With all the tasks that fall onto our parental plate every day, we’re lucky to keep our homes clean and sticky surfaces, much less organized too. It’s so easy to get bogged down in a never-ending cycle of laundry, homework, dinner, repeat. But thinking positively here, every day brings with it a new opportunity, and an organized home signifies a functional home—one where you’re not wasting time looking for that lunchbox because you have purged all your extras, and you know that the blue lunchbox has a specific home on the second shelf in the pantry.
A decluttered, organized home is a journey, not a destination, so we talked to two people in the know to give us insight into which rooms are worth tackling first and time-saving tips and resources to get the most organization bang for your time spent sorting and tossing.
Where to Focus—and What to Do
About four years ago, North Texas mom Crystal Nerpel was feeling the weight of chaos and clutter in her life. She did something about it, and now Nerpel helps others declutter and simplify their spaces through her business, Cloud Nine Organizing. Here is her advice for three key places moms (and kids!) can address.
Pantry: “An organized pantry makes life easier,” says Nerpel. “As you sort through your pantry, group like items together: canned goods, baking goods, snacks, and so on. Being able to see what you have on hand helps us make less trips to the grocery store. You may even find some treats you forgot about. If you are trying to juggle taking care of the kids and working from home, you could make life a bit easier by portioning out snacks and putting them within reach so they can be more independent during snack time.”
Bookshelves: For a more enjoyable story time with your youngest children, “Have fun organizing your bookshelves and let your children help you decide how the books will be sorted: by color, by size, by category, alphabetical. Make a game of it,” suggests Nerpel.
Garage: Yes, the garage. Sprucing up is possible—and even better with help. “Dust off shelves, throw away trash/broken items, sweep the floors, make sure all gardening tools are clean and ready to use,” Nerpel says. “Again, get your children involved by having them sort through old toys: balls, scooters, jump ropes and other items. The garage is an extension of your house, so show it some love. Try not to use it as a dumping ground for unwanted items.”
Pro Tip: “If you have items you want to donate, make sure to call your local donation center before dropping off items,” says Nerpel, due to restrictions or types of items accepted.
Tools You Can Use
The team at Irving-based Michaels—the largest chain of arts and crafts stores in North America—also has some suggestions for tools and products that can help you make the most of your space. Keep these in mind during your online shopping sesh or for when it’s safe to head out to buy non-essentials. (Also, check your local Michaels store for info on delivery and curbside pick-up options.)
Get stuff up: “Take advantage of your vertical space,” says Sierra Hamilton, a member of the Michaels content team. “Install shelving, pegboards or organizer racks on walls, doors or cabinets. This will keep your supplies up and out of the way and allow you to clear your living or work area of constant clutter.”
Move it around: “Utilize mobile storage carts and containers,” Hamilton recommends. “If you keep your hobby or work supplies on a rolling cart, you are able to quickly move the clutter to a nearby closet. They’re perfect for kids’ craft and art supplies too.”
Go for double duty: “Find décor and furniture that double as storage,” she advises. “Storage mirrors are my favorite, because they hide away my beauty and hair products without needing to add extra, bulky storage to my space.”
Tier up: “Use multi-tiered hangers to declutter your closet. With these hangers, you can sometimes fit three times as many clothes in your closet,” says Hamilton.
Create a system: “Develop your own rules,” she adds. “I tend to stick to the ‘one in, out out’ rule to help me declutter. For every item I buy, one has to go. Create your own rules to abide by in your space.”
The article was originally published in April 2020.