“These are the papers that run my life,” says Bevin Tierney, a Morristown, New Jersey, stay-at-home mom of the permission slips, schedules, invitations, and more that were thumbtacked three layers deep on her bulletin board. “I kept putting them up and attacking my to-dos one at a time without ever throwing anything away or looking at the big picture. And I could never find a calendar that was large enough to handle all our family’s activities.” And with a family of six―including Sean and Brendan, both 8; Connor, 7; and Kendall, 4½―there are always plenty of activities.
Found on (and Tossed From) Bevin’s Board
1 expired $100 spa certificate
3 summers’ worth of swimming-lesson schedules
1 invalid $4 coupon for Baskin-Robbins (“I totally would have used that,” says Bevin)
1 year-old request for blood work from Bevin’s doctor
1 recreation brochure from 2007
8 school lunch menus
2 of 2 John Lawton
After: A Custom Calendar, Plus Paper Tamers
Real Simple swapped Bevin’s small board for a three-by-four-foot one and, using index cards, turned it into an easy-to-update monthly grid. Keys, tacks, and pencils hang to its left. Clear containers (labeled by family member) corral papers and random items below.
Real Simple spray-painted a large corkboard white (Quartet, $41, staples.com), then pinned down ribbon to make a grid. To mark the days of the month, index cards (Wausau Exact, $14 for 250, officedepot.com) were stamped with numbers (Cavallini, $28 for 28 stamps, amazon.com) and tacked up. Bevin can write on the cards, add stick-on notes, or secure info with tacks. She keeps cards for future months in a nearby drawer.
Round Magnetic Boards
Calendar supplies hang on 12-inch-diameter boards ($15 each, threebythree.com), as do keys, gift cards, and notes.
Bins for Belongings
Thanks to two mesh basket ladders ($37 each, stacksandstacks.com), each child has a reachable slot for assignments, lunch menus, and items that can clutter the kitchen, like flashcards. In Bevin’s bin is a note pad with a yearly calendar that she takes on the go. If plans come up while she’s out, she scribbles them on the pad, then transfers them to the wall later.