Unclutter the clutter! Come on, we all have the one place in our homes that tends to attract big piles of stuff. Where is yours? Is it the kitchen counter? Mine is! Things pile up way too quickly. Mail, toys, books, power cords, hats and other accessories, shoes (not on the countertop of course), coupons, invitations, appointment cards, etc. Do you have a system that helps you keep organized? There are a few simple tips and tricks that may help you become more organized and on top of your clutter. Don't feel like you have to implement all of them, especially all at once. Get everyone on board to help things run more smoothly. Pick a few and see how they work. Think of them like new house rules. Only try not to use the word "rules" with your kids, at least not yet. Try the term "expectation" instead. "Okay, kids it is now an expectation that as you walk in the door you hang your coat up on the coat rack, place your shoes in your shoe bin, and throw your hats and gloves into the basket." Be consistent for one week and eventually you won't need to repeat the expectation except for when your kiddo has that occasional brain cramp, which is bound to happen at some point.|
Tips and Tricks:
- Hats and accessories - Place a basket near where your child hangs his coat. This basket serves to hold hats, gloves, and scarves in the winter and then sunhats and sunglasses during the summer months.
- Coats - Provide your child with a hook that is low enough for him to successfully hang up his own coat. (I have a refinished farmhouse door hanging sideways in the entryway with four black hooks attached to it. Beneath the door and off to the far right I have placed a fifth hook for my middle child who isn't tall enough yet to hang her coat on the door. This works extremely well for her and eventually she will be able to graduate up to the door and Reagan will take the hook on the wall.) Foster self-sufficiency to help you get going and to aid your child in developing those important DIY skills.
- Shoes - Obtain a crate for your child to place his shoes into. Slide this crate into the hall closet and each time your child takes off his shoes he will be developing a habit of putting his shoes away. (When our neighbor's kids come over, they place their shoes in Leister's shoes basket, too. It's funny how they have picked up on the shoe routine when they don't actually live here.)
- Mail - Don't just get the mail...sort the mail, too. As soon as you get the mail, begin sorting into piles. Bills go into the bill drawer or basket, junk mail gets thrown into the recycling can or the basket that holds the mail that needs to be shredded, coupons go into the coupon basket, etc. Think of the different types of mail that you get. Develop a place for everything so that everything gets in its place.
- Coupons - Create a basket to store coupons. You don't have to get fancy. Before or after you create your grocery list each week (depending on whether you plan your meals around your coupons or your coupons around your meals), go through and snip the coupons you need for the week. It could even be helpful to store a small pair of scissors with your coupons. Place these coupons into a storage bag and slide them into your purse.
- Appointment cards, invitations, etc. - Bulletins boards are wonderful! Find a spot in your house to hang a bulletin board. It should be a spot you see often so that you are reminded to hang things on it and to actually be in tune to what's on it. Each week make note of what is on it and remove those things that are no longer needed. Keeping it updated will keep you organized.
- Calendar(s) of events - Next to your bulletin board or attached to it hang a calendar and keep it updated with appointments, meetings, sporting events, etc. The appointment cards on the bulletin board will be handy if you need to cancel an appointment. But also place the appointment information on your calendar. Make it neat enough for everyone to read so that everyone can be kept up-to-date on the weekly/monthly events. Calendar idea: Create a unique dry erase calendar. Find a large picture frame (with glass not plastic) you are no longer using, a sheet of poster board, a permanent marker, a ruler, and a dry erase marker. Create a generic monthly calendar on the sheet of poster board (draw it out on paper first to help guide you) with the permanent marker. Leave a section at the top to write in the month and a section for each of the days of the week. Draw your lines and write in your days of the week. Once you have your template, frame the sheet of poster board, covering it with the glass. Now you are ready to use your dry erase marker to number the days and write in all those important events.
- Toys - Laundry baskets work well for carrying toys from one place to the next. Make it an expectation that before bed time each evening, toys are picked up. If your child is too little to carry the basket himself, then he can be responsible for placing toys in and taking them out after you carry it for him. Also, consider storing toys in clear containers so your child will know what is inside without having to dump everything out on the floor to find that one toy.
- What's for dinner? - Before you go to the grocery store each week, get organized. It will help you save money! Hang a dry erase board on the inside of your pantry door. Write the days of the week down the left side of the board. Then plan your meals and list them. It will help you be ahead of the game and help the kids (and hubby) know what to look forward to for dinner. Older kids can get involved, too, by each planning and filling out a specific day. Yum, yum!
- Power cords - Are they are all tangled up or lost at your house? Consider getting a valet for your electronic devices. A valet will hide the cords and allow immediate access for recharging your cell phone and other devices.
- Mail magnets - Hang three different colored magnets on a steel entry door. Designate one magnet as outgoing mail, one for items that need immediate attention, and one for the kids. The kids' magnet can hold papers that need to be signed and returned to school, daycare/school checks, etc. You won't be able to slide out the door each day without being forced to take care of business.