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Organization question-- off topic

March 30th, 2011 at 07:10 pm

Um, it's off topic but I need some advice. We are living in chaos because we are generally not organized, and we have two toddlers (age 3 and 1). So, how do you guys stay on top of things like drawers, closets, documents, and all the little things you need to find?

I would like to put some organizational systems in place for the new house, in the hopes that we can actually be organized.

8 Responses to “Organization question-- off topic”

  1. jewels3 Says:

    Plastic containers and a label maker. LOL A filing cabinet, if you don't have one. And then use it Smile I actually have a small file box on top of the kitchen counter, which I use for the kids' school papers (my kids are older), and then the rest of the papers go in the file cabinet. We are moving as well, and I am trying to go paperless as much as possible. I bought a small shredder from Staples that fits on the same counter, and I love it! I can shred documents and junk mail right away and not leave it pile up. I've found the key is to put things away at the end of the night. I know it's hard with little ones, but if you spend 15 min putting everything away, you start the day on a clean note, and it really does make a difference. Better to spend a few min a day than hours later on trying to organize it all.

  2. baselle Says:

    Large bins, and a certain ruthlessness in getting rid of paper. I stand by the recycling bin and pitch. I have a dinky shredder, so if I have to shred a paper, I tear off the bit that has my name, id, address, etc and shred that. The rest is often boilerplate so it can be tossed without shredding.

    The if you-bring-one-in-one-must-leave-rule works well.

    The one big trick about throwing out/organizing is that you must be fresh. My ruthlessness/honesty fades away after about 30 minutes, 1 hour tops. Even if you take it one drawer/one corner/one square foot at a time and get it really down, its better than trying to take a day, do everything meh because you've faded.

  3. whitestripe Says:

    A filing cabinet for papers - we just have a two drawer one which is all we need.
    Shelving units is all I can say. We have lots, still need more, but they are a life saver in terms of organisation/neatness/taking up the least amount of space.

    Other than that: under-bed sized tubs, and getting rid of things you don't really need. Don't keep stuff because you think it might be useful one day in the very distant future - either you'll use it DEFINATELY, or most likely not.

    We have multiple laundry baskets to save sorting. They don't have to be huge, and you can even get ones that stack which are great, or the type that are all in one sorters are good. We have one for work clothes, normal clothes, socks, delicates. It saves time having to sort through a mountain of washing every time you need to do a load.

    As for organisation & staying on top of it: make it easy for yourself, at the start, and keep doing it that way. Sometimes DH and I slack off and don't fold washing as it comes in, all of a sudden our entire wardrobe seems to be sitting on the couch, waiting to be folded, and when it's a mammoth task, neither of us can be bothered. Try and do something every day to keep on top of the organisation, and do it before it gets to be a huge task - it seems so much easier then.

  4. CampFrugal Says:

    Living minimally. Really, how many toys to children need. They will remember experiences more than they will remember what toys they played with. Like going on nature walks, or to the nature centers, the library for story time. When my parents and inlaws asked what my kids would like for birthdays and Christmas, I would let them know - send us somewhere or buy us a membership. We have been to water parks, had zoo or science center memberships. My kids remember the memory more than toys. When we would use that gift, I would tell them that Grandma bought us this. Made them feel special.

    Also, when they get older, they get voices of their own and start letting you know what they need. lol.

    But, for me for the toys we did have when my children were little, I choose large containers with lids. For example, one longer see-thru under the bed type container with lid for the GI Joes and all their accessories. My son could just pull it out, play with the items and toss them back into the bin when he was done. There will always be those GI Joes that sit on top of something holding a gun because they are protecting/watching the door so no enemies can enter. lol. But then as they get older, you can store those items in the attic or basement (whichever you have) for when they have kids. Some toys are investments and should be taken care of.

    Or one set of sheets for each bed, take them off, wash them and put them right back on. Buy new when they wear out. Or for socks, all the same color, either white or black, so that all match. You are going to have specialty socks, especially for girls, for dresses and the like, but keep it minimal.

    And use resale shops. Take your children's outgrown clothes and shoes to resale shops (I had two that I dealt with) and then use the money you make from their clothes to help replenish for the next season. I used two different laundry bins, one in each child's bedroom in the closet. When they outgrew something that was still in good shape, I would wash it and put it in their specific laundry bin to take to the resale shops.

    For their artwork, schoolwork, baby items you want to keep and other keepsake momentos, I put in see through bins with lids (the thinner bins, not deep bins), nicely packed and put up on their shelf in their closet. As time goes on and their are other momentoes you want to keep, you add it to the bin. I have had some of my kids artwork framed and hung in their bedrooms. They especially love this. You could also use an interchangeable frame and change out their artwork as they grow older.

    For paperwork - definately a small filing cabinet or filing type container (which is what I use). with file folders specific to your family. I have files listed for:
    *paid bills
    *one for each family member to hold their birth certificate, passport, immunization record, doctor records, school reports, etc.
    *bank statements
    *stuff that will be used for taxes for the next year
    Or anything specific that pertains to your family.

    We have a couple areas in our home for recycling. Our local home depot takes items like batteries and lightbulbs. I keep small containers for those items, along with a plastic basket type container with handles for recycled paper to drop in the abitibi at our local school or church; and another larger bin for small plastic containers, old glass jars, etc. that our local whole foods will take for recycling. My kids love this process and love being involved. Your kids are never to young to get them into recycling.

    So, just a few of my thoughts. Sorry so long.

  5. ThriftoRama Says:

    This is super helpful. Campfrugal, you certainly have some great and relevant ideas. I just switched to packs of white socks, and it's already saving work.

    My hope is that in the process of moving, that I can ruthlessly declutter, so that we are starting at the new place only with things we need and value.

    We have already sent 4 giant boxes of books to the resale shop, and have a card loaded with donations, but I fear that it will take soooo much more than that to get off to the right start.

  6. MonkeyMama Says:

    I thing minimizing is the #1 key - as mentioned. I don't find organizing a big chore because I don't have that much to organize.

    For the kids clothes and toys we purge every 6 months or so (seasons for clothes - bday and christmas for toys - just works out to be summer/winter). I throw all the in-between clothes into bins in their closets (until they fit the younger one). With age, the in-between has become next to nothing - since they are getting so similar in size.

    I always say I am a "cut a lot of corners" person. I literally have a bin for each child (momentos) and a box for all of our taxes and a box for all of our escrow stuff. That is about it.

    For paperwork that comes in the mail, etc., I pile it up (maybe for 6 months) in a pile downstairs, and I file everything 1-4 times a year. It's not overly anal, but everything important is either in the pile or filed away. It's really that simple.

    Filing system is key. (similar to CampFrugal). We have file cabinets for bank statements, paper bills, etc. As things become more electronic I organize everything on my computer the same way. For our cars, they both have a folder in the file cabinet where I keep track of oil changes, maintenance, stuff like that. For taxes - I just have a folder labeled "2011 taxes" sitting out that I throw any relevant receipts into. When taxes are done I throw all that stuff in the big tax box.

  7. MonkeyMama Says:

    I think the hard thing with moving is everything doesn't exactly have a place yet. & you want to be organized enough to find everything after you move. I don't have much moving advice (haven't moved in forever, and never with kids!), but maybe you can keep some sort of list where you are putting things. Even just using excel, etc. Until you get comfortable and everything has its place.

    I personally could never understand losing things like keys and glasses. Everything has a place. It goes in the same place every time. I don't have an issue with losing things. BUT I think minimalism really makes that key. I just don't have that much STUFF to lose my "stuff" in. But the kids get so much crap (grandparents, birthday party favors, etc., etc.) that we have to fight pretty hard to keep on top of that stuff. I can't imagine if we let that get out of hand because it already seems like a hard beast to tame - and we regularly go through their stuff and toss/donate.

  8. creditcardfree Says:

    Great advice already!! I agree with minimizing the amount of stuff. Don't save EVERY paper your kids bring home from school. Save a couple per year. Take pictures of others. Weed out papers, clothes and toys at least twice a year...or more. Be ruthless.

    Bins!! All toys go in bins, some up high shelves that only come out when an adult agrees. Make sure your boys learn about picking up their things daily. Have a place for everything to go. Under the bed with bins works great, as does a stack in the corner of the closet.

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