I'm a super-organized-homeschool-mom-whose-got-it-all-together!

Aside from the question of "how I do it all," I often hear moms lamenting that they aren't sure they can homeschool because they aren't super organized and they don't have it all together. Somehow they assume - incorrectly - that I am super organized and have it all together.

I have made every attempt possible for other moms to be encouraged by my lack of organizational skills. I've stopped myself short of installing a webcam in my living room so people can see who I really am. On my broadcast on www.thepathhome.com I've tried to be real by telling about days that I feel like a complete failure, or struggling with children, breaking pencils over math problems, and having grape juice spills at just the moment which causes me to temporarily lose all sanity.

Yet people still think I'm organized. Let me risk my reputation, because I really don't want anyone thinking I'm anything that I am not, although it would be nice if simply because people thought I was organized, I could become organized.

Allow me to share some organizational tips which have helped this organizationally-challenged mom with hardly any closet space - to at least appear to the outside world - to be organized.

One tip I heard about was having 26 clear boxes labeled A to Z. I decided I didn't actually need 26 boxes, so I bought 13 at $1 each from the dollar store. I labeled them with two letters per box. I thought these would work great to help the kids learn beginning sounds of letters, too. Whenever I would come upon one of those items that I figured one day I could use for something, I would look at it, determine its first letter, then promptly deposit it into the appropriate box. What does giant paper clip start with? Some items were a challenge.

But if I needed to find that giant paper clip, all I needed to do was look in three possible boxes: G, P or C. One problem that occurred, though, was where to place the 13 boxes of basically non-essential items that I may one day want to locate. I chose the game closet. Unfortunately the game closet was filled with games.

As I stared into the closet I had the brilliant idea of removing all the silly boxes that games come in. Most of them had broken seams anyway. I took out pieces, placed them in zipper baggies, included the instructions, and wrote the name on the bag. Then I put all the boards together in one place. The boards and zipper bags took up a lot less room than the boxes. Unfortunately I wasn't quite sure how to store the 50 bags. I decided to alphabetize them as well. I got two crates, labeling one "A-K," and the other "L-Z." I then put the appropriate bag of game pieces into the right crate.

After only four hours, I now had an organized game closet. Now if I could just keep the kids out of the game closet!

One of my greatest treasure troves was my library. I dreamed of the Dewey decimal system at night. I opted instead for a subject system of organization. I'm the kind of organizer who must undo everything in order to make it the way I want it to be. In my library that meant I had to take every book off the shelves. Just try navigating 3,000 books on the floor while organizing the library!

After a couple of days, I had everything set up exactly like I wanted it, or at least it was somewhat functional. I still had the goal of putting all the books in a database by subject, author, time period, age of interest, time it takes to read the book aloud, time it takes for a 10-year-old boy to read it, and a variety of other criteria. Needless to say, I have yet to establish a library database.

After getting the library all organized, I walked out of the library to find the children to show them "the new system."

Having mom busy for a couple of days, Bryan wanted something to do, so he got all the game pieces and mixed them all together. I didn't have enough time to go through them so I put them all in one large zipper bag and labeled it "miscellaneous game pieces." If you want to play Monopoly at our house, you aren't limited to the dog, horse and racecar. You can be a little girl with yellow hair from the Candy Land game if you would like.

After spending a great deal of time cleaning up the rest of the house, I finally made it back to the library to share "the system" with the children. They had already heard about the clean library, and decided it was the perfect place to play. Isn't it interesting how children gravitate to the clean rooms to play with ALL their toys?

I had previously organized all the Lego's, farm animals, and crayons into different containers. In exasperation I told the kids to put them all in one bin. After cleaning up their toys, they all decided to read a bit.

That evening before going to bed, I discovered toddler books in the biographies, science books in the history section, big books turned on their sides in the parenting books, and coloring books, mixed in wherever they could be squeezed.

When I went to bed that night I dreamed that the next day I would tackle the spice cabinet. In my head I saw the spices organized alphabetically according to recipe.

Instead of tackling the spice cabinet though, I opted instead for the immediate need, which was to find Briana's math book.

Be encouraged! If I can homeschool ... so can you!

Note: The idea of the "super-organized-homeschool-mom-whose-got-it-all-together" came from a video by Funny Moms. You can visit their website at www.funnymoms.biz.

In addition to devoting herself to her husband and the eight children she home schools, Terri also enjoys writing and speaking to offer encouragement to women in an effervescent, humorous way. Visit her Web site at www.ignitethefire.com or e-mail her at terri@ignitethefire.com.