Nov 8, 2017

An Overly Long Story about Fall Reorganizing

Fall. New school year, new schedule, new routines and a lot of things we have had to adapt to as a family. With two months of school under our belts, I need to get things in order to make the house run better, to make our routines run smoother. Everything feels so complicated these days. Life as two working parents with a one year old and a kindergartener is complicated and parts of our day are now MUCH more structured and intense. Weekday mornings I have to have the timing down to a SCIENCE to make it work. I can’t be frantically searching through piles of papers for a missing permission slip. Desperately searching for a missing jacket or realizing the baby has outgrown his socks again when we need to be at the bus stop. And I don’t want to waste precious time picking up more toothpaste when it turns out there was more hidden in the linen closet. Or trying to find batteries over little one's tears when all we wanted was some family time.

I've been on an organizing binge. Having the house reorganized is a great feeling, but the feeling is hard-earned. These tasks don’t do themselves and these things are so easily undone. And it takes a certain amount of uninterrupted time, energy and brainpower to do these chores, you have to think and make decisions.

Areas of focus: the back door in the dining room, the boys’ closets and dressers. The kitchen behind the basement door over the radiator, our “mini office” in the dining room hutch, the basement stairwell, the bathroom linen closet and under sink cabinet. A couple of drawers in the kitchen that grew overcrowded. The storage ottoman and media center drawers. Baskets throughout the house. My dresser, spots in our closet. Basically anything I could think of that needed attention, moving from one thing to the next. Nothing was safe!

The dining room by the back door was a disaster. Nothing about it worked. Piles of stuff in boxes and bins stacked on and under an extra dining chair, a stack of bins next to it. Towels, toys, gear, gardening stuf. A big row of sunscreen bottles on the hutch that wouldn’t fit in the organizer boxes and then bags of things hanging from the hooks out of the kids reach. (Apologies for the lack of "before" photos... I accidentally deleted them off my camera card and there's no going back!)

We moved the chair out and brought in one of the Trovast toy organizers from the playroom (with just white tubs to make it look a little nicer). In it went the surplus sunscreen, the bug spray. The random assortment of things we keep by the back door like citronella candles and twine. A tub just for dog towels at the bottom (no more crate on a chair!). We moved the organizer box on top of the storage unit and in it are the things we want to keep out of the kid’s reach - gardening tools, a torch, etc. On the side we still have the big tub of toys. It’s not beautiful, but it’s functional and works great for little kids. The hooks are once again free to hold things like hats and jackets instead of bags of stuff. This new layout works SO much better. We can find everything, it’s easy to keep organized and everything gets put away. It’s not beautiful or dining room worthy, but it’s functional for the back door and much prettier than the giant pile of clutter that was here before.

In the kitchen you can see our new organizers over the radiator, repurposed shoe cabinets hung on the wall from IKEA. This was a great recommendation from the toy tamer. Fast, easy to install and the perfect size for organizing papers! The top one is for school projects and art projects that come home all the time, once it’s full we’ll go through and pull out our favorites we want to keep and recycle the rest. The bottom is split into two - paperwork for adults (bills, forms, notices, invitations, etc.) and the other side for school/kids (school notices, calendars, forms, etc.). They really are the perfect size for holding and organizing art supplies and paperwork and all that family stuff that usually ends up in piles and cluttering the fridge. And now our fridge is clear for only the most important stuff and the things we actually want to display. Below the new organizers we have the lunch boxes at a height that’s easily accessible to the kids. And we have a new covered recycling container that’s so much better than the bucket we were using the past few years.

(note: now more than ever I'm realizing we REALLY have to do something about the radiator pipe... it's so ugly!)

Upstairs I hit up the boys closets and dressers. I swapped out the boys seasonal clothes. Deciding what to save for next summer in the closets (both boys rooms have small closet dressers that hold clothes for the next season), what to save in the attic for Matthew, what to put together for donation. I pulled out all the fall clothes. Organized the dressers. In the closets we put in the two remaining trovast toy organizers from the playroom, one in each closet, they both fit above their little dressers. Each one holds two big blue bins and we’re using them for outgrown clothes (this happens rather quickly with our tall boys). It works quite nicely and while we do lose some hanging space, in truth we don’t really need it. Both boys hate dressing up and 95% of their wardrobe is play clothes. And our families are pretty casual on holidays too so they don’t need a lot. Every family and kid is different, but this works out great for us.

Elsewhere, the linen closet is reorganized, the dining room “mini office” cabinet is reorganized. The basement stairwell cubby shelf has been cleaned up (clutter seems to land there often). The basement is a complete and total disaster, but I’m taking an “out of sight, out of mind” stance down there for now. Hopefully we have a quieter winter season and I can tackle it when it’s freezing cold out.

One thing that makes me happy about all our reorganization efforts throughout the house is that everything has been rehomed, moved or repurposed and nothing is wasted. From the old couch in the living room that wasn’t working out for us anymore (rehomed to our babysitter’s first apartment) to the bookshelves and toy storage. Even the little red stools that we’ve had since our first apartment - one is now a toy sword bin in the playroom, one is now a multi-layered plant stand for the winter. And we’ve been able to shuffle around containers and baskets and things to make things work better in new locations.

So far it all seems to be working better. Here’s to slightly smoother routines, faster cleanup and keeping our heads above water (at least for now).

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