I'm not a super-organized person myself. In fact, as a Gemini, I thrive in chaos. My husband says my closet is a disaster, but that's not true. It's just organized in a way he doesn't understand. However, now that we are parents of three kids under 3, I crave a more simple, clear and organized life.
One night while pumping, Netflix recommended The Home Edit. Sure, why not, I thought, clicking through anything that would mute the bzz bzz bzz of my pump for the millionth time of the day. Enter: Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin to my life.
Three episodes later, I was buying boxes and label makers and planning how to tackle every single room in the house we recently moved into. They were exactly the people I needed to get me organized. First, Clea loves rainbows (I joke my favorite color is "rainbow") and because they're not only moms, but hilarious moms—the kind of moms you want to hang out all day with because they get you, but also hold you accountable to your messy junk drawers.
The pair say they've been so busy now that everyone is stuck at home due to the pandemic. "You are in your space so much now, more than everyone has probably ever been, so anything you might have written off like 'whatever, I'll get it to it' —those things really bother you now. Now they really irritate you because you look at them all day long," says Joanna.
Because 2020 is weird and nothing should surprise me anymore, I got the chance to chat with my new favorite duo about how to baby-proof your home in style, what to do with tiny newborn clothes, if we even really need to keep our toddler's artwork, and their partnership with SimpliSafe .
With twins who are starting to crawl and a curious almost 3-year-old, I asked the duo if there was a cute way to childproof that didn't look like (IMHO) ugly plastic latches over all of my kitchen doors. Basically, is it possible to childproof in style? According to Clea, the trick might be in not necessarily locking the cabinets but choosing what goes in them, "It's a challenge that all parents face because there isn't a great childproofing mechanism. I personally have found that I need to make my space as kid-friendly as possible within the realm of reason, because it is my home, and they get to live in it. I never really locked my cabinets I just made sure that things I didn't want them to access weren't down low."
On how to start organizing your house, and avoiding this one mistake everyone makes
I straight up asked what is the most common mistake parents make when they attempt to organize their homes—and yup, I'm guilty of it. They suggest we shouldn't start by organizing the hardest or largest space in the house—I started with our bathroom a week ago and it still looks like a glitter bomb went off in it—because there's a good chance you'll be paralyzed by how much there is to do. "It's like attempting calculus when you need addition," said Joanna. Start small, be bolstered by your victory and keep going.
On what parents should be constantly decluttering
It's weird how children's stuff multiplies without even you noticing. Mismatched socks, outgrown clothes, school stuff, you name it. They slowly start taking over your house. According to Clea and Joanna, who emphatically agreed on this, the one thing we should continuously purge is toys. "They break, you have missing puzzle pieces...You are holding on to this stuff and they can be quite bulky, especially when they are young. Those toys are big and bulky. The two of us, we are crazy, we declutter our house like every week," Joanna told us, which like... #goals. Clea's genius suggestion is to put toys in a little purgatory zone. If your child doesn't notice it's missing, it is time to part ways with it. If they do, you can return it to where it belonged. (In an organized fashion, of course.)
On if we should even keep kid's art forever
Well, it turns out they have a lot of feelings about this one. Yes, keep some, but not all. "You get less attached each year as they grow older. In the beginning, the first time they draw a heart or whatever you are like 'OMG' and save it. And then they draw 300 of them, and you just don't save another one," Joanna told us. "Something with a timestamp, like a handprint or something like that... yeah, I probably have a few of those. But other than that—brutal. You just have to be brutal."
Brutal it is, ladies. I guess I don't need a box full of half scribbled papers. If you are a bit more sentimental than I am, they recommend having a box for the school year to throw all their art in, and at the end, you can review what you really want to keep.
On how to keep all the layers that winter requires accessible for little ones but organized at the same time
Temps are dropping and winter is just around the corner, which means soon we'll have to break out mittens and hats and snow boots and jackets, and OMG, I'm tired just thinking about it. To me, all of that sounds like a recipe for a cluttered mudroom. Clea and Joanna both agree that the solution to this very universal problem is baskets. All the baskets. They're easy for little kids to take items in and out of and participate in keeping things neat and tidy.
On how to foster toddler independence without the mess
"Setting them up with systems that they can maintain is setting them up for success at a young age. Have large categories, so you can have all figurines in one basket and blocks in another basket," said Joanna. This is a straightforward method to help them understand how to put things away. At first, it doesn't matter if the kinds of blocks or figurines are mixed together. They'll level up to separating them later. They also emphasized how important it is to involve young children in the process of organizing because they're already doing it at school. (Yes, despite how messy they might be at home, chances are your kiddo cleans up at school!). Simple steps are key because they can easily understand see them through without getting frustrated or distracted in the process. (So no, don't wait for them to organize their own toys by colors of the rainbow, that's on you!)
On how to organize tiny clothes
In one episode, they organized Eva Longoria's son's closet and opted to hang every single piece of clothing to make it easier to visualize what he had. I attempted to do the same with my son. I ran out of closet space after hanging all of his jackets, hoodies, sweaters and snow gear. Perhaps he needs a bigger closet, but more importantly, I shouldn't be buying any more garments in those categories because he already has too much. When it came to my twins' clothes, I felt like hanging them was kind of a waste since it's mostly footed pajamas and plain onesies. It turns out, you don't have to be a hanger. You can also be a folder. It just depends on your preference and your folding skills. "Whatever is easy to maintain, that's the right system," says Joanna.
On 2020 making us reevaluate everything
I told Clea and Joanna how I had all these plans for my maternity leave with the twins; I wanted brunch dates and being out and about with them all day long. Instead, I got a quarantine and spending a lot of time at home, which has made me prioritize things I wouldn't have thought about before (like our bathroom closet or my toddler's clothes). They both agreed that home is the most important thing we have right now, and focusing on making spaces more useful or organized so that you don't drive each other bonkers is what we all need right now. Their one advice to parents is this: Tackle projects with realistic expectations for yourself and realistic expectations on how your children can maintain it.
Here are some recommended products for you to start organizing your life:
This will be basically your bible for keeping everything and everyone organized, so go ahead and start by ordering it now.
You must put a label on every box to keep you accountable for what goes in it, and to help you pull out the right one when you need it. This font is Clea's handwriting, so you can feel she wrote them just for you.
Everything goes in its own bin. Everything . Trust me, it's truly satisfying.
You can get cute boxes from Yamazaki for toys or books that you want to display.
Great way to have what you use every single day neatly organized and easy to access.
And by your desk I mean your kitchen table, or your toddler's room—wherever it is you are working from these days.
Keys are so 2019. This smart lock will give you peace of mind that your family is protected, plus not carrying keys means one less thing to spray sanitizer on when you come home.
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