Thursday, February 28, 2013

Organizational Challenge Update #3

February 28th has arrived, which means my Organizational Challenge concludes today.  I came so, so close to finishing my list by the deadline: 19 projects completed and crossed off, two projects left to go.

The biggest project left to tackle is the backyard, and for a number of reasons I made a conscious decision to wait on backyard, shed, and patio-related projects until March.  First, it's been really windy this week, which has made it nearly impossible to control the leaves that have taken up residence on my patio.  Second, it's also been kind of cold this week, and while the cold doesn't both me, it bothers Hallie and I'm expecting her and Will to help me on this particular organizational project since much of the backyard mess is theirs (see the photos below).  And third, March will be all about getting the outside of the house and the yard into shape anyway, so it makes more sense to organize the patio and shed while we're also mowing, trimming, raking, digging, planting, etc. around the front and back yards.

The less difficult and more enjoyable - and yet somehow insurmountable - project left to tackle is getting a massage.  I really, really hope I'm able to find time for that project soon...

So, here's where things stand as of today, as well as what went down this week:

Day #1: Medicine cabinet
Day #2: Coat closet
Day #3: Under beds
Day #4: Laundry room
Day #5: Handbag/purse
Day #6: Under sinks
Day #7: Refrigerator/freezer
Day #8: Kitchen cabinets
Day #9: Make-up/toiletries
Day #10a: Bedroom closets (kids)
Day #10b: Bedroom closets (grown-ups)
Day #11: Garage
One of the things I miss most about Michigan is single-stream recycling
(when all of your recycling goes into one garbage can-like bin).  I refuse to
NOT recycle, but doing so is considerably more frustrating and time-consuming
when it has be sorted into so many categories.  To make the process easier I
bought small garbage cans and lined them up in the garage next to the door
into the house.  It's not a perfect system, but it does the job.
Paint, painting supplies, extra tiles, and extra
floorboards - basically house supplies - are stored together.
I don't have room in my kitchen cupboards for all of my
large, travel tupperwares (or Tom's beer-making supplies),
so these items are all stored together. 
Holiday decorations (and our weights, apparently) are stored together,
Christmas in the green bins and the other holidays in the blue bins.
I actually need to pick up at least one more bin sometime soon...
All of the toys and sports paraphenalia is stored together, and I keep the
items I'd prefer Will and Hallie not play with without supervision (darts,
Supersoaker water guns, roller skates) up a little higher. 
Tom and I hang our bikes to free up more floor space.
The boxes and bags on the floor are headed to Goodwill, but behind them (and
our garbage can and stroller) you can see our camping, cooler, fishing, and lawn
chair storage.  It would be nice if we had more time for camping, fishing, and
using our coolers and lawn chairs...  
Day #12: Craft supplies Bedside tables
I don't really have craft supplies so I tackled our bedside tables instead. This is what I
emptied out of one of my three drawers.  I'm not sure why I thought I needed an Ace
bandage, 17 bobby pins, scissors, and six different kinds of flashlights/reading lights in
that drawer.  Oh, and yes, that is my Winnie the Pooh stuffed animal, which I've had since I
was born, in the pile.  It used to "live" with Will's stuffed animals, but the day before I cleaned out these drawers he brought Pooh to me and said he was done "taking care of him". (?)
A glimpse into the freshly-organized second drawer where I keep my reading materials.
Next up on the reading list: The Witch's Daughter, The Lucky One, and Freakonomics.
And yes, that's Robert Pattinson making eye contact with you; I keep my official Twilight and Hunger Games guides in this drawer in case I ever need to, you know, refer back to them.
Day #13: Linen closet
Day #14: Backyard
Just one of the areas - under the wrought iron table and chairs where quite a few
broken toys attempt to hide in a pile of disgusting, wet leaves - in dire need of
organizing and cleaning on our patio.  
If you look closely, you'll see that the pile of leaves has been there for so long
that weeds are now growing in it.  Clearly we have a lot of work to do back here.
Thanks to this little digger, I found many of my kitchen tupperwares outside, 
covered/filled with mud.  They're not kitchen tupperwares anymore.
Day #15: Bedroom dressers
Day #16: Jewelry box
Day #17: Living room
Day #18: Attic/basement Entertainment/media centers
Our two media centers were completely out of control with video games and accessories
so I bought a couple of boxes (they're actually photo boxes) in which to store the Wiimotes,
nunchucks, steering wheels, and extra batteries.  This media center looks much better than it
did, and it'll look even better once I purchase two additional boxes to store the games in!
This media center mostly needed to be cleared out.  It looks more
organized than it did, which I feel good about, but I feel even better
about the fact that now all of the movies are in their correct cases!
Day #19: Car
Day #20: Playroom/den
We don't have an official mudroom (when you enter the house from
the garage the laundry room is on one side and a short hallway to the
playroom is on the other), so we set up what is affectionately known as
"the shoe thing" in the small hallway.  It's no mudroom, but at least the
kids have a place to put their shoes when they come inside.
Bins.  I love bins.  Especially bins with polka dots.  The top two
bins hold musical instruments and Playdoh and the bottom two bins
hold play food/kitchen tools and puppets.  I keep a few games and
puzzles out on the shelves, and periodically I swap what's on the
shelves for seemingly new games and puzzles from the closet.
Our playroom has a fantastic walk-in closet, where - surprise,
surprise - I store more games and toys in bins.  Tom's toys are
on the top shelf.
The closet houses the blocks, Legos, race cars and tracks, Hallie's karaoke
machine, the walking piano, extra art supplies, and general toy overflow.
Costumes are stored in the coffee table bins.  And yes, that's Hungry, Hungry Hippo on
the coffee table.  Did you know they still make that game?  They do, and it's still awesome.
The table still needs work.  I set up a little system on the table to keep the
coloring books, stickers, crayons, and markers organized, but the kids can't seem to understand the system.  I'm planning to implement a new system that involves a few wall shelves and bins - hung at their height - this spring.  
Day #21: Get a massage!

Whew!  Now that all that's done, here are a few of my (as in I use them - I'm sure I read about each of them somewhere at some point in time) organizing tips:

  • Whenever possible, follow the "one in, one out" strategy.  When you bring home a new pair of shoes, sell or donate a pair that hurt your feet, you no longer wear, or you don't absolutely love. (We all have a pair or two that fit one of those three descriptions, right?)  When you purchase a new board game, sell or donate a board game that your kids have outgrown.
  • On a schedule that works for your family, regularly sort through and pare down your kids' toys.  We - me, Will, and Hallie - tackle the toy build-up in Will and Hallie's rooms right before each of their birthdays (early April and early October) and in between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  The goal is to avoid letting the toys get out of control, and periodically addressing the entire toy stash (we throw away anything broken, donate what the kids have outgrown, and reassemble/find the missing pieces for anything staying in the house) seems to do the trick.
  • On a related note, involve your family so that the job of keeping your home organized and clean doesn't fall entirely on your shoulders.  In our house, Will and Hallie are responsible for cleaning up their bedrooms and the playroom every evening, and on the weekends, they vacuum their bedrooms and the playroom and gather the trash.  They also clean out "the shoe thing", sort garage and backyard toys, and are responsible for the video games and accessories.   
  • Never leave a room empty-handed.  As you walking through the living room, pick up the pair of shoes that belong in your closet and take them with you as you head to your bedroom or bathroom.  As you walk out to the garage, take the recycling that's sitting on the kitchen counter with you and drop it in the bins as you pass by them on the way to your car.  I started this "chore" a few years ago and have been doing it for so long now that it's more of a habit and less of a chore.  And while I'm the only one in my house who does this naturally, I'm training my kids.  "Are you going to your room?  Why don't you take that stack of laundry with you.  Are you going to the playroom?  Please take those crayons back to the art table."  They rarely notice they're helping out when I'm able to tie the chore into whatever they were doing or wherever they were going already. 
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to schedule my massage!

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