Paper Organization

Start 'em young

Taryn with Kate, Will, and Eli Ruth // 2008

Taryn with Kate, Will, and Eli Ruth // 2008

I became a mom with very few plans in place for how I’d spend time with my child or children, how I envisioned my home being set up for little ones, or how many kids I wanted to have. I’d always hoped to be a mom. I just didn’t really have specific ideas of exactly how that might go down. Almost 17 years into motherhood, and 3 amazing kids later, I am both thankful for that somewhat clueless beginning and at the same time, a bit regretful that I wasn’t more intentional.

Image:  Texture Photo  // 2018

Image: Texture Photo // 2018

I’ve found that not having concrete expectations of how motherhood would go was a gift in that it allowed for a whole lotta grace. Not so much pressure on them or on me to be someone I had dreamed up in my head. I think I have been able to pay closer attention to each one of my kids and their unique personalities, ways of relating, and specific needs better since I didn’t have rigid expectations of what I wanted parenting and my kids to look like.

Being somewhat clueless also paved the way for new relationships and a sweet reliance on family. I am fortunate to have started motherhood off with some incredible new mamas who I’ve shared this crazy adventure with and who are still some of my dearest friends. We learned so much from one another. I am also a very blessed gal to have a mom and mother-in-law who have shown me what great love and sacrifice for your kids looks like. All good gifts in the midst of my cluelessness.

However, there is one area that I do wish I had been more thoughtful about at an earlier stage — how to create spaces in my home, and spaces in our days, for my kids. I had to make a lot of mistakes in this area before realizing there’s a better way. Of course hindsight is 20/20, but if I had taken a bit more time to think through what items &/or areas in my home that would encourage my kids to learn, explore, and love well, I would’ve saved myself lots of hours of singing (and doing) the “clean-up, clean-up, everybody everywhere” song and dance, procrastination, guilt, and frustration.

On May 2 at The Back Porch Mercantile, this is the exact topic we will be teaching on.

  • How do we get a baby’s room ready with all the needs but not the excess?

  • What’s the best way to create a play area for toddler’s that allows them to explore but doesn’t turn my house into a plastic toy jungle?

  • Do I keep all my preschooler’s handprint art and the other 724 pieces of art they’ve created?

  • Toys through the years and how to store them in a way that your kids can actually clean them up.

  • How do we do birthdays and holidays well without filling up on too many gifts?

  • What to do with all my elementary-age child’s school work?

  • How do teach my kids to organize?

I have learned lots raising this boy and my two girls. I’m still learning. And whether you’re a new mom or a few years in, my hope for you is that through some intentional, thoughtful planning, you can create the best space for your kids and for you to be the best mom you can be.

Image: Paige Severance (and her cutie twins!)

Image: Paige Severance (and her cutie twins!)

Paper Organizing Tips

From junk mail, bills, and cards, to kid artwork, schoolwork, and other miscellaneous files, paper can be overwhelming. While technology has eased some of the physical load paper brings, it certainly cannot (and I’m not sure ever will) eliminate paper in our lives. So… what to do? 

 
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Here’s a few tips:

  • Treat your paper piles, filing cabinet, desktops just as you would your closet.

    • Purge before organizing. This may sound painful, especially if you have a lot to go through, but it’s so important if you really want to get a handle (and more space in your house!) on your paper.

    • Going though every single piece of paper in your house may be too overwhelming right now, but in the meantime, you want to get control of what’s coming in.

  • Handle the mail every day.

    • Don’t bring the mail in until you can go through it right then.

    • Sort the papers into trash, recycle, and keep.

    • The “keep” category would include anything that requires action — bills, RSVPs — or anything you want to read — cards, newsletters. Put the “keep” mail in one place, preferably some sort of basket, bin, or box (not a pile).

  • Sort through other incoming papers daily into trash, recycle, and keep.

    • The stacks that come home from work or school can add up, so be sure what you’re deciding to not trash or recycle is truly worth keeping.

    • Encourage your kids to help choose which projects or artwork stays, and which ones to let go of.

  • Set one time a week to go through the “keep” bin.

    • Pick a time that makes the most sense for your schedule — Sunday afternoon might work for many, or maybe you have a morning or afternoon that’s typically free of other obligations. It’s all about creating new rhythms and habits to stay on top of the paper beast with a simple system.

  • Questions on how long to keep files?

 
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color coordinated

Before we begin, if you are color blind- our sincerest apologies. However, we're confident that in some way, you will benefit from these colorful ideas regarding coordination, categorization & organization. 

What colors do you find beautiful? What colors represent kid friendly things? What colors say "dangerous" or toxic? What colors signify the holidays? 

There are so many areas of your home where a little color coordination might bring simplicity and order. 

Image from Amanda Griffin-Jacobs blog. 

Image from Amanda Griffin-Jacobs blog. 

TOYS. Assess the toys in your home, and decide whether it will be more effective to separate toys by type or by the child that will play with them. Separating by type is conducive to families with children near the same age. Separating by which child plays with specific toys might be better for a family with a larger gap in age and interest, such as a young boy with an older sister. Pick a color and designate a bin/basket or tub for each category of toy.
 


Image from Simply Spaced blog. 

Image from Simply Spaced blog. 

CLOTHES. A closet organized by color is aesthetically satisfying and incredibly practical as you sleepily sift through your clothes to find the perfect (orange, yellow, pink or white) shirt for today. It takes the search and rescue effort out of getting dressed every day. Follow the gradient of colors as you look for your specific blouse or pair of pants. 

 


Image from A Bowl Full of Lemons blog. 

Image from A Bowl Full of Lemons blog. 

DOCUMENTS. While manila file folders are still classic, there are so many colorful options to choose from. If you are single, married or a mother to 12 children- you have important documents. Pick a color for each category, such as: Medical files, Home Warranties, School Papers, Bank Statements, etc. 

 

 


Happy color coordinating! Some other places to implement color organization include: book shelves, craft areas, and your dishes! What are other areas you use color to bring order and simplicity?

We'd love to help you think outside the box in the areas of your home that stump you. Give us a call to schedule your free 30 minute consultation today- 865.245.9080

[ Blog post image source: Apartment Therapy ]