As one of my best friends and fellow CTWM bloggers described the scene in her basement, my eyes widened with the possibilities. While she dreaded going through bags of hand me down clothes, I got excited thinking about sorting, washing and folding all of the clothes, placing them in labeled, stackable bins. While she seemed overwhelmed thinking about going through old things, I pictured myself guiding her to decide if her old books brought her joy and helping her let go and pass them on. I love to organize things. I love donating or throwing things away. Jenna seemed fascinated that cleaning out the basement with her seemed like something I would get a kick out of doing. She suggested I blog about some of the ways I’ve organized my family’s things, so here I go:
Don’t let the stuff get out of control. Take time to stay on top of piles and things that accumulate. If you do a little at a time it seems so much more manageable.
Purge! Unless your kids are super attached to things, get rid of stuff periodically. If they’re young enough, you can get away without them noticing. If they’re older, get them involved. When they want someone new, require they donate something they no longer use.
When you enter our home, we have no foyer or mudroom. You walk right into the only living room (no den or basement). I purchased a cheap shoe rack from Target and a small shelf plus a basket for each family member from Christmas Tree Shop. The kids know that their backpacks and coats go on the hooks (at their level) inside the front coat closet, their shoes go on the shoe rack and their miscellaneous things like hats and gloves go in their basket. Yes, they know this, but does it always happen? Let’s be real.
Because our house is small, we keep our 65lb dog’s kennel in the living room. I’ve seen fancy dog crates that serve as end tables. I improvised and bought a $9 tabletop from Ikea and it rests on the top of the kennel giving us more surface area.
LIVING ROOM TOYS
The kids are welcome to bring whatever they’d like out to play in the living room, and they often do. But the only kid stuff that lives in the main living area is a box of blocks and a basket with some seasonal books. In our dining room we have a small table and a play kitchen. We don’t have a playroom or basement, so most of their “stuff” is in their own rooms.
ART AND GAME CLOSET
My kids are territorial so if certain things were stored in one of their rooms over the other we’d have problems. So all art supplies and board games are communal and are kept in the hall closet. I got a great set of drawers online that keeps everything accessible for the kids. Some of the drawers are: dry erase boards and markers, coloring books, stickers, construction paper, stamps and stamp pads, misc (tape, scissors, etc.) and more. The kids each have a tray and a Tupperware box of markers with their names on them that has a place in this closet that they can reach. Should they want to do a project, they can get the supplies out themselves. Other supplies like paint are kept up higher so they require supervision. I also keep a box of greeting cards for all occasions and a few kids’ birthday presents in case I forget to get something for a party.
STUFFED ANIMALS AND OTHER MISCELLANEOUS TOYS
Find shelves and bins you like. I am a sucker for Ikea. Group toys with like toys – musical instruments, puppets, stuffed animals etc. And then make one bin for totally misc. toys. I use a large basket for each kids’ stuffed animals (also Ikea). My kids are only 6 and almost 4, so I keep legos just in one big bin.
Two summers ago we sprung for central air. This required removing the entire contents of our attic. I took that time to go through everything and make sure nothing unwanted went back up. I keep bins of hand me downs up there, organized by size and sometimes season. I have a bin for shoes for each child and an area to hang coats we’ve received until they fit and are ready to come down. Then when the older one grows out of something, it goes back up until the younger one can wear it. Even though it’s not a walk up attic (stairs that drop down), I treat it like an extra storage room in our house and am up there at least once a week.
Disclaimer: I think this blog post makes me sounds like a super uptight mom. But here is what my kids’ rooms look like most days. They love to get out all the things, mix and match and create a huge mess of a story about what all the little animals are doing. I take a deep breath and go with the flow. The kids know that when the day is over they’ll need to put it all back. And sometimes they even do.
Next Up: Organizing a Disorganized Life – Electronic Edition