Today was a great day. I had MOPS (mothers of preschoolers) this morning and was able to connect with some great moms. Not only did we have our Thanksgiving meeting (which meant Thanksgiving themed brunch) it was also a round robin with 7 different speakers on 7 different important mommy topics; and I was a speaker! Luckily I did not talk on time management since I was a few minutes late because I realized I hadn’t used the restroom yet this morning. However, I did talk about home organization. Between three kids and nine therapists the file through my home weekly, I feel a constant need to make my home presentable. They are constantly on the ground or sitting out our dinning room table for work. I never want them to feel like they are uncomfortable sitting down due to the state of my home. A few of the tips I shared, I have already shared with you all; and a few are new. Either way, here is a round up of some mommy tips we use to keep our home organized (noticed I didn’t say clean, hehe.)
1) Sock basket. This was one of the first posts I did back in February of this year. We still employ it now. In our home, like most, my children were forever pulling apart their matching socks and ending up with three socks. They would fuss and draw out getting reading in the morning because there were only three socks left. First off, they only have two feet, so why are we worried about three socks? We have enough socks to cover the feet we have. We will worry about the one sock later. You can call it lazy, but I like to think of it as a teaching lesson. So I instituted the sock basket.
2) Kids kitchen storage basket; another post from earlier this year. I like to teach my children independence and that mom or dad or anyone else for that matter, does not always have to do things for them. My children are old enough to ask for a snack or a drink and I felt time they were capable of getting simple things on their own. I bought two cheapo baskets from Walmart and placed them in a kitchen cabinet low enough they could access it. In addition to the baskets, I had the kids start emptying the dishwasher on a daily basis.
Up onto that point it was sorta hit or miss. Again, I felt my kids were getting to the age, or past it, where they are able to help around the house. I had seen to many friends start having to fork over a portion or their paycheck to pay for their children allowance. I wondered why they waited so long to institute chores. Then I had a light bulb moment- they didn’t have to be chores if you simply instill in them they are household or family responsibilities. I feel that if you start a child early on household responsibilities they will grow up knowing they are helping out their family instead of feeling like they reserve some type of token or rewards.
So not only do my children unload their dishes and the silverware (I take out the sharp objects) they are capable of getting themselves a glass of water or a small snack. Warning: If you have younger children they will follow lead and do what their older brothers and sisters do. At one point I thought my fridge was leaking. I called out maintenance who informed me it was not my fridge, but my very intelligent and highly observational 20 month old who was coping what their older siblings were doing by getting herself a cup and trying to reach the button the water dispenser. Ugg.
3) Do not but the cute colored totes. Don’t do it. Walk away! I know they are cute with their fun colors that match the holidays but I bet you anything once you pack it all away and go next year to pull it out, you will have forgotten what you put in there. This same suggestion also goes hand in hand with clear Tupperware. Buy clear containers. For me- out of sight is out of mind. Whether it is the left overs from a month ago or rebuying the same decorations as you did last year, if you cant see what is in the box, you forget it is there. I throw out all my colored Tupperware. It was time, we got them as a wedding present. We invested in a Costco sized collection of clear contains for food storage. It has cut down our grocery bill. Now I can see what I have left over and what halfs of fruit or veggies I have and use them in a new dish. My fridge has never been so clean or organized.
But still have those cute colored 5 gallon totes for storage? I do. In order to use them and not pitch them, I bought a package of page protectors. I wrote out an inventory of what was in the tote and slipped it in the protector. Last I taped it on the tote. This works awesome if you are in the military like us and move frequently. We have learned that most moving companies don’t always want to repack those totes into their own boxed. Most times they will just take a quick look and tape them shut. We even had one company repack them with packing material and put it back in our tote. Makes moving and getting organized a whole lot easier.
4) Ditch the toy box. It is a toys death. Basically, when a toy hits the bottom it will never see the day of light again. It seems to be the small pieces, the broken toys and the outgrown toys that float to their depths. Which is great when you need to purge, but not so great for those expensive toys you bought her for her last birthday. Instead use smaller more manageable sized boxes for storage. We repourposed our toy box (which was actually my toy box from childhood with a broken lid) into the dress up box. Most of her dresses, skirts and other bigger items go in there. Her smaller items like Barbies, Legos and baby doll stuff. Of course they are in clear totes with labels. The labels are words and photos. Words are great for early readers. It encourages them to sound things out. The pictures work great for the younger non-readers. Seeing a photo of a lego on her lego box helps her match them up and see what she has. Some might think it is a little OCD, but I think it is just common sense. Here is a peek at her shelves with smaller baskets.
5) Table top organization. When you start having people, not family, filter in and out of your life on a daily basis, they do eventually become like family. There finally came a point where I told my children’s therapists to stop asking me for a glass of water and start helping themselves. I showed them were the cups where, how to get ice and press the button for water. Ok, maybe not that detailed, but I showed them around. They were coming into our home almost 20 hours a week and honestly I didn’t have time to stop every 5 seconds and answer their question where the pencils where. Finally, one day it hit me. I just need to create a way where my kids and their therapists could be independent. I seem to like that words a lot. So I drove my happy self over to the local goodwill and stock up on the most disasterly hideous looking wide mouth vases I could find. Why? Because no matter the color in the store, they were all getting spray painted a uniform color of silver to match my decor. And to make my idea more awesomer was the fact that they were so disgusting they were deeply discounted. When it was all said and done about a hour later, I had a very cheap (I already had the basket in storage) and effective supply basket for the kids. There is a vase for all the remotes, pencils and sharper, markers, a few coloring books, wipes and a one for randomness. Another warning: said 20 month old from #2 will watch older siblings and find the only paper she can (which happens to be her brothers report card which was three weeks over due), climb up on the table, grab a nice brown marker and color all over the paper.
Hoped some of these tips helped you. I know they have helped me and saved me time.