Monday, January 4

To-Do List

I can remember the years (I'm sure my mother can too!) when I was not the least bit organized. It was this way in our first few years of marriage too.

I like to think that it (disorganization) all goes along with being a creative thinker. The truth is, having a large(r) family has wooed and coerced me into organization until I've gotten to the point I'm at now. I love organization! It makes my life easier!

Now, I'm sure I have farther to go. I sort of learn as I live what works best for our family and you should too.

I remember once reading an organizational book that advised to label each bin in your attic with a number and to put the coordinating number in a little notebook, alongside which one was to write the contents of the box. I did it. But then the contents of the boxes changed with seasons and with life and I realized this was the LEAST best way for me to organize my boxes. Just because something works great for another family, doesn't mean it will work well for yours. And that nugget of wisdom can be applied to discipline, homeschooling, family rules, mealtimes, etc.

What does work for our family? Big clear plastic bins with lids. A pack of inexpensive sticky white labels and a pen. One bin for girls infant clothing, one for size 12-24 mos clothing, one for boy clothing size 4, and so on. Each bin has a white label on the side with the size and gender. They stack easily, close tightly, and I can see what is inside at a glance. Boy bins are stacked to the right in the attic, girls to the left.

A to-do list is one of my favorite home organization helps. I make a computer list with the weekly menu and grocery list, an overall "to-do" list for the week of things I need to get done, a homeschool list of activities to do with the kiddos, and a honey-do list of things around the house that need Sean. He asked me to do this as I didn't want to nag and so I wouldn't mention things more than once. This way, he can check it out as he has time and I don't feel forgotten. :)

Another great idea is to organize your home so that your children can be as much of a help as possible. Our everday dishes are kept in a hutch in the dining room where the kids can grab them to set the table or place them as they come out of the dishwasher. The family closet, too, has made putting away and taking out clothing a quicker activity because it such a kid friendly system.

What systems or nuggets of wisdom have you found regarding organization? I'd love to hear them....


Anonymous said...

Having clothes laid out the night before for the kids to put on themselves in the morning saves me some time. :O)

Anonymous said...

This might not work for a smaller family, but for us it's great! Our clothing boxes are labeled things like "Waiting for Chad" or "Waiting for Emma". They tend to live in the bottoms of closets, and as I find outgrown clothing, it just gets dropped into the appropriate box to wait for the next sibling of that gender.
When someone has a growth spurt, I upend their "Waiting for" box, and see what's in it that now fits. The rest goes back in to wait a little longer. The last box is simply labeled "Too small" and is passed along to whomever crosses my path that could benefit from it.
The same boxes have lasted forever, with the contents just slowly cycling through.
As you said though, what works for some folks is a disaster for others! Hope this helps someone.

Unknown said...

I've been hopelessly disorganized in the past. But as in your case, a growing family has put an end to those days! I'm actually in the process of blogging my entire system including sharing templates for a homemaking binder so that I don't have to think, it's just all there in front of me :)

Christi said...

Hannah, could you describe your "family closet"? I have been trying to find a way to tackle the laundry giant for years. We have eight children 13 and under and definitely try to keep things simple, but laundry out of control seems to effect the whole peace in the house...well, at least for mama :o) Thanks

Amanda Kaake said...

I just finished organizing my boys clothing. I have 3 children - 2 boys. One is in size 4t/5t and the other in 6 months. I wanted to make sure I didn't miss clothing along the way. We have sizes up through 7 in big boys. I have a little label maker and my husband used that. We label totes according to size and gender. Seeing that my daughter is almost 11 and has no one to hand down clothes to, we haven't had to label gender as often anymore since we give her clothing away. Anyway, I just love being organized and knowing where things are. I found many things I didn't know I had and am actually short on a few things I didn't realize. Have fun organizing!

Anonymous said...

We have 7 in our family and shoes were a big issue when we came home from an outing. I tried baskets and such but they didn't work so I prayed and asked God and he showed me a five foot long, short cabinet with doors at a garage sale. It is just the heigth to sit on and long enought to fit in the space under the windows. I took plastic place mats and put names on them for each person to place their shoes. When we get home we just kick our shoes into the cupboard.

I have two wickers baskets in the bottom of our wardrobe for mittens/gloves and one for hats/scarves. I tried the shoe organizer but no one would put them in the holes!!! I found a short hall tree and added hooks for all of us to hang our coats on,too. I also have a shelf in the basement for boots(labeled by size like on rollerskates)aside the woodstove and hooks for snowpants for easy access and for drying ability.

I also use LARGE tubs for coats, shoes, and clothes. I just seperate by name(Joshua) and store these upstairs.

I've also simplified ALL areas. I have a large tub for each: Legos, Knex, Wooden train, cars and trucks, play food and dishes, Rescue Heroes and a Playdoh basket. These are put in a closet with ALL videos and Electronic games. The children are allowed to get one tub out and play. The toys are not in the childrens' rooms to clutter them up.

I also took all the dressers and put them in the basement aside of the washer and dryer. Our basement isn't finished and we need a de-humidifier on regularly, but this has been a great help. I can hang the clothes from the rafters and then fold them and hand them to the child and they help put their clothes away. This eliminates much of the clutter in their rooms and keeps mom peaceful!!

I only have a few kitchen gadgets. I have a hand can opener, a hand grater, ect. These can be put away. I have a crockpot, toaster oven, coffee maker, and food processor, wheat grinder and mixer.

I only make a few plates, cups and bowls accessible. This makes me do the dishes after each meal!!! And each child doesn't dirty far too many cups.
I don't like to have too many things to take care of. I like things to be in the place I use them. ALL books are in the schoolroom, even mine. ALL sewing is in one area. ALL baking and grinding items are in a hutch. ALL canning and preserving is in one area. I have a craft bin for ALL scissors and glue and such.

All knitting and crocheting is in a large wicker basket aside my chair. I stuck my needles in a flowervase to keep them organized.

I also have easy, heathly and nutritious meals. I soak grains as much as I can and we eat a lot of fruit and veggies(easy prep). Granola, pancakes and waffles are made in bulk and then frozen for ease.

The children pick out a piece of paper from a basket and on the paper is written a room in the house. That child then cleans that room. They dust and pick up and then sweep or mop. This is sooooo nice. I help whoever gets the kitchen.
I also put plastic placemats on the shelves and in the crisper drawers of my refrigerator, this helps with spills and are easier to take out and clean.

I prayed and asked God what areas drove me to be a crazy mother! He showed me the areas above. I'm now more peaceful and the laundry and toys and cooking are ALL areas I now enjoy!!

I also make a list every morning of the things "I must do", "I need to do" and then everything else just gets stuck in.

Hope this helps....and sorry so long.

Emily, wife of Jeremy said...

I don't have any profound words of wisdom. We have two little ones and pregnant with our 3rd so I'm figuring a lot out as we go.

A tip if you have two bathrooms: we keep white towels (bath, hand, and wash) in one and off white in the other. That way we always know which bath room they go in and don't end up with a bunch in one bathroom and none in the other bathroom. It also helps that they are neutral and can be bleached if needed and it's not hard to match them if we need to add more or replace one.

We organize our clothes the same way but opted for the colored containers since they were much cheaper at the time. I have found that it is easier to keep all the shoes in one container though. The girls aren't wearing the same size at the same age so it makes it easier. I put all the shoes of the same size in a paper bag and label it and then put it in the plastic container.

Great tips from you. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

We do the clothing in boxes but ours are stored in the attic. I use copy-paper boxes that I get for free at work.. I can write on the side, or cross out when the sizes change.. they are the kind that have lids..if it for free it for me! lol

The other thing that I do cause we have a problem with stink bugs down here.. but this works for most bugs I have found.. instead of moth balls.. throw in the box a cheap 'smelly" bar of soap.. bugs do not seem to like the flowery it.. and it makes the clothes smell better when you pull them out of the attic.

Sue in NJ

Me said...

Di, we do clothes out the night before but only on days we have to leave the house early. I should impliment that more, huh?

Anonymouse, I love that idea.

Quinn, thanks for the link, I'll check it out!

Christi, here's the linky:

Amanda, I LOVE my label maker. I felt like the happiest nerd on earth when I bought it!

Kim, I love your ideas! I need to sit and think on each of them! We just spent a morning sorting, trashing and organizing toys. I'll take a photo soon as I love how the system of toys is working.

Emily, I buy the darkest color towels so that they don't get stained! Dark brown and navy blue! White wouldn't last a minute here, but at least they'll be dyeable someday for you!

Sue, I really like your soap tip. we don't have stink bugs but we have mice in winter and plenty of other bugs come summertime!