Creating Controlled Chaos

Try saying that blog title five times fast.

So today’s writing prompt asks for 5 tips for staying organized. When I first read it, I admit I literally laughed out loud. I live in a house that’s in the midst of a complete overhaul, not to mention the fact that it’s run by a two-year-old boy. At the present time, “organized” is not my middle name.

However, I’ve been working on my organizational skills lately; I’m not just talking about this blog, but also about my home, my family, and my life in general. The tips I’m about to share with you are total common-sense, but I foolishly didn’t even think to implement them until recently.

And my life has been so much easier for it!

Here we go….

1. Get a planner. When I really started “getting social” with Read-at-Home Mama, I came across a blogger named mama miss. She had just made her Blog Planner/Calendar/Menu Planner available for purchase on her site, and I jumped on the opportunity to own it. I already had an empty pink binder collecting dust at home, and I stopped at Staples to pick up the pretty Martha Stewart Home Office dividers that were featured in the Planner post…and I had myself a well-rounded binder! To give you an idea, here’s a page out of my Menu Planner; I just copy the list of meals onto the dry-erase menu board I already have in my kitchen and I’m good to go for the week!

2. Toy organizers are a gift from the gods. The Hubby and I bought one with a gift card after Christmas 2012, and we haven’t looked back. They’re marketed to hold toys, games, and puzzles, but you can certainly use them in your garage, office, or basement to store more grown-up things. The one we have matches all of the furniture in Joshua’s room because we were going to keep it in there, but he mostly plays in the living room so that’s where it currently sits. Once we’ve redone the basement and converted it into a playroom, it’ll probably move down there. This is the actual one we have, and it’s packed to the gills with Joshua’s stuff. (Now if only I could convince Hubs to buy a similar bookshelf to keep in the living room, too…) You can purchase it here.

3. Clean out your closets. Frequently. I know, I know…there are things in your closet you swear you’re going to wear if you can just drop those last few pounds, or if you can find the right shoes to pair with them, or if you can ever find the perfect bag to accessorize them with. Yup, I know. But if there are pieces that have been sitting in your closet for more than 6 months and you haven’t worn, it’s probably time to let them go. At the very least, grab a large Rubbermaid container and store the extra clothing in your basement. (Hubs, I’m talking to you!!) I go through my closet twice a year — in the spring and the fall — and switch out stuff as it’s appropriate. For example, I keep my dressier tank tops and shorts in a container for the winter; I live on the east coast, where we actually have seasons (I’m looking at you, southern California), and keeping summer clothes in my bedroom during the colder months is just wasting space. Similarly, I put away my heavy sweaters in the spring, and I only keep my hoodies available for cooler summer nights. This also goes for Joshua’s closet! Once we move into, say, mid-March, I’ll pack away all of his thermal shirts, sweatsuits, and long-sleeved onesies; his jeans, short-sleeved and sleeveless onesies, and hoodies will stay on their hangers, as well as his swimsuit, which I’ve already bought. I keep his t-shirts, pajamas, and shorts in his dresser, so they’ll stay where they are as well. I’ll need to purchase some lightweight pajamas for the summer, but otherwise he’ll be set. Don’t forget about your coat closets too, everyone! Rubbermaid containers are your friends!!

4. Keep a running to-do list. The Hubby and I will be creating one of these in the next few weeks as we move closer to spring and the whole-home remodel I’ve been going on and on about. (I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about this! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: making some changes in each room of the house and giving the whole place a good cleaning is what’s going to turn it from a house into a home.) So how will we organize a list that will cover every room in the house, you ask? It’s simple, really. In a notebook, we’ll put a heading at the top of each page for all the rooms in the house (so we’ll have pages for the foyer, kitchen, living room, dining room, hallway, office, master bedroom, Joshua’s bedroom, hall bath, master bath, and basement) and list everything we want or need to do in each room. So for example, in the kitchen we’ll need to get our electricity inspected; install moldings; design and install a backsplash; and reseal the granite countertop. I’m sure I’m forgetting something but you get the idea. As we complete each task, we can cross it off our list…and add more tasks if necessary. This way, we can go room-by-room and eliminate every project in an organized manner. And you bet I’ll be chronicling the whole overhaul here so you can see the before and after!

5. Establish a cleaning routine. I’m going to be honest now: I’m terrible about cleaning. I hate cleaning. Joshua loves to interfere while I’m trying to clean and, if I shut him out of whichever room I’m in, he just stands behind the door and screams until I cave and let him back in to continue his interference…and so nothing ever gets done. The only task I like doing is laundry, because I can throw everything in a machine and walk away — I really would not have done well if I’d lived in colonial America — and also because folding is a fairly quiet activity. Joshua used to like putting my underwear on over his clothes (never The Hubby’s underwear, only mine), but these days the only articles of clothing he really has any interest in are socks. (My least favorite chore, in case you were wondering, is doing the dishes.) But anyway, what I’ve found helpful is to try designating days for chores. I generally do a load of laundry, whether it’s Joshua’s or ours, every other day; I usually try to unload and reload the dishwasher (because yes, I am that lazy) every three days or so, unless there’s a dish I need, in which case I’ll wash it by hand. Hubs cleans the floors because that’s my second-least-favorite chore, and he also handles organizing the pantry and such because he’s OCD and will just redo it if I try to, so I don’t bother. Dusting is done on an as-needed basis, as is cleaning Joshua’s toys.

Even with all this organization going on, let’s face it: as long as Joshua seems to be the man of the house, it’ll be nothing more than organized chaos….and I’m totally okay with that.