Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Mama's Rescue Binder

                                                                                                Source: via Sarah on Pinterest

     You may be wondering what in the world a "Rescue Binder" is, no worries my dears, I am here to tell you! But, before I do, let me just say that I tried to think of something more sensible, more catchy, but nothing seemed to quite fit until I came up with that title, so Rescue Binder it is. :)

     My Rescue Binder is the place that I stash organize all of those lovely papers that come home from school...each. And. Every. Day. In my children's backpacks. I have tried several systems over the years to make sure that those darn papers actually get into my hands in the first place, that I actually read them, and then that I either promptly recycle, deal with, or save each and every piece accordingly. Each system has failed in one way or another, but last summer as I prepared for a new school year--this time with three, count 'em, three of my four children in full-time attendance--I finally came up with something that I thought really might work...

     ...You see, I have a bit of an addiction to--whispered in holy reverence: Office Supplies. You think I jest:

Ladies Holiday, "In praise of office supplies", Copyright 2012

     Sadly, I do not jest. In fact, I have collected so many paper protector sheets, dividers, file folders, three hole punched folders, pocket folders, paper clips, erasers, pencils, pens, post-its, and highlighters (to name only a few) over the years that it is astounding I didn't put them to better use until recently. When I made a major move a few years ago, I got rid of TONS of stuff, I mean really tons, but my beloved office boxes and on shelves barely touched but for the few used inkjet do-it-yourself labels and staples and White Out here and there, could not be left behind. I packed 'em all up and vowed "These will not go to waste, I will really use them!" I'm proud to say, I've been making good use of them in the two years since I've lived in my new place, but I think my Rescue Binder is my best use by far. Oh about that Rescue Binder, huh?

     So here it was, August, I was sorting through favorite homework assignments and art projects from the previous school year--these go from display on the refrigerator door into one big drawer all year long--sometime over the summer I sort the best of the best for each child into their own keepsake bin (a great idea I stole from my fabulous friend Emily.) So I was in the midst of said project when I started to have a bit of an anxiety attack:

"Oh's all about to start again, all those papers! All those missed school events because I didn't read the flyer in time....all those late permission slips because I misplaced them until the last frazzled second. Ug!"

Then, as if in sweet glorious response to my woes, my attention turned to the high shelf in the closet where I keep those keepsake bins, on the shelf sat my stacks of un-used office supplies. The Rescue Binder was about to be born. The previous school year I had started a system in which each child had their own hanging pocket folder attached to their individual cubby in our family room. The cubbies held their shoes and backpacks, the pocket folders were the place where they were to place the papers that came home from school. This system worked pretty well because the papers were where I could see them (instead of lurking in the bottom of backpacks) so it was easy for me to remember to check their pocket folders at the end of each day and look through all the papers. Only problem was, my organization stopped there. All those papers, after I looked at them, usually ended up in a big pile on my counter...forgotten...but at least I had read them. I needed a place for those things, I needed to organize them. I needed a reference manual. And finally, without further adieu...the RESCUE BINDER has been birthed from necessity, trial-and-error, and finally a little common sense:

Ladies Holiday, Copyright 2012

     I finally put all those paper protectors and dividers and pocket folders to good use. I went out and bought a binder all special-like for this project. I made sure to buy something funky and bright that I liked (if I was gonna have to use it for all this boring stuff I might as well feel happy looking at it) and that would be easy for me to spot when I was looking for it. I also gave it it's own designated home within arms reach in my family room so that I'd always know where it was, but the bright colors still didn't hurt. ;)

     One word of caution if you are planning on making your own Rescue Binder: if you have more than one child in school (like I do) whose papers you'll be keeping track of...don't do what I did at first and buy a wimpy 1.5" binder, nope sweetie, I'm sorry but you cannot get away with a binder like that! Less than half way through the school year that poor thing was busting at the seams and could barely be closed all the way. Go industrial strength, get at least a 3" binder like the one shown above that I transferred to when the other one went Kapoot! (Is that a word? I don't think that's a word.)

     You'll find out soon enough what types of sections you'll need in your binder, but here's what's in mine:

  • At the very front, for easy access and quick (almost daily) reference--each in their own paper protectors--I have: the school calendar for the year (showing days off etc.), the monthly school calendar and school lunch menu, the volunteer calendar for each class ("Am I helping in Isaac's class today?), listings for each child's daily "Specials" (this makes it easy to remember which days the kids need to wear their gym shoes, or which days not to wear their nicest new outfit because they are just going to get paint on it in art class), and the class list of phone numbers for each child (for easy play-date making and birthday party invites.)
  • A pocket folder for certain flyers that need to be addressed A.S.A.P.
  • The Extra-Curricular Section: scouting, sports, you name it.
  • The Home Work Section: My daughter's weekly spelling list, My son's weekly homework packet which would come home on Monday and be due back on Friday, last year I also kept fun little worksheets for my kindergartner in this section because he usually felt left out when the older two had homework and he didn't.
  • Another pocket folder for Report Cards and other school correspondence that I should hang onto long term.
  • The very inside of my binder's front cover has a clip-board-like clip on the top: this is where I keep permission slips that I must sign and return very promptly.
     As you can see, it's really not rocket science and there are probably even better ways I could organize this BIG FAT nifty little binder, but it worked well for me last year and I hope if nothing else it's inspired you to either try it yourself or come up with your own method to manage the paper influx this school year. If it's not obvious at this point, I decided I had to call it the Rescue Binder because it has literally rescued me again and again, last year I can proudly say there were very few instances in which I had to apologize for missing something or forgetting to turn something in, for once I kind of felt like The Mom Who Has it Together (you know the one I'm talkin' about) it might not actually be totally true, but binder to the rescue...I fooled plenty!

All in a days work ;)

IHeart Organizing

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  1. Ironic that I read this right after putting all the handouts I got at Parents Nights in my Family Binder. I started it last spring, don't know how I lived without it.

    I purposely keep mine as a 1-1/2 inch as it forces me to purge more often. Unless I need to refer to something often (like the school calendar) it goes in the trash or file cabinet.

    1. Hi Liz,

      Thanks for stopping by! :) You make an excellent point, one wouldn't want to go too big with the binder because then things could easily get out of control again!! 3" works perfectly for me with my three kiddos, but I like your point about smaller sizes forcing you to purge. I make a point to go through and purge every month when the new calendar's come home.

      No matter which system works for you, I say "Wahoo for a system!!" it's clear that with kiddos and all the "stuff" that comes along with them a system is needed :D

      Thanks again!

  2. What a super cool idea Tamar! I am shameful I don't keep much of the work that my kids come home with (I know I will take the necessary punishment).

    I like your binder idea to keep everything organized and with 3 kids I can see needing a 3" binder :)

    Happy Wednesday to you!

  3. Great Job. I'm thought I was the only one who forgot to sign permission slips and forgot events... I'n so unorganized and this year I have done the same thing to help keep things in order. I will take your advice and get more folders to help keep on top of things.
    thanks. I would love to come share at your Friday Party.
    Rose @ A Rosie Sweet Home.

  4. this is seriously genius! im gonna go make my mama binder today.i wish i could show you my kitchen counter and all the paperwork (x's 3) i keep ignoring it because its all over the place. thanks so much! have a great week-end!


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