When we purchased our house before having children, I never realized how essential a mudroom might be. Our home is set up so that we enter in from the garage 95% of the time and that comes straight in to the kitchen with the dining room immediately to the left of the door, a pantry in front of that entrance door, and the kitchen immediately to the right of the garage door. There is a small amount of wall space next to the garage door entrance, but not enough to organize backpacks, coats, school papers, shoes, etc.
As my oldest entered in to school a few years ago, I realized I needed an organization system. I tried several different ones but finally settled on the one that I have now. This came in to existence as my youngest started school this year and I was going to have double the stuff to keep track of!
Organizing the Backpacks/Shoes/Coats
I needed a way to organize shoes, soccer stuff, swim stuff, backpacks, and coats in one location so that everyone could find what they needed at any given time. I decided to take a corner of my dining room which is near that all important entrance door and created hanging space for backpacks, coats, and hats. I purchased the hanging racks at Lowes and they were relatively inexpensive.
I also found a little bench from Target that was inexpensive and very easy to put together. The bins in the bench store soccer shoes and shin guards at the moment and the swimming essentials (masks, sunscreen, swim shoes, and toys). I also purchased a simple cubby system next to the bench from Target. It was inexpensive and easy to put together. This cubby holds shoes. My children don’t have many pairs of shoes: 1 pair of dress shoes, crocs, and tennis shoes. Occasionally some flip flops wind up in there. The kids know to put their shoes there when they take them off and then we don’t do the mad dash in the morning looking for shoes!
If you have lots of shoes, there is a great shoe cabinet that I have seen others use that you can purchase from Ikea or other online retailers that will hold a huge amount of shoes. That might be an investment if you have the space for one. I tried to contain everything to this little corner of my dining room. When we have guest in the dining room, I tidy up the mudroom area and it’s out of the way. We very rarely use the dining room, so it’s not that intrusive.
Organizing School Papers/Calendar/and Mail
To keep track of the schedules, papers, mail, and other essentials I have a two piece organizing system in place. In the mudroom area, I have created a picture frame dry erase calendar. This is where I keep track of the kids schedule for when they have Art, PE, Music, and Library at school. This rotates daily and is different for each of my children so it is helpful to know if tennis shoes are a must for that day because of PE or not as nice of clothes because it’s art day. I also keep track of sports practices and special days like “dress in orange/white” days.
To create the dry erase picture frame calendar, I purchased an inexpensive frame at a local craft store. I then used Excel to create the calendar pages across several sheets of paper to ensure the entire frame was taken up. I decorated the top with scrapbooking paper and accessories to make it pretty. You can use dry erase markers to write on the glass and when you need to change months, simply wipe away or use a little bit of glass cleaner to get it all cleaned up. I use different color markers for each child so that I can glance at the calendar and know who is doing what.
In the narrow space right next to the garage door entrance in to the house I have this great organizer hanging up on my wall. I discovered this organizer from Thirty One. It is called the Hang Up Home Organizer.* It comes in a variety of patterns to fit your home decor. This is where I keep the main calendar for the house such as recycle days, days where there is no school, doctors appointments, etc. I also use the larger clear pocket in the middle to keep our menu for the week or month as well as other important papers that I need to deal with each day.
On the bottom on the organizer there are four pockets that can be labeled. I have one for each of my children. This is where I store homework papers and other school papers for the week. The other two pockets are for sports information, church activity information sheets, etc. I also sort my mail right there when I get in the door and place bills and other items that need my attention in the middle smaller pockets on the left. This keeps everything in the same place. I have a trash can near there to immediately throw away junk email or place it in the recycle bin. No more mail piles! I also go through the kids backpacks soon as they hang them up in the mudroom area and take out papers that need to be kept for homework or tossed in to the recycle bin. No more paper piles!
This organization system has worked great for our family and the kids know where to find their items in the mornings and where to put things away when they come home. It eliminates the mad hunt for shoes, papers, bills to pay, and mis-placing things that we go through in the mornings before heading out the door. All total, it cost me about $140.00 to put this mudroom and organization system in place and it has been a wise investment!
*I am an Independent Consultant for Thirty One and this link does go to my personal ordering site.