An Organization Epiphany {Homework Boxes}

So, this last weekend we celebrated my husband’s birthday, and even though it was his big day, I am the one who learned something.

On Saturday I was enjoying a rare child-free trip Target to finish up some back-to-school items {and yes, buy him a birthday card}, when I suddenly got anxious about getting his birthday gifts wrapped.  I know, if I was a “good” blogger :), I would have a perfectly organized wrapping area and this task would be a pleasure, right?

So, when I got home I was thinking about how, since we moved last fall, I still had wrapping paper stored under the guest room bed, gift bags stashed in an armoire, gift cards in a drawer in my office, and {hopefully} tape and scissors somewhere in my kitchen drawers. It would certainly make sense to pull it all together in one place. After all, with three kids there is always a present for a party, teachers etc., and the holidays are coming, yikes!


But then, I started thinking about how if a wrapping “kit” helped with one chore, wouldn’t the concept work for all the other areas where I felt some stress my life? So, I sat down with a pad of paper made a list of all the small chores, events or activities that might possibly be made less stressful with a “kit.”

Things on the list–I randomly jotted down anything that popped into my head–like the morning rush to school, the afternoon dash to activities, school papers, homework, meals, cleaning, etc.

None of these are novel ideas (and all have been done at some point in “Blogland” and easily found on Pinterest), I just haven’t put a priority on using them as a method to keeping myself more sane.

This sudden manifestation of my OCD is definitely a result of the impending start of school. Over the last few years, with my kids getting older I feel like I have a harder time managing the three different directions they are going in, not to mention that each child has different needs and skill sets.

So here is what I am going to try to do. It will likely take several posts but I am going to look at different components of my/our life and trying to figure out some better systems. While a “kit” might work in some cases, and even in some ways I hadn’t thought of before, some trouble areas in our life just need better systems.

So, I am still working through all the parts of life that I can fit into this category–have suggestions? Areas you struggle with? Please leave them at the bottom of the post. I wish I could say I thought I would have some life-changing solutions to some of the big ones–like organizing pictures (the bane of my existence) or cleaning the house–but getting a grip on the small things may make more time for the bigger things, right?

So, I debated over the several projects I jumped into this week and with school starting, the homework boxes I made seemed to be a good as any place to start.

My kids still need oversight with their homework, so they work right at our kitchen table, and we have had nights of tired meltdowns when the lack of a readily available pencil sharpener was just too much to handle on top of 20 waiting math problems. So I created not one, but two homework boxes.

{Sharing? Why borrow trouble! Each of my boys got their own box.}

The boxes are filled with a ruler, a pencil sharpener, plenty of extra pencils, crayons/markers, scissors, tape, and erasers.  I grabbed everything at Target during the back to school sale.  I also made a new folder for all the classroom papers regarding homework, like weekly spelling words, so we won’t have to track them down each night. I want them to learn to manage their own work, and have all the supplies they might need so they can function independently. Since these boxes are portable, if a quieter spot is needed then the kitchen table, the box can just be taken along. In the meantime, my new kitchen hutch has the perfect little spot to tuck them away when they are not needed.

I have also spent time this week organizing mealtime, meal planning and my food shopping. I can honestly say that while this overhaul has been in the works for longer then 24 hours, it has really made a difference in my life. {In the meantime, see Terry’s In the Kitchen Series HERE which provides meal plans and shopping lists and are such a huge help to me}.

I received this cute fridge calendar as a gift {thanks Caroline!} and its going to be a nice part of my meal planning endeavor.

Also on my list are topics like the morning rush/lunchboxes, cleaning, managing activities, school paperwork, the holidays (that’s the big one!)… my list is still growing. Feel free to chime in, I don’t profess to have any better clue then anyone else out there, I am just committed to helping my children (and myself) function better by providing a calmer, organized environment for us all. So, please feel free to make this a Magnolia Lane community effort–leave your tips, comments, problem areas, suggestions, links to posts with solutions, you name it, I can’t wait to see it.

Thanks for stopping by!



  1. I have a piece of furniture that has been put to great use and is in the perfect spot. I have commandeered a writing desk that belonged to my grandmother. The top section has a fold out area that was for writing (obviously) and storing envelopes etc. I have used it to keep a dictionary, thesaurus, and a few pretty pots with pencils etc in it. Then there is a little drawer here too. I put erasers and pencil sharpeners in there. This is the homework area. There are three drawers in the main section below the writing area. The first one houses all my spare cards, so I can delve in and find the appropriate card before the party/ housewarming/ leaving -do. The second drawer houses wrapping paper. I only keep the folded type here and I have a large bag that hold rolls and gift bags in another room. I would have loved it if they all fitted in here but they don’t. The bottom drawer holds the Christmas cards. I have new boxes of unused cards and address labels here. I also keep last years cards here so I can do a quick check to see who sent to us.
    This writing desk holds real sentimental value for me as I played with it alot as a child. I am so happy that I eventually got to own it, but also that it is so useful. It sits in our dining area, so is beside where the kids do their homework. If I am wrapping something at the table it is so easy to get the stuff out of it, and to write a card is so simple. I have the stock all there. Finally the Christmas card writing, whilst I dislike it, has been made so much more less painful. I hope this is a useful idea.

    • I love this idea, thank you so much for posting it. Sometimes in this day we forget about using furniture we already have or that is meaningful to us and go straight to IKEA for a new solution. I am so glad you pointed out a vintage (and a family piece at that) desk is a great organizing solution, and maybe one your children will have fond memories of as well!

      AND—this made me think of using my grandmother’s chest that is in my hallway to store wrapping paper—it might be the solution I need for the longer rolls. Thanks! Its filled with tablecloths I never use, where as wrapping paper gets pulled out all the time…{See the lightbulb going off in my head!}

      Thank you so much for sharing and giving me such a useful idea!


  2. The homework box is a great idea! My son has recently started sharpening about a dozen pencils before he starts his math homework; that way he knows he won’t run out. (I must give him a lot of homework. LOL)

    • Anything that creates less homework battles, right? 🙂 Its great that he is motivated and thinks ahead! Thanks Melissa.

  3. What a great post! We think we are all showing our inner OCD this time of year. This is a great way to streamline homework.

    • Thanks Erin, I am glad to know I am not the only one getting my organizational fix for back to school! Good luck to you 🙂

  4. Organization makes me so happy -way to go!

  5. Great idea! Will be making my own homework boxes this weekend. As to other things that need “kits”, I’d say a mailing station (stamps, pen, envelopes, notecards, address book and address labels). Most people would call this a desk but since I don’t have one of those, a kit helps! Pet care kit, maybe? Pet leash, meds, brushes, sprays, nail clippers, extra balls, laminated instructions for pet care.

    This is fun! Now, to just put it all together!

    • Thanks Heather for the great ideas…the mailing station would be a great help for billing paying too (for those that you can’t pay online, right?) I will add it to the list, I know that would also simplify my life and every little bit helps!
      Have a great day.

  6. Love the idea of streamlining the small things! I have wrap & ribbon under our bed, the Christmas wrapping rolls & bows in our closet, and I am always scattered when it comes to the tape, scissors & pen (to write on the tags!). Love your idea of making kits to help with the everyday things!! Would love to follow you along!

    I posted on my blog about How to Live a Simple and Organized Life, and in it I included areas to help streamline your life! It was more of a list for myself personally, but can be used in your efforts as well! 🙂 I was particularly thinking of a laundry system, paperwork system, errands system, email system, cleaning system…. I am still working on a lot of these things, but the list is there for me to look at from time to time when life gets too hectic! 🙂

    • Thanks! Sounds like we are thinking along the same lines–and we both keep our wrapping paper under the bed! Ha! Great ideas…a laundry system, I definitely could use one of those!

      Thanks for your note 🙂

  7. my project is figuring out what things i am always needing UPstairs that i always leave DOWNstairs (and viceversa) and getting myself into a “never put them down except in this basket” habit. “getting a grip on the small things may make more time for the bigger things” … true, true, true so true!!! now if i can just slow down long enough to work on that grip :o)

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