Laundry: when something is just too hard…

It’s no secret, I really struggle to put our laundry away. It is not (or wasn’t) uncommon to find [in our master bedroom] several laundry baskets of folded clothes that never made it “home.” It just seemed so hard… so I avoided it… like the plague. So there the clothes sat, on the floor, mocking me day after day. Most mornings involved digging through said baskets for clean clothes, and most evenings involved digging for pajamas. Not fun… especially for yours truly whose Type A self loathes (seriously loathes) “digging” for anything. This particular “putting away laundry” problem was really wearing on me to the point that I “analyzed” the problem. In my former life as an EBD teacher, much of my job was to analyze and modify behavior. To do this, I had to dissect the problem as a whole: determine the antecedent (what happens first), the behavior (what the problematic behavior is), determine the consequence (what happens because of A and B), and finally come up with a plan for change. This is what I discovered about my laundry problem…

Antecedent

Laundry gets washed, dried and folded, but it is difficult to put away.

Behavior

Because it is difficult to put away… I don’t put it away (pretty straight forward)

Consequence

The folded laundry sits on the floor… inducing anxiety

When I took a moment to really look at the problem, I discovered that the solution was quite simple. I needed to make it easier to put the laundry away. Enter my new Elfa closet organizer. This thing has truly revolutionized our laundry situation. It was as “investment,” but because I don’t dread putting laundry away now, I actually do it!

Before, there was no rhyme or reason to our clothing storage. It “lived” where it fit, which meant it was in the dresser, chest, nightstands AND closet. Ugh.

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Now, (after a good purge) all of our clothing (mine and my husband’s) is in this closet and we have room to spare. Putting our laundry away is so easy now.

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Seriously, if you hate putting laundry away as much as I DID (yay for past tense), maybe your clothing storage just needs some tweaking :).

Confession: I have been leaving the doors to the closet open so that I can admire this beauty while I drift off to sleep at night…

Maintaining Organization

Judging by the hoards of people at Menards and Target stocking up on rubber totes and organizers this past weekend, I am quite certain many people have resolved to “get organized” in 2015. For many years, that was me too. I have always loved organizing, but my systems often failed me so “staying organized” was (year after year) always near the top of my list of resolutions. I can honestly say, I have not made that resolution for two years! Sure there are things I would like to improve and some systems always need modifying, but I have found a few key things that have allowed me to maintain order and organization within our home…

1. Decluttering is of utmost importance. Clutter attracts clutter so it is important to keep surfaces clear (save for the items that are really necessary or truly loved). My house may look a little sparse to some, but less clutter leads to less mess and less cleaning, and more time for me to relax.

2. Purge. If you are feeling overwhelmed by stuff you more than likely just have too much of it. Before you start organizing all that stuff, go through it. Donate or sell what you no longer need or truly love. Just pick one room at a time to go through, and grab a box. You will be amazed by all the stuff you own but have ZERO need or desire for, and the burden that will be lifted by removing that stuff will feel amazing!

3. Designate/Define spaces. Paper clutter drives me crazy so I needed to designate a space for bills and paperwork. For me, it was key that my paperwork be easy to put away and ignore. My paperwork is kept in a laptop computer hutch in the family room on the main level (easy to put away), and I can close it so that my paper piles aren’t visible (easy to ignore when they don’t need my attention). The filing drawer at the bottom is where I keep the files I am most likely to need.

4.  If a space is bothering you, determine what the real problem is. In most cases, the solution is highly dependent upon the problem and the person. Look at the mess and make a mental note of what it is comprised of, who the culprit(s) is/are, and determine why/how the mess occurred. Our master bathroom was really bugging me, but when I took a minute to critically and thoughtfully determine why it was bothering me, I discovered that it wasn’t my organization. In reality, It was a small (2 year old) problem with an easy fix. My daughter kept pulling everything out from under the cupboards while I got ready in the morning so child safety locks were a logical and easy solution.   *****I feel like I need to mention that we do not keep any chemicals or medicines in the cupboards which is why we hadn’t already installed the child safety locks)****** 

All in all, I would say getting and staying organized is a lot less about the systems you have in place than it is about your approach. My tip for getting and staying organized is simple: approach your space with a critical, thoughtful eye and never forget that LESS IS ALWAYS MORE.

Maximizing Refrigerator Storage and Freshness

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1. Place a new container of Baking Soda on the top shelf every thirty days

2. Store milk on a shelf vs. in the door (as the temps there are too variable).

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3. Group and containerize like items (i.e.  fridge bins are homes for kids’ snacks, deli meats, and dips & spreads).

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4. Stackable fridge bins allow you to group like items AND maximize vertical space

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5. Store raw meat on the bottommost shelf or drawer (in case of leaks)

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6. Designate one shelf (at eye level) for left overs [so that they don’t get lost in the mix and forgotten] and another for beverages

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7. Label!

8. Keep a sharpie on top of the fridge  so that you can quickly jot “opened dates” right on the container

9. This is pretty straight forward, but still worth a mention – keep cheese in the cheese drawer, butter in the butter compartment, and fruits and veggies (together) in the crisper 🙂

10. Group like items [dressings, condiments, pickled “anythings,” sauces, and bottled water] and store them in the door compartments

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Just like a well-ordered pantry, a well ordered fridge reduces food waste as well as makes cooking and food prep easier and more enjoyable.

P.S. I haven’t done a major grocery trip this week so our fridge is pretty bare, which made it easier to clean. There’s another tip for ya 😉

Drop It Like It’s Hot

Sorry… I couldn’t resist going “college” for a minute. haha. Good times, good times.

Anyways, not long ago I posted about ways to reduce kitchen clutter. One thing I mentioned was creating a “drop spot” – somewhere to place your keys, wallet, sunglasses, etc.

Previously, I just had an occasional table on an awkward wall near the kitchen (in close proximity to the front door and garage entry). I recently moved that occasional table to our family room so we were left without a “drop spot.” Seriously, not more than 5 minutes later, his [the hub’s] wallet, keys, phone and chapstick were mocking me from the previously clutter-free counter.

[Confession: I am a serial furniture re-arranger… my husband stated (quite bluntly and not very nicely) just this week that every.single.day SOMETHING is moved, and he therefore cannot be held responsible for misplacing ANYTHING… I don’t agree…but I cannot deny that there is a bit of logic in what he said… just don’t tell him that.]

So, I decided to go budget friendly and semi-permanent. Meaning, I chose something cheap and not quite so easy to move.

Our new “drop spot”

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…just a picture ledge. It really does work perfectly for our needs though. My wristlet, his wallet, and both our phones fit perfectly. The best part is that I have a place for a couple favorite photos AND there isn’t extra room for unwanted clutter.

I’m diggin’ it :).

10 Tips for Maximizing Your Entry Way

1. A coat tree is a perfect spot to hang daily wear so that you can “grab and go”

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2. hooks placed at child height and a floor basket allow your little ones do their part in maintaining a clutter free entry

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3. wooden hangers are a logical choice as they look great and are well suited for hanging heavy, bulky outerwear

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4. A large bin on the floor is a good spot for canvas totes and other on-the-go essentials (like a baby carrier or picnic blanket)

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5. A boot tray kept on the closet floor is easily grabbed and placed by the door on rainy/snowy days

6. A labeled bin for each family member keeps seasonal essentials logically organized

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7. A large, heavy duty entry way rug may not be as pretty as its decorative counterparts, but they really do slip less and hold up better

8. (if you have a steel door) Use a strong magnet to secure mail, permission slips, and forms (you might otherwise forget) right to the door

9. Coat closet must haves: umbrella and lint roller

10. Entryway (or in near proximity) must haves: clock, mirror, hook for keys

 

 

Maximizing Under Sink Storage

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1. We use a plastic drawer organizer for plastic wrap, parchment paper, foil, sandwich bags, and freezer bags, etc. (this allows us to maximize space because we can store other cleaners on top).

2. We use a Lazy Susan for kitchen cleaners (so that nothing gets lost in the back).

3. We store our other household cleaning supplies in a portable tote

4. Our cleaning cloths and rags live in a small plastic basket behind the cleaning tote

5. I drape my dusting cloth and polishing rag over the sink drain pipe

6. There was just enough space in the middle for the garbage can liner box (turned on its side) and two containers of dishwasher pods (in the back)