Back to school is the perfect time to get all of your school-aged children’s belongings organized & purged. Here are the top five areas that we recommend getting organized as the school year kicks off.
Area Number One:
A lunch packing station in your kitchen. If your children are old enough to help pack their lunch, creating this station low enough for them to be able to reach everything is the first step. You’ll want to house this close to where your food storage (baggies & containers) are located since those are typically used for packing lunches as well. Make sure and purge any worn-out or stained lunch boxes that need to be replaced as well as any mismatched or broken food storage containers. Then gather everything you’ll need to make this space complete: lunch boxes, water bottles, thermoses, food storage containers specific to your children’s lunches, plastic ware or silverware only used for their lunches and a notepad and pen/marker for writing them a note if you like. Often a large pull-out bin drawer is best suited for this station. The goal is to eliminate stress caused by having to pack lunches the morning of or the night before school. Make it streamlined and easy with drawer dividers or bins that fit the space you are utilizing. Don’t forget to measure before you buy!
Area Number Two:
Your mudroom. This space in your home is usually off of the garage and the first and last space within your home that you see when going in or out to the garage. It’s a high-traffic area and can easily become cluttered with shoes, coats, hats, gloves and the like. Start by sorting and purging the space, getting rid of items that are worn, torn or too small. Get the backpacks cleaned out or move in the new backpacks. Create a bin for hats, gloves and scarves either for each person or by category depending on your family. Make sure that only the shoes used every week are stored in the mudroom, try keeping the rest of the shoes in each respective person’s closet if possible. Give each person a station for coats, book bags and extracurricular activities bags whether that’s a hook, a section in the closet or a section on a built-in. Make sure that everything that remains is truly what your family needs, loves or uses. Labels are a great way to keep your mudroom organized throughout the school year so don’t forget to do that at the end!
Area Number Three:
Your children’s keepsakes. Back to school is the perfect time to create space for the keepsakes that will inevitably be coming home from school with them. We recommend creating a tote/bin for each child stored in the basement storage room on a shelving unit where their keepsakes can live. Within the bin, you can organize the keepsakes (artwork, schoolwork, awards, etc) by grade if you like. If you already have this established for your child now is a great time to purge it. Sometimes we keep things that seemed special at the time but once revisited we realize they don’t hold a special meaning. You can also make the tote/bin your boundary, explaining to each child that once his or her bin/s are full it’s time to eliminate some stuff. Help them identify which items they love the least and make some room for new ones to come in. Another option is to create a file for each child in your home office or home office station in your kitchen and then add to it throughout the year. At the end of the year, you can then move the full file to the tote/bin located in the basement. Do what works best for you and is the most realistic based on time and motivation.
Area Number Four:
Your children’s closet and dresser, more specifically their clothing and shoes. Now that the school year is about to begin or is beginning new clothes and shoes are bound to come in to kick it off. It is the perfect time to sort, purge and reorganize each child’s closet and dresser. Start by sorting and purging, getting rid of the items that are again, worn, torn or too small. Sort the remaining items you’re keeping like with like. For example, all leggings together, all tank tops together, all dresses together, etc. Once you have the closet and dresser emptied begin to evaluate where each category will best fit. For example, dresses are better hung than folded and leggings can easily be file folded in a drawer if hanging space is limited. Go the extra mile and invest in matching slim hangers. We love the children’s velvet or acrylic hangers the best for little ones and older teens the adult size velvet or acrylic hangers. Take the tags off of new clothes so that it makes it easier to get ready in the morning and the tags don’t become trash littering the floor of the closet or bedroom. Utilize shoe racks to maximize the space on the floor of the closet so that shoes that aren’t in the mudroom as weekly wear shoes have a good home. Organize each category of clothing by color using ROY-G-BIV as your guide. This makes the closet look great but also helps your child find what they need when they need it.
Area Number Five:
A homework station. Whether it’s in a central part of the house or each child’s bedroom creating a designated space where they can do their homework and store school supplies will help them achieve success in school and create a calm environment for them to do homework in. You could organize a desk with drawers using drawer dividers grouping everything like with like. Make sure there is a charging station for electronics and a lamp for them to see by. A bookshelf next to the desk is also a great option, giving them additional storage but also a place for their books to live.
Creating a lunch packing station, organizing your mudroom, getting keepsakes collected from throughout the house, sorting and purging clothing and shoes and designating a homework station will create the environment your child needs to feel good about the new school year. It will also have a ripple effect on the rest of your house too; once you get these areas organized you’ll want to keep going! Not sure how to do all of this, or feeling overwhelmed with getting started? We can help you with all of this and more, just get in touch with us to schedule your discovery call and we’ll talk through your needs and figure out the best place to start.
Here’s to a successful and organized school year!
Congratulations! You’ve bought your first home. Now it’s time to get it organized! If you start on the right foot in your new home your day-to-day stress will be lower, you’ll save money and you’ll enjoy the space more. So, where to begin? Here are the top tips for getting organized after buying your first home:
When unpacking, sort similar items together before deciding on a home for them. Too often people pick a home for storing a category before completely unpacking, only to find out the space they chose originally isn’t big enough for how much they have. As a result, similar items land in multiple places throughout the home. Instead, sort everything first to get a birds-eye view of what you have overall, and then pick where each category goes. It will save you time and will also help you purge an excess amount of a category that you have too much of. Let's use kitchen spatulas as an example. Once you see all of your spatulas together, it will be easier to let go of the partially melted one when you see you’ve got three others still in great shape. Sorting first is hard because it does look like it’s getting worse before it gets better but I promise it’s the right way to do it and so worth it. This is especially important if there are two people’s belongings getting merged for the first time. Sort like with like every step of the way. If this feels especially daunting but you know it's important, this is the perfect opportunity to seek help from a professional organizing company.
Unpack every box, yes, every box. I know it may seem daunting but cardboard is not your friend (it gets moldy and musty quickly in basements) so move your belongings out of the moving boxes ASAP. I can’t tell you the number of times that I have organized homes where there are boxes that have never been unpacked after years of living in the home. They will come back to haunt you, so it is best to start out on the right foot and unpack every box. Have a box of keepsakes? Transfer those to a plastic tote with a lid to keep those treasures safe. Did you turn a kitchen drawer upside down and dump the contents into a box? Methodically unpack, sort, and redistribute the items to the correct room. You can do it! Your future self will thank you.
Purge as you unpack. If you didn’t purge before you moved, now is the time to do it in your new home. Even if you came from a smaller apartment, odds are there are items you can purge. Be honest with yourself about what you need, use, and love, and get rid of what you don’t. Look for items that are worn, broken, or don’t fit anymore. Expired food should get tossed, and anything that doesn’t look appetizing should move out. Get rid of cookware you have duplicates of if you’re merging two people’s belongings. You’ll feel lighter and more free after your purge, and what better time to do it than with the clean slate of a new home?
Invest in matching hangers. Remember that closet where you just organized everything by type and color? Now it is time to go the extra mile and get matching hangers.
We often recommend velvet hangers, but any slimline matching hangers will do. Make sure the metal of the hooks match and the color of the hangers match.
It will transform your closet once you take this extra step.
Don’t fill a space just to fill it. This is your first home so you may not fill every cabinet, shelf, or drawer. This is okay! It is organizing gold when you have empty spaces because it allows for room to grow. You’ll get new belongings down the road (housewarming party, holidays, birthdays, and shopping) so leave some space for the items that haven’t come into your home yet. Just because you have space doesn’t mean you have to fill it with something. It’s okay to let an open shelf be an open shelf until its purpose surfaces organically over time.
Keep things tidy in your new home long-term by picking up as you go. For example, when you do your hair in the morning, instead of leaving the hairbrush, curling iron, and hairspray out on the counter, put those things back in their home (once cool to the touch for the curling iron) in drawers and cabinets. You’ll be amazed at how much faster it is to just pick up as you go instead of spending entire days on the weekend trying to backtrack and pick up what you didn’t put away. It takes just a few seconds to put something away the moment you’re done with it. This will also help you find the items faster the next time you or someone else you live with needs them.
Invest in a label maker. They are worth having, especially if you live with another person/other people or have ADD/ADHD. Labels are a map and if everyone is reading the same map they’ll get to the same and correct destination. Pantries, basements, garages, closets, bathrooms, and nurseries are all some of the spaces that we regularly label. We love our Brother P Touch label maker and recommend it all the time. It will make life so much easier!
There you have it, those are the top tips for a first-time homeowner to get organized. If you follow these tips now and for all of your future homes you’ll be thankful, will have lower stress, and will save money. Feeling overwhelmed about where to begin or how to do these tips? We’ve got you! Just give us a call and we’ll help make your first home cozy, organized, and fresh.
Helping feed your urge to purge clutter from your life!
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