Economy has us in a small house with teens. How to organize my house, and have courage to get rid of stuff I might need but have no room for!

Bonnie - posted on 02/17/2009 ( 7 moms have responded )

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Ladies, I need your help. I am a happily married mother of 4: ages 16, 14, 11 and 9. As the bodies get bigger, and require more acoutrements for activities, our 1550 sq. ft. 3 bedroom house has shrunk. Due to student loans, we are not going anywhere. I think often of my great grandparents who raised 4 in a 2 bedroom house, much smaller than mine. I am grateful for what I have, I just don't know how to organize it. The kids are generally awesome about bathroom time for one another, so contention isn't the issue. It is clutter. Our house is packed. The great room has couch, loveseat, comp. desk, book shelf and keyboard. There is no visual space not occupied.



As you all know, with teens we get way busier and are rarely at home. This calls for some serious appliances!! LOL! Crock pot for when you are gone, bread maker for when you have no time, rice cooker, because you have 3 other things going on the stove to feed them. I also have started a little emergency store of food, as the economy is so scary. I think everyone should have at least 3 months, in case something happens and stores can't replenish stock for a while, or there are shortages of anything. So my kitchen is packed. Now, I have looked at my share of new homes wishing, and have fun rating kitchens by how many drawers they have!! : D !! Mine has 5 little drawers. What can I do to get more organized? I already am utilizing big wicker baskets on top of the cabinets to hold seasonal things for holidays, and such. Our dining room is 9X9 feet. The home is about 11 years old, so it's not falling apart, but needs new flooring etc. We will get to that eventually, to prepare for resale, but for now, help me make it doable with teens. What do you do to make the most of your living area, and not feel clausterphobic?

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Liz - posted on 03/03/2009

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Hey Bonnie your talking to a major pack rat. Thats me but there is a trick to it and I hardly ever thow a thing out. My favorite saying is " there's a place for everything and everything has it's place ".That may sound dumb but It's stopped Tony [ the other half ] from bugging me to get rid of stuff. I have boxes of stuff I'm saving for my daughter when she moves out . I mark the boxes IMPORTANT PAPERS, and he never touches them. I fill the bottom of the box with the stuff I want to hid and the top with my summe clothes. I know it sounds crasy but it works. I'm not afraid to get rid of anything but I think after I get rid of it that I may need it. Tony hates all the stuff I have but he only seeswhats out . I hope this helps you but if not I hope you smile and laugh at the way I deal with my junk.Chat anytime. 

Lori - posted on 03/03/2009

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Trust me, it is not easy but sanity is priceless when you have to live in a smaller place.  "Things" can always be replaced.  Good luck -

Lori - posted on 02/27/2009

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It has almost been a year since we have had to move from a 4 bdrm 2 bath to a 3 bdrm 1 bath with 3 girls and a dog.  We lost about 600 sq feet when we moved and I had to downsize ALOT!!!!  I know where you are coming from.  Some of the things I have always done with my girls is to have them go through their own items and really decide what they want to keep in their rooms and what they would like to donate, store in boxes for later, and just throw out.  I make them do it at their birthdays and Christmas, that way they can make room for the "NEW" items.  I also say if it is something that I have not used, it has to go.  The items that I can not part with are stored in our storage. 



Not sure if this will help, but good luck and know you are not alone in the space department.

Bonnie - posted on 02/18/2009

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Thanks so much, Jennifer!  You and your daughter look like sisters!  I appreciate all the suggestions.  I guess paring down is what I will have to do.  A friend said to chant, "When in doubt, throw it out!  When in doubt, throw it out!"   I'll have to try several of your suggestions!  

Jennifer - posted on 02/17/2009

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Hi, Bonnie!



I can SO feel for your dilemma. I have a house built in 1950 with about the same square footage as yours, but 4 small bedrooms and no dining room, and things are starting to fall apart. We are starting a major remodel of the kitchen and bathroom this year (hopefully). I have a 16 girl and a 18 boy so no bedroom sharing, and a 18 month old Rotweiler puppy, but the bedrooms are big enough for a bed and a dresser and a non-existent closet. Here are some things we do, see if any will work for you. First, if it wears out, it's out of here. We keep very few things that are in less than good condition. Luckily, we can do that with clothes, too. No brothers or sisters following up. Good condition clothes that they grow out of go to cousins and get out of the bedrooms as soon as possible.

Second, we try to buy food that we will really eat. We have food storage (sort of), but we don't have any pork and beans, and we do have black beans, it's what we'll eat. Third, we went to a tankless water heater. It's wonderful because we always have hot water on demand, all the time, and we reclaimed that space. We recycle a lot, (free in our community for homeowners) newspapers, magazines, ads, cans, plastics and all, and keep them out of the house so that they aren't in the kitchen or family room.

We are lucky to have some storage space and everything is carefully put in bankers boxes and marked with who's, what and when and if they aren't gotten into within 3 years, they are opened, reevaluated and if possible discarded. I know it sounds rough, but we really do keep everything to a minimum. My daughter has only 2 pair of jeans, but it's all she needs. Her collections are ingeniously displayed... old toe shoes are hanging on a wall instead of in a drawer or on a shelf saving that for clothes or books or other things that we haven't figured out what to do with yet.

Finally and the coolest in my estimation, is that LOTS of important things, pictures, documents and music, are kept only on our computer system, only. Luckily, my husband is an engineer so we have a very good system that is unlikely to blow, but they are all duplicated in the system in different areas (2 file "servers", 1 other main hard drive, 1 nice new Mac and 2 laptops, most of it scavenged from people getting rid of it for new technology or second hand stores). This includes all of our taxes, banking and most of our bill paying. Our checkbook is almost obsolete. It keeps so much out of my hair. I used to scrapbook a lot, but now I just scrapbook on the computer and love it. I can be just as creative and I know that I will never lose it and it doesn't take up all the space for paper, stamps, punches, glue dots, etc. He's even looking at an option to back up the whole system backed up daily at our in-law's house so if our house burned or something, we would still have a backup away from our house. It is awesome, and less and less expensive if you know what you are doing.

I know these sound easy, but I also know what a pain they really are. I wish you the very best of luck! I'm right there with you. I'm interested in hearing what other moms do, too.



Jennifer

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