4 tips for organizing kiddos

When I was a kid, one of four in my house who were in a race to see how quickly our parents could go nuts, my mother had an interesting approach to organizing our clutter.

She’d pick it up, walk calmly to the front door, and toss it all out on the lawn.

Shoes, back packs, books, toys – she would stop at nothing. We’d think it was hilarious, run out after our stuff, bring it back inside and drop it right where it was before… by the front door daring our dad to enter without breaking his neck.

Our parents eventually gave in to living in a perpetual state of disarray, and now that I do my family’s dishes and my family’s laundry and get my family’s mail and coordinate my family’s schedules, I can sort of grasp why giving up is easier than keeping up.
If only my mom had met the Organizing Junkie.

Laura, author of the uber-popular blog I’m an Organizing Junkie, has a peace of mind and bits of organizational wisdom that can turn madhouses into places of calm and tranquility – as far as the stuff in them is concerned.

Unlike Martha Stewart, who is so organized it’s artful, Laura gets that life happens, that personalities come with their own ideas, and that, despite it all, the clutter must be contained.

“I try not to be too uptight about it,” she said. “When you have three kids, you have to have a little give and take. I try to set up my systems so that they’re all user friendly for everybody and so that they can all take part in it without it being too high maintenance.”

Laura has a few secrets up her sleeve when it comes to containing kiddie clutter.

Adopt the “Toy Room Rule.”

Designate rooms for toys, and make sure your kids don’t cart their entertainment from room to room. Living room toys stay in the living room, playroom toys stay in the play room. Laura says you’ll be amazed at how this little rule helps you get a handle on little mess-makers.

Create a “Closet Library.”

Kids clothes aren’t usually long enough to fill the bottom of the closet, so make use of this space by adding a bookcase and storing their books.

Corral with containers.
Create easy homes for things in bedrooms, bathrooms, anywhere with containers. Containers teach kids that there are limits and boundaries and teach them how to make difficult decisions and prioritize their wants.

Keep it easy and accessible.
Create storage for things that are accessible to your children and won’t set them up for failure. If they can’t get easily follow the system, they won’t, and then they won’t understand the value of being organized.

Living an organized life means accepting that organization, like life, is a never ending process.

Take Laura’s backpack station, for example. As the year shifts from summer to back to school, she is constantly updating her front door corral to meet her family’s needs. As summer fades to fall and into a Canadian winter, space dedicated to shoes goes through seasons as well.

“I no sooner get things set up, and I have to rework it,” Laura said. “But once you taste that sense of accomplishment and experience having that organized drawer, that’s really powerful and that feeling is what I’m addicted to. That sense of accomplishment from one project will inspire you to do other projects.”

For Laura, being organized at home makes her life much more manageable. She said her family is able to function better when it’s operating in a place of order, and that helps her feel calm during even the most chaotic storms.

Feeling like you need more of an organizing fix? Check out Laura’s I’m an Organizing Junkie blog!

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Keep it Off the Floor!
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Regain Your Sanity With NAPO
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Neat or Not?
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Is organizing a gateway drug to happiness?

We’re all addicted to something. We might as well admit it.

Some of us are addicted to sweets, some of us are addicted to attention, some of us are addicted to shoes, and some of us are addicted to television.

Whatever your vice, wouldn’t it be nice if you could get your fix and organize your junk drawer at the same time?

That’s how it is for Laura, a self-diagnosed Organizing Junkie.

A mother of three, Laura wasn’t always an order addict. In fact when she was growing up she admits to being a bit of a clutter bug. But necessity is the mother of, well, in this case, organization.

“It’s very calming for me to organize,” she said. “If I was having a bad day or something, I would just want to close the door, dump a drawer and focus in. I know that sounds crazy, but being able to focus in on sorting and purging, I could forget about everything else. I felt so much better afterwards.”

Like any good junkie, Laura helps others who share her condition (and some who wish they did) get a fix with her blog, I’m an Organizing Junkie. Started as a way to connect with other adults when her youngest son was 6 months old, the blog has become an online haven for those looking for the next must-have container or backpack station solutions.

“I had no idea what I was going to blog about,” she said. “I mean, my life is just not that exciting. But I went with what I’m so passionate about, and after a couple months, I realized what an amazing community of women bloggers are out there and it was exciting to see that they were responding to what I was saying about organizing. It really motivated me to do more.”

Laura implemented events on Organizing Junkie to inspire other mothers contain the madness that is life. She’s run 30-day organizational challenges to help women tackle specific areas of their homes and hosted basket carnivals to share new and interesting storage ideas.

Most popular of all her events, however, is Menu Plan Monday, a web-wide collection of more than 300 weekly answers to the ever-pressing question, “What’s for dinner?”

“Menu planning is one of the best places to start with the organizing process,” said Laura. “The brain space that menu planning frees up is incredible and incredibly worth it. Not having to have that moment of panic at 4 o’clock every day about what you’re going to cook is amazing. You don’t have to have that stress if you’ve already planned it out on Sunday or Monday. It makes life so much easier.”

While menu planning may seem like a chore, the way Laura approaches it really does make it addictive. She’s built a community of share and tell, and the enthusiasm is enough to get you motivated without making you feel like a loser for avoiding it all this time. You’ll sit down to plan your menu for a week, and the next thing you know you’re organizing your recipes. Then the spice rack catches your eye and you go into “the zone.”

Laura makes organizing as fun for everyone else as it is for her, partly because of her practical approach to it and partly because of her owning up to being borderline freakish in her passion for it. It’s this good humor that keeps you coming back for more — that and the fact that you’ve just discovered the chaos underneath your bathroom sink and you have no idea where to begin.

“Organization is a process,” Laura said. “I no sooner get things set up the way I like them, and I’ll have to rework it.”

Because it is such a process, Laura has devised an acronym (aptly named P-R-O-C-E-S-S) to help aspiring junkies give in to organization.

Plan of attack.
Plan your project – which area(s) do you want to address – make a list – evaluate your present system, what is working, what isn’t working, devise a new system – determine budget – develop timeline .

Remove items.
Start from a clean slate – empty the space completely – remove then sort & purge

Organize into piles.
Donate/toss/sell/keep/relocate – sort like with like – purge excess – the more you purge the less you have to find a home

Containerize.
Find storage solutions – containers establish limits and boundaries – designate a space for items being kept – consolidate.

Evaluate your plan.
How is your system working for you – are you able to work your system? What needs to be modified? A good system should be easy to maintain

Solve/simplify anything that isn’t working for you and revise accordingly

Smile, relax and enjoy your hard work!

Sometimes the hardest part is just getting started, but Laura insists that there is no wrong way to organize.

“There’s no one right system,” she said. “It’s what works for you. Just because I’m showing you how I do something doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you. Certainly start there and then tweak it as you go along. There’s no way to mess it up really. If it’s working, if you are able to feel that sense of knowing where something is and the calmness that comes with that and it’s being maintained by the family in an easy way, that’s good. Go with it.”

For more from Laura on organizing kids, including staving off your inner organizing junkie fits that come from the messes they make, visit her blog I’m an Organizing Junkie.

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Old Habits Die Hard
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Organizing Made Simple
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The Queen Bee
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Conquering my D.I.Y. fears

Heidi was scared to death when she bought her first drill.

“I thought I was going to lose a hand,” she said.

A lot of women feel the same way about tools, probably because of that little voice in the back of our heads telling us that we can’t do it. That little voice that then becomes big and booming when the guys at the home improvement stores say, “Maybe you should hire someone. Let me show you to our contracting department.”

Having just bought her first home, Heidi was too financially strapped to hire the recommended contractors. She decided to take on the projects on her own and pushed out of her comfort zone a little more each time.

By thinking of D.I.Y. as a learning process, Heidi took a stab at bigger and more involved projects over time. She remembers the first time she hung crown molding in her home, and how the threat of death that comes with a nail gun had her on a ladder pounding in each little nail for days on end. The second time she hung crown molding, she rented a nail gun and was done in a day.

“Tools are scary, but they can also be your best friend,” she said. “Power tools let you do anything the biggest, burliest contractor can do.”

Here are some of Heidi’s favorites:

1. The Power Drill

“My introduction to the drill came when I worked on my kitchen cabinets,” she said. “After sanding, repainting and adding molding to the cabinets, I made holes with my drill and used it to attach new knobs. It was a little intimidating – it is shaped like a gun, you know – but after one hole, I was using it like an old pro.”

2. The Power Sander

“A lot of women are really into refinishing furniture, but you can’t get started without a sander,” said Heidi. “You do not want to sand by hand if you don’t have to. It’s just not worth it.”

3. The Reciprocating Saw

“This tool still scares me because you can cut through some pretty major stuff with it, like studs, wallboard and paneling,” she said. “But if you really think about it, it’s just like a carving knife. If you’ve carved a turkey, you can use a reciprocating saw. The saw shakes a little more than the turkey carver, but it’s just about the same thing.”

4. The Power Stapler

“I’m meeting more and more women who are interested in upholstering—myself included,” Heidi said. “What’s great about a power stapler is that it sinks the staples deeper than you’re going to be able to do it by hand, and it will enable you to have more cushion on whatever you’re upholstering. When you use a manual stapler or even a staple gun, your hand starts hurting pretty quickly and the staples never go in the right way.”

5. The Power Nailer

“The first time I put up crown molding, I used a regular hammer and nails. The second time, I used one of these puppies,” she said. “I did it in a third of the time, and it came out gorgeous. Also, because it sinks the nails in deeper, they are easier to hide.”

6. The Compound Miter Saw

“A compound miter saw is really the thing that helps you finish off a room,” said Heidi. “With it, you can create all the extra added touches like crown molding, baseboard molding and chair rail molding.”

For home improvement help that speaks your language, check out BeJane, a community where eager do-it-herselfers connect, share advice and empower one another to tackle home improvement projects—no husbands necessary.

MORE TIPS & TOOLS

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A Few Simple Steps
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Just Do It Yourself
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Easy ideas for adding value to your home

When she was seven years old, Eden decided she wanted to have a four-poster bed. She went into the ravine behind her parents’ house, dragged some huge branches home, and duct-taped them to her bed.

Over the years she’s tackled many more complex projects, but she credits that one experience with showing her that she could do things for herself.

“It’s always worth a try,” she said. “You never know what you’ll end up with, and it means a lot more than just buying it.”

Eden’s foray into home improvement started with painting. Surprised at how much easier it was than she expected, she went on to installing new door handles in her home. Next she dabbled in electricity by adding dimmer switches.

“With every project, I grew more and more confident,” she said. “Sure, there were some scary moments, but the more I learned, the easier things got.”

One of Eden’s biggest motivations for DIY home improvement is the financial savings that come with some sweat equity. She appreciates the finer things, but she also knows the value of a dollar. By doing things from scratch or reinventing things on her own, she’s able to get what she wants and save some money.

Eden said and Craigslist are two of her favorite online spots for scouting good deals.

“I found a great old lamp on eBay for $20, but it didn’t have a lampshade,” she said. “I bought a new, modern-style lampshade and the final product was a great mix of antique and modern.”

In addition to saving money, Eden also uses DIY home improvement to add value to her home. Her advice: concentrate your efforts on projects that stay with the place even after you leave.

“Look at the bathroom, the kitchen and the closets, because what you do in there is going to stay and it’s going to get you some extra money when you go,” said Eden.

For more DIY instruction that’ll help you afford the luxury you long for, take a look at BeJane, a community where eager do-it-herselfers connect, share advice and empower one another to tackle home improvement projects—no husbands necessary.

Tough–and Girlie
Power tools for ladies? It’s true! At Tomboy Tools, you can find a full array of power tools and home remodeling tips designed with women in mind.

A Few Simple Steps
The world’s biggest DIY guidebook, Instructables has digestible directions on everything from hanging curtains to building a pizza oven.

Just Do It Yourself
Earth-friendly and wallet-conscious, ReadyMade helps you claim your corner of the world and decorate it just the way you want it.