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Information center keeps family organized

By By Michelle Blaylock, Mom’s Corner
Papers, papers, papers! They seem to come from everywhere, school, sports, mail, church! It seems we are inundated with information. I do not know who thought we would be a “paperless” society, but all I can say is that my home is definitely not paperless. Several years ago I became determined to find a way to organize all the information that came into our home.
I had for years used a bulletin board with a calendar and the refrigerator to post “important” papers. However as our family grew so did the need for better organization. Trying to keep a calendar on the wall at the house made it difficult to schedule appointments when we were out and things kept getting lost off the fridge.
I made up my mind to work on this. There had to be a better way! My first problem was: what on earth to do with all the papers the kids brought home to me. My first idea was to use one of the folders with the three clasps in the middle and divide it into sections using five sheets of colored paper with one of the kids names on each of them. I also wrote their teacher’s names and if necessary their class schedule. I used a three hole punch to make holes in the papers and any papers their teachers sent home. I just stacked it all together and put it in the folder. Anything else the kids brought home that I needed to keep longterm I added to the folder in the section for the correct child.
However, I discovered two problems. The first was it became an issue adding papers especially when I was busy. My second problem was the folder became too full and began to seriously fall apart by the end of the school year. However, I still see this being a possibility for a smaller family.
I have also tried using the same system, but with a folder for each child. Although this did help with the second problem, it did not do much to help the first. I also had the additional issue of mislaying a folder.
I decided I liked the idea of all the information being in one spot best. Therefore, I went back to the first idea, except now I use a three ring binder and tab dividers. If I run out of room I can get a larger binder and it is easy to add more papers as the kids bring them home. I also began to look at various organization web sites for help. One website, organizedhome.com, had some terrific ideas. One such idea was the “Household Notebook.” The website offers free printables and suggestions for dividing the notebook into sections. I decided to expand my current school information notebook to include household information as well.
However, even with the Household Notebook, I still needed somewhere to put important short term information. Ever since we had moved into this home, there had been an issue of where to put a “Family Information Center.” At the time our “Family Information Center” was just a small bulletin board that I had covered in cloth to make it attractive. Although I had tried several different locations around the house, none seemed to be “just right.” I also came to the conclusion that we needed a larger bulletin board for our family of eight and a separate calendar for the kids to add things to since I do not allow them to write in my planner.
About the same time my husband and I decided it was time to remodel the kitchen a bit and enlarge our pantry. As my husband was coming up with different plans for the pantry, I mentioned the need for a “Family Information Cen-ter.” My wonderful husband combined the two by enlarging the pantry using some dead space in our kitchen and at the same time giving me a large unbroken wall in the kitchen to put a family calendar and eight corkboard squares. This is the calendar the kids are allowed to write on in pencil only (makes correcting mistakes or making schedule changes much easier!). I also keep a daily planner which is the “master” schedule. Only I can put it in my planner. Obviously, I need to be in charge of the “master” schedule. It is also the standing rule that if it is not in Mom’s planner, it is a safe bet Mom probably will not remember it.
As for the cork squares, each person has their own square for short term information like the weekly newsletter from their teachers, sports practice schedule, or work schedule. Interestingly, it seems my square is always the most crowded.
We still occasionally misplace things (8 people in the house — go figure!) and forget appointments, but I keep striving to do better. Maybe by the time my youngest graduates, I will get it worked out. I can hope anyway. If you have a question, comment or suggestion for Mom’s Corner, please send it to me at moms-corner@juno.com