Wednesday, September 28, 2011


A dear friend of mine asked me to do a little presentation for our Co-op on organization. Now I would like to preface this by saying my house is never all the way organized or all the way clean. (except for a couple of months a few years back when our old house was for sale!) How can our house stay perfectly clean and organized while we are breathing and trying to enjoy our children? Right?

Here are some photo's of organizing tools I have implemented with the help of my hardworking husband:

So one of my chores as a homemaker and organizer for four kids and a husband that usually works from home is controlling the clutter! Oh, and did I mention I like to buy stuff?

But one of my biggest attempts to keep our household running smoothly is to try to create kid friendly straight forward organization. We like things that have our names on them at a height we can easily reach. Notice the last photo where my wonderful husband hung two rods in the closet using otherwise wasted space. He also installed two rods on the other side so each kid has their own place for clothes with room to spare! And to top it all off we put in shelves for the off season clothes right behind the rods!

When my budget allows, I like to do things like buy the kids different colored towels so we know by color who has left their towel on the floor (and needs to be asked nicely to pick it up!) Or which person's towel is missing off the wall.

One key organizing skill I have adopted is to decide a size of container or shelf space or the number of hangers needed for the right amount stuff. For instance is three large bins of toys enough, or 30 hangers for clothes for each person, or is 30 board books too many? Then whenever possible remove old, outgrown, or least favorite things when new things arrive. And empty everything out and reorganize whenever the bins or shelf or hangers get too full. This changes year by year as kids get bigger and the number of kids you have might have grown as well (or shrink when they move out!) So you have to be flexible and don't get discouraged.

In an ideal world I would reorganized everything every three months.

We have at last gotten to the point where while my older kids are putting away their own clothes they now bring me things they don't want or have outgrown so there is room for new things! I'd say don't expect this behavior before they are 9 or so. But be proud of yourself for setting a good example when it does happen!

I think it is showing a lack of faith that God will take care of me if I hold on to stuff "just in case I might need it". I know the older an item is, the less likely someone else will want to use it. So, if it sits in my attic waiting to see if I might need it, than it is only rotting up there. Plus in my opinion, it will be more work to go find the stuff in the attic and sort through it to see if any of it will work than going to a resale shop and buying stuff that is new to us when we need it.

I think this works well for clothing storage. I do save my favorite things from one daughter to the next if I think it will still be in style and the right season. But I don't want to save all of it just in case I might have another kid. How likely will it be that the saved clothes will be the right gender and the right season for a baby that isn't here yet? But I see nothing wrong with saving a few of my favorite things for nostalgia. We have one big Rubbermaid container per person for our keepsakes. This is a good place to store a few old homework assignments as well. If the boxes get full than we get rid of the least sentimental things.

Something I am working on is not buying stuff unless I need it or REALLY want it AND I can think of a good place to put it once we get it home. I feel like I have done a good job if it fits in the budget, the new item replaces something else, and the older item that I have replaced gets donated right away.

I keep big Rubbermaid containers on each floor of the house for donating things. When one bin is full I empty them all and either call for a pick up or drop off my donations. I particularly like the option of having someone pick it up because it helps me stick to a deadline since we take a photo and list every item we donate for tax purposes.

Thank you for helping me think about this stuff. I spent some time purging our family room and the kids bathroom of old stuff today!

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