Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Back to School: Organizing Your Space

My organizational philosophy is very simple: In order to keep ahead of everything, don't let things pile up. It's fairly easy to apply to my family's day-to-day living. When I leave a room, I make sure to grab something and take it back to it's rightful place. I clean as I go,  I try not to leave things until 'later.'  It's the the one thing I do that helps keep us on track. Now, having said that, I have to admit real life gets in the way and sometimes when I look up to take a breath, I see disaster zones lurking in every corner. There is no need to flip out or worry. I tackle it a little at a time. Your situation may be different but the same steps will help you get your spaces back-to-school ready.

The three offending areas that will directly affect by kids (and me!) when school begins are their room, the car and kitchen.  So, these are the spaces I need to work on and I want to do it without the fuss of an all out production. Here's how I do that.

My boys share a room and because there is more than a five year age difference, it is challenging to make it work for them both. Luckily, they get along beautifully so it isn't that difficult but I still have to put a lot of thought into it. First, I took a trash bag and threw out everything useless: dried out markers, old toys from fast food places, ancient papers, broken toys, etc. Anything that could be donated was set aside in a box. This included clothes, shoes, books, toys no one played with and old movies or electronic games. The exception was anything that I felt we could repurpose (within reason) or could sell at a yard sale. Their bookcase is a 7 feet tall, five feet wide behemoth; Big Brother gets the top half and Little Brother gets the bottom half. After removing everything from it, I polished it and replaced only what would be needed currently. Even the Art Box got a once over and the old Sesame Street coloring books have gone on to their just reward. More space! Love it!  I quickly cleaned under the beds (it helps to keep very little under there but I did find two mismatched socks and a sweater.)  Next, I took care of the desk, which had somehow become the holding facility for some gum wrappers and a ton of broken crayons. Um, no.  The only thing really left was the basics I would be doing anyway like dusting and vacuuming. It didn't take all that long especially because I am a firm believer in moving quickly and not getting distracted.

Like all parents, my car is the rolling office, medical facility and kid zone all rolled into one. I have a morbid fear of car trouble, so the oil has been changed. Just before school begins, I'll get a full tank of gas. The car gets cleaned out--which doesn't mean I did the total car wash and wax--and it will get stocked with travel tissues and a few prepackaged wet wipes in the glove box. I'll put a few dollars in there also for those days when someone for gets to pay for Popcorn Friday and a spare set of drumsticks get placed under a seat. I'll make sure my phone charger is in the car and it will be all set.

The kitchen is the hub of all activity in my home. If it ever gets out of whack, we are all in big trouble. It's got to help me zoom through the morning routine and it's got to be smooth sailing through what I like to call 'The Witching Hour" --that awful time between coming home from school and putting the evening meal on the table. That's the time when kids are grabbing snacks, lunch boxes are emptied, the meal gets started and homework begins. I don't want it to feel like a pressure cooker. They're tired, we're tired and I don't want to make it worse. I do a ton of simple things like stocking up on snacks, sort through storage containers making sure everything has a lid, and if needed rearranging things so everything is user friendly. If the kids can reach their own snacks, then I don't have to do it. Win-Win. If there's time, I'll put together a few meals in the freezer for those days I'm stretched beyond all reason. I try hard to make sure that I clean the kitchen after the meal because I don't want to face it tomorrow morning. No, I don't like doing this part, but it's better than waking up to a mess you've got to clean up.

Figure out your hot spots and work methodically to get them organized right now. It's going to bring a sense of cohesion to your home and helps you give your family a sense of calm.

How do you get your family back into the swing of things?

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