Sunday, May 30, 2010

Household Organization: Clutter, Clothes Storage and Chores

Household Organization: Clutter, Clothes Storage and Chores

Dear Mommy Friends,

This isn't going to be a super long post -- just enough to get you going and refer you to some other resources.  Three of the biggie issues when it comes to organizing a houseful of kids are clutter, clothes storage, and chores.

I've already written posts called A Place for Everything and Organizing with Plastic Zip-Style Bags at Home and On the Go on one of my other blogs. I'd recommend you check those out if clutter is a problem for you. I know it's a constant battle around here with 11 people in the house! If you are trying to declutter a room, the best advice I've heard is to bring in three boxes labeled Give Away, Throw Away, and Put Away. Then be ruthless with the first two boxes! If you aren't using it, why keep it? The third box is for items you need to move to another room. Rather than getting distracted by walking around to put it away, just throw it in the box and keep moving. Then when you are through with this room, or the box is full, you can walk around the house taking things out to store in their rightful places. In some rooms that collect small pieces of clutter, I leave a basket or bin that I empty every month or so. A classic examples of this is the basket on top of my microwave.  The other best piece of advice is to have adequate storage containers, such as baskets and bins, to keep things organized and to make it easy for kids to put things away.  An example of this is a basket of books in our living room.   Go read those other blog posts for more on these topics!

Onto clothing storage! I've been stuffing unused clothes into plastic bags and then cramming them into whatever bin has a little space left in it. As a result, after several years, I had a whole bunch of huge clothing bins that we're totally jumbled up. I mustered up enough courage last week to bring all of them into the living room, dump them out and start sorting. Similar to the declutter method, I designated one bin for baby clothes to give to our local crisis pregnancy center, one bin for clothes to sell at the consignment store, and a bag for stained or torn clothes to throw away. I ended up with less bins to put back in storage -- and now all of them are well-labeled with properly sorted contents.   I was able to fit some of them (not as tall ones) up on the kids' bedroom closet shelves.  The rest will go in our storage room or a mile away in our rental storage unit.   The other benefit of organizing all of these clothes is that I found some summer clothes of the current size for my two youngest daughters, so they have some "new" things to wear.  And one of my motivations for sorting clothes was to see what baby and toddler clothes I could find to pass on to my daughter Mary when her first son is born this next month.  After four generous baby showers, she doesn't need any infant clothes, so I am passing a lot of them on, but she will probably need some of the toddler ones in about a year.  And I will know exactly where they are!  Naomi and I recycled a dress and a baby shirt into an apron and a tote bag, learning some sewing skills along the way.  You can read about that here: Recycling is Sew Fun.

What about chores?  Our kids do most of our regular household work, like vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, doing dishes, taking out the trash, tidying up the public areas, cleaning their own rooms and doing laundry. I supervise, fill in as needed, and do my own and my husband's laundry.  I also cook three nights a week, assisted by two of the younger kids.  It's still quite a juggle to get everything done, and sometimes we don't! I have to revise my chore charts periodically based on changing schedules and to give certain kids a break from chores they've had to do longer than they think they can endure.  For example, the daughter who used to cook on Thursday nights now has college classes then, so she is took Monday.  After I did one draft of my charts, I jotted down the assignments for each kid on a piece of scratch paper, then compared them to make sure the work distribution looked equitable. I still had a few disgruntled kids, but that's life. You can please all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but not all of the people all of the time.   Our fresh new charts are now on display on the freezer door for all to see.  The one pictured here is for dinner preparation and cleanup.    It's going to take a while for us to get accustomed to the new assignments. I have to look at it constantly to figure out who is supposed to do what and when.

Virginia Knowles

1 comment:

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