Three young children create several unique challenges when it comes time to find a place for everything, and even more challenges if I hope to keep it there. Often, the front hallway becomes a dumping ground when the kids walk in the door. Sports equipment, school gear, shoes, laptops, and more regularly clutter the small foyer in my home. Creating a functional entryway for my family has become a challenge.
Keep shoes contained.
Shoes tend to be one of the biggest issues in my front hallway. Because we take off our shoes when we come into the house, there is always a large pile of flip-flops, tennis shoes, cleats, and dress shoes. To help keep shoes contained, we've made some changes to the front hallway to make it more functional. We have a large mirrored bench with two baskets underneath, one for mom and dad's shoes and one for kids' shoes.
It doesn't need to be fancy, and in fact, if you can do without the mirror you can purchase the bench and baskets for a more reasonable price. If you're crafty, consider making your own wooden bench and purchasing the baskets to put inside. The key is that the baskets aren't too big, forcing the kids to only keep a pair or two downstairs and return the rest to their room or keep them in the garage.
Keep like items together.
My daughter's field hockey equipment doesn't need to mingle with her school books or her sister's Girl Scout uniform. Items are more likely to get lost this way. Instead, we employ several tactics to keep like items together. A field hockey bag seemed like an unnecessary expense, but it ensured that the items all stayed together and we didn't need to worry about finding things strewn about the house. Backpacks house school items we aren't using. We keep a small, inexpensive table with two drawers by the front door where we drop our keys and wallets. One of these drawers holds all of the Girl Scout items.
This system works well for my family, but if we had slightly more room in our entryway, I'd consider a locker system, with one locker for each child and one for mom and dad to share. Wooden, open-front lockers are a great way to keep items organized by child, as well as by activity. They typically run several hundred dollars per locker, though you could find unfinished options that you could complete on your own and save a few bucks.
Manage school and paperwork.
In addition to bags and shoes, one of the biggest clutter culprits in our front hallway is paperwork. School papers, mail, forms to fill out, and magazines tend to become a permanent fixture by the front door. In order to contain it, I've had to employ several tactics.
First of all, I simply don't keep all of my children's school work. Photocopied worksheets and spelling assignments just don't make the cut. I recycle them as soon as the kids have shown them to me. The few items we do keep get put in a folder labeled with each child's name and kept in another drawer in the front hallway. Mail heads straight for the office desk, where it promptly gets paid, filed, or tossed. Magazines go right to the coffee table or the bathroom. Staying on top of the paperwork helps keep the front hallway functional and fabulous!