Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Let's Look at Organization!

 


Happy Wednesday, friends! I'm linking up with Shay and Erika today for this monthly blog post. 

This is a fun post! I love talking about organization and such, and though my home is nowhere near being organized the exact way I'd prefer, it's not too bad. Just promise to never step foot in the attic. 

Organizing with kids—

Having a modest sized home and a large family has forced me to be even more organized than I'd ever dreamed I would be. I am not including their rooms in this post, because they're not as good as this as I'd like, with the exception of Jonah. He has the smallest room in the house, so he has to stay on top of it, or it would get out of hand. When our sons were young, I always taught them how to clean up after themselves. The two sets of boys each shared rooms with the other, so if they made messes, they were also expected to pick up after themselves. I didn't make them do this everyday, though...if it was in their room, we would go for about five days before it would need to be dusted and vacuumed, so that's about how often they'd put their toys back in the designated areas. I always love ending and starting a week with a neatened house. 

Our common living areas were another story. We used to have a car rug in the living room with buckets of cars, and they would play on that thing for hours at a time. I'd let them leave all of that out, as long as it stayed on the rug. At one time we had a toy box down here and it was the same situation—they could keep things out that they were playing with, so long as it stayed in one general area. (They were very young at this time and eventually started using the playroom upstairs for this.)  

I can remember never-ending board games on the dining room table. Because that was a room that was rarely used, those games would take up the table space for days on end. If more than a week went by and they weren't actively playing the game, we would get the surface cleaned off again and put the board game back into the downstairs closet that was designated for such things. I call that closet the tornado closet, not because of the fact that it usually looked like a tornado had been through it, but because it's the closet under our stairs. Other things kept in there were extra school supplies and paperwork from their school days. Nowadays it's used for tools that stay inside, there's a firesafe cabinet and a filing cabinet there, coats, a small amount of gift wrapping supplies, games I hung onto and paint.

Though they each cleaned up their own messes, there was a lot of background work that I did to make this easy for them. I would make sure their dresser drawers stayed fairly neat and organized. I went through them often and would pull out things they no longer wore or that fit them, and I'd put it away until one of the other boys could use it. I worked with them a lot in their closets, to help keep them maintained so they could hang their clothes right or fit things onto the shelves inside. We would clean the house every week, so on the day we did that, I'd make sure that they had a trash bag with them to throw away the millions of pieces of paper they always seemed to accumulate. As they got older, we did start let them take food and drinks upstairs, so the trash bags began to be used for that instead. We also had to buy a trash can for every room, because it was needed all of a sudden.

Other organizing tips—

I have a few tips that I've tried to implement over the years. One is to stay on top of paper clutter. I cannot stand paper clutter! My husband is really good at this as well, so that helps. We don't keep papers/receipts/mail that we do not need. We will look at it and either put it away or we'll trash it. I have a couple of things that help with this, because there are some things that we have to keep. One is that we have a filing cabinet in our tornado closet that I already mentioned. We keep important documents there that we can get to quickly. Just this week, Noah needed his birth certificate and social security card, so I was able to find it in less than 30 seconds. That is all thanks to my hubby. I have a basket in our kitchen for mail that we need to hang onto and I have another one in my laundry room right off the kitchen. All things that are paper that we have to keep go into one of those places.



These areas pictured are the problem areas for us that get junky with the mail. I just try to keep it neat as best I can, or I use one of the things I mentioned before. I am all about using all the space that we have and I've done that since the boys were young. This just means if there was usable wall space, I used it. Another example is in the hall where our tornado closet is—Todd installed wood shelves with pegs and turned that area into a storage area for lunch bags, backpacks, my purse and then all of our DVDs are on top. 

This kind of leads into my second tip and that is to have a place for everything. Extra charging cords? They go into the drawer that also holds our trivets and oven mitts. Odds and ends that we always need, like a letter opener? These things go into our "junk drawer". Extra lighters for candles and fires are easily found in their special drawer, as are batteries (tornado closet), extra soap for our shower (on a shelf we keep in our bathroom) and shoes that aren't worn very often (outside on a shoe rack in the garage). Everything has a place to go here and I try my best (and fail a lot) to keep those spaces neat. We have a full house still, though, so it does all get messed up and I just go in and neaten it all back up a couple of times each week. I still like to do this every Friday and Monday.  I am constantly cleaning out a cabinet or a drawer. Just last week I cleaned out under the downstairs bathroom cabinet. I keep extra hand soaps and hand towels in there, as well as fingernail polishes. I pulled everything out and put it all back again nicely. (We keep fingernail clippers and such in all the bathrooms, as these are things that are needed often.) 

Lest you think I'm better than I actually am, know that Todd and I just cleaned this drawer above out before Christmas in our search for a missing smart outlet. We literally emptied the whole drawer, threw a bunch of things away and then I put it all back neatly. I am to blame for a lot of the messes in our house! I get lazy sometimes and don't take the time to put it all back where it goes. 

I cleaned out our refrigerator yesterday after I started writing this post, because I became motivated to get it organized again. Our refrigerator is another trouble spot and things get lost in the shelves all the time. 


Extra tips and tricks—

Clean and organize a little each day, if you have time. I promise, it's worth the effort. My house never looks dirty, but I assure you it does get dusty. It's just that I keep things neat and tidy, so that makes it seem clean.

Light a candle! It's easy to clean and organize when all of your senses are involved. Smell is one of my most powerful motivators. So is sound, for that matter, so I love having quiet music playing throughout the day. Sight is pretty important too, and I like for things to look pretty. 

Start with one small area and go from there. Start small, because that's enough to motivate you to go bigger with the next area. It's satisfying to see quick results!

I don't have fancy clear containers for everything and I don't have cute jars for things with labels. I'd love to have those things, but they're not necessary and it's my opinion that you don't have to spend a lot of money to be organized. In a perfect world that could happen, but I think if we're all just smart about our spaces and how we buy/put away, the result is just as nice and just as satisfying. Also, before social media, people didn't spend money on that kind of thing. 

Someone mentioned yesterday in the comments of that day's post that we're all too easily influenced by "influencers". I agree wholeheartedly! There are certain things I care a lot about (my relationship with Jesus, my family, praying for our family and friends) and there are a lot of things I don't care that much about, like what my organized spaces look like. I think it's always a good idea to have a healthy amount of perspective. 

I'm so curious to hear from you about this topic. And if you use those pretty clear containers for everything, more power to you! There's nothing wrong with that, it's just not something I've used. I'd use them if they were given to me, though! They can get really pricey. How do you organize and stay on top it all? Do you have any tricks that you'd like to share with me? I love learning about this kind of thing. Also, have you ever watched people clean and organize their homes and cars? I LOVE watching TikTok videos on this and can easily get swept away down the rabbit trail that becomes for me. My friend Andrea got me interested in the same types of videos on YouTube. They're so fun to watch! I love to clean, organize, fold clothes and all those crazy things.

Have I bored you to tears? Thanks for reading, friends. Love to all. ❤

10 comments:

  1. Not boring! Even a mundane topic can be a good read when it is well written, has interesting tidbits about the subject (even if the subject itself is boring :)), and has some helpful ideas- yours hit all of those! It is great for everything to have a place. I am getting better with that the older I get. Having older kids is a sure fire way to have a less cluttered house- those toys, while necessary for the kids' development, learning and fun, sure added to "stuff" to the house and created the need for storage/ organization.

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  2. You're super organized! Love it!!

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  3. I always love when online "influencers" encourage us to use what we have to organize. I like to be organized and neat, but when did the pantry start to be a showcase in our house...ha, ha!

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  4. I love your organizational system with papers. I think that is a tricky one for all of us, which is a little odd considering so many bills are even now online. I didn't write too much on my blog, but one thing I do use in my refrigerator are some "lazy susans". They are small and I think I got these from the dollar store! They help to reach things without moving too many things along the way. Great post!

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  5. We have wire shelving systems in all our closets and I did start buying containers these past few years (now that I have a bit of excess money in our budget) and it has made a huge difference in keeping things organized. We used to have a problem with smaller containers falling through the slats and that drove me nuts. I too tend to get papers organized pronto before they become a problem and find that tackling small jobs here and there really adds up over time. I tend to be uber-organized by nature though and definitely believe in a place for everything.

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  6. Thanks, Maria! I always appreciate your sweet encouragement. I love reading posts about how people do things in their home, whether it's on this topic or something different. I love a lot of real life thrown in as well and mine is definitely real life! Ha. I do think I've gotten better at this with age as well. Now I'm trying to pass on these characteristics to my sons...

    We'll see how that goes! ;)

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  7. Thanks, Bri! I certainly try to be, otherwise our home would be overrun by paper and truck parts the guys all keep ordering. Ha!

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  8. Tanya, me too! I mean, I would love a pantry that's like a show case, but realistically, it's never going to happen. I
    have friends who shop for things to help with this at The Dollar Tree. I just think every time I go to the one near me, it's picked over. I'd shop there for things if I could find them. Have you ever been inside The Container Store? I could spend hours there dreaming. Their prices are sky high, though.

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  9. Marilyn, thanks! Talk about real life, right? That's a great idea to use those. I see them at Target in their Dollar Spot aisle from time to time.

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  10. Joanne, we have those too! You're right, there does need to be a better solution for that kind of shelving. When the boys were young, I used more storage container type things for their small bits and pieces. I wonder where all of those went....we had tons of those plastic shoe boxes with lids for everything. I think this comes pretty easily for me as well...on the flip side of that, I am easily frustrated when things are NOT organized.

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