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Organizing Guide

Spring is coming (it seems like springtime weather might already be here) and, if you’re anything like me, you’ve got Spring cleaning on the brain already. With the approaching warmer weather, our team has been thinking about ways that we can control the clutter and tonight I’m excited to share iFamilyKC Mom Squad blogger Erin’s tips on organizing the chaos with you. Take a look…

Get me out from under the rubble!

Lately I’ve been working on organizing and decluttering my house! It is such a great feeling to know that everything will soon have a place in my home.  I’ve found a lot of helpful tips and methods that are really working for my family! I thought I might share with you some ideas I’ve found to get you going in different areas of your own house.  

  • Bathroom: This one focuses specifically on the bath toys.  My kids toys were spread out all over the counters and floor. The rubber ducks must’ve invited some of their friends to the pond, because before I knew it, they were EVERYWHERE!! So I found a really easy way to organize the toys and the kids are even motivated to pick them up after bath time! Whoa! Now I’ve got you’re attention, huh?  Thankfully, my husband is very handy and with his help, we got to work!  Four dollar store bins, 8 zip ties, and a shower curtain rod is all it took to get our toys beautifully organized.
  • Kitchen:  The thought of organizing and decluttering my kitchen frightened me, I have to admit.  Once I got in there and started on the junk drawer, the other drawers were easy and I was on a roll! I think every kitchen should have a catchall junk drawer BUT there is a great way to keep it nice and tidy! First, I took everything out of my junk drawer.  What I found was I didn’t NEED half the stuff in it and it was trash! Old owners manuals (why keep these at all when they are online?), expired coupons, shopping lists with no magnetic backs (what is the point of those?).  After happily trashing all of that, I found different sized Tupperware bowls that had sadly lost their lids and I began to sort everything into those bowls. The finished product is fantastic! No more rummaging through the drawer while owners manuals and coupons that expired in 1985 come flying out at me like Doc in his DeLorean! One more side note I’d like to add: if you have more than one set of measure spoons or cups, you do not need them (get rid of them!)
  • School work organization: This last thing is a work in progress of mine that is definitely weighing a lot on my mind! Every day, my kindergartner comes home with beautiful artwork, school papers and flyers.  I cherish these so much and have a hard time parting with any of it.  A mountain of papers is starting to form on my dining room table that needs to be tackled ASAP!  I’ve come up with a system that just might work for me and maybe you too.
  • Go through the backpack each night and sort the papers: artwork, schoolwork, and flyers.  Log the information from the flyers into your phone or wall calendar and THROW the paper away! Easy!
  • Get some sort of a bin with hanging folders and label them (maybe by quarter?). After displaying your future Monet’s pieces for a while, file them away along with any other worksheets or papers you decide on.
  • Another idea I LOVE is to take a picture of the different artwork you are most proud of and create a photo book online.  Shutterfly often has a free 8×8 photo book promo code. It is great way to preserve their precious masterpieces by creating a condensed album that can be shared in the future.

These are just a few random ideas for areas of your house that may need some attention.  I feel so much better after clearing out things we don’t need and giving us a little room to breathe! I’d like to hear what other ideas you’ve come up with in your own house to help your family stay a little more organized and out from under the rubble.

 

Invisible Clutter

Do you wish your clutter were invisible? It may be more invisible than you think – especially to you. When we live with items and see them day-in-and-day-out, they tend to dissolve into the background of our lives. Want to see your clutter with new eyes? Take a photo and post it on a social media site. Your clutter in all its glory will quickly appear.

If you would l

ike to see your clutter without revealing yourself to the entire internet, try sitting in a different spot or in a rolling chair. Sit and observe your environment from places other than the normal place. Stand on a chair in the middle of the room or even lie on the floor and look up.

Now that you have found your clutter it is time to do something with it. How long has it been hiding? Is it covered in dust? If it has been years since you have laid eyes upon your newly found treasure, put it straight into the donation box. (If you don’t have one, make one right away.) If you think you will use it – notice I didn’t say “might use it” – clean it off and move to its proper home.

Not sure if you want to see the clutter? Just remember that your guests sure will. When all else fails, invite a friend over to be brutally honest about your clutter. You have to see it before you can address it.

Reflect Before you Declutter

One very important thing to keep in mind when organizing is that regardless of how many family members you may have in your home with you, it is their home too.  Although much research has been conducted on the overall benefits of living in an organized environment, some people just aren’t interested.  Should you happen to be married to one of these, hope is not lost but it will be a challenge, for sure. 
 
When asked this question, I always tell people to never underestimate the power of compromise.  If you share a space with someone and as difficult as it may be to imagine, there are things you do that bothers them as well.  These things are your bargaining tools.  Quid pro quo…I will put away your laundry if you will make the bed before you leave the house.  I won’t throw away your magazines if you stack them neatly in a designated place. 
 
This process can work beautifully yet it must be handled delicately.  Take one thing at a time.  When one area has been successfully negotiated and implemented, begin another.  For a safe, long-term fix, I would recommend one change every three weeks to a month.  It is also important to note, that your spouse should have a designated area within the home where he or she can be themselves without having to adhere to strict organizational guidelines.  A man-cave or a scrapbook room are perfect examples. 
 
Children are another, much simpler story…clear instructions, rewards, and consequences.  Take care to clearly communicate what you expect then establish rewards for meeting or (hopefully) exceeding those expectations and consequences when not given a genuine effort.  If the effort is there, provide additional, patient training.
All children can be organized provided they are taught and supported by an organized, loving parent. 
 
Here are 3 questions to ask yourself when organizing:

Have I Used This in the Past Year?

First of all, “Have I used this in the past year?” This primarily works well for clothes, shoes and purses or bags. If you haven’t worn it and can’t see yourself wearing it then by all means throw it out; or donate it and get a little break on taxes. I know that most of my clothes are work wear, so instead of donating them to Goodwill please look into donating those straight to an organization which helps get women back in the workforce, fortunately (and unfortunately) there are so many throughout Kansas City.

Will I Use This in the Coming Year?

When asking “Will I use this in the coming year?” go back to the closet and look at the pile of clothes that you want to get rid of; are they out of style or truly will never fit again? Then go ahead and donate them. But if they are in style but may just be too small or too large take a look and see where else you may use them. Think: pants that are too short for long pants but with a little hemming would look so cute as a pair of cropped pants. Or a shirt that maybe is missing a button that was never fixed or if you were to cut off the sleeves and just use the collar; next winter would be perfect addition to dress up that sweater or cardigan without adding bulk! I realize the goal here is to de-clutter, but sometimes putting things to use in other ways will help in the long run.

Is There a Better Spot Where This Could be Used?

Finally, “Is there a better spot where this could be used?” Again I realize the point is to purge those things we don’t use; but I don’t know how many times I have hosted a party and used things from around my house to decorate. Most of “my room” in the unfinished storage area of the basement is shelves of (organized) bins with items that may be nice to have for parties in the future. It drives my husband nuts, but when it comes down to it I save a ton by reusing. Using this same logic for the rest of the house, for instance, that large bowl that just hangs out in the cabinet with no lid and no real use; now it could hold all those extra lids so they aren’t flying around the cabinet.

 

Organizing Ideas for Your Family:

Find the right solution for you…

Baskets

Invest in a good set of baskets to serve as a home organizer for each room! I have several of these around my house and they are full of extra sheets, blankets and towels. You never know when you will need to grab that extra blanket for company or cuddle up on the couch.  I suggest having one for each!

Name Cards

When you have a lot of kids like I do, laundry and where it goes can be complicated. My step daughter and I made these super cute name cards on Canva (ps, it’s free) and I had them printed and laminated at Office Depot. I simply placed the cards on the drawers so when they go to put up their laundry, they all know which drawer it goes in! This keeps clothes organized and in the correct place.

Sole Mate Bag

Another tip for keeping laundry organized is a “sole mate bag”. This has helped me keep up with those missing and lost socks in such a great way! When doing laundry, all the socks that are missing their “mate”, go into the bag. At the end of each dry load, all the socks that were not paired get pulled out to find their “sole mate”. My 4-year-old loves going through the bag to find pairs!

Mom/Dad Binder

I know I have talked about this before, but it truly keeps my house organized! I have checklists for bills, my daily cleaning schedule, and everything else I need to keep my life organized. Having a binder to keep all your tasks and reminders allows you to maintain organization for your house and your life! And since you’re likely the organizer in your household – you should be able to find things that work for YOU.

Throw it away

Sometimes the best way to get organized it to just throw stuff away or make a donation to your local charity. Of course, if something has sentimental value you should find a place for it. Most of the items in our home really don’t have a purpose! I mean let’s start with that infamous junk drawer. I never understood it as a kid, but once I was an adult… it made perfect sense. A drawer to store all those odds and ends you may or may not need lol. To start getting organized, start with something simple like that dreaded drawer! It is quick and not overwhelming. This will keep you in a positive mind frame when getting ready to tackle the rest of the house!

 

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