Spring is about cleaning. Fall is about organizing. Why? Because as the days get shorter and the colder weather looms, you're going to be spending more and more time indoors.
Why not spend that time in a well organized space where you can find what you're looking for, the moment you're looking for it?
Here are a few tips and projects to get started with now, so that you can put your feet up by the fire, drink a warm toddy and enjoy a good book, come the first snowfall:
1. Re-organize your mudroom + entrance hall
With autumn comes coats and scarves, sweaters and boots. It's time to make sure that there is a spot for all of these things in your mudroom or entrance hall closet or you'll find a pile of 'stuff' right behind the door.
- Use baskets to keep everyone's smaller items separated and organized. If you have space for a bench, you can store the baskets underneath it, out of the way but still accessible.
- Hooks make a good spot to hang backpacks and baseball caps, after school. If you have a shelf in your entrance or mudroom, hanging hooks under it is a great start.
- An elegant umbrella stand is just the ticket to keep those out of the way.
- Include a boot rack or at least a mat for muddy boots, so that you don't find footprints all over the floor.
- Have a basket for slippers so that everyone remembers to put those on after they take off your boots (keep an extra few pairs of hotel style slippers on hand for guests, too.)
2. Build your family station
Do you have a spot where mail, permission forms and all the paperwork that goes with family ends up? Is it the dining room table or kitchen island?
Now is a great time to set up a new family station with a rack for paperwork, per person, a whiteboard or large family calendar for all the daily details and appointments and a spot for marking shopping list items and important 'to dos.' If all of this information and paperwork is in one place, you'll never have to go searching for it again.
3. Organize your garage
Yes, it's nice to have a garage to store all sorts of things, from garden tools to old boots, but the ideal is to be able to get your car into the space, too. Come the first ice up or snowfall, you'll be grateful to not have to chip off ice and snow for an hour before work.
The key to an organized garage is to use the spaces that aren't being used, namely wall space. Installing hanging shelving, hooks and other ways to bring your items off the floor and onto the walls is ideal. (Plastic lawn chairs suddenly have a new home.) The less you can trip over, the better.
Even before you start putting all your items on your new shelves, go over what you have and de-clutter. The garage tends to be one of those places where unused items go but this is a good time to decide if you really need them anymore or not.
4. Alternate seasonal clothing
If you haven't been doing this before, this is a seasonal essential. Create a space in storage—whether that's in the basement or another storage area—and designate it as the alternate season space.
Start moving clothes, shoes and accessories from spring and summer into it, while placing the fall and winter wear front and center in your everyday use closets.
In the spring, you'll do the reverse, getting heavy coats and boots out of your daily use spaces to make way for spring dresses and sandals.
5. Put outdoor toys + toys away
Now is a good time to wipe down and put away all your garden accessories and tools.
- Drain and clean out any water features in your garden. This will prevent them from getting damaged during the upcoming freeze / thaw cycles that come with autumn and winter.
- Unless you're a year round BBQ aficionado, clean up the grill as it could be of interest to outdoor critters who are wintering nearby. Clean all the tools that go with it and pop on the cover. Same for the air conditioning unit.
- Put away, cover, or store your garden furniture.
- Get all your smaller garden tools out—shears, pruners—and clean or sharpen them before you put them away in a box in the shed, ready for next season's planting. Also, store hoses and watering cans after draining them and shut off the valve to the outdoor water faucet from the inside of the house.
- Terracotta pots don't withstand the ebb and flow of water and ice in the winter, so make sure you bring them into your shed or garage, clean them up and store them for the winter. Pro tip: store them on their sides, not vertically, to ensure they don't swell and crack in the damp and cold.
6. Get your emergency kit stocked up
If you have a kit, the change of season is a good time to check that you have what you need, in the event of a storm or power outage:
- Extra batteries
- A hand crank radio
- Canned and other non-perishable food
- Paper towels and toilet paper
A great way to make sure that everyone knows where the water shut off valve is, or where to turn off the power to the furnace, in the case of a flood, is to make a map. Create a map of your floor plans with notes on where to shut off power to your various large appliances that use either water, gas or electricity. In the event of a storm, or a long term outage, you know where everything connects. Keep a copy with your emergency kit and in your family station too.
7. Go through your decorations + wrapping materials
With fall comes several fun holidays, as well as the season of wrapping gifts for all your friends and family. Reorganizing the storage of both your seasonal decorations (think large plastic tub PER holiday) and your wrapping accessories will make them easier to access when you need them.
Some ideas for organizing your wrapping materials?
- Get a vertical plastic bin that will hold wrapping paper upright and visible.
- Hang an old rod on the wall and thread spools of ribbon on to it or get a ribbon organizer. You need only pull on the one you want to cut what you need: no mess, no fuss.
8. Keep your pantry neat, batch cook + re-organize the freezer
Take time to rearrange your pantry so it is neat and organized. Cooler weather also means more stews, casseroles and soups, items you can make ahead and store in your chest freezer for an easy dinner later in the season. This only works if you can find things in your freezer.
- Put in baskets to organize your frozen foods by type. Use color coding if it makes it easier.
- Freeze soups and stews in freezer bags flat and then store them upright in a magazine holder. They take up less space this way and are still easy to flip through to decide what's for dinner.
- Put a list with a whiteboard or chalkboard outside the freezer that indicates what's in there. When you take something out, take it off the list. This way, when you're about to go grocery shopping, you can quickly check what's missing from the freezer, at a glance.
Old habits of dumping clothes and bags on chairs or tables can change. You just have to decide that you want them to!.Make it a habit to do a quick pick up of all the common rooms, a couple of times a week, and you won't have to do a major sort come spring.
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