Monday, September 28, 2009

Organize with baskets

I like to organize with baskets and bins. I like the plastic bins that come in all colors and sizes. I use them to store clothing, crafts, papers, markers, etc. I like to use smaller baskets and bins in cupboards and drawers. The bathroom drawers that my kids use sometimes gets very unorganized, so I use small baskets inside the drawers to help them keep things separated and organized. It works very well. Also, my master bath doesn't have a lot of storage area, so I put a plastic basket on top of the counter to contain all my stuff. I have pictures that I'd LOVE to share, but my card reader isn't working at the moment. I'll work on it later and see if I can get a picture or two uploaded.

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

"Switching Out"

In my house, we do a lot of "switching out." Meaning, because we have limited space, we don't keep all of our toys, books, stuffed animals, etc. in the bedrooms at the same time. I like to think that even if we did have more space, we would still do this, because I feel like it cuts down on clutter and that my kids play with more if they have less out.

Remember that show Clean Sweep? One thing I remember Peter Walsh would always stress is that you only have the space that you have. Period. And you have to make the things that you have in the room fit in the space you have, not the space you wish you had. Each of my kids has one bin for books (you can see them in this post - one is hot pink and one is blue). They can only keep enough books in the house to fill their bin. All the other books get stored in the garage, and they can "switch out" when they want to. If they go out to feed the dog and stumble across a book they want to bring in, they have to take one out.

Although it's tempting to go through my kids' stuff when they're at playdates (and sometimes I do), I believe that involving them in this process from the very beginning teaches them valuable skills. My daughter just turned 4, and she's been doing this herself for a while. She's surprisingly good at evaluating what she loves and uses the most, what can go out to the garage for a while, and what she can give away.

She's great at doing this with clothes, shoes, toys, books, and stuffed animals. The only thing I CANNOT figure out how to downsize is artwork/schoolwork. She claims it is ALL special to her, and can't part with anything. Any great suggestions?

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Clean Up, Clean Up, Everybody Do Your Share

I've been struggling lately with how to get my kids to pick up their toys. I know, I know, it's a battle that's been fought since the beginning of time probably. I'll tell you my ideas and thoughts so far, but I'd appreciate any input from more experienced moms!

The new bins have really helped with my daughter. She's 4, and is perfectly willing to clean up one bin before getting out another. My little boy is another story though. Let me preface this by saying that me cleaning his toys up for him is not an option. I've got a new baby and enough other stuff to do in a day. Anyway, when I tell him it's time to clean up his cars, he replies with a simple, "No." In a very polite tone, it sounds as though he would follow it up with, "I'd really rather not, thank you anyway." But he just refuses. I've threatened to take his bin of cars out to the garage, and he just says, "Okay," and even helps me take them out there. Meanwhile, my daughter is practically sobbing, "No! That's so sad! Don't take all his cars!"

I tried that a few times, but it didn't work at all. I don't know why he won't clean his stuff up. Maybe he doesn't understand yet, maybe it's just overwhelming to him, maybe he just doesn't feel like it. So my new theory is to just not let him have a lot of toys in the house. After a full day of no cars at all (which was miserable for everyone since he just swiped my daughter's toys all day), he was allowed to earn them back two at a time if he cleaned up after himself each day. Right now he's got about 8 in the house, and I think that's where I'm going to draw the line. Most of the rest of his toys are out in the garage as well. If he's not to the point where he can pick up a big mess, then he shouldn't have enough toys to make a big mess. So far, he doesn't really seem to care. Maybe 8 matchbox cars is all a boy really needs to make him happy?

Any great ideas for how to get toddlers to clean up their own stuff?

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

An Overly Organized Birthday Party

I am right in the midst of planning and preparing for my twins AND my 1 year old sons birthday party this Saturday. The theme is Lion King/Jungle. I always overdo it on these parties and this year is no exception. The key to planning a party at this scale is lists, lists and more lists. And an "I must be crazy-I know this is worth it!-I love my kids this much, right?" attitude doesn't hurt either.

I'm extremely organized and hopefully that will help catapult me to the finish line on Saturday. For those of you interested in all the tips, techniques, ideas and how to's for a kid's birthday party, stay tuned. I will try and get it all posted, with lots of pictures, sometime next week (barring I survive of course).

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Clothing Inventory

I'm always on the lookout for good deals on kids' clothes so that I can stock up in advance on the sizes they're growing into. To start, I keep a tote for each size in the garage that just says "Bigger Sizes" and when I buy something for them to grow into, I toss it in there. But I invariably pull the bin out and discover that, while my child has plenty of shirts and pants to grow into, they have zero pairs of pajamas, or church clothes, or whatever. Periodically I look through the totes, and sometimes make a list of what I have, which I either bring into the house and promptly lose, or put in the bin with the clothes, where it's completely inaccessible.

This week I had my husband drag the "Bigger Sizes" clothing bins into the house. I'm in the mood to do some shopping, and I needed to know what I had an excuse to buy! I had the idea to make an inventory in a Word document and save it to my desktop. That way when I buy something, I can easily update it, and it's always handy and close by if I know I'm heading out to a sale, like this week's Old Navy 50% off clearance. For each child in the size coming up, I listed everything like shirts, dresses, pants, etc. and then how many of each I had. At the bottom I wrote in bold the things I need to buy.

And secretly I am so excited because while I thought my older daughter was all set for 4T thanks to generous hand-me-downs (whoops, 26 short-sleeved shirts), I discovered she only has one pair of jeans and one pair of shorts! Let the shopping begin!

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