Something that has always been surprising to me are the many comments I have received over the years about how organized our family is, because I don’t think we are that organized.
Then again, I think maybe it’s because I am so against having stuff. I mean it–I am a little crazy about that.
My friend who used to write an organizational blog told me once that the secret to organizing is just getting rid of stuff.
I completely agree. In general, most of us have too much of it.
So, my first organizational tip is to get rid of stuff until it hurts a little. Then you’ll know you’re starting in a good place.
If I had to do it over again, I would have done very well on about half the stuff. There are things that help us live life a little better, and here are some things I consider good to have for helping with organization!
Buy industrial whenever possible.
We learned early on that it is much more cost effective to get an industrial washer and dryer, refrigerator, and kitchen equipment. Restaurant supply stores are my friend. This is where I get my kitchen stuff.
Vintage Fancy Glasses
I like these unbreakable restaurant tumblers and I also love to use these blue vintage Ball canning jars for “fancy” drinking glasses ($12.77 for six is a great price!). We have purchased the plastic storage caps to go on top of the jars to store leftover smoothies, as well as these pourable lids.
Also, when buying for the kitchen, remember that you don’t need very much–far too much space is taken up with redundant cookie sheets, serving spoons, etcetera. Keep the bare minimum.
Plant a culinary garden somewhere.
It can be in containers, in your kitchen window or outside, but it is really, really nice to have fresh herbs to work with in the kitchen.
Buy linens from hotel supply wholesalers or Amazon bulk.
Buy all white. It can be bleached and cleaned all together.
Amazon has a great selection of bulk hand towels, washcloths, towels, bath mats, fitted sheets, pillowcases, etcetera. They are hotel grade and not too expensive.
When you put away linens, separate twin, full and queen into different organizational bins or drawers. Don’t worry about theming your bedrooms with linens–this is expensive and your children will grow out of whatever theme you decide on and you have to wash everything separately.
If you really insist on theming, try using posters or pictures instead. In the bathrooms, keep all white towels, but you could spice things up with a themed shower curtain.
Buy bins and baskets for…well…almost everything.
I love Sterilite bins. I use them for practically everything. Linens, toys, dishes…
I use the bins for our plastic, kid friendly dishes and cups. I put them all in the bin and put them in a cabinet at kid level so the children can pull out their own plastic cups, plates and bowls. This gives them more autonomy when setting the table and getting drinks of water. And it keeps things organized in my kitchen cupboards.
I use a basket for things that go upstairs. It gets emptied and all things in it put away at the end of each day.
Using Bins to Organize the Playroom Dress Up and Toy Closet
I use bins for clothing, also. We have shelving in our closets, and the kids use bins for all of their clothes. I realized early on that dresser drawers were not only heavy, but expensive, and the runners on the drawers seem to have a tendency to get broken by repeated child usage. We tried plastic drawers, which we still do on a limited basis for my older daughter who prefers them, but I found that these tended to get messy. The bins are easier for the little children to put away their own clothing.
So, using Closetmaid shelving coupled with bins is our answer for organized closets for children.
Also, insuring that they only have enough clothing that they can easily manage. It is stressful and unfair to give a five year old girl a closet full of clothes that will result in her feeling overwhelmed. She doesn’t need that much. She will never be able to manage all of it. Make sure that children do not have too many clothes!
What about a family closet?
I have often toyed with the idea of a family closet, seeing as how it works so well for the Duggar family.
(Everyone who finds out we have a large family thinks we know them or something… )
In the end, I decided against it. In real life when the children are grown and away, they will more than likely have their own closet and will need to know how to manage it. I feel like the family closet is a great idea if you have 20 children. I think it is overkill if you only have 10. Also, I like the idea of my children doing their own laundry.
A good age for them to start doing laundry is 5 or 6. They can become very, very proficient at it.
Go countercultural! Be a rebel!
In our home right now, there is a huge built in entertainment center for a giant television. We don’t have a television, so we hung a large painting there and have pictures and stuff there instead.
The Entertainment Center
If you aren’t formal, there is no need for a formal living room. What can you use it for instead? A library? A schoolroom? An office?
A year and a half ago, I realized that storing my baby and little toddler clothes in the children’s bedrooms was really not working for us. The clothes inevitably were misplaced or put in the wrong bins or shoved behind somewhere. By the time I found them, the baby would be too big for them.
So, what to do? Well, I realized that we usually changed the baby and toddler downstairs in the living area. I decided that since that was where they were changed, that is where their clothes and diapers should be. We had some drawers under a window seat that worked perfectly in our old house.
The Baby and Toddler Clothes Bins…A Bit Messy Today
When we recently moved, I wondered where I would put them. The entertainment center mentioned above had some built in cabinets underneath that were presumably meant for equipment, DVDs and gaming systems. My sterilite bins fit in there perfectly, and now the built in cabinets are home to the two year old, one year old and Addie Jayne’s clothes.
I use a pretty basket in my living room to stock diapers, baby wipes and other changing things.
Basically, you need to look at your home in a different light. We have what is presumably supposed to be a formal living area that we have turned into a huge schoolroom, a formal dining room that is now a music room, and a lanai turned into a dining room. Because we also use the lanai for coming in and out of the pool area, there are baskets and storage areas for swimsuits and floaties. It looks eclectic, but it is efficient and works for us.
Play Area In The Living Room
Our living room has three couches and a play carpet in it, because the little children like to play wherever I am. They don’t play upstairs because I don’t go upstairs, so it would be silly to make a play area upstairs in the playroom for them, because they would never use it.
We Actually Do A Lot Of Living In Our Living Room…
The upstairs playroom is now a “pretend school” because the older girls enjoy having a bit of privacy and pretend school is their favorite pastime.
Our giant master bedroom closet often doubles as a room for a newborn baby.
The point is that most homes have been built for a “typical” family–the problem is–you are not typical. Hardly anyone is. Don’t be afraid to shake things up a little!
Those are just a few ideas that have worked for us. Do you have any organizational tips you could pass on to me? I love finding out how other people do it!