ORGANIZED AND ENERGIZED!
By Dianne de Las Casas
One of the most beautiful gifts you can give yourself is organization. Why do people go on vacation? “To get away from it all…” To get away from what? The chaos and clutter of a disorganized home? Look at pictures of luxury hotel rooms – what words come to mind? Tranquil, serene, clean, luxurious, organized? Our homes can be that way too. If you feel overwhelmed by the process of organization, start small and in a public area (the entry way, kitchen, dining room, living room or guest bathroom). That way, when you come home from a hard day at work, you can walk into a space that’s streamlined and uncluttered, even if it is the bathroom. Believe me, it feels so good to walk into a room and know you don’t have to lift a finger to make it look better.
By the way, getting organized is not just your job. It is the job of the entire family. Everyone who lives in the house is responsible for keeping the household together. Adults should not bear the burden alone. Children should be taught to organize and maintain their surroundings. When children learn to care for their belongings, they develop pride and self-confidence. Let’s say your child is in kindergarten. You visit the class and see that the coats are strewn on the floor, story books are scattered everywhere, crayons are haphazardly rolling across the tables, and blocks are blocking the doorway. Would you be upset? Probably. You expect your child’s teacher to organize her classroom and her students. You expect her to teach the students to put items back where they belong. If you expect organization when your child is at school, then why shouldn’t you expect it at home?
Here are some simple rules for creating organization:
ACT! – Assess, Clear and Take Control! Assess your needs – where do you need organization the most? Clear the clutter – purge by trashing, storing, or donating. Finally, Take Control by establishing a routine and maintaining it on a daily basis.
Like with like – Have a collection? Store or display them together. Don’t overwhelm the space by having EVERY piece in your collection out. Store some and rotate them, giving your home a fresh look. Books are shelved with similar books. Toys are stored in one place. CDs and DVDS should be stored together. Like with like.
Take 10 – Every night, take ten minutes to tidy up. Everyone should take ten before going to bed. Toys should be stored, video games put away, and shoes stowed.
The 3 Bs – No, it’s not the 3 Bears. The 3 Bs stand for Bins, Baskets, and Boxes (say that 3 times fast!). Perfect storage solutions. Don’t forget to label them.
Labeler – Buy a labeler. When you are organizing, this is a must. I love the labelers by Dymo. They sell them at Wal-Mart and office supply stores.
Get in the “Zone” – Divide your rooms into “zones.” If your family room must also be a play room, a movie theater, a guest room, a craft room and an office, zone each area. Make a “play corner” for the kids – use a beautiful wicker or wooden chest to store toys. Store guests’ linens in a storage ottoman in front of, or next to, the sofa. Store DVDs and CDs in boxes or bins in the entertainment center. Create a space for a desk that can house craft supplies but double-duty as a home office where you can pay your bills. Get in the zone!
A Bit of Beauty – Though this isn’t an organization tip, it’s a tip that will help beautify your organized space. Bring a bit of beauty into a room with a scented candle or fresh flowers. A vase full of greens cut from your own back yard can bring life to a room.
Organizing the Family
If you have a busy, bustling family with multiple schedules, you may find organizing your family can be challenging. Kids bring home paper from school every day. There are everyone’s weekly obligations (soccer, ballet, school play, scout meetings, band, etc.), not to mention that of the adults in the household. How do you manage it all?
The Family Binder – I started doing this years ago, before they became popular on the organization scene. Our family binder organizes everyone – me, my husband, Soleil and Eliana. Each person gets a tabbed divider labeled with their name. When important papers come home from school, they go into the Family Binder behind that child’s name. No more “Where is my lunch calendar, Mom?” for us! My husband printed out fantasy football stats and left it out. When he couldn’t find it, he knew where to look. It was in the Family Binder. We also have a section for menus – all our favorite restaurants are organized inside.
Computerized Schedules – Consider switching to a computerized calendar – you can print out a hard copy for everyone to see. My husband and I both use Outlook. When an important date comes up, one of us calendars it and sends the other an invitation to the event. We keep track of household appointments (plumber, electrician, etc.), PTA meetings, and all the kids’ activities this way. You can use Google’s free calendar and share the calendar with several family members.
Purge the Paper – It’s tempting to bring home everything your children create in school. Don’t! Toss weekly work – keep test papers if you must. Be selective about your child’s artwork. Create a place for rotating artwork (the fridge or create a “portfolio” to display your child’s artwork on the coffee table). Frame your child’s art and hang it in his/her room or the playroom. Special cards, letters, awards and certificates can go in a “memory box.” Purge the memory box at the end of the year, keeping only the best and most special items.
There is a Shaker saying that a friend of mine taught me, “If it can be put down, it can be put up.” Put up the clutter; don’t put up with the clutter! This is your year to get organized and energized. Here’s to beautiful spaces. Here’s to beautiful you!