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Organize each child’s gear in totes
Ballet, soccer, church – all the gear adds up quickly, and the last thing I want to do when I’m trying to hustle out the door in the morning is circle back upstairs for lost tights.
To keep it all organized (and out of sight until I need it) I give each girl a tote for their activities and use it to stow all of their gear. Eva’s ballet tote holds her leotard, slippers and tights, along with an extra brush and hair elastics. Our church bag is stocked with books, our lcd drawing pads, and some of our favorite puzzles to keep the girls occupied (read: quiet) during church meetings.
Dock your totes in a mudroom or entryway and restock as needed: after activities, I do laundry and then put the supplies right back in the bags so we’re never surprised by missing soccer shorts.
Tidy without thinking
Making tidying second nature is life-changing. I’m a pretty neat person and so is my husband, but even so, our house get’s in disarray pretty quickly – it’s just a fact of life with kids. So I try to build in little techniques to keep our house tidy without even thinking about it – a laundry basket in each room where people change, trash bags stowed away behind each trash bin for easy refilling, and tucking a collapsible tote by the stairs for a once-a-day clean up that takes minutes.
Contents of the girls room always end up in the living room, I often bring my books down in the morning to read a little bit, and all of them need to be brought back upstairs eventually. Instead of taking a whole bunch of little trips up and down to tidy up, I strategically place a tote by the stairs and add things to it throughout the day that need to go upstairs. These collapsible totes by Clevermade are my favorite for just about everything that needs to get transported or organized. I bring it up at bedtime and then work in reverse: as we tuck the girls in, I round up library books and stray cups and use the tote to bring them downstairs. Bada-bing-bada-boom, no-more-sippy-cups-in-the-master-bathroom!
Set up a cleaning routine you can stick to
I find that it’s easier to keep our house clean and organized by doing a little bit each day than by trying to overhaul it every once in a while. For us, that looks like one load of laundry a day (I put it in the wash at night, move it to the dryer in the morning, then fold and the girls put it away after breakfast). The girls help Brett to load the dishwasher at night and unload it in the morning. Everyone makes their bed in the morning, and at night we take 10 minutes to put away toys before dinner. It’s a simple rhythm that keeps our household moving.
Purge your photos (and back them up!)
Organizing photos is my downfall: it can be so tedious, I get scared I’ll delete something and regret it later, and there’s just so many! I do a mini purge every month of the photos on my phone, and have my phone synced to Google Photos – that way, if I ever need something I can find it in Google Photos on another device. At the end of the year (usually at the same time I’m putting together our end of the year montage,) I go through and do a clean sweep of photos. I delete old screen shots, duplicates I don’t need, and then save and back up the ones I love. It’s SO nice to start the year with a clean slate – and extra storage space for new adventures.
Clean out your closet & rotate out of season styles
Cleaning out closets is my favorite. Some people read trashy novels. Some people drink wine. I ruthlessly purge outdated or ill-fitting items. Each member of our family has one set of sheets at a time – seriously, no back ups – and for clothing, I rotate out-of-season clothes into bins and store them out of sight. It makes getting ready so much easier by not having to sift through parkas in June or sundresses in December.
As the seasons change, I like to edit and weed out things that I haven’t worn: are they the wrong fit, do they itch or are they uncomfortable, or are they just not suited to my lifestyle? If it’s something timeless like a blazer, I’ll save it, and some items that could benefit from tailoring can be made new by a few tweaks. Otherwise, I keep only what I truly wear and love. Things that make the cut get washed and dried, and then I like to use my sweater defuzzer to run over pilly fabrics and make them look brand new for the next time I pull them out.
I also use matching hangers in my closet to make it look streamlined and save space. As a teenager, I used part of my first-ever paychecks to buy all wooden hangers – I had Pottery Barn taste on a part-time-job-at-a-Greek-restaurant-budget – and loved how it transformed my closet. I’ve moved on from wooden hangers and swear by these (much more affordable) flocked velvet hangers. They are durable enough to hold heavy jacket and sweaters, plus the velvet keeps slippery fabrics from sliding off. They are much thinner than traditional hangers, which comes in handy if you have limited closet space like we do.
Do a bulk appointment schedule
At the beginning of each year, I spend half an hour or so scheduling appointments for my family for the whole year. Wellness checks for the girls, physicals for Brett and I, my annual skin cancer screening and dentist appointments for us all – I get them all on the calendar in January to make sure we aren’t scrambling to get an appointment in later on.
Other appointments – for massages, hair cuts, family photos, or even services like a deep clean for your house could be added to the calendar well in advance, too. I list out appointments by family member, then make some calls and add the appointments to the list. When I’m done, I add it all to the family calendar. This system has saved me so much time (not to mention worry) throughout the years.
Keep things where you actually use them
I know that traditional tidying advice is to keep like items in the same space, and for the most part, that’s true. Shoes lined up on a shoe rack in the mudroom makes sense and brings order. However, some items never end up in their ‘home’ – I’ve found that it’s usually the case when an item has a more natural resting place. For example, my rainboots never make it with the rest of my shoes – they live by the back door where they’re ready (and won’t bring puddles into the rest of the house).
Think about pain point items that seem to stay in limbo: not quite put away, but not in use. Then, designate a true home for these items so that they are easier to put away – even if it’s not the ‘final destination’. A box in the garage to corral donations, a hook in the laundry room for shirts that need to be steamed, a basket in the living room for library books you don’t want mixed in with your own collection. All of these make life just a little more orderly.
Apply this same concept to things that you often forget. I am seriously so bad at remembering to bring along my reusable grocery bags – or at least I was, until I stowed a Clevermade Collapsible tote into my trunk to have at the ready. It’s perfect to pull out for a Target run or when you need to bring lots of things to an event (like a pile pf presents to a Christmas party) and folds flat when not in use. You can also get the insulated version to keep your food super fresh en route home.