Friday, January 25, 2013

Organizing your Space

I've already done a post about organizing paper and calendars with free printables you can see here. Now we're gonna get into the clutter nobody likes to talk about. The stuff that gets stuffed away in a drawer or cabinet somewhere cause you just don't know what to do with it.
Let's start with kid's schoolwork and art. Our community schools don't send home much schoolwork to keep because they keep it all for records. We see it bi-weekly, sign it, and return it for them to store, which is nice. However, we still have loads of priceless works of art for each child, report cards, sweet things they've written in class or journals, Sunday school crafts just too cute to trash. You know you want to keep some of that for them to look back on later, right? One friend of mine suggest taking pictures of these things and then putting making them into a photo book online. Great idea...if you have the time and money to spend on it. I have a file box for each child under my desk. Every week we cull out the keepers from the trash and the keepers go in the box. At the end of the school year they help me look through their box and narrow down the keepers to just a dozen or so pieces we will keep to remember that year. Then came Pinterest. (I know, I seriously need a Pintervention.) I found this blog called Just a Night Owl  where there is a fantastic post about organizing school papers. She uses plastic storage boxes like me but in a much more organized fashion. At first I thought all her fancy labels were a bit much but the end result is beautiful. One box per child holds all their "keeper" papers from Pre-K to graduation! She even put their school picture on the front of each grade's file, how cute is that?! Each year's file contains report cards, awards, samples of work from beginning and end of year, and anything that just makes your mamma heart smile. Once the boxes are made (that's the most time consuming part) it's so easy to just have one box per child where all their stuff goes. I'm so doing this!
The Container Store

Toys, toys, toys! Where do I begin to talk about toy organization? How about the living room floor? Do you remember what your floor looks like without toys on it? Like I tell my kids, either find a space for it or get rid of it! If you can't find storage space for your toys, you have too many! There are so many storage solutions for toys. I like smaller size bins because its easier for kids to lift and manage themselves and they can sort their toys easier (yeah right - in an ideal world!) . Think vertical storage if your space is limited. Use cabinets, shelves, carts with drawers, to get things off the floor. Again, I'm partial to clear containers so you can see what's in them without having to move every container and you can label them from the inside with a piece of paper rather than having to use sticky labels that are hard to remove. One day I'm going to replace the fabric bins in my kid's cube shelf system with these clear ones from The Container Store. I like that they are crystal clear, have lids, and are stackable. I'm finding the older my boys get the smaller the toys are. We don't have as many big bulky toys as we do small blocks, cars, puzzles, etc. This would make it so much easier for them to sort their many "collections."

Important Papers. This is where you really need a file cabinet or drawer and/or a lock box.

  • Vital Records like birth & death certificates, social security cards, marriage certificate, living will, passports, etc. should be kept in a fireproof box permanently.
  • Tax Records should be kept for at least six years.
  • Warranties and Instruction/Owner's manuals should be kept as long as you own the item.
  • Utility bills - keep your current bill and one year previous to track patterns
  • Bank and Credit Card statements - keep for at least six years.
  • Calendar or appointment books - keep permanently (it's like a journal of your life)
  • Medical bills or reports - keep one to six years if needed for tax purposes or if you want to track health history
  • Receipts - keep until you've recorded in budget, if you're planning to return the item, if needed for warranty, or if needed for tax purposes

Okay, well, this week we've covered organizing clothes, shoes, jewelry, food, kid's papers, toys, and important papers. Did that just about cover all your top area's in need of organization? Well, except the garage and if you saw mine you'd say I have no room to talk about organization there. I like to think of it as the final frontier. It's yet to be conquered in our home. Don't worry, it's on my bucket list. How about you? What's most in need of organization in your life?

Keep trying. Being organized is always a work in progress. It takes effort to get and stay organized but I think you'll find it's much less effort than constantly trying to find things in a permanently disorganized space. Enjoy your newly organized space and the tranquility you find in knowing everything's in it's place.

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