Anyone who spends any time at all in a kitchen quickly learns about refrigerator art: what it is, how it's displayed, and who created it. If your refrigerator is anything like that of other parents, it's plastered with kid art, the family calendar, homework assignments, soccer schedules, doctor's appointment reminders, and that's just the front!
My refrigerator is full, too, but I gave up rearranging those teeny magnets ages ago. No sooner would I get six of them to hold up one tiny school picture, than SLAM - there went the whole arrangement crashing to the floor. Below are some of my favorite tricks of the trade to start taming the fridge clutter bug in your home:
Art du Jour - Instead of turning the front of your refrigerator into an art gallery, why not limit artwork to one per artist, saving the remaining paintings for Grandma or the scrapbook. Rotate the pictures daily or weekly, store in a tag board portfolio beside the refrigerator, and then move them to a more permanent home (like a treasure box or scrapbook). Hint: place your budding artists in charge of this project, letting them choose one day a week to change out the artwork. Create a "home" for undisplayed work to live after its served time in the magnetic gallery.
Photo Mat - Consider using magnetic-backed acrylic frames to display your favorite snapshots. These come in various sizes for your photos, from wallet to 8x10. Or consolidate your pictures into a collage mat. Purchase these ready-made from catalogs, or make your own by backing them with heavy-duty magnet sheets purchased from your local craft or discount store.
Clip Art - Purchase extra-strong magnetic clips to hold important papers. Think of this as a vertical clipboard where you can post grocery lists, soccer schedule, homework assignments, signed field trip releases, and copies of your latest dietary requirements. Not only does this conserve precious space, but also if your magnet is strong enough, you can just flip through to the page you need with little rearranging.
Chore Charts - Eliminate the need for repeated note posting and use a pint-sized chore chart for your family. I found a small wipe-off board shaped like a pencil in the school supply section of a local discount store, complete with grids, stickers, and erasable marker. This particular product is backed with strong magnets, but you can easily improvise and add your own to a poster or homemade chart. If your kids are small, you may want to hang this high to avoid creative rearrangements of the stickers.
ABCs and 123s Please - Let's take a quick poll to see how many sets of plastic alphabet magnets you purchased before your kids reached adolescence - anyone? I'll bet that if you pulled out the refrigerator from the wall or used a coat hanger, you could fish out enough ABCs to write the Gettysburg Address. Why not use an alphabet poster instead, with medium-strength magnets attached to the back? Take a quick road trip to your local school supply, and you will find posters on any subject that your child is interested in: alphabet (upper and lower), numbers (1-10, 10-20), farm animals, manners, The 5 Senses, etc. I think you get the picture. It's much easier to corral a poster than a menagerie of plastic parts. Once Junior is old enough to use those plastic letters for spelling words, he's outgrown the fridge easel anyway, and can easily use a laptop magnetic board or one that is mounted on his wall.
With a bit of creativity and a lot of consolidation, you can regain control of your refrigerator for the purpose it was intended: to keep foods cool or frozen, and provide nutritional snacks for your family. But don't ask me if that little light really does stay on when you close the door. I haven't managed to figure that one out yet.
Debbie Williams is an organizing coach and founder of the online organizing site Organizedtimes.com . She is the author of Home Management 101: A Guide for Busy Parents and Put Your House in Order: A Study Course for Christian Home Managers available through Amazon.com. Copyright 2002, Debbie Williams
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