Feb 11, 2013

An organized home is a peaceful home.

Ever think about easy ways to make your life less stressful?  I have!  One simple way is to have things put away so I don't see clutter and feel pressure to clean up. Sometimes I use the second bedroom as a catch-all place - and many of us have a space just for that purpose - but it doesn't really relieve tension, just puts off having to deal with it.

How to approach the problem?  Weed out and organize, giving yourself a time frame in which to work.  The big categories I find are toys,  kitchen gadgets, clothes, and kids stuff.  Here's how I do it!

1) Toys. It's hard to resist a new toy when your child has seen it somewhere, or a relative or friend brings it in the door!  My rule is 'one in, one out'.  There are toys that younger children outgrow or lose interest in rapidly...they should be the first ones that you eliminate. When key parts are missing, that's another toy to discard. 99% of the time I donate a toy to a local charity, pre-school, or someone I know whose children would love it.  For small toys, a shelving unit - sometimes with bins to separate parts - is the easiest solution. There are many retail and on-line sources for the shelves and different bins.  When castles, trucks, scooters and larger toys are involved, you'll need some customization and possibly a handyman; I build window-seats that have 'garages' underneath for the large toys. A fabric curtain is the easiest way to conceal them.

2) Kitchen Stuff. There is always something in a kitchen that you're not using. Extra plastic storage containers, old spices, small appliances that are unused and a challenge to clean. Do you have a junk drawer like most people? My solution is to go through the cabinets - annually - and remove things I haven't used.  There is someone else who won't mind cleaning the little parts that go with the food chopper, the grinder and all of those pesky small electronics that I hardly ever use...give me a good knife and I'm happier. I gathered all of the wraps, bags and foils and hang them from a wire rack on the inside of one cabinet door. It freed up drawer space for spices.  Yes...I did go through those too. I found some that I hadn't baked with in 10 years so they were tossed. I went to Crate & Barrel outlet and bought glass spice jars that I now have chalk labels on.Plastic storage containers, pot lids, and more, are gathered in bins inside the cabinets.  My drawers all have dividers and I love that nothing moves when I pull them out!

3) Clothes.  This is always tough for Moms because (a) we know styles change and things we love might 'come back' , and (b) sometimes the smaller or larger sized clothes are good to have around.  Kids clothes are easy for me. If it's wearable, and can be a hand-me-down, it gets stored for the next child or donated to the right person. It it's stained, it goes to USAgain to be recycled. I called upon my fashionista niece for clothing advice. First, I organized all of the things in my closet by color. Yikes, I really did have 15 white blouses! Then, we examined everything for wear, style and age. I did love things like that handmade linen dress or Ralph Lauren skirt but think I'll be 50 before I'm staid enough to wear them again. We were strict about multiple items and things that still had tags...was I really going to use them....donating was better. For business clothes I don't wear now, they went to an organization for women who can't afford to buy suits etc..  New wire racks, some bins, and voila.  The shoes are still a problem, but I have them all in plastic shoe boxes, labeled and stacked by season, My husband's side was easier!

4) Kids stuff. This is always a challenge for tots, but 6-16 should be easier. If you have a place to 'drop' things that come into the house, you'll limit the amount of stuff that migrates to the sofa, kitchen table, stairs and hallways. This where an evaluation of your space and needs is essential. I have clothing, backpacks, shoes, dog leashes, reusable bags, and more in my entry storage unit. We call all tuck things in easily, and they look neat and organized all the time!