Last year I didn't create any kind of organizational system for all of the papers that Emi brought home everyday other than putting it all in one place in the closet in the living room. Although that worked well because it was easy, by the end of the year there was a pile a foot high of papers that didn't really require keeping. I just kept her school books in the same place and every morning we would take out the books she needed for the day and leave the rest on top of the pile of papers. This worked well until before Christmas when we lost her music book. I thought for sure that it got left at school but two weeks ago when I went through the pile I found it. Oops!
But last year's experiences did help me figure out what to expect this year and I am determined that all of the girl's books, papers and bags will be stored and organized in their room instead of my living room closet. I spent most of March looking at and contemplating storage units, boxes and filing systems but nothing really suited our specific needs. Although maybe if we bought a desk like every other first grader that would be the answer but there just isn't space for a desk (never mind two desks or four - yikes!).
After thinking about it for a whole month, I realized that I wasn't any closer to making a decision so I decided to go back to square one and write a list of what I needed to store and how often it needed to be accessed and then work from there.
School Books - need to be accessed every day as they bring different books depending on what classes they have.
Completed Homework - this is homework that has already been checked by the teacher and therefore serves no further purpose except to create a pile that I have emotional issues with (should I throw it out or not). Although they need to add to it everyday, I don't need to know what's in there.
Backpack - obviously they use it every day but different things need to go in there depending on the day and what they have scheduled so it needs to be easy to get to.
PE Clothes - once school really gets going they will take their PE clothes on Monday and then it home on Friday if they used it during the week. Then I just wash it on the weekend and they take it back again. But I also needed to have a place to store their extra shirts (long-sleeve and short-sleeve for different seasons). This doesn't need to be accessed all the time but we do need to know where it is!
Napkin, Hand Towel and Tissue - I had a crash course on napkins last year. I though napkins were paper napkins that they took each day but they're actually a 50cm x 50cm handkerchief that they put on their desk to protect it when they eat lunch. Last year Chikara had to rush out the night before and buy a few so that Emi had something to take the next day. I think most kids take a new napkin everyday but Emi and I decided that if it wasn't dirty then it could be used again so we go through 2 or 3 per week. The kids are also required to have a hand towel (for drying their hands after using the bathroom) and tissue in their bags but Emi has informed me that she "never" uses them. She just air dries her hands. But I try to make sure it's in their bags anyways. So obviously these items require easy access, too.
Book Bag - this is a separate bag that they take only when the teacher requests it, usually to bring back a whole bunch of extra stuff that won't fit in their regular school bag. They use it maybe once a month.
Other - last year we bought a painting set for Emi that is all neatly contained in a cool bag with a handle and shoulder strap. It hasn't been asked for yet so we're just keeping it at home. Also they both have a kenban harmonica that they will eventually need, too.
Backup School Supplies - both girls have a wide assortment of extra pencils, erasers and other supplies to be used as replacements in their pencil case if somethings gets lost or used up.
OK, I think that's it. The room is pretty small so I had to be creative but I think what I came up with should work pretty well.
I bought these plastic see-through containers to go under their beds.
They pull out easily from under the bed.
The front part of the lid flips up so they can have easy access to the front part so that's where I put their books, napkins etc. and backup supplies go in the front while their extra PE clothes are organized in the back portion.
I found these colorful trays at our local 100yen shop so everything doesn't slide around.
Their book bags and school bags (not pictured) hang on the end of their beds. These hooks don't fit securely on the board at the end so I'm still looking for something that I trust more. But for now it's good.
Underneath their bags is the other stuff that they'll eventually take to school. The pink bag is Emi's paint set and the yellow things are their kenban harmonica cases.
I put these two black trays in their closet to collect their homework but I don't really like it so I'm still looking for something that can tuck away out of sight. Hmmm...
I put these clear cases on the inside of their closet door to hold their school schedules so we can easily reference what they're supposed to be bringing everyday. Eventually they'll be writing in their renrakucho (a notebook for communication between parents and teachers) each day so we'll refer to that instead.
I really like it because it's all of the storage items I bought were able to tuck away into unused spaces. Because the room is small I'm trying to keep any floor space free and clear so the room feels bigger. So far this system is working well but we'll see how long it lasts....
I didn't really write much about how the walls turned out because they turned out great and I didn't have much to add. Repairing the hole in the wall tried all of my patience and I had to try a few different things until I felt it would be long-lasting so it was a great relief when it was finally finished. My FIL used to be an electrician so I asked him to come and replace all of the switches and outlets for me. I knew I could do it by myself but my in-laws had been totally uninterested in the project (even though the girls went on and on about it) so I wanted to include them somehow. Anyways, he came out one afternoon and switched them around and when I went into check them I saw this:
Can you see the line leading out from both sides near the bottom of the plate? When he was screwing in the backplate he did it too tightly (which is normal) and it moved back the piece of sheetrock that I had added there and now you can see a line even though before it was very smooth and impossible to know that there had ever been a hole there. I should've warned him to be careful but I'm new at this and I didn't think about it. I am very heartbroken and it's taking all of my willpower not to take it apart and do it again. Grrr! Oh well, I learned something for next time.