Threads of the Pattern

I’ll Send an S.O.S to the World

Posted on: August 22, 2012

Back to school days are for me, filled with conflicting emotions. In just one day I can go from ‘Yay! Back to school!’ to ‘Ugh! 35 glue sticks?! seriously?’ to ‘I think homeschooling in the answer. I’ll miss them too much otherwise!’ and usually back to some form of ‘Yay! Back to school!’ by the end of it.

With one exception. My inner monologue is almost -always- stuck on ’35 glue sticks? What are they going to do…feed them as snacks?’

You see, in my state, as is in many others I’m sure, we buy our children’s school supplies. Not just the cool bookbags or special pens or ninjago notebooks, but everything they need for school. I do not blame my school district or our teachers for this, because I understand about taxes and budgets and all, but I reserve the right to complain about it, once a year, at length. I have four kids, after all. I have to feel like I’m getting my money’s worth out of these supplies.


So after the first year we moved here, I began to gather school supplies throughout the year and stock them in a shoebox. And then, everyone was going to school. So it graduated into a tote.

And then, I started working from home. So…office supplies got added to the tote, and trickled over only my desk.


And the we started doing a lot of arts and crafts at home. So, that large shoebox turned into a small nation of containers, including a large tote, an art box, my desk and…a few shoeboxes of varying sizes.

Ok…I admit it…my school/office supplies are out of control!

Do I have a hoarding problem? Not usually…but I will admit to a crazy obsession with office supplies. And…you know…I’m a little..urm…frugal…so I hate the idea of spending an enormous amount of money on school supplies because I thumbed my nose at all the good sales all year.

So, this is me, sharing my mess with you, and asking, no begging for help!



Readers: help me organize this hot mess into something useful! The tote was a great idea, but everytime I need to get one thing out of it, I end up dumping half of it on the floor and then throwing it all back in all wily-nily.

I often have to take notes on the fly when I work (as few and far between as that is) and my desk is upstairs, the supply box downstairs. So what started as two notebooks and some post it’s at the desk turned into that stuff. Please ignore the World of Warcraft books..they too are very necessary sometimes.



Ok, now that youve seen the dark, dismal reality of my mess…

How would You begin? What makes the most sense to you in terms of organization and getting everything in reach? Am i going to be forced to add an addition onto the house in order to keep all this stuff neat? What are your dirty little organizing secrets?


4 Responses to "I’ll Send an S.O.S to the World"

As a teacher (retired) and an organization “expert”( I wrote a book and taught graduate classes to teachers on how to organize classrooms) I could offer a couple of simple suggestions. I made mini drawers out of those little plastic baskets you can get for pennies each at walmart.. They are almost flat, maybe two inches deep. Put like pieces together in each basket-one for glue sticks, one for pens, etc. Line them up on a shelf, label each one so a child can find the correct one without pulling them all out. In my classroom, I used an old bookcase for the shelves. A large plastic crate can store notebooks/paper packs by putting it on its side and dividing it horizontally with dowels into “shelves”. Remember that organization should work for you and not the other way around. If it’s too complicated, you won’t follow through. Train the kids to return found bits to the proper bin. One other suggestion to keep track of papers from school and going back to school is to have all backpacks unloaded in the same area and papers in separate letter files. Get the stacking ones to save space and make sure all papers go there and nowhere else. After you sign/deal with the papers, put them immediately in the backpacks. Ditto homework. Stuff left on flat surfaces is a disaster. Hope this helps.

Randa, I love those ideas! We suffer from a bit of a space problem at the moment, but you’ve got me pondering maybe a closing cabinet or something? Thanks so much for commenting!

You can save even more space by sliding the little baskets onto horizontal letter files that stack. I could get two per letter file and then two on the next, etc. Really acts like drawers and takes up small amount of space. Maybe your husband could put narrow extra shelves in a closet to keep this stuff behind your hanging clothes. Another idea is to use shoe organizers that hang on the back of doors. Lots can fit in the pockets. Hope it helps.

Those are all such great ideas! Thank you for sharing, I can’t wait to get all those supplies settled better. The tote of doom just makes me crazy whenever I need to find something!

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