“Let’s Get Organized” Series Recap
Hello lovely readers ~
In the last month I’ve exposed the messiest, most disorganized parts of my home, all with the intention of finding solutions to end the chaos! You’ve journeyed with me through organizing and fully stocking our kitchens. Together, we put a stop to compiling those infernal paper piles. We then moved along to sharing strategies to neatly display little ones’ artwork. Lastly (but certainly not least), we tackled the monstrous task of cleaning up our closet catastrophes (part 1 and part 2) and taking toys from turmoil to tidy.
There’s been a lot of moving, shaking, flinging and flailing in the Peterson household and a lot of relics uncovered. Gone are the petrified gummy bears! Adios to the Melrose Place era micro-mini business suits (sniff, sniff)! Hello to SPACE. Who knew?
I made a commitment to “let it all hang out” and be totally real with y’all, hence the revealing/embarrassing photos of various parts of my home. You, dear readers, are holding me accountable. And that’s what REAL change is all about, right?
So you may be wondering how my progress is coming along? I must say, I am very proud of my family and myself. Allow me to share my pigsty to palace story!
Leaving Accumulation Nation
Problem: Hubby and I would carelessly deposit mail, school papers, artwork, etc. on every flat surface in our kitchen. We would dump-and-go thinking, “Oh, we’ll just get to this later,” or “I’d better leave this for (fill-in-the-blank) to look at later.” The trouble was that “later” would sometimes not come for days or (gasp) months, leaving piles of miscellaneous clutter. Not only were these piles unsightly, but it became tricky to locate things when we needed them.
Solution: I purchased this little 3-tiered dandy organizer from Amazon*! Now, instead of dumping our stuff on the island and leaving it indefinitely, we take an extra minute after we’ve unloaded everything to sort through the papers. More items are going directly in the garbage, where we should have put them all along!
- Top level: We put bills right on the top of the organizer, always in view. I created a folder for both my husband and me in which we place paperwork that the other needs to see, appropriately marked with sticky notes. Our understanding is that any paperwork that goes into these folders can be tossed once the other has seen it/taken action with it. Every item on the top level of the organizer should be “dealt with” every few days, after which we shred it, toss it or file it.
- Second level: School papers. Any item placed on the second tier should be seen every few days as well. Same rules apply: shred/toss/file.
- Third level: Items to be filed. Any paperwork that has come into the house that has already been completely dealt with, but that needs to be saved either by physically filing or scanning to our computer (i.e. statements) will be placed in the third tier of the organizer. These items can be filed once a month or earlier if space is needed.
Organizing Kitchen Shelves
Problem: Our family had been hastily tossing food (and gift bags, and weird contraptions) onto these shelves with no particular plan on placement. Consequently, we would keep buying MORE of the items we already had and not enough of the items that were needed.
Solution: I ended up buying colored transparent storage containers at a wholesale club and grouping like items together. All the extraneous stuff that we don’t use on a daily or weekly basis (like the massive gift bag collection) were gathered up and moved into the laundry room cabinets or tossed altogether. The most surprising find? Not one, but three containers of green bean baby food. (My children will be 5 this summer. Yeah, I know…)
Displaying Children’s Artwork
Problem: I had singlehandedly turned our family’s kitchen into a makeshift redneck art gallery, complete with random art projects Scotch-taped to every closet door.
Solution: I chose the art hanger display option, purchasing sailboat hangers and unicorn hangers from Etsy. Initially, I was a bit concerned about how moving the kids artwork out of the room which it graced for years would go over with my tots. Because of this, I made sure to involve them in the process of picking the hangers. They felt like such big kids getting to make decorating decisions regarding their rooms! In the end, I had worried for nothing. My twins’ enthusiasm was infectious as they jumped up and down opening their packages when the hangers had arrived. Now they are proudly displaying their artwork in their own rooms, and we have reclaimed the space in our kitchen. Win-win!
As for the older artwork pieces, I will box up and save the extra special projects, especially those complete with photos of the kids or handprints/footprints. For the other pieces that I simply can’t hang onto, I will photograph them and download them to the artkive app where they can be stored and organized into a photo book.
Cleaning My Closet Catastrophe
Problem: My husband and I had turned our closet, much like other spots in our home that are behind closed doors, into a spot where we would haphazardly dump “miscellaneous” items. This alone would be a big hairy problem. However, when you compound the issue with decades of out-of-style clothing (from all seasons) mixed carelessly in with the apparel that we are currently wearing, you end up with a colossal wreck. I would regularly find myself standing in my closet with my mouth hanging open for God-only-knows how long before I realized that I had completely forgotten what I was looking for. AARGH!
Solution: Major MAJOR purge. I’m talkin’ BAGS upon bags of clothing hauled out of our closet. What a feeling! (Insert totally awesome Flashdance song here.) Once the fat clothes, 90’s clothes and other head-scratching fashion choices were disposed of, once again we discovered SPACE! To the point where it is not all that necessary to schlep the summer clothes out at all.
We now sort our clothes by color, with casual clothes in one section of the closet and dress clothes in the other. I am better utilizing the sections of our closet that are “full-length,” i.e., no shelving blocking the space between the pole and the floor. Dresses were a good choice for these spots. I am in the process of throwing in these nifty clothing dividers so that I can visually separate warm clothes from cooler weather clothes. I’m realizing that this will be an ongoing effort for my husband and me, but I’m thrilled with the improvement already!
Taking Toys from Turmoil to Tidy
Problem: Very simple: waaaaaayyyy too many toys. Mama has found a way to attach emotional significance to nearly every gift that has ever been bestowed to my children, hence out-of-control toy mayhem. No plan, just toys, toys, toys. Toys in the family room, toys in OUR bedroom, toys in the garage……
Solution: Very much still a work-in-progress, so no real before and after photos — yet! I’ve begun the process of grouping and boxing toys that I think my kids may still want to play with. However, they MUST GO. I mean that we must place them out of view. These lovies should be essentially forgotten until we parents decide that their reemergence into the home will likely result in thrills and giggles. So essentially what I’m talking about is a toy rotation.
Honestly, this has been the toughest task for me to date. These items are not MINE. I still handle each toy with reverence and agonize over their importance. So it’s time for me to do an attitude adjustment and tackle this unemotionally! Having said that, I have made progress in terms of not allowing the toys to overtake our common areas. I’m being persistent with the kids in telling them multiple times a day that they need to not drop their toys on the steps, stop leaving their Elsa and Spidey costumes in the middle of MY bathroom floor and so on. Breaking them of the drop-n-go habit will take some time, but will help considerably in the long run.
The Petersons will never be the tidiest family in town. Our closets and kitchen shelves will never be in the envy of the Organization Goddesses I’ve known in my life. But I’m content. I’m pleased that we have made REAL improvements. We can feel a sense of satisfaction and peace just to be home. We know that this is a lifestyle change, not just a quick fix, but I know we are up for the challenge. Our family turned our discombobulation and desperation into determination and perspiration and finally – CELEBRATION!
Thank you for all of your positive comments and suggestions and just being a part of this process! Please keep them coming as you go through your own organizational overhauls!