Ellen Gets It Done: Back-to-School Strategies


Whenever we have pressing organizational questions we turn to Ellen Madere of Ellen Gets it Done. This time of year, the sheer number of papers coming home from school appalls us, plus what the heck to do with all the balls, sticks, jerseys, mouth guards? You know what I’m talking about it. We asked Ellen for some fresh ideas on how to manage it all:


How on earth do I corral ALL the paperwork that makes its way home from my kid’s school(s)? This includes homework & school forms.

Right about now you are starting to feel a loss of control with the tsunami of school related paperwork; please deal NOW… you have only been at this for a month or so and it is only going to get more intense!
I encourage you to immediately get your mitts on a bankers box or something that resembles one… you have options, cardboard, plastic, clear, color – you name it; it is out there for you to purchase. I have my favorites – see links – if our aesthetics don’t match, then Google away and you’ll find something to your liking. Then buy some hanging file folders (again, these are available in many colors – NOT just army green!) and sort by subject. If your child is too young to read, identify the folder with an image and supervise their filing.
Most likely you will need to empty these periodically as they will start to get overloaded… or create the exact same system in another “box.” You probably won’t be able to discard much YET if your child may need to refer to any of these papers at the end of the year as they study for exams. With younger ones you will be able to edit the countless worksheets – enlist them to help and they can make decisions on what is really IMPORTANT to them to save. In order not to feel completely overwhelmed, it is important to take some time to empty notebooks, folders, backpacks each week so that you and your children feel on top of your game.
For daily papers that must be signed and returned, find an area to place a stackable inbox labeled with each child’s name(or photo of each child) and they can deposit their time sensitive materials there. Matching baskets mounted on the wall for each child also work well and don’t take up valuable table real estate.


3. How do I organize my kids sporting gear?

Today’s kids seem to partake in every sport imaginable and you’ve got the clothing and gear to prove it. What to do? Break it down by sections in your house.


Bikes – free up floor space (this will cost $) but it is a worthwhile investment. If you looking for basic, no frills, that can be done too.

Balls, hockey sticks, bats, rackets:

Tall wire baskets are your answer.


There’s a reason this room is aptly named!

You need a multi-part storage unit for your entryway: the bottom has bins for cleats & sneakers, plus a bench that can also be used as a shelf. The hooks in the middle are wonderful for bags, jackets & other hangable items. The top cubes provide storage for items you do not want to leave in the garage.


T-shirts, gym shorts, jerseys and socks!!  HELP! Your answer is to separate the athletic duds from the daily wardrobe. Two piles are necessary: daily tees and practice tees. Now for the sock crisis: in honor of one of my heroines, Marie Kondo, fold each pair of socks instead of balling them up. Puts much less strain on the elastic.


What are you going to do with all that chozzerai in the form of trophies, plaques, medals and other various momentos that will inevitably grace our home? A shelf should be adequate, but if you’ve got a future division one athlete under your roof you may need a room… a museum in the making.