HELP Organizing!

Elizabeth - posted on 04/26/2013 ( 17 moms have responded )

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I have lived in my "new" house for two months and now we are still not settled in. My toddler's stuff is all over the place, she thinks the whole house is her play land. My stuff from childhood that my mom sent over from her house is piled up in the dining room and my fiance's old clothes and toiletries from years past are piled up in what should be our guest room. "Junk" trash day is only every other month in our neighborhood. I am so bad at this "taking care of a house" thing because I lived with my mom until I got engaged. Can anyone give me some tips on how to at least get started? Getting started is the hardest part when it looks as overwhelming as our house does. I wish I had some pics to post, it's bad, we look like hoarders and I think it's definitely setting a bad example for our daughter.

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[deleted account]

It can take several months to move into a house--even with no kids, much less a baby and a toddler! So don't beat yourself up too much :)

First, choose one area to conquer first. Pick the EASIEST ONE. It looks like you've got 3 major areas: Toddler Toys, Guest Room, Dining Room.

I'll break them down.
Toddler Toys. Your daughter doesn't want to play in her room by herself, she wants to be close to you--where she can see or hear you, that is where she will play. Purchase one or two (I actually have 3) large, pretty, sturdy baskets for your living room and other common areas. Find a place where they look nice and leave them there. When your daughter brings her toys out, instead of toting them back to her room for her, teach her to put them into the basket when she's not playing with them. She can also take toys out of the basket to play with, as opposed to going back to her room for more toys. Also, if you are in a hurry to pick up, it takes less than a minute to run through the room and toss the toys into the basket, whereas if you are hauling stuff from living room to her room, you will have to make several, longer trips, and waste a lot of time and energy--doesn't seem like much, but it adds up. Lastly, when the basket is full, take the whole thing to her room and help her put the toys away. By the time she is 3 or 4 (depending on the storage in her room) she'll know how to empty the basket on her own.

Guest Room & Dining Room. If you can stand to leave the dining room untouched for just a couple more months, I would do the guest room first because once it's done, you can move the dining room boxes into it so that they are not in the way while you are sorting.

First, go through all of the boxes and pull out the "trash" or stuff that you don't need to keep and no one else would want--you don't need old toiletries. Go through every box doing this--don't worry about anything else. Keep the "trash" in a couple of large boxes or bags until trash day, or find your local trash collection location and haul it out yourself. (Some will require you to show proof of residence or charge a fee, so call first). (Don't spend more than 5 minutes per box, 10 if it's full of small, sentimental things like cards, letters, etc.)
Next, Go through every box again. This time, you are removing anything you want to donate to charity--old clothing, decorative items that no longer fit your home, unused luggage, etc. Toss it in some boxes and haul it to the nearest charity drop off.
Next, Consolidate the boxes. You don't need to group like items or anything, just combine items from half filled boxes into one box. (Again, 5 minutes per box)
Last, the fun part. You have to find a place in your home for everything left in the boxes. Every evening, set aside time to put away at least one item--if you can do more, awesome, but if you only do one, that is awesome too. You need to provide the item with a PERMANENT home, so put some thought into it.
During that last step, you are likely to find more items that you no longer wish to keep. Keep two large boxes by the door--one for "trash" and one for "donations"--and drop those items in there, take them away once a week, or as they get full.

Then move the dining room boxes into the guest room and do the same thing.

At the end of a couple of months, you will be a little more settled. Don't forget to set aside time each day for regular housekeeping. I think, when moving, it is very easy to be so overwhelmed by the moving to do list, we forget about the daily to do lists, and then that gets out of hand too. Try to set aside an hour a day for daily housekeeping, and at least 30 minutes for the boxes. If you have free time, work on the boxes, but if you only get in 30 minutes, that is fine too.

The good thing about going through these steps is that you can do little tiny bits at a time--if you've only got 10 minutes, you don't have to worry about leaving a mess bigger than the one you are starting with. You can pick up and leave off without pulling a bunch of stuff out at once. That is the key.

[deleted account]

Donate that unused baby stuff to your local Women's shelters or Ronald McDonald House!

Women in these shelters are running from abusive situations. Many of them had to take their kids and run--Literally leaving everything behind but the children and the clothes on their backs. I know it was difficult for you to afford this stuff, so it is valuable to you, but put yourself in their shoes. Think about how much you can help someone by giving her a baby bath. Please consider it.

The Ronald McDonald House provides families of children with life threatening illnesses that require frequent travel for treatment (like certain cancers) a place to stay while their child receives treatment. They are completely funded by donations and charity, so budgets are always tight and siblings are often forced to tag along with their parents. Toys for siblings would be a major help, as they are so stressed worrying about the sick child, siblings tend to get lost in the shuffle a bit.

ALISA - posted on 04/30/2013

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I know I wasn't a hoarder, but I was very disorganized, like what you have written. Today I am about 90% cured of it. My goal was to have my house look like a magazine. Not sure if that is real, but that is my goal.

I started with one closet.....empty that closet, all the way. What you don't use, give away to the Salvation Army, Goodwill, or some other organization for the needy. Don't save it, you aren't going to have a yard sale, and you won't ever "need it someday". What is not good enough to give away, throw away, out, same day that you empty the closet.

Move on to the next closet, or room. I started with the closets, so I would havce somewhere to hang the clothes. Hang or put in drawers ALL OF THE CLOTHES. What doesn't fit, has to go...Salvation Army. They will do pickups, you can schedule them online.

My house is clean, I feel so much better!!!! Best of luck.

Helene - posted on 05/03/2013

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Organizing is what I do!

1) invite a friend over to help you. Sometimes what we think we need to keep objective eyes will tell you you don't. Clear stackable tubs and a label maker are your best friends.

2) Pick one room...usually a storage area or garage so you have an organized place to put things after.

3) have a donations or giveaway area with a tub. It gets taken to your favorite donation center on the 1st of every month. Helps keep you organized over the long haul.

4) make a toy free area. One room that you can put your feet up and not feel over whelmed in.

5) anything you havent used in 2 years goes. anything you can easily replace at the second hand store goes and anything you have three of goes.

Hope this helps. If you want to send me pictures of a room I can give you organizing ideas if you like. :0)

Eleanor - posted on 04/30/2013

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see if there is a pregnancy center who gives things to pregnant women who can not afford them then you will be helping other women

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Audrey - posted on 05/03/2013

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I am going to third the flylady. I've never been a neat or organized person at home....but flylady has made it easy for me to change my ways. I'm not doing everything yet....but I've made so much progress my husband can't believe how i've changed. ANd their is so much support and positive behavior reinforcement and knowing you are among many who struggle....it's very freeing.

Barbara - posted on 05/03/2013

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First of all, life with a toddler is a never ending game of catch-up. Take the toys your child dismisses or pays only casual attention to and put them in the garage or basement where she can't get to them. Even if this takes you a day or two to accomplish at least you are starting somewhere! You didn't mention if you work outside the home, but when my daughter was small at 2 or three, I did, so on Saturdays when she was down for a nap I took advantage of that hour or two and got into something that could be contained. Decide what room you want to organize first, pick ONE box and have a trash bag and a few extra boxes handy. One box should be for 'keepers', another for 'donate' and the trashbag for trash (things that are too worn or tired to be salvaged for Goodwill or Salvation Army). Have another box for your husbands goodies and have him go through them on his day off or the weekend. I'd check the dates on old toiletries, the stuff inside could be toxic and get rid of them.
If you spend an hour or two a few times a week, one room at least could be organized, then tackle another. The more 'free time' you have to devote to the project will help it along at a quicker pace, but don't overload yourself with too much on one day or you may never want to get back to it. I'd stick to maximum of 2 hours a day a few times a week until you have one room completely done. Make a trip to Salvation Army or call them to come out (usually only for furniture or major appliances) or drop things off at a clothing collection kiosk at your shopping center or Mall. Once one room is empty and things are in place, it's time to decide on what room gets the 'makeover' next. I always started with my kitchen as I love to cook and had to prepare meals anyway so it made meal time prep so much easier. The key is to continue to give your daughter all the love they need at her tender age, but keep limits on where she can drop her toys. We used to sing along with Barney the purple dinosaur the 'Clean up" song as we picked up her things before her evening bath and got her ready for bed. She loved the interaction and we enjoyed a much tidier house in the evening when she was sleeping. It also makes getting out of bed in the morning more enjoyable and a lot less hazardous! Keep trying, you'll make it, but above all, have patience for yourself and your little one!

Lauri - posted on 05/03/2013

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Plastic Bins are a must to seperate and store not immediately necessary items.
Seperate the clothing by season and size. Only put the items that your child will wear NOW in the closet and drawers.
Toys can also be organized in clear plastic stackable bins.

[deleted account]

Elizabeth, it is good to hear that you are starting to sort the hoard room/living room! My daughters are now 20 and 21 years old and yet it seems like yesterday when I was facing the same thing: toddlers' toys everywhere, clothes unfolded, sentimental items stuffed in a back room to be sorted. Get some big storage bins or even cardboard boxes and make a game with your daughter of cleaning up her toys after playtime. Realize that the things you save now "just in case" will truly never be used and end up cluttering your house/life/mind/attention. When you have another child, you can always replace things later without spending much money by going to garage sales and consignment stores. The fact is things like car seats, strollers, and toys become obsolete. Just do a little sorting at a time and start donating things and throwing stuff away. Hey, I still have a closet of Leggos, kids' art projects, and stuffed animals -- argh! Still, I would go back to those days of clutter in a second -- they grow up too fast.

Eliza - posted on 05/02/2013

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Contact Sharon, she is very helpful. Best of luck!

Sharon Lowenheim
Organizing Goddess, Inc.
Organizing with Ivy League polish and a New York attitude.

(212) 510-7823 | sharon@organizinggoddess.com | http://www.organizinggoddess.com

President - National Association of Professional Organizers, NY Chapter

Tammy - posted on 05/01/2013

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Elizabeth, Go to www.flylady.net. That is where I have started to FLY (Finally Love Yourself). It may sound crazy at first, but give it a try. You can do ANYTHING in 15 minutes. Good luck. God Bless. and FLY...Tammy

Michelle - posted on 05/01/2013

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Of course, you will need to first get rid of the things you do not need. Donating is the easiest, but you can also put a lot of your baby stuff on Craigslist and make some extra money. It helps to break it down and maybe just tackle one room or closet a day. Really try to get rid of as much as possible! We really don't need nearly as many clothes as we think we do! And kids can be overwhelmed by too many toys. Throw out all toiletries that are expired or that you don't use. Make sure all framed pictures/art are hung on the wall. If you don't have space for them, get rid of them.
Once you have your stuff pared down, find some low shelves for your daughter's books and toys. It looks nice and your daughter will be able to reach and to find her toys, which is much better than a toy box! For smaller items like blocks or things like dress-up clothes or stuffed animals, baskets look nice and work well. If she has a lot of dolls or stuffed animals, a toy hammock is a great way to save floor space. If you can, set up a play area for her that is not in her room, so she can be with you sometimes.
Modular storage shelving with cubes or baskets works great as a way to both display things and store things out of sight. Closet organizers like shoe racks are helpful. I have two boys and getting organized has been a long process, but I feel like we are mostly there! If you want to see some pics of my newly organized craft room/ play room, check out this link:
http://consciousparentingthruauthenticli...
(you'll have to scroll down to about the third entry)

Elizabeth - posted on 04/30/2013

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Thanks Alisa. I will tell you my biggest issue right now is that I literally have luggage full of clothes and I just FINALLY got a dresser so my closet is basically full of my clothes and the fiance's clothes. I think that since I have left those suit cases full of clothes untouched for about two years I should just drop off the entire thing at a Salvation Army, maybe just pick through to see if there are any maternity clothes I need in the future, but like my mom says "Who are you kidding? You will want all new clothes by the next time you get pregnant." It's true. I might as well pass it all on to some one else who needs it more.

So, I've started cleaning up the hoard room (or really dining room) one box at a time. It feels really good. I'm stuck now with some baby things I never used for my daughter so I doubt I will use them ever again, but you never know right? The toughest part about parting with that stuff is that I could barely afford anything when I was pregnant because I was completely single at the time and I had to work really really hard to get everything I had, it was weird when I met my current fiance and he started buying my daughter things so the things I already had just went on unused... anyway... now i have a stock pile of baby bath tubs, baby bouncers, baby chairs, and baby floor mats that I have never been used. I don't know what to do with it all, there is definitely not enough closet space in my house at all, seriously.

Elizabeth - posted on 04/26/2013

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Thanks, that helps a lot with getting started. The baskets are an especially great idea because I have kind of just been throwing everything back into her room while she's sleeping. Now the big thing for me is just getting the energy when I come home from work (I'm also in school too.)

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