To be honest, I felt like a bit of a fraud when I handed out the latest newsletter with the topic of order. I decided on most of the newsletter’s topics last summer. So I had no way of knowing that my house would be in various stages of chaos due to remodeling this past month. (Currently I have 16 shelves of books all packed up – that says “challenging” when you are a homeschool mom!) So, if having crates of toys stacked in my exercise area says “order,” then I am there! At least I managed to make room to use my treadmill this week! Anyway, I am SO looking forward to the completion of these projects – our house is GOING to be ORDERLY! And even though now may not be the ideal time for me to be giving home tours (although I would be glad to if that would make you feel better about your own chaos!), I am definitely learning a lot in the process!
1) Sort stuff first. If you read any organizational manual, you will see that you need to start with 3 bags – a trash one, a give away one and a keep one. No sense trying to find storage for something you need to give away. I have to be honest – I have done a really good job in passing along baby or toddler toys. I am not the best at giving away current toys. My kids play with almost all of their toys, so it is hard to pass those on, even though I am sure that we have too many!
2) Clear containers: When we were in the early stages of accumulating toys, we started investing in clear containers. This has helped tremendously in at least attempting to keep kid stuff corralled! And we have kept with the same brand – the stackable ones. Walmart has the best prices on the containers. I needed to buy a bunch more, so I waited until the beginning of January to buy them, thinking that there would be some great deals since January seems to be an organization month. Walmart’s prices were still better than the sale ones.
3) Fit the container to the stuff, rather than the making the stuff fit in an unsuitable container. As I was sorting out art supplies, I realized that some of them were too long to fit into the 3 sizes of containers that I normally buy. So, I filled a bag with the odd items that I needed to “containerize,” then I brought that bag to the store with me. Now my stuff is happily contained.
4) Find a friend to help you in the process. My sister is a professional organizer (or at least she could be!) She came over when we were starting our basement project to give me some much needed perspective.
5) Know your storage style. When we started this process, my school/storage room was a disaster. My kids loved the stuff in that room, so anytime that I would try to organize, they would take the items to play with. Needless to say, the room continued to get messier and messier. We had to put a lock on the door, and I was unable to go in there for but a moment when the kids were awake. Now we have eliminated that catch-all room and have shelves instead. This is going to be a nicer arrangement.
6) Know your storage weaknesses. Mine is paper. I like to keep recipes and great teaching ideas (and of course the MOPS newsletters). And my kids love to draw pictures – lots of paper! One of my goals for this week is to again clear off my desk. And I have two whole boxes of papers waiting for me to sort. Due to this fact, we realized that the 2 desk areas that I formerly had in my school room needed to eliminated. They were not useful work areas for me – instead they turned into ineffective storage areas. And were then overwhelming!
7) Make sure everything has a home. If you don’t have a designated place to store the items, you will never be able to find them, as they will keep being put into different locations. Also, if your kids are allowed to play anywhere in the house, you WILL have toys ALL over your house. Since I have paper issues, I may start banning paper from being anywhere but the basement. Right now I have a counter in our laundry room where paper can go besides the top of the messy desk in the basement. If I just have one spot, I am hoping that will be easier to maintain. We’ll see. We also currently do a lot of school at the kitchen table – that makes it hard come meal times. So, we are hoping to move that to the basement too – containing the chaos to one area.
Well, hopefully you were able to glean one idea from my organization ramblings. Elisabeth is planning on writing a few blog entries on organization soon – I am excited to read her ideas. If you have any great ideas to share, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org I will compile the ideas and write another blog entry. Blessings as you sort it all out!