I am trying to find the absolute simplest ways to organize things. I feel like I tend to be too complicated when I try to get organized, and then it ends up being overwhelming. What simple strategies do you have for organizing and storing things in your home? Specifically clothing, toys, towels and linens, etc.,
I agree! You need to declutter first and get rid of anything you don't need or love. It's impossible to organize clutter. Ask me how I know!
. : Jill, mama to 5 kiddos, soon to be 6 in June 2013 : .
It's different for everybody. You need to think about what your family's habits are, what it is you're trying to organize, what you're likely to do and not likely to do... I agree with the recommendations to declutter, but once you do, you still need to figure out where to put the items that you need. We've done a lot of refining about where the "homes" for certain items should be... they should be near where the items get used, or near where people naturally put them down. Keys go by the door, etc. I'm having success with catchalls like a crate for toys, a drawer for stuff that doesn't fit anywhere else... etc. If an area resists organization, if you organize it and then it gets messy again, it's a good bet there's too much stuff in it or not enough compartments. We had a Tupperware shelf that was always an overstuffed disaster. I removed half the Tupperware to another location (it is stuff we use regularly, so I didn't want to get rid of it), and now what remains is always in much better order than it was.
Oh, also you don't have to implement the perfect system and you don't have to do it everywhere at once. Consider what you're organizing and your family's habits and preferences, declutter an area, and then do something to organize it that seems like it'll make sense. Then re-evaluate it later to see if what you did works well, if it needs some tweaks, or if it totally didn't work and you need to start over in that area. Trial and error is totally okay because you are making progress by figuring out what doesn't work (much as it might feel like you're making no progress).
How I store clothing depends on my mood as well. If I had a hand place to hang them right out of the dryer, I would probably use more hangers. We have a hanging bar above the washer and dryer, but I'm too short to comfortably reach it. I am thinking of having dh move it down an inch or 2. But at some points, I am more in a hanging mood. Others more of a fold it and put it in the drawer mood. Folded clothing on open shelves don't work for us. Need a drawer or basket to contain it. Clothes that don't fit yet are stored on the shelf in each closet.
Toys, I finally discovered are best with the bulk stored in an out of reach area. I have a closet in the family room for games and crafts and puzzles. Then there is a wooden kidcraft kitchen set that acts as a cabinet and all of the current toys go in there. There are 7 shelves and that limits the toys in number. I've tried the big toy box, but find that my girls won't dig out the pieces and end up playing better if the pieces are stored together. They also have a play room, and that is just my big girl's play area ATM. Things are going to have to shift a bit, though. My little one is getting past the put things in her mouth phase. Right now, I store my LO's toys that are out of rotation in a couple of bins in there. Really, I should get rid of some, but I do like to be able to rotate them. In the playroom, we have bookcases lined with baskets and bins. Works OK. The top half is my craft supplies and the bottom is toys.
Linens... I haven't gotten there yet. I keep meaning to pack away all but 2 towels per person and assign each person a color, but it never seems to happen. I like the idea of storing extra sheets between the mattress and box spring. Haven't tried it. For now, they go on the top of each person's closet.
Hope that helps. The best thing you can do, is find a professional organizer. Mine was just starting out, and extremely reasonable. Like $15 per hour. She gave me tons of ideas. Plus she keeps me on task. LOL! I've only had her come twice, but it really helped.
"Specifically clothing, toys, towels and linens, etc."
It's easier now that the kids are big.
In season clothes we keep in our wardrobes (DD, DS each have their own, DH and I share a large one). We keep underwear and socks in different areas from shirts,trousers, etc. The kids keep their school uniforms separate from their normal clothes.
We have hooks by the front door for coats. We have shoe storage by the front door for shoes & slippers.
Out-of-season clothes are kept in plastic boxes in our storage shed. At change of season we go through what we have and see what no longer fits, or is not really wanted and we give it away. If stuff is too worn out, we either put it in the rag-bag or throw away.
We have a small-ish washed (max 7kg) so do laundry almost daily, which means we fold it almost daily. Clothes get put away immediately (in theory) after folding.
My kids sometimes do not put away their clothes as soon as I would like. Then DH and I nag and remind them.
DS keeps toys in a box in his room and in two shelves of the living room & on the long window sill of our living room. This is a battle. A few soft toys in his bed. DD no longer plays with toys (in her mid-teens) but keeps 3 soft-toys on her bed. I have stored my old dolls in a box in our storage shed.
Board games & card decks and cribbage board kept in the central area of the sideboard.
Towels & linens
Clean ones, on shelves in the linen closet. It's less organized than I wish, but in *theory* the sheets and duvet covers for the kids beds are on a different shelf than the sheets and duvet covers for my & DH's bed.
Table-napkins in a drawer in the side-board. Placemats in a different drawer in the sideboard. The table cloths are kept in the linen closet.
Used towels that can still be used hang on racks or from hooks in the bathrooms. Then they are put in the laundry basket until we put them in the laundry.
Lots of good tips. I really like the tip of keeping things close to where you use them, that is very common sense, but not always utilized here. I also like the idea of storing most toys away, so that they are not out all the time, that is a huge problem here.
I am trying to find the absolute simplest ways to organie things. I feel like I tend to be too complicated when I try to get organized, and then it ends up being overwhelming. What simple strategies do you have for organizing and storing things in your home? Specifically clothing, toys, towels and linens, etc.,
- All the clothes we're currently wearing are hung in closets or stored in dressers. We're lucky to have 3 closets for 4 people, so it's enough space, in theory... though DH uses nearly twice the closet space I do.
- I store my out of season clothes in my luggage. This frees up a lot of closet/dresser space. DH wears the same clothes year-round.
- Kids' clothes in the next size up live in labelled boxes on closet shelves. Everything else (smaller/larger sizes) is sorted and stored in the attic.
- Hats, scarves, and gloves live in a big box on the floor of the front closet. Coats are hung on hangers inside.
- approx. 65% of our toys are in a stack of plastic bins in the basement. Every 6 weeks, I pull out one or two bins and trade out the toys in it for a bin-full of toys we've had out. Only a handful of favorites escape being sent to toy purgatory. It makes a huge difference in everyone's sanity to have most of the toys stored at any one time.
- The toys that are in circulation are stored in two places: 1) a few large, sturdy wicker baskets that are tucked under a table in the corner of our living room; and 2) in a few canvas and wicker bins stored on shelves in DD's room. I try to store toys with lots of small pieces in separate places so all the pieces don't get mixed up, but honestly, I don't worry too much about keeping sets together. Everything just gets tossed in the baskets and then gets organized during the 6-week rotation.
- Every time I rotate toys, I select a few for donation that my kids have outgrown or don't really play with. It helps to be keeping an eye on this all the time.
- Minimalism is the rule here. You simply can't own more linens than you have space to store them.
- Towels get one shelf in the linen closet and are stacked by size.
- Sheets get a separate shelf and are stored by what matches.
- Placemats and napkins are folded in stacks on the china cupboard.
- Tablecloths? Oh, I think I had one once... it might be around here somewhere... :)
- Blankets in the cedar chest.
- Baby blankets in a storage ottoman in DD's room.
- Some blankets get stored between the mattress and box spring during the summer months.
We keep our amounts to a bare minimum. My three-year-old and infant share a dresser and so have two smallish drawers each. They each have about four days worth of clothing that fits at any given time. I keep bigger clothes in labeled bins in an IKEA trofast contraption in their closet, and the nice new clothes (that we often don't wear, given to us by grandparents who aren't clued in to what works for our kids) are kept on hangers with the tags on, for likely consignment when the size time passes, if that makes sense.
My partner and I each have one 5-drawer storage unit in our master closet, where we also share hanger space. Again, we don't have much. Maybe three days of clothes each? Plus one nice outfit each?
Jackets and shoes in season are in the front hall closet. Off-season stuff is in our master closet.
Again, we're brutal with keeping toys to a minimum and so have limited designated space.
We have a cabinet in the living room that has shelves on the bottom, and we keep our bean bin, blocks, puzzles, and two baskets of small toys there.
We have a basket of small plastic and wooden animals (3 yr old's current obsession), and an under-the-stairs closet that we converted into a "hidey-hole" for the 3 yr old.
She has a reading alcove in there with cushions and a basket of library books that we exchange once a week.
She also has her play kitchen in there with one basket of kitchen-y toys. There is also a small shelve with a basket of instruments & a basket of random toys.
We have a bookshelf in the living room too, with two shelves of her books. And one more basket with dolls and doll clothes.
There is one more basket with cloth diapers and baby toys.
Can you tell that we truly *live* in our living room? It's our only common area, and it's only about 200 sq feet. Tiny. Oh, and she also has a small table and chairs in the living room.
We have two each. One set is in use, one set is in the closet. We share our towels. We also have two towels, hand towels and facecloths for visitors, stored in the linen cupboard.
We have one set of sheets per bed. We wash them and put them back on as needed. We have a family bed, so that means we only wash one set on a regular basis.
Spare blankets are in the linen cupboard. The other two beds are made up with their linens, and get washed after company sleeps over.
We keep our kitchen linens in the kitchen, in a basket in the cupboard by the sink.
My biggest challenge is craft supplies and homeschooly type stuff as dd gets older. We have a hutch in the kitchen that works, sort of. Seems like it's always threatening to overflow. Seems that I don't mind hardlr having any clothes, but I like to have a bazillion preschool art supplies at hand at all times.
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We have a coat closet in the foyer - it's small, but enough for a couple of coats for each of us (winter is COLD here!). Our big issue was shoes/boots. My twin sons and DH all wear size 12 shoes, so 3 pairs of giant shoes and boots, in addition to my smaller shoes and boots, my work boots, and DH's hiking boots. There was a big jumble on the floor of the closet.
I put simple wire shelves on the floor of the closet. Shoes go on the shelves; boots go on the floor. There is plenty of room for everything, and it didn't take any time at all to train everyone to put their shoes on the shelves instead of just throw them on the floor.
It might seem like a little thing, but it made a HUGE difference in that closet!
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