“If it’s not worth finding a special place for, throw it out. You’ll never find it anyway.” ~Mary Pride
A well-organized household saves time, money, and energy. Time is too valuable to waste on searching for things. By maintaining an orderly home, you avoid buying duplicates of items that you lost, or forgot that you already have. Living in cluttered surroundings can be distracting, discouraging, and mentally tiring. Not to mention the fact that organized rooms are more visually appealing than cluttered cabinets and countertops! Eliminating unnecessary items also makes additional space available for more useful objects. Getting organized and uncluttered can improve your way of life, reduce stress, and bring you peace of mind.
Children's rooms generally contain the widest variety of items and are the hardest to organize and keep clean. Kids tend to leave their belongings all over the rest of the house, too. If your kids have so much stuff that they're unable to manage it and toys cover every square inch of the floor, the simplest remedy is to stop the clutter before it starts. Limit the number of toys you give to your children, or get them things that don't take up much space (i.e., CD's, DVD’s, magazine subscriptions, movie tickets, money, video games, computer software). Some families work on a one in, one out system - if they buy a new toy or game, then an old one goes to charity.
Traditional toy boxes are not always the best place to store children's possessions, especially those having many small parts. Toys last longer and kids can find things easier when they're stored separately and not thrown on top of each other. Large stackable plastic bins and flat under-bed boxes can store blocks, play food and dishes, train sets, and car tracks. Clear plastic shoeboxes hold small objects like Hot Wheels cars or Barbie doll accessories. Choose containers with tight snap-on lids to help prevent the dumping of contents if they’re tipped. Get specialty organizers for video games, CD's, DVD’s, and cassette tapes. Install shelves, hooks, peg racks, and corkboard to utilize wall space. Be creative– some unique storage solutions may include toolboxes, plastic dishpans, or old suitcases.
Bookcases are an excellent investment not only for books and magazines, but also for holding rows of small stackable boxes or empty baby wipe containers. These can be filled with assorted pens, pencils, crayons, markers, letter and number magnets, etc. Arrange books on the shelves in an orderly manner so they are easy to find. This may simply mean placing science books on one shelf, history on another, and so on. If there are toddlers in the house, place books out of reach on high shelves so they can't be pulled down all at once. Keep often-used toys and belongings on the lower shelves where they can be easily reached. High shelves can also be designated for rarely-used items, fragile models and collectible displays (i.e., 3-D puzzles or fancy dolls).
Put labels on boxes, drawers, shelf edges, storage containers, etc. to show which items are to be kept where. Even see-through containers need labels to identify their contents in case they're emptied out. For pre-readers, a great way to label a container of individual parts for a play set (i.e. dollhouse furniture or castle accessories) is to cut out and attach a picture of the toy from either the box it came in or out of a toy catalog. For beginning readers, use large-print word labels to enhance reading skills.
Make putting things away more effortless than getting things out. Then maintain a strict rule of picking up after one activity before going on to the next. Designate a book return bin or toy return box, to be cleared out and the objects returned to their places on a regular basis. Remind children to put their toys away before getting something else out, and have them do a quick pick-up every night before going to bed. At the very least, getting everything off the floor will make any room look cleaner. But make sure they are putting everything back where it belongs and not just cramming it into the closet to come tumbling out later!
Store items as close as possible to where they are most likely to be needed. Put a cabinet, shelves, or plastic crates in the family room for storing some toys and games there. Or use a plastic tub with handles for carrying toys to and from a play area. The kitchen and dining areas should be off-limits to toys, and don't allow any toys in the master bedroom, den or office. Parents need to keep their own stuff organized so that they will at least have one uncluttered room to which they can retreat.
Just as you should handle paperwork only once by reading it, filing it, or discarding it so as to not keep re-shuffling the same papers, don’t move clutter around from room to room. Set aside a place for everything and put everything in its place. Once you have clutter under control, it will be easier to manage from then on. In the end you will have more time, a neat home, and less stress as a reward for your efforts. Finally, remember that keeping the house organized as you go along is a lot easier than waiting until it’s in total chaos.
“Out of clutter, find simplicity.” ~Albert Einstein
The Berenstain Bears and the Messy Room, by Stan and Jan Berenstain.
Clutter Free, Clutter’s Last Stand, Not For Packrats Only, and The Office Clutter Cure, by Don Aslett.
Confessions of an Organized Homemaker and Confessions of a Happily Organized Family, by Deniece Schofield.
Emilie's Creative Home Organizer, Cleaning Up the Clutter, and The 15 Minute Organizer, by Emilie Barnes.
Organizing From the Inside Out, by Julie Morgenstern.
Stop Clutter from Wrecking Your Family: Organize Your Children, Spouse, and Home, by Mike Nelson.
www.flylady.com(Your personal online coach to help you gain control of your house and home.)
www.organizedhome.com (Organize and simplify, clutter and personality type, back-to-school organizing tips, etc.)
www.organized-mom.com (Organizing hints and tips to help you organize your home and family.)
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These pages are a continuous work in progress.