Monday, March 5, 2012

Home and Family Organization

My sister-in-law, Karen, gave a class this weekend on home organization. She has some great ideas and I'm happy to share them on this blog. Thanks for the tips, Karen!

Home and Family Organization
Being organized is about function:  being able to find what you need, when you need it.  
Organization affects how you live in your home, how productive you are, 
and how well you manage your time.  
“Family Organization” is trying to get it all done--usually with younger hands helping, 
and often with older hands not helping--on very little sleep!       
#1 Must-Have:
*Family Calendar (separate from Mom’s digital one)—everyone needs to see paper copy of immediate and future events: dentist appt, Open House, days off, ball games/recitals, family vacation, birthdays, Gen. Conf.  
*Plastic boxes keep things orderly--group things together that you use together.
*Put all small baking supplies into one plastic square near mixer: salt, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla, cinnamon, toothpicks, floss (for rolls).  Keep sprinkles, candles, food color, etc. together in another.
*Store brown sacks and lunch goodies in one area.
*4th-5th-graders can make lunches for family
*Multi-size, clear containers for left-overs have one-size lids—available at Smart and Final.
*No more sink full of cups!  Hang personal mugs from 1 ½” cup hooks screwed under upper cupboard.
*Set table, don’t toss down plates and forks.  Napkins always.  Restaurant plastic glasses from Smart/Final.
*Add extra serving spoons to your utensil drawer from Ross, Walmart.
*Serve dinner foods from serving dishes, not from pots on the table
*A freezer in the garage helps you shop much less often: milk, bread, meats, vegetables
*Buy chicken and ground beef in bulk; cook ahead; portion for meals; freeze in bags.  Faster dinners!
*Cook large dinners on Sun, Mon, Tue, and repeat left-overs on Wed, Th, Fri.  Pizza /quesadilla on Date Nites
*Crockpots save “Family Dinners” on extra-busy nights. 
*Have one low cupboard full of plastic bowls for baby to play in while you cook and work.
*Mark towels with appliqué initials or numbers , or have one-color-per-person.  White for teens with meds.
*Use large towel hooks, instead of rods—kids won’t fold and hang!
*Clean bathroom every time kids are in tub.  Use Lysol wipes often.
*Have a small, squishy plastic bin with holes for tub-toys to drain. (Target, $1 aisle) Net bags are clumsy.
*Toss out your piles of old make-up in drawers, and cleaning supplies under sink! 
*Organize girly clips, bows in plastic fishing-tackle box (Walmart)—cheaper than scrapbooking box.  OR
*Use clear plastic over-door shoe organizer to hold bows, clips, brush, spray.  Hang in bath or near home exit.
*With younger kids, consider 66 qt. clear bin as “clothes drawer” inside closet.  Minimize their wardrobes!
*Keep church clothes/shoes separate from others.
*In time, get strongest dressers you can afford—no laminate with thin bottoms!  Buy unfinished, if necessary.
*Think “Space-Saver.” Consider tall, skinny bookcase as baby’s dresser.
*Consider twin-over-double bunk beds.  Roommates may work better as #1+3, #2+4  
*Try to store toys out of bedrooms, if possible
*Have less toys available at once; rotate.  Store in clear boxes or zippered bags out of reach. Offer 1-at-a-time.
*Kids’ personal boxes 14”x11”x3” hold short-term “keepers.” (Target, $5) When full, throw something out.
*Keep books in bedroom.  Use “book tubs” when shelving is unavailable.  Use CD player in rooms, w/ music.
*Think about keeping all shoes in one place, near home exit.
*Think “Prevention First.”  Keep toddlers using bibs for as long as possible to save on clean clothes.
*Have kids re-wear tops/bottoms until definitely dirty, not barely-dirty.
*Keep a personal hamper in bedrooms.
*Four tall family hampers to sort into: Whites, Mediums, Darks, Towels.  (Use Lysol generously, often) 
*Kids bring down personal laundry and sort into tall hampers--when full, that’s about a load.    
* Use stackable baskets to fold clothes into—bottom-to-top in birth order.  Kids take, unload, restack.
*When kids are close in age, buy distinctly-patterned underwear for each size:  size 4--butterflies;  size 6--flowers; size 8--solids.  Same idea for brothers:  trucks for one size; super-heroes for another.
*Socks are best left in community cubbies; also “LOST SOCKS” cubbies
*High-Schoolers always do own laundry; begin in Jr. High for some.  No washing after 10pm or Sundays!
*New (poor) fabrics require hang-drying for teen-clothes.  Immodest clothes sometimes just “disappear.” 
*Kids’ hanging files—fill during year with report cards, talks, programs, awards, special art/homework, etc.  Empty at year-end into large manila envelope; label and store in child’s personal bin.
*Everyone has one “Baby Box” with items and folders from ages 0-18.  (Hoarders or RMs have two bins)
*Maintain a separate manila envelope labeled for each child’s extra or outdated portraits
*Store clean, usable clothing in labeled boxes for hand-me-downs.  Don’t keep too many of one size—donate!
*Keep diaper bag always packed; rotate toys, books; replace with fresh burp cloths, blankets, cup, after an outing.  Have emergency diapers/wipes in Ziploc under front seat of car.  Update diaper size as nec.
*Have a Church diaper bag separate from the Everyday diaper bag—only snacks for baby on Sunday.
*Separate crayons, markers, colored pencils, into clear shoeboxes—store carefully and only bring out each as age-appropriate.  No markers in the wrong hands!
*Store in separate clear bins:  doll stuff, dishes, Legos, Thomas, etc
*Purchase birthday party presents ahead to save on extra shopping trips
*A long, low bin creates an under-the-bed wrapping center:  scissors, tape, papers, bows, bags, tags.
*Many websites have schedules.  De-cluttering is first goal!  
*When you “friendship” and entertain regularly, you will clean more often.
*Keep a trash can in the garage next to driver’s side for quick clean-ups
Stress Self-Sufficiency always:
*Mom can’t be everywhere or do everything, so everyone learns many jobs:  lunches, laundry, cleaning, cooking.  Rotate often!
*Allow them to volunteer.   
*Teach children the correct way so that they will practice that.
*Use pictorial wall charts to self-direct them in the morning:  brush teeth, dress, bed, hair, eat, chores, pets
*On Sunday mornings, Mom feeds and dresses baby and self, others buddy-up.  Car leaves on time, whatever the hairstyles! 
President Boyd K. Packer, Apostle and Father of 10:  “I think one of the major mistakes in teaching children is the tendency for parents to be bothered when children want to participate and to learn something…Our children were allowed to help when they were little, urged to help when they grew a little older, and sometimes ordered to help when they were teenagers.  They have, accordingly, learned to do many things for themselves, and very expertly.”    (Ensign, March 2012, pg 12, emphasis added.)

Karen and her family

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