1. You're going to need lots of plastic bins with lids. They will run you about $7 a pop at Wal-mart, but are worth every penny.
2. You need some way to label your bins. (Have I mentioned the love affair I have with my label maker? Seriously. LOVE.IT. They are kinda pricey-$20-ish at the 'mart, and you have to buy refills, but whats a few bucks when your sanity is at stake? If you are good at formatting labels on the computer, than do that. I'm not. Also, you could print sheets and tuck them on the inside of the tub if you want. Again, doesn't matter how you do it, just do it.)
3. You need large and small zip-lock bags.
4. You need a wide open floor space to set up organization central when it comes time to sort and store what you find.
Where I Store What:
- I put all of my kids' jammies in one drawer of their dressers. I put socks and undies in another. O and L have about 10 pairs of undies (so if God forbid, something happen to me, at least they would have clean undies for a week) They all have about 5 sets of jammies. NO MORE. I do laundry enough to make this possible. Random novelty t-shirt and shorts try to creep into the official pajama drawer every now and then. This can quickly create too much laundry drawer over-load. I have to take a second and decide to either create a new jammie-set out of them, or donate them. (I have saved all of her old school shirts in her memory box though.)
- For the little kids, I put only their shorts/ pants in drawers. I don't fold them, but rather lay them out , or fold them up the middle seam. This saves on ironing. (Yes, I iron all of my kids clothes. Its Jason's fault! He irons everything and it just became a habit!) I have everything else hanging up. Again, so there is limited ironing.
- I hang all clothes in color order in each of these categories: Dresses, then skirts, then shorts, then capris, then pants. Shirts are hung tank tops, short sleeves, long sleeve. Then sweater vests, sweaters, then jackets. I hang the solids together and stripes and prints at the end of each color section.
- ALWAYS hang sets together. Try to get the hangers that either have two parts connected, or the ones that have the shirt hanger and then a clip hanger that hangs over it. I know that Old Navy, Kohls and Target will give you the hangers. DO NOT buy the clips that attach to the kids plastic hangers- they slide all over the place and are a mess. Just say "No!" (I hang the sets on the bottom row, so O can grab an outfit, and I am guaranteed she won't look like she picked it out in the dark.)
- I hang all of her bows in her closet too, so that we can just grab the one that matches and set it out with her clothes that are laid out the night before.
- Coats go in the coat closet until needed, and then they are hung on our hall tree in the kitchen. I use an over the door towel rack in the coat closet to hand scarfs and hats.
Ah! We have so much laundry that I can never get ahead. I have tried 101 different systems, methods, schedules... And of course something happens and it always gets stacked up. So, lately, I have just made Sundays and Wednesdays official "Do Laundry All Damn Day"- Day. I put the first load in even before I start the coffee and keep it going all day.
I have one large laundry basket that always sits on top of the washer. That's where the kids throw their dirty clothes after bath time, and where dish towels or Morgan's clothes get tossed if she get filthy during the day. Jas and I have a large laundry basket hamper, and M and L have a small one in their room that pretty much only has jammies in it from being taken off in the morning to get dressed. I have found having fewer hampers makes it easier on me, so no one is left out accidentally and doesn't have clean clothes one day. BUT! Everyone in our house has a clean clothes basket. On my crazy laundry day, as the clothes come out of the dryer, they are sorted into each basket. Once the basket is full at the end of the day, I take 5 minutes each and fold and hang that child's laundry in their room. I think it goes so much easier and faster. Seriously. Try it. Grab all the hangers you think you'll need, set them on the bed next to the basket and go to town. I even open the dresser drawers, so I can literally fold and put them in there without setting them down. ZIP. ZAM. ZOOM! Done! Then I return the clean clothes baskets to on top of the dryer and wait for the next laundry day and do it again.
If you are like me and buy lots of clothes before their season, or save lots of clothes for friends or family, you must be prepared. You need to think both ahead and backwards. You need a tub for every size of clothes that are in your home. This is the time you need to go through each child's room and pull out anything that is outgrown or is too big. Make a note of how many sizes and seasons you need to store and that is how many buckets you'll need essentially. Make your labels so you know what you've got.Thinking backwards, I am saving Olivia's clothes for our friend Hannah, who in turns is lending Morgan Hannah's toddler clothes. I have to stay organized to make sure that they get back the clothes they lent us, and I have clearly organized the clothes I give them. I have a bucket for each size 6/7 through 10 for girls, and 24 months to size 4 for boys, in addition to keeping the boxes that the borrowed clothes came in. When I did our huge clean sweep before we moved, I just sorted them all out, bagged up and clearly labeled pairs of shoes, hair bows or tights that go with certain sets and put them in the correct tub. They are big and bulky, but the protect everything and provide space to add more if you need to. Just like the toys, you need a designated place to put clothing items you want to donate (same for you and yours) and take it once it gets filled up.Here are 3 of the 11 I have set up. I would prefer that ours go in the attic, but for now they are all lined up on a shelf high in our garage.
Now, thinking forward- I hang any new items I buy for the kids that are not in season yet, at the very back of their closet, but again- they are hung grouped by color in each category- so I don't buy 3 pink long sleeved shirts. As the weather starts to change, I'll take everything that I have already stored and go through it and hang it up to see if I need to buy anything else. I will put those buckets back and pull down the smaller sized buckets to keep up in their closets, so that as they quit wearing things due to the weather, the pieces will go up in that bucket. Just think of it as "Something out, something back in."
I am so silly about shoes in the house, that when we were touring model homes back in the spring, Bubs would sit down in the entry way and take his house off at each one- I had brain-washed him. We have always kept a "shoe bucket" by the door we come in and out of the most, and recently purchased a hall tree with a bench that has storage underneath. That's were pretty much all of the shoes we are currently wearing live. Just another easy way to clean up- an organized mess, a community home for the shoes. Every once in awhile I will go through there and check to see if there are any squatter flip-flops hanging around when its November, but for the most part, we've pretty much stayed on top of really only having the shoes we wearing at the time in there. If they aren't in there, then I use the bottom drawer of each child's dresser as shoe storage.
I follow the same rules. We each have a drawer for just our pajamas (or in Jas' case undershirts and basketball shorts or sweatpants), and a drawer for undies and socks. His sock drawer is also then organized by color. I bought those drawer dividers from Ikea and they work really well for this. If your husband is anything like mine, you'll need to secretly weed out his everyday t-shirt collection every 6 months or so, or they can take over the closet. I also just buy Jas 7 new white undershirts each month and throw out the old ones, because those can get funky and add up quickly, too.
I hang up all of our clothes though, and also hang them in the same color coded categories. (Which is so fun, because he has SO MANY golf shirts, it looks like a rainbow hanging up in there!) I keep our shoes in a shoe holder and I store my purses on the built in shelves in our closet. The rule of thumb for clothes should be: If you haven't worn it in 6 months or its out of style, its damaged or stained or just plain doesn't fit- let it go. In most cases it won't be coming back in style by next year, you probably won't get the stain out and it hasn't meant enough to you to have it repaired by now. If you are like me and BOUND AND DETERMINED to fit back into your pre-2nd-child clothes sometime this century, keep them. But go through them and donate anything that is out of fashion, but in good shape and then store them properly.
See, its not so hard! Just find a system that works for everyone, and then it will be easier to keep it up. It takes some effort to get sorted and ready, to go, but its so worth it in the end!
TOMORROW: Potty Time!