


Our oldest has also started to have a bit of a social life.  To keep track of sleepovers, football games, test days, etc... a DIY chalkboard calendar has given him control of his schedule.


What we have learned over the years is that dedicated zones / stations are the key to our success.  School cubbies work great for supplies while baskets and bins in the cupboard and fridge for packing lunches have been pretty life changing.  So easy to pull out everything needed to pack a balanced meal!



In fact, it works so well, we do it with our breakfast foods now also!


The breakfast and lunch bins streamline our mornings, as does having clothes set out for the boys ahead of time.  We let them select their daily wears, but have them do this the evening or weekend before {depending on the craziness of the week}.  This is one less battle to face in the morning when we have three boys to get on the bus in a limited amount of time.


And speaking of laundry, we still lovity love our laundry bin system


Cubbies for daily school gear inside, cubbies for sporting goods outside.  I guess you could say we are fans of cubbies around here!


Of course, all of these systems would fail big time if we didn't have some sort of routine in place.  A quick visual printable of our morning and evening routines for the boys creates consistency and prepares them for what is ahead each day {after school routine coming soon!}.



And for those of you who recently went school shopping and are trying to come up with ways to make the most of those empty shoe boxes floating around, I rounded up my favorite shoe box storage solutions for you below.


Wishing you all a super successful 2014 - 2015 school year!  I would love to know what other tips keep your school year running smoothly in the comments below.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

23 UHeart Organizing: A Small Space Nursery DIY

I am so smitten that my contributors bring so much diversity to this blog.  Some can sew and some live in apartments, while others live in completely different countries.  And now, a couple of them are pregnant and one even just had a new baby {congratulations Chelsea!!}.  I love that they bring a whole different element to iHeart, and feel so blessed that they all continue to partner up with me each week.

Yes, we currently have a few iHeart pregnancies in the mix!  Another very warm and exciting congratulations to Serena of Pretty Fluffy blog.  She is already the proud mama of a very loving pup, and now a sweet little babe will be joining her family as well.  Serena is a friendship built through long distance, yet it feels like I have known her for ages.  My heart burst when I heard the news, and I am so honored to have her stopping by to share some of her nursery with us today!



As a home décor-aholic, as soon as I found out I was expecting I started pinning away all sorts of inspiration for our baby girl’s nursery.  There is so much out there, that it’s easy to get carried away.


(Un)lucky for me, my over the top ideas were soon reigned in by my two realities – a small budget and a small space.

Not to be defeated I created an inspiration board of what I wanted to achieve with the space – and then worked back from there.

INSPIRATION BOARD CREDITS (Clockwise from Top Left): Pottery Barn Kids, On To Baby, On To Baby, Love Mae, Etsy.

Based on this board, my original dream nursery had a gorgeous West Elm dresser front and center.  But with a $1000 price tag it was out of my reach.

But what WAS within my reach were these MALM chest of drawers from IKEA. As luck would have it, we already had a chest of these three drawers in our office.  I’d bought it for stationary storage but to be honest the drawers were proving too deep to keep all my bits and bobs together and they weren’t getting used.

As I wanted 6 drawers, it was easy to buy one more set of 3 drawers and then move them both into the nursery.   I laid a table topper across the top and voila – a sleek, chic storage solution.

But with me wanting to keep my pretty nursery theme from my inspiration board, they needed a bit of dressing up.

To avoid drowning in a sea of pink, I selected a range of gift wrap from the beautiful gift & homeware store Love Mae.

Cutting the pieces to size, I used a different gift wrap design for each drawer level – that not only protect the contents of the drawers but make me oh-so-happy when I open each one!  I mean, one of the designs is of flamingos kissing – who doesn’t love that?


The next task was making the insides of the drawers as organized as possible. I quickly learnt that tiny baby stuff in big drawers equals one BIG mess without the right dividers.

Not wanting to cover all my gorgeous drawer lining I opted against using IKEA’s easy fit storage bins and instead went with rustic white baskets.

Drawer one consisted on all of the baby’s towels, wraps and bath time needs.  The added bonus is the basket is completely removable and portable so it’s super easy to grab on the go at bath time.


Drawer two & three are filled with baby’s outfits for the first few months (lots of pink in these drawers!) all organized by size – so it’s easy to grab and go when I’m in a zombie like state of sleep deprivation!  Again the storage baskets came in handy for storage the teeniest tiny items like socks, shoes and hats.


Drawers four, five & six are all used for extra diapers and linen with space left over for all of those things I’ve forgotten!  The magic is with so much space, as our baby grows we’ll be able to reconfigure the drawers as necessary.


Lastly, the drawers-come-dresser also had to double as our change table.  (Did I mention we are low on space?)  Lucky for us, with their long width they are actually the perfect size for a changing mat.

Using matching baskets I then added all the must-have items for changing - diapers, wipes and lotions.  I used recycled jars for storing cotton wool balls – making sure every single item was within reach using one arm only.


Finishing off the space with a cute elephant print, I couldn’t believe it.  I’d made this space for less than half of what my dream dresser would have cost.


What did I learn during this whole process?
  • There is ALWAYS an alternative budget option for that dream piece. It just may take a bit more time and effort to find it.
  • The details make all the difference – I still smile every time I open those drawers and see the DIY liners.
  • Going with pre-fitted storage (like IKEA boxes etc) can be easy, but to add more personality to your space, experiment with other shapes, ranges and recycled/repurposed pieces.
  • Kissing flamingos are the bomb.

And do you know what?  I think I like this new space more than my original dream nursery!  I hope our future daughter enjoys it just as much.

For more images and list of products and furnishings visit the full Nursery Tour here.

If you have any tips for a newborn nursery, I’d love to hear them in the comments!


"I am Serena Faber Nelson, a television producer, writer and fluffy dog owner. Obsessed with home décor, fashion, lifestyle and dogs – I set about creating Pretty Fluffy as a go-to guide for the modern pet owner. Featuring a range of stylish products, celebrity pooches, DIY projects and handy hints, Pretty Fluffy is a daily stop for smiles and inspiration, giving readers the tools they need to enjoy full and happy lives with their furry friends. My greatest loves include fresh peonies, Dirty Dancing (Nobody puts Baby in a corner), Banoffe Pie, spending waaay too much time on Pinterest, and hugging random dogs at the park. I currently live in Sydney, Australia with my husband, Andy, and my 11 year old Border Collie, Soda. As a long time fan, I am super excited to be joining the IHeart Organizing Team!"

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