Plus, two organizational rules I now live by.
If my mother sees this article, she is first going to do a double-take to make sure that she read the name correctly, and then she is going to laugh and laugh and laugh. Because the truth is that I have never been an organized person—but I want to be, desperately. To come home after a long day to a space that is neat and tidy and peaceful; ahh, sounds like heaven.
My desire to be organized became a need when the pandemic hit, and suddenly our home had to accommodate two working parents and three kids doing virtual learning (and a dog who is still confused by it all). What was once nothing more than unsightly disorganization quickly became a source of major stress, and I knew we needed to get our acts together.
We started with a major decluttering session, of course. Then, we incorporated two organizational rules into our daily lives:
1. Go vertical. I realized that I was underutilizing the space in my home (and causing more clutter in the process) by only thinking about horizontal surfaces (like my often totally-covered kitchen counter). Now, I look for ways to use the walls and doors to make more space (check out a few ideas below!).
2. Touch it once. If left to my own unorganized devices, I would pick up the same item 12 times before it actually makes it to where it belongs. First, the coat comes off and gets thrown on the kitchen chair. Then, I make a pile of it and all the other coats on another chair. Then, I pick them all up but get interrupted by a quick homework question so they get tossed onto the floor. Then… you get my drift. Now, I touch everything once—the item goes where it needs to go the first time I touch it. It may take longer in the moment, but ultimately not moving stuff from pile to pile really makes a difference.
These rules helped, but there was still more work to be done—which meant a little intentional shopping.
Here are the 13 products I found that finally helped my family get organized—and a few ideas to go along with them:
My husband and I share digital calendars which helps, but my kids were still constantly asking "What do we have next?" Enter: the Skylight calendar. It's about the size of a tablet, and we have ours mounted to the wall. It syncs with our digital calendars and displays the schedule for the day (or week or month). My kids just need to walk up to it to see what their (color coordinated) days look like! Bonus: You can use it to keep track of your grocery shopping lists, too!
I've learned that I need to use both shared digital calendars and a paper planner to really get organized—I use the paper planner for a more detailed look at everything that needs to happen in a day. For this, I am currently obsessed with the momAgenda planner. I love the weekly view and that there is dedicated space for me and up to four kids (I have three kids, so one of those spaces is for my husband and dog).
Remember my "go vertical" rule? Well, this is one of the products that helps me accomplish that. It sticks to my fridge and is perfect for holding keys, coupons, pens and anything else that otherwise ends up scattered on my kitchen counter at the end of the day.
Apparently, scarves and hats are not supposed to live on the ground (who knew). With the leaning ladder, another vertical solution, they don't have to anymore. It's perfect for hanging up so many different types of items—toys, sunglasses, bags and yes, the floor scarves and hats that previously littered my closet floor.
We don't have a ton of storage space in our kitchen and it was getting impossible to find the things I needed (cooking dinner is already enough of an ordeal for me, I don't need a missing measuring spoon to get in my way). So, again I went vertical. I got some simple adhesive hooks, stuck them on a wall (the inside of a cabinet works well, too), and then hung all of the measuring cups and spoons on them.
I lose my phone exactly 17 times per day—unless I make a point of using a charging station. I have one by my bed and one in the kitchen, and they have helped so much. Plus, it helps me deal with my chronic low-battery situation.
No matter how much organizing you do, when you live with kids, mess is just going to happen. Having cute baskets to toss stuff in can make a huge difference—I have baskets everywhere. You can do a super quick clean-up, and then even throw a cute blanket or pillow on top, and no one will ever know about the mess that lies within.
Okay, I know that at first glance body wash does seem like an organizational hack. But, I am sharing it because when shopping for bath products for my kids, I always choose ones that have the soap and shampoo combined—fewer bottles in the bathroom equals less clutter and less waste. The plant-based tear-free products from Ever Eden are always favorite. Happy kids, clutter-free bathroom.
The more people that live in your home, the more variety you see in where things get "put away." Shoes in the toy bin and toys in the Tupperware drawer are funny, but not super helpful when you are searching for what you need. Enter: the label maker. It easily prints adhesive labels that you can place all over, and maybe eventually your family will learn that the pretzel bag probably shouldn't be "put away" in their underwear drawers.
My kids get naked everywhere. They have hampers in their rooms and yet at the end of the day, every room of the house seems to have at least one piece of clothing in it. A few years ago, I bought a laundry sorter that lives on the first floor of our home, and it's been a big help. As we find stray socks and shirts, we can just grab them and throw them into the sorter, rather than bringing them upstairs to their rooms.
This cart has served many purposes in our home—right now it is the keeper of all the virtual school items. The kids can wheel it with them as they need to, and it's easy to get them to stash the stuff away on it when they are done. Three kids, three tiers—they each get their own! Plus, it's really cute, so I don't mind having it out and about in the house.
I am getting better at throwing out my kids' art and schoolwork—but it's hard and I still keep way too much (it's all just so cute). So, I bought three magazine holders, which live in a bookshelf. Instead of piles all over the place, I can quickly stash the things I want to save, and when they get full, I transfer everything into a longer-term storage bin or my next favorite organization item…
Artkive is a genius solution to the too-much-artwork problem. You order a box which you then fill up with the artwork and sentimental papers you want to save. It then gets mails back to Artkive, who turns the art into a beautiful sentimental book, It takes up less space and you'll actually look through it from time to time—which is more than I can say for the huge plastic bins that I can't even reach in the garage.
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