01 September, 2014

QUICK TIP #20

Quick Tip #20 from the Quick Tips Series by Eliza Ellis

Check out more of my Quick Tips Series here.

24 August, 2014

THE TOP 36 THINGS TO LABEL FOR SCHOOL

 
The Top 36 Things to Label for School

Today's post is a quick one, but hopefully a useful one - The Top 36 Things To Label For School. 

Lets face it - kid's lose stuff at school. Jumpers and hats. Drink bottles and spoons. And way too many pens and pencils! It's expensive and frustrating.

But if you can get into the habit of labeling everything before it leaves the house, you'll have a much better chance of seeing it again!

In the past, I've used a proper labeling machine like the Dymo brand, but found it to be very expensive, so instead, I like to use iron on labels for clothing - I bought the little ones pictured at my local haberdashery store. If you can't find pre-cut labels, iron on fabric hem tape will do the same job!

The Top 36 Things to Label for School

There are also plenty of places online that do labels customized with your child's name - these are great as they're always nice and clear to read, and save loads of time.

Any type of stationery or electronic device will look and wear best with sharpie labelled stickers - just normal Avery ones do the job nicely. Or you could go fancy and use Washi Tape, but they may unravel easily. A sharpie is also best for anything plastic that's going to go through the dishwasher.

Ok, so here's the list - cast your eyes down and check you haven't forgotten anything!

LUNCH ITEMS:

1. lunchbox
2. drink bottle
3. plastic snack containers
4. lunch/drink cooler bags
5. fabric snack bags
6. spoons, forks and utensils

STATIONERY:

7. all exercise books
8. all textbooks
9. pencil case
10. calculators
11. protractor sets
12. stationery - pens, pencils etc.
13. binders
14. school diary
15. school bag

ELECTRONICS:

16. label the actual device - laptop, iPad, iPhone etc.
17. any device cases or covers
18. chargers
19. keyboard and mouse
20. headphones

UNIFORM & CLOTHES:

21. all items of school uniform - pants/skirt, jumpers, blazers, shirts etc.
22. all socks and shoes (handy for when they change for sports)
23. ties, hats, scarves, gloves etc.
24. all items of school sports uniform
25. bathing suit, towel, goggles etc.
26. all after school activities clothing (e.g. for ballet, cricket, footy etc.)
27. sports equipment
28. all sports bags

OTHER STUFF:

29. musical instrument cases
30. music lesson books
31. art smock
32. art folio
33. library bags
34. wallet or purse for lunch money
35. bus or train ticket
36. anything going to Show and Tell

Did you forget anything? Lol! Go grab your sharpies and name the last few things you missed - right now, before you forget :)

I hope this post has helped :) And if I was the one that missed something on this list - let me know!

Check out more of my Back To School Series to help you make things even more hassle free!

Free Printable School Organizers
62 Back To School Organizing Tips
Ten Minute Homework Caddy

All the best,

Eliza.

23 August, 2014

QUICK TIP #19

Quick Tip #19 from The Quick Tips Series by Eliza Ellis
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22 August, 2014

10 MINUTE HOMEWORK CADDY

10 MINUTE HOMEWORK CADDY

I'm not a DIY person. Some girls can take some bottle tops and a piece of string and create a Kate Spade look-a-like necklace. Not me. Unless it's super simple, quick and easy, I've got no hope. Luckily, this little 10 Minute Homework Caddy is all three!

So Missy's art cupboard has been overflowing for a while now, and I've been wracking my brains for an easier way to sort it all out neatly. After jumping on Pinterest, I found heaps of really awesome ideas - but none that I could actually create myself because I couldn't for the life of me find the right 'ingredients'.

10 MINUTE HOMEWORK CADDY

I often have this problem doing DIY stuff - you've got to get the materials just right or it won't work. So, eventually, after several unproductive shopping trips, I came up with a few ideas for a Homework Caddy - or Art Caddy for those of us with preschoolers.

And that's what I'm going to share with you today - a couple of really easy ideas, so you can quickly organize your own - it really won't take you longer than about ten minutes.

And don't forget - yours won't look the same as mine - but it'll be perfect and spot on for your style :)

10 MINUTE HOMEWORK CADDY

 10 MINUTE HOMEWORK CADDY:

I used a white wooden tray I had sitting in the cupboard as a base. You could use a plastic or melamine tray, a platter with a lip or flat sided serving bowl - it depends how often you want to move it around, and whether you want the kid's to be able to move it too.

Mine had an ugly design on the bottom, so I cut out a square of wrapping paper to cover it. This isn't a forever homework caddy, and I've got a whole roll of that paper, so if I have to replace it in a few months, I'm not phased :)

10 MINUTE HOMEWORK CADDY

I used a couple of jars I had in the cupboard and wrapped some baker's twine around them - it gives them a little grip but mainly just looks pretty.

And I bought a couple of candle holders from the dollar store to hold some chalk and pencils.

These little tea light holders, by the way, are the perfect size to hold heaps of different art supplies, so if you're thinking of making up a tray like this, check some out.

And to finish it off, two little ramekins are holding the rest of the chalk, and sticky notes (see top photo).

10 MINUTE HOMEWORK CADDY

What I love most about this little caddy, is once I get sick of it, (which I know I will), I can pull it all apart - no harm done! The jars can go back to holding jam, the string can get used for something else, the bowls can go back in the cupboard, and I can use the little candle cups to hold Missy's hair clips in her room.

AND A FEW OTHER IDEAS:

While I was brainstorming ways to organize Missy's art supplies, I had a few other ideas too - just thought I'd share to help you guys get organized too!

10 MINUTE HOMEWORK CADDY

If you're not keen on trusting your kids with ceramics, this one is all plastic. I just used my peg basket and a couple of little plastic containers.

10 MINUTE HOMEWORK CADDY

And this is how I was keeping Missy's textas - in an icy-pole mould. Mine is a super tiny one, so only two textas fit in each hole, but the bigger, normal ones would be perfect.

Kmart also had a few great solutions I thought I'd share  (if you're not in Australia checkout Walmart or Target for similar items.) They had a white tray similar to mine but plastic here, a bamboo cutlery tray that would be awesome as a Homework Organizer here, and a little rustic rack here. They also had a lovely cleaning and sink caddy here and here, and a cool dish organizer that would have space for books to sit here. This metal cutlery holder here, and this candle holder here would also work well for this project. By the way, I'm in no way affiliated with Kmart, they just had some great solutions!

I hope this gives you a few ideas on how to make a Homework or Art Caddy for your kids! And, just because I could (lol... I got a little carried away...), I did up a few grownup desk organizer versions for us too!

GROWNUP DESK ORGANIZERS:

10 MINUTE HOMEWORK CADDY

Super simple, with a chalkboard for weekly meal planning (forgot to add the chalk pen!), some notepaper, a journal, a few sharpies and pens. Plus something decorative - my white horse bookend.

10 MINUTE HOMEWORK CADDY

A little more business like with plenty of stationery, diaries and notebooks and a couple of spring daffodils :)

10 MINUTE HOMEWORK CADDY

And this one, which is much more me!

So there we go :) Hope this gave you a few ideas to get your kids (and yourselves!) organized. As ever, if you end up making one of these yourself, I'd love to see a few photos!

Check out more of my Back To School Series to help you make things even more hassle free!

Free Printable School Organizers
62 Back To School Organizing Tips
The Top 36 Things to Label for School

All the best,

Eliza.


21 August, 2014

QUICK TIP #18

Quick Tip #18 of The Quick Tips Series by Eliza Ellis
Check out more of my Quick Tips Series here.

19 August, 2014

62 BACK TO SCHOOL ORGANIZING TIPS

 
62 Back to School Organizing Tips - The Back To School Series by Eliza Ellis

So my little sister asked me for some Back To School Organizing Tips, and here they are - all sixty two of them!


Missy is due to start kindergarten in January, so writing this post has been great for me, as it's made me think about how to organize it all smoothly.

Many of these tips are common sense, many are mine that I already use/will be using, and some I actually picked up from said sister :)

So here we go!

62 Back to School Organizing Tips - The Back To School Series by Eliza Ellis

GENERAL TIPS:

1. If you can, get your hands on a copy of each child's syllabus for the year. Knowing what they're supposed to learn, and the level they 'should' be at will help you keep an eye on how they're going, and you can help them if they're struggling before it becomes a major issue.

2. Most families are either morning or evening people - so play to your strengths! If mornings just aren't your thing, try to do as much as you can the night before - layout clothes, have a shower, bath the kids, organize breakfast and lunches. If you're not a night owl, organize as much as you can while the kids are still at school - including dinner.

3. Try to get your kids into a strong morning and after school routine - the structure will help both of you immensely. Routines will vary from family to family, but mine (when Missy goes to school) will go something like this:

BEFORE SCHOOL:
Breakfast
Get Dressed
Brush Teeth
Do Hair
Pack Bag
Sunscreen
Shoes On

AFTER SCHOOL:
Shoes Off
Unpack Bag
Change Clothes
Snack
Homework/Reading
Pack Bag for Tomorrow
Clean Up
 
4. I'd never heard of a 'mudroom' until recently, and it's a brilliant launch/landing pad for the whole family. (So jealous of you guys in the US - mudrooms, basements and attics... oh my!) If I had one, top priority for me would be hooks for backpacks, some kind of neat storage for shoes, a cork/notice board and storage for sports gear. Oh, and a bowl for keys, change, receipts and all the other stuff that comes out of pockets when Husbands walk in the door (...golf tees, phones, beer bottle tops, pens, bank cards, screws, cash...)

5. If you don't have a mudroom, work with what you have. You still need places for everything I just listed, they just won't be together - instead, focus on everything having it's dedicated space, and being put back there everyday. So, backpacks on hooks in the laundry, shoes on a rack by the door, sports gear in the hall cupboard, and keys (and Husband's crap) in the bowl on the buffet.

6. Choose a system to handle your calendar/schedule and all the school paperwork that comes home, and stick with it. Whether it's a corkboard on the wall, your Home Organizing Binder, a diary or just your phone, choose one place to keep everything and stick to it.

7.  Speaking of your phone, it's a great idea to take a photo of daily schedules and other important timetables so you've always got a copy with you.

8. Also, if you send forms that need returning back with your child the very next day, they won't have a chance to get lost!

9. And always put forms and paperwork in the same spot - like the front pocket of their bag - so the kids can find them easily to give to their teacher.

10. Limit how many after school activities your kids can do - just to stop them, and you, getting overwhelmed.

11. And for those activities, keep specific bags for specific sports - i.e. one bag for ballet, one for swimming, one for football etc. Empty them to wash and clean, then re-pack them ready for next week and store with the kid's school bags. This way they're ready to just grab and go, and there won't be any forgotten goggles or socks.

62 Back to School Organizing Tips - The Back To School Series by Eliza Ellis

BREAKFAST:

12. When possible, make breakfast ahead so you can just heat and eat. I've got a couple of awesome recipes coming next week, so watch out for those!

13. Or, keep breakfast super simple and quick with the classic toast, cereal or both.

14. If you have lots of kids, it might pay to stagger bathroom and breakfast time - so as two sit down to eat, the eldest gets dressed and ready, and when she's finished, she sits down to eat and it's the middle child's turn to get ready.

15. While kids are eating breakfast is the perfect time to pack lunches, and talk to them about notes or permission slips that may have been forgotten.

16. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day, so make sure there's enough time in your routine for them to sit down and make a proper meal of it.

62 Back to School Organizing Tips - The Back To School Series by Eliza Ellis

BEFORE SCHOOL:

17. Aim to leave 10m before you need to, as there will always be hiccups in the routine!

18. For big families with lots of toothbrushes, name each one with a sharpie so they don't get confused, and they can even be kept neatly in a cutlery tray, if you have the space!

19. Set out tomorrow's uniform or clothes the night before so kids can get dressed without having to think about it.

20. Or, if you're super organized with your laundry, you could put a week's worth of clothes on hangers ready for them to grab each morning.

21. If you have little girls, keep a basket with hair ties, clips, a brush, hairspray, detangler etc, so everything is on hand.

22. In the car on the way to school is a great time to remind kids about any forms and permission slips they need to give to their teacher.

23. Always keep some cash, envelopes and a pen in the car - for the things they only remember to tell you about on the way to school...

24. Always keep sunscreen in the car for the days they forget to put it on, or to save time before you leave.

25. Always keep a packet of baby wipes in the car, for the grubby hands and faces you only notice once you've left the house...

62 Back to School Organizing Tips - The Back To School Series by Eliza Ellis

LUNCHES:

26. Only buy lunchboxes and drink bottles you can wash in the dishwasher - you'll get over hand washing the fussy ones with straws and fancy shapes very quickly.

27. I know they say the little zip lock bags are reusable... yes you can wash them... yes apparently you can put them through the dishwasher... but are you seriously going to do that every day...? Just buy a set of snack sized plastic containers which will be much easier to reuse.

28. If your school has 'little lunch' (recess) and 'big lunch', it might be easier for your child if you pack two smaller lunchboxes.

29. Keep lunchbox items simple! If you love making your kids' sandwiches into origami and stamping out carrot flowers, then go for it - and I'm in awe of the mums that do. But for the rest of us, it's the simple things that kids will love and actually eat. A ham and cheese sandwich. A bunch of grapes. A few choc chip biscuits. A cupcake. A mandarin. Ice cold water. Juice. Seriously, less is often more!

30. And most of the foods I just mentioned are finger foods, which are easiest for kids to manage too. Try not to choose ones that will leave them with sticky fingers, but include a serviette or napkin in their lunchbox each day, just in case.

31. Many schools in Australia are also going 'litter free' now too, so simple finger foods are definitely better.

32. Also, be aware that some classes will be egg/dairy/gluten free due to other kids being intolerant - it's good to check with the school about this.   

33. Think about where your child's backpack will be stored all day at school - if they're all hanging on pegs outside a classroom in full sun, then a chicken sandwich for lunch may not be a great idea.

34. Frozen primas (juiceboxes) were a favorite school lunch item when I was growing up, and they also help keep everything else in the lunchbox nice and cool.

35. School snacks like muesli bars and rice bubble bars are all expensive to buy, but simple to make, so get into the habit of making a batch each week and storing them in the fridge.

36. Similarly, with the big packs of individually wrapped biscuits. It's much cheaper to buy a normal packet and separate them into single serves yourself at the start of the week - you'll have the same thing, for less money. Same goes for popcorn, chips, crackers, yoghurts and canned fruit snacks.

37. Packing school lunches can seem like Mission Impossible, but the best way is to just think about what lunchbox foods are appropriate, that your kids will eat and are in your budget, then make a list of easy options they can choose from each week before you do the grocery shop.

38. A little note in your child's lunchbox can make their day, you can download my Lunchbox Notes for free HERE.

39. And lastly, keep 'lunchbox' snacks separate from 'after school snacks' in your pantry, otherwise they'll disappear!


62 Back to School Organizing Tips - The Back To School Series by Eliza Ellis

AFTER SCHOOL:

40. Have a dedicated space to display kids artwork - a corkboard, pretty pegs on a string or some lovely frames - this way you won't have papers flying about every time you open the fridge.

41. Have a shelf or basket to hold all their other artwork, or buy each child an art folio each year - it'll keep all those projects contained.

42. Or, if you can't handle piles of artworks building up, cull them as regularly as you can. And if you snap a photo of each one on your phone first, you'll always have them!

43. Get your kids to unpack their backpacks as they walk in the door, then if they change out of their uniforms and have a snack, they'll feel fresh and ready to do their homework.

44. And maybe lay their after school clothes out for them - it'll save them some time and they won't have to think about what to wear.

45. Organize after school snacks in a basket in the pantry, or dedicate a shelf in the fridge to them, so kids can help themselves.

46. Or make up a big fruit, vegetable and dip platter so they can pick at it while they do their homework.

62 Back to School Organizing Tips - The Back To School Series by Eliza Ellis

HOMEWORK:

47. Make a dedicated spot for kids to do their homework - a desk in their room, nook in the study or just a little bench under a window will make it a special space for them, and they'll get more work done. And don't forget to make it look pretty and appealing to them!

48. If you can't give them their own special space, there's nothing like the kitchen table or bench! In which case, make them a little portable homework organizer/caddy/tray which contains everything they need to do their homework - it will still make it special for them, and you'll save on space! Check out my post tomorrow to see the one I made for Missy - and some tips on how to make one!

49. De-clutter the kids work space and homework caddy regularly to keep them fresh and organized.

50. It's a good idea to keep a few often used art supplies so you don't panic when finding out there's a project due... tomorrow!

51. Decide how you will do the evening reading with each child. Try to have a spot for it where it won't distract the other kids doing their homework, and try to give them your full attention. This can be great, daily one on one time with your children.

52. Mums - do your homework too! This is the time to go through all the notes from school and deal with them! It's also a great time to organize your schedule, and what meals, lunches, errands and jobs need doing the following day.

62 Back to School Organizing Tips - The Back To School Series by Eliza Ellis

AND A JUST A COUPLE MORE...

53. Laminate the kids bus or train tickets if you can.

54. A pretty luggage tag or large key chain will help your child find their bag amongst a crowd of identical backpacks.

55. Nits... just buy a bottle of the stuff before school starts so it's in the cupboard... just in case...

56. For big families, or those with girls and boys of similar ages and similar sizes, try color coding each child. Give each child a color, and buy lunchboxes, drink bottles, pencil cases, folders, school bags etc. in that color only. This way you will always know who's stuff is who's - and it makes it easier for them too.

57. Also with the color coding - my sister has two girls a year apart, and their clothes are always getting muddled up. So when she buys new clothes, she gets a sharpie and puts colored dots on the tags so she (and the girls!) can tell them apart. She also does this under the toes of white school socks.

58. For some classes, like music or library, kids will take their shoes off at the door, and at the start of the year all those new, black shoes look much the same - which makes it hard for kids to find theirs.  If you can, write their names inside, or use a little dab of colored nail polish so they can easily find theirs.

59. Dress up costume days happen regularly - you know they're coming lol! So maybe brainstorm a few do-able ideas with your kids, just so you're prepared in advance.

60. Have a few small boy and girl birthday gifts in the cupboard for your children's friend's birthdays. Stickers, fancy pencils, coloring books, bouncy balls etc. are all great inexpensive gifts. Don't forget to have a roll of 'boy' and 'girl' wrapping paper on hand too.

61. Try to have a few dinners in the freezer for when things get really busy - lasagne, spaghetti bolognaise sauce, shepherds pie and chicken pie are my go-to favorites.

62. Put a little bowl in the pantry to collect whatever collect-a-docket money-for-schools promotion the local supermarkets are doing this year. The pantry is best, because that's where you put the groceries away, and that's where you pack the kid's lunches - so you'll remember to send them to school.


So there we go! Sixty two Back to School Organizing Tips! I hope you found a few tips to make your days a bit less stressful :)

Check out more of my Back To School Series to help you make things even more hassle free!

Free Printable School Organizers
Ten Minute Homework Caddy
The Top 36 Things to Label for School

All the best,

Eliza.

QUICK TIP #17

Quick Tip #17 from The Quick Tips Series by Eliza Ellis
 Check out more of my Quick Tips Series here.

17 August, 2014

FREE PRINTABLE SCHOOL ORGANIZERS - THE BACK TO SCHOOL SERIES

Back to School Free Printables

As half the globe finish their summer vacation and get ready for a new school year, kids in Australia are smack bang in the middle of term three, and counting down the days to their big summer holidays.

But no matter what the time of year, everyone loves a few new organizing ideas, especially for the kids, so this week I'll be doing a lovely big School Organizing series :)

Now, Missy isn't in school yet, but my sister has been nagging requesting that I do some school focused printables and organizing ideas for a while now. At the moment, she's packing six (SIX!!) off every morning, so she has to be super organized!

And to kick off the series, I've got some awesome free printables! Some of these are brand new, and others are ones I've already posted about, but you can find them all under 'Back To School' on the Printables page.

Back to School Free Printable School Uniform Planner

1. SCHOOL UNIFORM PLANNER:

School uniforms can be a hassle to organize - and the more kids you have, the more interesting it gets! This is a pretty basic uniform list and should cover the needs for most public, catholic and private day schools. (Some of the big old fashioned schools, like the boarding school I went to, have a 'required items' list three pages long - but if your kids are going to one of those, they will probably give you a very comprehensive guide.)

The 'Need' column is how many of something you actually need to get through the week - e.g. 5 pairs of socks or 3 shirts. The 'Have' column is how many you have already, and this is especially handy when sorting out hand-me-down uniforms. And the 'To Buy' column is obviously what you need to purchase.


Back to School Free Printable Kid's Wardrobe Planner

2. KID'S WARDROBE PLANNER:

This is for when your kids don't need to wear a uniform - like some high schools, kindergartens, etc. - even for organizing their clothes generally, this is a really handy printable to have.

I always find shoes to be the hardest thing to buy for Missy - so each season when I organize her wardrobe, that's where I start. I just write 'Silver Ballet Flats' or whatever in each box (or if I'm feeling artistic, I might draw a picture...) Then I work out how many of everything else I need to buy, and go shopping.

The color palette area down the bottom helps when I'm shopping to keep everything matching and looking cohesive - basically so that I (or the husband) can pull anything out of  her wardrobe, and know it will match.

I'll be doing a big post on this soon, when I get her Spring/Summer wardrobe organized, so watch out for that!


Back to School Free Printable Kid's Homework Planner

3. HOMEWORK SCHEDULE:

A quick and handy homework schedule so the kids can keep track of what they need to do each day - and there's room down the side where they can earn stars toward something :) Kid's handwriting varies enormously, so I haven't put any lines in each box - just so they can all write in there as neatly as they can and it looks lovely :) I've also listed 'Reading Done!' specifically, because this is a daily homework task at most schools.

If your kid's are a little older, and would like a more grown up style planner, check out my Home Organizer: Calendars & Planners.


Back to School Free Printable Kid's Chore Charts

4. KID'S CHORE CHART:

This is a printable I posted about a few months ago, but back to school is the perfect time to organize kid's chores too! If you would like to read more about these, check out Home Organizer: Kid's Chore Charts.


Back to School Free Printable School Lunch Planner

5. SCHOOL LUNCH PLANNER:

This printable was also put up a few months ago, and it's so handy for organizing packed lunches - especially with fussy kids or egg/soy free classes due to other children being intolerant. 

If you are doing six packed lunches each day, like my sister, I would put this printable in a frame and write on the glass with a whiteboard pen - that way you can use it over and over again.

To read more about this printable, check out my post Home Organizer: Meal Planners


Back to School Free Printable Lunchbox Notes

6. LUNCHBOX NOTES:

These are just some little notes you can print off, cut out, and keep in a drawer in the kitchen to tuck into each lunchbox :) Because sometimes a quick note can make a kid's day (even the big ones!).


Back to School Free Printable Academic Calendar 2014-2015

7. ACADEMIC YEAR AT A GLANCE CALENDAR:

This is specifically for everyone in the Northern Hemisphere, and it shows your School Year at a glance on one page. A big thanks to Shyla for suggesting it :)


So there we go! You'll find all the free printables I've featured here via the link below - just scroll down to choose your color, and look for the heading 'Back to School'.

TO DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE BACK TO SCHOOL PRINTABLES - CLICK HERE

I hope this helps you and your kids get a bit more organized for school!

Check out more of my Back To School Series to help you make things even more hassle free!

62 Back To School Organizing Tips
Ten Minute Homework Caddy
The Top 36 Things to Label for School

So all the best for now,

Eliza.