It’s that time of year when we get a new beginning again. The weather is starting to warm up, the snow has thawed and we’re all itching to get outside. What’s the best way to celebrate Spring? With some spring cleaning! Get your house fresh and clean with these easy tips and you’ll spring into an organized home. Do these 3 steps one room at a time.
Step 1: Clear the Clutter
Start by evaluating what you Need, Use & Love. Donate, sell, recycle or throw away the rest. Just getting the trash out of your home will lighten your load. And yes, every home has some garbage they can get rid of. It’s amazing what you unearth when you go one item at a time. Think about moving out expired foods from your pantry, the old leftovers in the back of your fridge, the mittens that no longer fit your kiddos, the list goes on and on. Every room should get an organizer’s touch during spring cleaning. Leave no item untouched. As you clear items out, give cabinets and drawers a wipe down and sweep out those pantries and closets once you can see the floor you don’t normally see. Doing the cleaning during sorting & purging is the best feeling as you’re creating a clean fresh slate to launch into step 2.
Step 2: Put Systems Into Place
The organization you do in your home should work for you, not against you. Everything should be placed as close as possible to where you use the item. Set up bins in your pantry, for example, categorizing food into salty snacks, sweets, canned goods, dinner, breakfast, grab-and-go, and so on. Closets should be organized by type of clothing, so all pants together, all long-sleeved tops get grouped, tanks and short sleeves, and so on. Within those categories organize in rainbow order or ROYGBIV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet) with browns, blacks, greys, and whites at the tail-end. If space allows, mudrooms should get bins or baskets for hats, gloves, scarves, coats, and shoes organized by person. Have a spot to drop unopened mail with a wall-hanging organizer. Put kids' items down low so they can reach them and help to put things away. Each room should get systems like this put into place at this point. And last but not least label; label everything so that anyone that can read knows where to put everything.
Step 3: Show It Off
Walk your entire family through the organization that you’ve done. Talk about how the organized space makes you feel and how you hope it makes them feel. Ask them how it feels to be in an organized space. Explain the placement of everything and show them the labels. Explain that this is an all-hands-on-deck situation and that everyone needs to maintain this spring clean-up and overhaul all year long.
Not only will this freshen up your space, but it allows you to drop the unwanted items from your life without bringing them into future seasons. The systems you set up should carry you throughout the year and will do the thinking for you. It’s time to spring into action and organize your home!
A lot of people feel as though they just don’t know how to organize or that their brains don’t work that way. They feel as though they don’t have the "organizer gene". But can you learn to be organized? The answer is yes, you can! It takes hard work and a lot of focus but you can learn to get and stay organized. Here’s how:
Take a look around and be honest with yourself about what you need, use & love in your home. It’s important to start with decluttering your space because it doesn’t make sense to organize things that should be donated, recycled, or thrown away. Learning to throw trash away right away, for example, is a key step to getting and staying organized. That tag on those new jeans you bought that you’re keeping? It’s trash. The TJ Maxx receipt in your wallet from 3 months ago? Trash. The box from three cell phones ago that’s just chilling in your basement? Time to go. Often people say things like, “I don’t have any trash in my home,” but when it comes time to sort & purge they start filling trash bags. Learning to let go of this stuff faster and sooner is the way to go. Throw trash away right away.
You have to also learn to organize every day. Organizing is something that needs to become a habit where you pick up as you go during your daily tasks. It should become as much of a habit as brushing your teeth or eating healthy. Instead of leaving your makeup out after you’re done or the kitchen torn apart from cooking dinner pick up as you go and put things back into their homes right away. This will significantly decrease the amount of time you have to spend cleaning up during your free time. Why wait until later when you can put things away in just a few minutes or less right after you’re done using them? Not sure where things go? Then it’s time to create homes for everything you’ve kept.
Learn to organize like with like. This means categorizing your entire home. Create a space for each item by storing it with similar items. Remember the "Sesame Street" segment about one of these things does not belong? Find the items that don’t belong with the others and move them out. Help them find their families. When you look into your kitchen cabinet, there shouldn’t be 8 different categories jumbled together. Pasta shouldn’t be spread amongst 5 cabinets. There should be a categorized pasta section within the food portion of your pantry. From the basement to the attic your home should be a map for where things live just based on where like-items are. It should make so much sense that everyone in your family can follow the organizational system set up. Think about how stores or libraries are categorized. Not sure what room to store an item in? Choose the room where you use the items you’ve kept. Use it in multiple rooms? Choose the room where you use it the majority of the time.
If you can learn to throw trash away immediately, pick it up as you go, and store everything like-with-like, then you have learned how to organize. When you get in the flow of doing these three things every day it becomes meditative. Your space will begin to support you instead of work against you. Best of all if everyone in your entire family does these three things every day your home will stay organized. It’s an all-hands-on-deck situation and it takes everyone to be committed to the end goal of an organized home to get there. So yes, everyone in your family can learn these three things too, even the little ones. Learn how to get and stay organized today and have a more peaceful, clutter-free tomorrow; you can do it!
How To Organize Your Mudroom
The mudroom is often the first space after your garage that you see in your home. It can fill with clutter at lightning speed, especially when you have multiple children, a spouse, a pet, mail, after-school activities, and a pandemic going on. So how do you organize this often-tiny, important space? Where do all the shoes go? And how about the masks?
If your family is like most, this space is a drop-spot, but also often doesn’t have a door on it that you can close to block out the clutter from the next room, which is likely the much-used kitchen. Here’s the key: make it organized so you don’t have to worry about blocking out the clutter!
Sort & purge:
Start by going through the entire space from top to bottom. Sort & purge using the method of keeping only what each person needs, uses, and loves. Move items that are used in a different room to that room so that you’re only left with what belongs in the mudroom. If possible, keep only the shoes currently being used that week in this space. Create space in each bedroom closet for the rest of the shoes to live. Move donations, trash, and recycling out. Make sure that coat pockets are empty, gloves have mates, and everything still fits everyone. Be sure to sort and categorize the items you're keeping and separate them by person if space allows.
Put space back together:
Once everything is sorted and purged, begin putting the space together again:
Once everything is reorganized, it’s time to label, the most important step! Use bin clips to organize those cubes or baskets, label shelves, and make sure that the categories make sense. Labels are a map - and if someone can read, they can read the map and get to the organized destination. Do a walk-through with your family to show them the organized space, explain the changes you made, why you made them, and ask each of them to be responsible for putting their things away in their home.
I hope this helps you reclaim your mudroom so you can come home to Zen instead of clutter!
One of my favorite achievements as a Professional Organizer is when kids see their freshly organized space for the first time. Whether it's in their bedroom, playroom, or another area in the house, their reaction is almost always a precious testimonial to the power of organization. They notice the organization, feel the shift in the space and appreciate the work that was done to get there. So, if kids notice the change once a space is organized, does that mean they pick up on your clutter habits? The answer is absolutely.
Kids are affected by clutter the same way adults are. Clutter increases stress, lowers the ability to focus and makes it hard to make decisions about what to wear, play with, or eat. If a child sees their parents leaving stuff out on the counter for days, weeks or months they can see that putting things away is not important to their parent and therefore why should they put away their things? If they see paperwork piled up and dishes on the counter, it’s sending them the message that their toys and clothes on the floor isn’t an issue and can often be confused when parents erupt in frustration over a messy room. Why is their clutter an issue but their parent’s clutter isn’t?
Children are expected to put things away at school. I’ve seen kids as young as two years old in a Montessori classroom pick up after themselves without being prompted. The expectation is clear; pick up is a part of play. When given the right prompts and patience, kids can put away their belongings. It’s just like eating vegetables, if they don’t see their parents doing it why would they want to? Something key to changing clutter habits is seeing organizing as part of self-care and respect. If a child wants to keep an item then the expectation should be that they take care of that item with respect for it, the money it took to purchase it and out of respect for themselves. If they’re expected to brush their teeth before bedtime then part of that should be putting away the toothbrush and toothpaste as part of their self-care. If they don’t see their parents putting away their toothbrush and toothpaste why would they?
Something else that children pick up on is when a parent struggles to let go of unused and unwanted things. Learning to let go of clutter and donating gently used items can help a child learn not only to declutter but also to help others by donating to a good cause. Seeing a parent do this with ease makes an impact on children that will last a lifetime. Sometimes growing up in a cluttered home can make it hard for children to declutter as adults. They develop a fear of letting things go because of a “what if” scenario they learned as children. What if I need it later? What if I remember what this piece of plastic is for? What if I regret getting rid of it? Teaching children how to make good and honest decisions about what to keep and get rid of will help them for the rest of their lives. Learning to let go healthily at a young age will help them stay organized in the future. It is a gift that lasts a lifetime.
So if you’re struggling to find the motivation to get organized for yourself (which is the best reason) think about your kiddos. Are they living in a cluttered environment? Is their sleep being affected by the chaos in their room? Are they often bored in an overflowing playroom? They are a great reason to get and stay organized. They are watching your every move and learning from you every day. Do you want them to live controlled by stuff or by the freedom organizing brings? See their faces light up in an organized space. I’ve seen it countless times now and I know that the power of organizing is not lost on the little ones, the pre-teens or the teens. They feel the difference and notice the change just as much as the adults. It’s worth doing it for them.
Cheers to good decluttering habits!
Helping feed your urge to purge clutter from your life!
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