I’ve been known to organize a few things, alphabetize my spices, color code my closets and label my kids’ toy bins. Mostly, I think it’s what happens to the gene pool when a school teacher and an Army man get married and have children. To keep it all balanced, I never make my bed unless company is coming over, I wait until the dishes pile up in the sink before washing them and I loathe doing laundry every Monday.
Yin for the yang.
I’m a believer, though, that when there is order, there is peace. The larger our family became—we now have five children 10 and under—the more I realized systems had to be put in place or I’d spend my whole day yelling at the kids and frustrated with myself. I don’t, however, believe you have to be a big family to appreciate order. The ideas I share are a combination of me, wonderfully organized
bloggers in cyberspace, Pinterest, personal observation and sheer trial by fire. Raise a sippy cup and a paper shredder to a more organized 2012!
BOX THE KIDS’ PAPERS
I’ll admit it. I did have a box for each child where I stashed all their important papers from school. Problem was, all those papers mated, multiplied and moved places. It was a giant box of “are you kidding me?” I found a brilliant idea online and made it my own. Each child now has a hanging file folder box, marked P2 to Grade 12. The cover of each folder has the school picture, the teacher’s name, school and grade. Whether your children are homeschooled, go to public or private, these folders help you put it all in ONE, very ORGANIZED place. Woo hoo!
PEGS ARE YOUR FRIEND
Some baby book I read over a decade ago showed a sweet photo of four little pegs affixed next to the changing table. They were there for “not perfectly clean, but not yet dirty” clothes that could be worn again. Genius. We’ve adapted the pegs and now have a set in each bedroom, along with our hallway by our mudroom. The kids hang their jackets and backpacks there, now. We no longer search for needed items, they are always easy to find. It was an inexpensive and easy DIY that has paid dividends for the family.
DON’T HIDE THE RECEIPTS
When it came time to return something, I detested finding the receipt. More than half the time, I gave up and ended up donating the item. Enter a $7 accordion file from the Container Store. It was already alphabetized and compact, but roomy enough for me to hold all those receipts. Now, I pile them all up and at the end of the week, I take less than a minute to file them all. The return process has been made easy!
THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT
Of course there is. A few months ago, my husband and I discovered Cozi. It’s a free app where we can share calendars and, more importantly, grocery lists. When he adds something, it automatically shows up on my app. And, when I think of something, I just type it in and neither of us has to keep up with a pesky sticky note. If it’s wrong to love an app, then I don’t want to be right.
ONE IN, TWO OUT
We live in surplus, really. Most of us do. Our children have more toys than they need. When birthdays and holidays would come around, my husband and I would cringe. Just how many more toys would we have to make room for this year? We reached our breaking point and decided enough was enough. We now abide by the “for every one toy that comes in, two must go out” rule. Common sense might tell you that your children would soon be toy-less, but we all know the reality. Toys mate. You put the legos to bed and the next morning 20 more have joined the party. This in-out rule has saved our sanity and taught our children a valuable lesson: there are others in the world who live with nothing. The lesson of stewardship can never be taught too early.
My best piece of advice is this: find your biggest, peskiest hot spot in the house and tackle it first. We all have one. Maybe it’s your laundry room, your refrigerator, how your kids put up their laundry, whatever. Revamp the system, find some alternatives and put a plan in action. Your household will thank you for it.
When Kathryn isn’t organizing her own house, she’s mothering five great kids, ages 10 to 2, and setting up date nights with her husband on Cozi. She knew the lessons were sinking in when her oldest recently said, “Oh mom, this organizing stuff just feels good.” Find her online: Team Whitaker.