Tuesday, May 5, 2009

As organized as I get (and a contest)

Spring is in the air here in Bear Country. Our grass has finally turned green and Butch is out mowing it today for the first time. Inside I've started tackling some much needed Spring cleaning. While I love our big house, it has a tendency to get cluttered quickly. It was wonderful to have the morning to do more than surface clean (what I like to refer to as company (is coming) clean).

I went through the pile of school papers and put my favorites in binders. (I got this idea from JMom's blog who linked to someone else's who I can't for the life of me find right now - sorry!)

Simple, white binders and some page protectors and suddenly there is a home for the school papers that I want to keep. The great thing is that the kids can page through these in the years to come. They aren't packed away in a box somewhere.

The other downstairs project was to get our laundry room set up for summer shoes again.

Each person gets their own milk crate for their shoes. It's not fancy and it doesn't have to be since they remained in the laundry room where no guests will see them. The kids can get their own shoes out and most importantly -they can put their own shoes away.

I still haven't figured out how to handle winter shoes that are wet and sloppy when they come in and therefore take up much more space. Thankfully we have a breezeway to dry them off in, but the but I would like to 'contain' them better.

Speaking of containing...upstairs there is a shelf in Julia's room that holds both kid's socks.

For only two kids I've developed a system of dealing with socks that compensates for my laziness yet still allows the kids to have socks to wear.

The bottom basket looks like this...
It's where all the kid socks go when we sort laundry. Usually I'm so far behind in laundry that by the time I get everything to the correct rooms, I'm either out of time or out of motivation to finish the job. Rather than let the socks float around the room getting lost, they all go in here until the kids and I have a minute to go through them and match them. There aren't many unmatching ones because usually 3-4 loads of laundry have been done before we sit down to sort.

I pick out the kid's clothes for them and only have to go to one place to grab socks is very conveinient.

So that's about as organized as I get. As you can see I could use some help! Here's where you come in...leave a comment in this post explaining your favorite organizing tip/method/secret and you'll be entered to win this bag filled with organizational goodies (recipe cards, shopping list, menu planner, and magnets. Write your own organizational post and leave me a second comment and I'll give you a second entry.

Good luck!


4 Little Men and Girly Twins May 5, 2009 at 3:06 PM  

I love the binder idea! We use a box for each year for each child and stack them in the closet... but the binder idea is such a great one, I might have to switch. :)


Anonymous May 5, 2009 at 3:27 PM  

Love the Binder idea. I also saw somewhere to take a picture of their art projects and then create a photobook out of them at the end of the year.

We seem to have a problem with puzzle pieces not staying in the right box around our house. So instead of the box I take a picture of the box, tape it on a plastic baggie then give it a number. I also write that number on all the pieces so that when they get mixed up you don't have to spend hours putting puzzles together!

Can't wait to see more about your straw bale garden!

Laurie in South Dakota

Monica May 5, 2009 at 3:49 PM  

Lovin' the binders.....I willhave to use that one soon. In our old house we had small and I mean small closets so I had to color coordinate our clothes. I organized everything by color and by sleeve length. I also seperated the winter from the summer. Our house now has much bigger closets but I can't seem to get past the color coordinating. It's a small thing that makes my life easier.

Monica May 5, 2009 at 3:49 PM  

Lovin' the binders.....I willhave to use that one soon. In our old house we had small and I mean small closets so I had to color coordinate our clothes. I organized everything by color and by sleeve length. I also seperated the winter from the summer. Our house now has much bigger closets but I can't seem to get past the color coordinating. It's a small thing that makes my life easier.

Carol May 5, 2009 at 3:52 PM  

I do totes (they come in EVERY size)
The shoebox size is where we keep crayons, markers, sidewalk chalk, etc.
The next size is where we keep matchbox cars, boats, airplanes, etc.
The barrel totes is where we keep the misc. toys, stuffed animals, balls, etc.
Then we cycle toys out. When they are in storage, you guessed it - they're in 30 gallon totes!

When there are not so many of them they don't seem to clutter the space so much. And, then when they are recycled back in the boys think they have "new" toys - which is a BONUS!!

Jenney May 5, 2009 at 4:09 PM  

Oh, this is a good post. I wish we could do shoes all in seperate bins, but we don't have the space...I'll have to put up a post and show my "organizational" skills...not that they are great mind you., Hmmmm, will be posting...must get organized....love the idea. My husband is going to kill you though because you inspired me to get crackin on some things...he'll want to come home and relax ;O)

Juls May 5, 2009 at 4:09 PM  

I shouldn't even leave a comment because I am the least organized person I know.

So here's a tip from my sister:

Bins with lids--to separate toys in. Label them cute, and keep all "Barbies" "Legos" etc. together, and out of the way!

The Swann's May 5, 2009 at 4:24 PM  

My only organizational madness, um, method has to do with the darn plastic contains we put all our leftovers/take to works in...

Instead of dedicating a drawer or whole cabinet to them, they are in the Hope Chest all throw in there. Yep. And to make some sense of it, I have matched lids/containers and each 'match' is marked with a corresponding letter of the alphabet. So instead of trying to fit this one lid on five pieces, you just have to look for the appropriate letter to match.

And that's why I'm not the organizational goddess... I'm trying to find out some tips from others as well! :-)


Kaycee May 5, 2009 at 4:38 PM  

Laundry organization - it drives me nuts when I lose my baby's socks in her laundry. So I started putting them all in a lingerie bag, which keeps them all together!

Travel organization - I bought a small bead storage case at a local craft store. That way when I travel I can put my earrings, necklaces, hair ties, bobby pins, etc each in their own compartment and they don't get mixed up or tangled. (I bought one for my daughter's hair ties and barrettes too!)

Household organization - I am a huge fan of little plastic totes. I put all our extra batteries in one, light bulbs in another, candles/refill candles, etc. They stack a lot easier in the closets that way. I also have a tote for each Holiday's decorations, easy to find and not have to drag out a lot of extra stuff! I am sure those are not new ideas to anyone though, lots of people use totes. :)

Kelly May 5, 2009 at 4:41 PM  

I organize my kids toys in bins with labels on them, so everyone else knows where to put them back. I have everything in my house in bins. I love labels and I am an organize freak! :)

Jenny May 5, 2009 at 4:45 PM  

I love the binder idea. I have been trying to figure out a way to organize my sons school work, some have suggested scrap booking, but I am just not that crafty;)

I am in the process of trying to figure out how to organize my sons stuffed animals, they are driving me crazy.

I use plastic totes and those little storage bins for his closet to house all of his toys:)

Emily May 5, 2009 at 5:32 PM  

The binder idea is a a good one.

If you don't mind I will be back to read more of the tips you get.. I am the most unorganized person, so I can't enter this contest! :(

Via May 5, 2009 at 7:09 PM  

I love the hidden boxes! My favorite organizational thing I've even decided to put in my house is the slider boxes. I have a large 5x5, 12"x12" per square bookshelf against the wall. And in a few of the square holes you can find boxes that slide in perfectly. Why is this lovely? Because no one can SEE what's IN the boxes or how ridiculously messy it is. I love it with all my heart! Best thing!

Love Mom May 5, 2009 at 7:59 PM  

I too LOVE that binder idea.

I have 7 kids (a result of his, hers & ours) and so organization has been key. We have never had all 7 live with us full time, the most permanently living with us was 5. School lunches and snacks have been a huge deal for us:

I have found that it takes me 10 minutes (sometimes longer) to make shool lunches for the kids and that it only added another 10 miutes to make a week (or even two) of sandwiches at a time. I only put the meat, cheese & mustard on pack them up in sandwich bags and throw them in the freezer (veggies are added by the kids at time of consumption).

With some kids being 'picky' and others not, I have also gotten different characters on the bags so each child knows they are getting sandwiches they like.

Each chid has their own "shoebox" sized snack box which I the divy up snacks for their school lunches or snacks at home. I found not doing this was causing fights as one person would eat all of something and the others were left without. This way they are somewhat accountable for what they eat and know that if their box is empty before grocery day they are out of luck.

Ethan, Zach, and Emma's Mom May 5, 2009 at 8:14 PM  

That binder idea is GENIUS. I needed that, so far I just have cardboard boxes!
As for organization tips? Right now all I can think of is my menu planning. I plan my grocery list around the menu, and have a list on the fridge for any staples I may need.
P.S. I love your shoe idea too!

Love Mom May 5, 2009 at 8:38 PM  

Just wrote an organizing post as well at my site.
Check it out if you want.

P.S. I WILL be incorporating that box o' socks idea! That looks like it will work great! At the moment we have a bag filled with a smorgasbord of everyone's socks and it is IMPOSSIBLE to tame THAT tiger

Jenney May 5, 2009 at 8:52 PM  

There it is! I posted my ideas. Man, organizing is so hard. It is so neat to read the comments you've gotten. I am getting lots more ideas. Thanks so much!

Miss Mommy May 5, 2009 at 10:18 PM  

I am pretty organized but am finding it tough to come up with a suggestion. I always fold laundry straight out of the dryer so at least when clothes sit around they are folded and in a basket (for days...). I try to pick up at least once a day and keep the dining room table clean and the beds made to give the illusion of order. :)

Mocha Mama 24 May 5, 2009 at 10:33 PM  

I like the binder idea a lot. Did you have to trim down any large favorites? Some of the really neat things the boys bring home are on huge construction paper pieces and I have a hard time knowing what to do with them.

I used to call myself organized but as I was thinking of what to say I began to realize that I am kind of out of control right now in a lot of areas. I am trying though. There's just so much.

I did buy a letter file thingy to put all our mail in. I used to do all our bills downstairs on our desktop but now with all my little guys I rarely spend time down here. I had to organize a bill/mail area so that I could keep track of what still needed done.

Oh, and I just had my husband build a "ball tree" in our garage. Its just shelves going up in the corner of our garage, but all the balls, frisbees, bats, & helmets fit on it. That's helped us a lot so far this spring.

M. May 5, 2009 at 10:38 PM  

The organization tip I've had most success with was when I was nannying for a family with two VERY young boys in a 3 story house. Instead of running around like crazy during naptime to get everything done, I kept an empty basket or tub (whatever we had that somewhat matched the decor of the room) on each floor - in the basement playroom, in the main level living room and the upstairs bedroom; during the day, when we picked up anything that went on a different floor went in the bin. Then, during naptime I could just take the bin and go from room to room putting things away. That way, the rooms always looked mostly clean, and I was much more productive during naptime - and even sometimes got a break! ;)

(I hope that came our right! It sounds much better in my head! :) )

Savvy Little Women - Kate May 5, 2009 at 10:52 PM  

I also love the binder idea, fantastic! I use the (kinda) flat storage bins, and put special keepsakes from each kiddo in them, then put the box under their bed. I always know where they are!

mom24boys May 6, 2009 at 6:07 AM  

How about one more binder? I use a large 3" binder I call the household reference binder. It has sheet protectors and dividers for each member of the family and one for "house". In it I store all those papers that tend to float around the house--sports announcements, registration forms, schedule, phone lists, lunch menus, reading lists, (even the kids' social security cards), etc. I toss the old as the new come in and voila!--no more papers stuck to the fridge! In the house section I keep coupons and appliance owners' manuals and such. I even found dividers with clear pockets...genius. We keep this binder in the homework cabinet in the kitchen, where all the kid school supplies are in bins and labeled...pencils, erasers, colored oencils, paper, markers, glue sticks, folders, dictionaries, and other reference books. My fave area of the house bc it is always organized and kid-friendly!

Tutu May 6, 2009 at 10:33 AM  

I am not normally very organized, but I did have one idea when I was in the late stages of pregnancy with my 3rd. I wanted the other two to be prepared if I had to rush off to the hospital, and I didn't want whoever stayed with them to have to search for their clothes. So, I got plastic hangers and wrote the day of the week on them. When I did laundry, I put outfits together and hung the entire outfit on the hanger for the day I wanted them to wear it. They have PE every third day, and are required to wear socks and tennis shoes on those days. My 7yo doesn't really believe in socks, and wears crocs or sandals almost every day. To make sure she knew which days she needed socks, I put a hair tie around the hanger for the PE days. When she saw the hair tie, she knew to get out her socks!

Tutu May 6, 2009 at 12:08 PM  

I just posted about my one stab at organization!!

Nieman Family May 6, 2009 at 4:33 PM  

I too love the binder idea...I'm steaing that one. Thanks.

Hilary May 6, 2009 at 7:32 PM  

Ah, the Artwork in the binders. I've been meaning to do that for months now! Now I'm motivated to actually do it seeing Sam's and Julia's. The artwork piles up quickly, doesn't it??
Hmmm, an organizational idea...
Oh! I did just recently organize all my many jars of spices. They had been in a cupboard, all piled in there and it was so hard to find what we were looking for! So, I transferred them all to a pull-out drawer. I just laid them all out on their sides with the name facing up. It's been much easier to locate a certain spice!

Faith Hope Love Mama May 7, 2009 at 1:16 PM  

I love your binder idea also. I have each year in a folder in a bin but it's not as cute as the binders. I have two children soon to be three in school and the amount of papers that comes home is ridiculous. I have a book shelf that I have large wicker boxes in them and each day I throw their projects, assignments in them and sort through them twice a year. I then keep what I want and throw the rest. It saves a lot of time having to go through papers on a daily basis.

I also have to say that I love the milk crates for the shoes. We have a book shelf in our closet and everyone has a shelf to line their shoes with. It works but I'm not fond of it. I love the idea of the kids throwing their shoes in a bin/box instead of straightening shoes on a shelf. (mainly because it never happens without me asking) Where does one find milk crates these days??

Jess :) May 7, 2009 at 2:21 PM  

Love the binder idea, as well!! Also, I'm so using Hilary's idea about the spices!!! I am soooooo sick of going through my entire cupboard (skinny one at that) looking for one spice. I practically have to pull them ALL out before finding the one I need!! Love it! Thanks, Hilary!

Okay, as for mine right now. Being as though I'm a teacher...I tend to have some paper mess...okay, disaster! Anyways, I decided to get the stackable drawer units and just labeled the front of each drawer as to what subject was in the drawer. Now, I haven't really used it yet, since I just did it this past weekend and we're done with school in 6 days!! But, I can't wait until next year b/c I have a feeling it will be so slick!!

Lindsay May 8, 2009 at 10:19 PM  

That binder idea is most excellent and I will be using that one next year for sure! Thanks!!

Oh - and I've heard that some people use old cookie sheets for wet boots/shoes in the winter. that way when it melts, all the water is contained within the ridges of the sheet!

Christina May 11, 2009 at 8:05 AM  

I have been told to use a metal tray with stones in it to put wet boots on. Apparently most water will evaporate but I would not want to bother cleaning the residue off the stones or worry about my son being overly interested in the stones...

My idea would be a wire shelving unit close to the floor so that all may still have access to their own shoes. Then place a pan or tupperware underneath to collect the water.

Anonymous May 11, 2009 at 12:48 PM  

I am always looking for more ways to get organized, so I really enjoyed reading everyone's ideas.

We get everything ready the night before! We check the calendar after dinner so we know what is going on tomorrow. The kids are each responsible for getting all of their things ready: clothes put out and ready, backpacks packed with homework, karate clothes and gear packed and ready if needed, etc. I make the lunches so I only have to pack them in lunchboxes in the morning.

There have been times when we haven't organized for the next morning and in the morning we are telling each other that getting ready the night before is definitely the way to go!


Anonymous May 12, 2009 at 8:29 PM  

I just LOVE the idea of the binders. I have all of K-Girl's things in a big tub and I hate that. I'm going to use some binders. :)

My favorite solution is toy storage. It's tried and true. I have moved it from three different places now. I use a cubicle organizer from Target and cloth boxes with (or without) a tag on the front to show contents. I also decided to use this in my craft room as well for my fabric, yarn, book, and whatnot.

Anonymous May 12, 2009 at 8:31 PM  

And here's the original post from this idea...


Love the little gift bag. Too cute. Thanks for giving me the heads up on the contest. I've been a blog slacker lately. I haven't opened my reader in AGES. *blush*

Joshua August 21, 2009 at 9:20 PM  

i love the binder system. this would also be great just for school memos that parents are drowned by and easily get lost.

ps found u through blogfrog, thank goodness. love ur site.

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