[dropcap]M[/dropcap]ystie-My-Pretend-Life-Coach first mentioned a portable command center during her 31 Days series last year. (The concept also fits in nicely with the Declutter Module of the Simplified Organization Course.) Naturally, I paid no heed until I found myself constantly struggling against my temper because my things were never where I left them, and I was having to stop school in order to find them.
So Mystie calls this a “portable command center,” but my children call this “Mom’s Toolbox,” and the name has stuck.
I already have a similar plastic tote for basic art supplies that we often need to pull out, even for math. That one has colored pencils, markers, and crayons in it. I got it for two bucks during Christmas shopping a couple years ago. But, naturally, when I wanted one for me, I couldn’t find one at any store I shopped at, and so I finally broke down and ordered one from Amazon.
And then, naturally, I filled it up.
Here’s a map of what I’m keeping in it — I still need to add some Post-It notes!
The point here is to keep with me the things I always need, am always looking for, am sending children to run get for me, and so on. My big criteria was that my Kindle had to fit in it. Otherwise, I would still be losing my Kindle all of the time.
I’ll run through what’s on my list of necessities, but your mileage may vary.
- Bullet Journal. This actually has nothing to do with homeschooling, except that I’m often looking for it during school hours. My bullet journal isn’t for everything in my life — I only use it for major projects for my blogs — and those are exactly the sort of details that pop into my head while I’m waiting on little girls to finish a section of their math worksheets. As I think of things that need to be remembered for whatever it is I’m currently working on or planning for, I can write it all down without leaving the table.
- Kindle. Need I say more? I use Push to Kindle all. the. time. and I also email PDF documents to it. It has my grammar answers, math answer, entire pages from the AmblesideOnline website, and more. This is pretty much the best invention ever.
- Commonplace Book. When I’m done with this one, I’m replacing it with a Moleskin, but for now, this is what I use. I keep this box with me when I’m prereading as well, which means I definitely need my commonplace.
- Pens and Pencils. Don’t underestimate the power of writing utensils exactly where you expect and need them to be! I keep my youngest’s mechanical pencil (because he seems incapable of keeping track of it himself) with his pencil claw attached, and three for me: pencil, blue ink, red ink. Someday I’ll get a pencil case and add all my fun colored pens, but for now, this is my bare minimum.
- Post-It Flags. This is another one of those things I can’t live without, but can’t hardly ever find. Putting them in my Toolbox has been a big time saver. I use these flags on everything — mainly as bookmarks that cannot be lost quite so easily. They will move from page to page for a number of months before needing to be replaced.
- Washi Tape. This is totally frivolous. I think it’s pretty and so I like to use it in my bullet journal.
We do not have a designated school room, so I don’t know if this sort of thing would be helpful for those of you who do but as far as tool kits for school go I think this is the best tools kit ever — you will have to let me know if you agree! For those of us who wander around the house, though, it’s indispensable, I think!
We start our day at the dining table — that’s where we do our Circle Time. I also teach phonics and math at the table. After that, we move to the living room for Drill and Snack, and then to the couches for individual lessons. I might wander into a bedroom to help the 8th grader — or to the Office to teach something quietly where we won’t be disturbed. And then it’s back to the living room again.
This toolbox has really helped me keep it together this year, as I’ve felt a little bit crazy with four students for the first time. Now, instead of asking myself if I have what I need before I leave a room (and inevitably forgetting something), I just grab my toolbox. I know that if I have that with me, I will be ready for Whatever It Is 99.8% of the time.
What about you? Do you have a toolbox?
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