Try to organize child's stuff just like a teacher

Ever walk into your child's classroom and think, "Wow, I wish I thought of that"?

Have you ever felt a tinge of envy on back-to-school night when you saw the clothesline displaying all those little masterpieces or viewed the perfectly organized cubbies holding supplies and books?

We love our teachers. They're patient and creative and fill our children with a sense of wonder. They impart knowledge and encourage our children to question, read and explore new worlds and new ideas.

But, yeah, we're a little jealous, too. How is it that they are able to keep the classroom perfectly tidy with more than 20 kids, and we can't get a handle on the drawings and stories of just our own?

And that perfect teacher handwriting? Let's not even go there.

But wait, teachers teach, right?

So, maybe we can all learn a little something from their organizational style.

Four Ways to Organize Like a Teacher:

--Power of Containment. Every classroom comes equipped with a variety of bins, baskets, cups and, yes, zipper-type bags. Organization needs order, right? Use those principles at home to keep things contained. Crayons and pencils can go in freezer-sized zipper-type bags or old coffee mugs, books can go in baskets and papers can go in binders. It doesn't really matter what kinds of containers you use, just that there are enough to house your children's clutter.

--Label Everything. Don't let your kids give you the excuse that they don't know where something is supposed to go. Look around your children's classrooms the next time you drop them off or pick them up. You will likely notice that every bin, every box, every bookcase is labeled. Try it at home and you'll see sooner rather than later that there is no more room for debate about whether (or where) things should be put away.

--Remove the Emotion. Do you really think your child's teacher cried when she put little Bobby's drawing in the garbage? Nope. In part be-cause she is confident there will be many more masterpieces to come. But also because she has celebrated the current masterpieces in some sort of display, whether taping them to a wall or hanging them on a display "clothesline" made out of yarn.

Just follow her lead. Choose one piece a month to display, and when the time to put up the next month's work comes, let go of the current artwork without remorse.

If you're still struggling, take a picture of the piece before tossing. That way, you will still have the memory without the clutter.

--Send it somewhere. Just when teachers might be feeling a little overwhelmed by all of the artwork/homework/paperwork, they get to send it home to us. Gee, thanks.

But instead of getting buried under a pile of construction paper snowmen/angels/ bunnies, take a cue from the teachers and send it somewhere.

Grandparents love receiving drawings from their grandkids. What better way to spread a little joy (and free yourself of the clutter!). Or deliver a care package of artwork to a nursing home.

The writers are co-founders of Buttoned Up, a company that is dedicated to helping stressed women get organized. Send ideas and questions to