By Holly McElwee
It’s a new year and a perfect time to attack a few areas of your home that need put in order. Here’s a few of my organizational strategies that can help you get your house straightened for 2014.
I love containers. They are the best way to take a collection of random objects and keep them under control. Containers are especially useful in kids’ bedrooms where a million tiny pieces litter the floor on a regular basis. LEGOs, Barbie shoes, Polly Pockets, Matchbox cars…why do toy manufacturers insist on creating the tiniest toy pieces in the world? In my constant quest to keep these in order, containers are my best friend.
I help my kids use these containers by color coding and labeling to identify items and their purposes. Perhaps the red toy bin is for LEGOs and the yellow bin is for Barbie clothes. The colors help get all items sorted and stored. I label the containers in a way that will also be helpful. For a non-reading child, pictures on the labels identify what goes in each container. An older child can have regular printed labels to identify the container’s purpose.
I’ve used containers to organize other parts of my house, too. My linen closet has round baskets with all the items sorted accordingly. The bathroom cabinet has a series of small baskets for all the soaps, medicines, and beauty products that need to be stored in there. In my mud room I have a variety of baskets and containers to sort hats, gloves, mittens, bags, umbrellas, and more. The containers help keep everything sorted and easy to find.
I shop for containers at the dollar store first. There’s a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors all just for $1.00. This saves money as containers can be expensive. If the dollar store doesn’t have exactly what I’m looking for, then I move on to other retailers. Some stores even sell shelves with all the containers included. It makes sense just to buy the entire system if a closet or shelf isn’t already in place.
I label to stay organized. It helps to make labels for every drawer, container, notebook, and shelf. This communicates exactly where items are meant to be stored, and it helps children learn to categorize. Instead of remembering where items are supposed to go, a quick glance at the label gets the job done. Labels can be as simple as handwritten slips of paper or as fancy as computer-generated tags with clip art and color. If only my family sees the labels, I keep it basic and quick. If the labels are visible to everyone, I try to do a creative look to match my home decor.
For quick labeling it makes sense to buy a label maker at the office-supply store. These come in a variety of prices and functions, and they can be carried through the house for easy labeling. A label maker is a handy tool at work, too. Office supply stores also sell other types of labels that can be fed through a home printer.
The new year is a great time to clean closets. Clothes and shoes that haven’t been worn in a year can go. I also look at other storage areas. What’s tucked in the back of cabinets? What’s in the garage and basement? I sort through my Christmas decorations as I take down my tree and weed out items that haven’t been used or that show wear and tear. I make donations to charitable organizations such as Goodwill, the Salvation Army, or the Vietnam Vets. The Vietnam Vets will even pick up donations, and it’s easy to contact them at www.pickupsforvets.com to arrange a time.
Don’t start 2014 in an unorganized mess. Take the month of January to organize your house. It’s time well spent and will set you well on the way to an orderly year.
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