She’s So Organized: Staying Organized with Children

As a mom of two small children I am constantly challenged with how to keep my family organized.  All the bottles, toys, missing socks, loads of laundry, oh did I mention toys?  Below I’ve provided some tips and products that I use in my household to keep us organized.

1) Toys – We try to make sure that toys are picked up before naps, before leaving the house and before bed time. For the most part, this strategy help us to maintain sanity and ensures that toys don’t overtake our house.  With toys you need to realize that the clutter is just temporary, as long as you have a system.  To help create that system make sure you have an easy access toy storage area that kids can get to, this will prevent you from being the only one picking up as well.  I highly suggest not using toy chests/boxes as little items just get swallowed in them and it is extremely hard for little ones to find their toys. Below is the toy storage I use from The Land Of Nod, we’ve had it for several years and I still love it!  It allows for sorting of larger toys and has easy access, we use small bins on top to sort the smaller toys.

2) Missing Socks – This is a problem for everyone, but when you have kids it becomes even a bigger problem. The best solution that I have found is to designate an area (basket, separate drawer, bag)  for your missing socks wherever you fold your laundry. Most of the time that matching sock will magically show up again and you will know exactly where to find its missing partner. I love this sock bucket from Etsy.com.

3) Bottles – This is always a constant struggle in our house to make sure we always have clean bottles.  My husband and I both work full-time so 3 dirty bottles always come home dirty and 3 bottles have to be made for the next day. I bought enough that if we were down one day it wasn’t the end of the world but this is for the worse case scenario.

One of the very first things my husband or I do when we get home is to take 10 minutes and clean the dirty bottles from school and make new bottles for the next day. We try to rotate this responsibility so it doesn’t become too much of a chore for one person.  The 10 minutes of cleaning and prepping prevents bottles from piling up or having to rush in the morning to get the new ones prepared.  I always tell my husband if you really want to make me happy wash the bottles 🙂

If you are staying at home I found the easiest way to keep up with bottles was to immediately rinse out the bottle after use and put in a dish washing basket.  Clean twice a day, during nap time and while you are preparing dinner or after kids are in bed.

Below is a tool I love that we use to keep all the bottles and accessories organized while cleaning and drying.

She’s So Organized: Command Center

So when a house becomes clutter free, there is a conscious effort that one has to to make to keep that house from getting or becoming cluttered again.  Clutter control can often be as easy as making a choice of whether to allow new items into our home.  Paper although is not quite so easy.

Paper comes in many forms; catalogs, magazines, bills, junk mail, coupons, receipts, etc.  Some of these items are necessary to run our household and all can take a well managed household from uncluttered to cluttered in a matter of minutes.  So until we become a paperless society (which I personally support fully 🙂 ),  the question then becomes how to stay on top of  the endless paper parade? The answer in my household has been to setup a command center. Since we setup our command center in our family there is no longer papers piled up on desks, hidden in corners or shoved in a drawer.

Incoming Mail

1)  A spot should be designated for where mail will be placed once it is brought into the home.  This landing spot should be communicated to everyone in the household and needs to be in a location that is viewable so it can not be tucked in a drawer and forgotten!  I strongly believe that if you can physical see your clutter you are much more likely to fix it then if it is stuffed in a drawer.

2) Once a day the mail should be sorted, this is a very quick sort.  Junk mail needs to be tossed, catalogs placed in a designated location, mail that is actionable should be sorted into three folders (To File, To Pay, To Review). Coupons should be thrown also into a designated location for sorting later.  I personally have a receipt and coupon catcher that I place these items for sorting and filing later.

School Papers

1) For artwork I keep a file bin handy for all kids artwork.  I immediately put the kids artwork into this bin and at the end of the school year we determine our favorite 3 and file in a designated folder.

2) Papers that need to be reviewed or responded I post on the side of my refrigerator for easy viewing!  Every time I look in my kitchen I can see these papers so I can’t forget.  Seeing is not forgetting.

Receipts

1) Whether you place your receipts in your purse or in your shopping bag, receipts should be removed immediately once enter the home.  I send my receipts directly to my coupon and receipt catcher, where I can sort and file for later.

Here are some example pictures from my command center:

Actionable Folders: Target Itso bin with some stickers, folders, and labels so cheap and easy!

Receipt and Coupon Catcher: Target file organizer that I used command hooks to hold on to the side of my refrigerator

I hope I have inspired you to create your own command centers…..now start getting that command center setup so you too can take control of the endless paper parade!  Feel free to  share your comments on how you manage the paper clutter and/or your own command centers for inspiration.