The following is a post from contributing writer Shannen of Middle Way Mom
There are a million and one ways to organize a home, especially when space and money is not an issue. As the space and budget get smaller, so do the options. Our family of five (kids are 13, 2.5, and 4 months) currently lives in our investment property we bought two years ago: one side of a duplex with approximately 1000 finished sq ft. Thankfully, there’s a decent amount of unfinished space we can use also! The plan is to live here for a few years, pay off student loans, and move to a larger single family home and keep the duplex as an added income. Given the temporary nature of our stay, it also means we are not installing permanent fixtures. We make do with what we have.
The trick to my organization in our small home is staging and using unfinished space.
Let’s start in the living room. I do most of my work, and the work with the kids, in either the living room or the adjacent dining area. I stock the cube bookshelf in the living room with the items I’m actively using, which includes personal books, preschool lesson plan ideas (Before Five in a Row, Slow and Steady Get Me Ready, Oak Meadow Preschool), and right now I have the IEW teacher DVD set that I want to watch – just anything that I want to have at my fingertips.
On the bottom shelves, I have books for Little Miss, my 2.5 year old. These are the books we read together for free reading, before bed, and books I want to read for specific activities. The small stack of books to the right of the shelf are our library books. One day I’ll get a cute basket to put them in, but for now they live next to our bookshelf in the living room.
My home binder is hidden between the back of the book shelf and the spice carousel. This has the menu plan, lesson plans, coupons, community education flyers, etc. It is readily available when I want it, but not an eye sore. I’ve also been keeping the IEW teacher binder here simply because it doesn’t fit in the book shelf and it’s another thing I want at my fingertips – waiting for me to dig in and get started with the DVD seminar.
Next, we head downstairs. The laundry room is at the bottom of the stairs, and you’ll actually find another bookshelf there, along with the laminator and printer. We use this bookshelf in the laundry room for every day school items for my 13 year old. She is perfectly capable to put her books away at the end of the day, so I have this in an area that we don’t use as a work space, but is still convenient to get her books each day.
On the same book shelf, I have lesson books I don’t need right away, office supplies, a cloth bin holding empty bins for potential preschool projects, and a few other miscellaneous items.
Next comes the book shelf in our creepy, unfinished storage room. I don’t like being in this room since it gives me the creepy crawlies, but it’s a great space to store items that you don’t need often, or when you are swapping out items to keep things feeling new. I have quite a few of the early reading, Scholastic classic, and story time books here. I simply don’t have enough space in one spot to have all books of this category in one place, so I store them in unfinished space and swap them out from time to time to keep things fresh.
Now back to finished space – the den in the basement. Care Bear (13 year old) has her own desk with storage above her working area. She keeps her binders with her work, calculator, personal whiteboard, and other supplies in the storage area of her desk. She rarely actually works at this desk, but it is a space she can use when the little ones are distracting her.
Also in the den is another bookshelf we had installed directly to the wall when we had the room finished. Since this room is also a play area, I have more baby and preschool books, but here you’ll find all the resource books, dictionaries, encyclopedias, literature books, etc. This is the heart of our homeschool library, and I’m working on building it each year.
Lastly, is our “vintage” dresser that lives in the den. I got this dresser as a hand-me-down when Care Bear was two, and it has served its purpose well ever since. It currently holds manipulatives, paint, construction paper, craft scissors, glue, and more. Since I don’t use these items every day, it isn’t a big deal that they are down the in the den.
So, there’s a view into our humble home. It isn’t anything fancy, but it gets the job done with items that are easy to find second hand. While I love all the fancy bins and organization products available, we are putting our money towards other priorities at this point, and I’m sure there’s many others in the same boat.
How have you chosen to organize your homeschool?
Shannen is frugal at heart and loves finding ways to make old things useful again. When she isn’t busy with their rental property, homeschooling, or tending after little ones, she blogs on Middle Way Mom about her life in each of these things, and how Islam brings purpose to it all. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, and Pinterest!
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