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Please help me get organized!!!


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Help!  I have 4 kids under 9 (8, 5, 3, 8 weeks).  We have a clutter problem, and I have no idea where to start!  dh and I both grew up in homes full of clutter, so I think it's just our natural tendency.  But, oh, the piles of stuff everywhere!  Anyone have suggestions on methods, books, etc?  We are going to start the adoption process at the end of the year, and I want the house in order by then.  Help!  :)

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Go through one closet at a time. Get everything out and only put back what is actually useful or meaningful. The rest goes to Goodwill. Evaluate what you actually need while you do this. 10 T shirts? 5? Do this with everything. Even jewelry.


Get a bin. Put things in it you don't need anymore for Goodwill. Make this a habit.


No nick nacks that don't have sentimental value.


No doubles. Nobody needs 14 pairs of black pumps.


We have one basket for each family member in the living room. I throw their stuff in the basket and they empty the baskets once a week.




Direct deposit & online billing.


Put all of "this years" school stuff on a mail cart that can be stored in a closet but always be available wherever you need it.


Every toy that the kids don't play with needs to go. No exceptions. If it has sentimental value stick it in a tub and it's off to the attic.


Take half of what's hanging on your walls down. You want lots of wall space. It looks clean. You can rotate your artwork that has sentimental value (see a theme here?) and get rid of the rest.


Once a month cooking is awesome.


Get things off the kitchen counters. No appliances. No canisters. Put them in the pantry. Can you get rid of any of your appliances? A bread maker or rice cooker?


Get a Kindle. There are 1,000's of free books for Kindle, many of which you probably own.


Label bins in closets so everyone knows where everything goes. My "extra bathroom supplies" bin isn't organized, but all of our extra bathroom stuff is in that bin. There's also nothing loose in the closet.


We pick up every night. That means that every single night we pick *everything* up. All counters, tables, nightstands, dressers, and the piano are wiped with a damp cloth so that everything is off of those surfaces. Because this is a daily activity it only takes 5 minutes.

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"Large Family Logistics" was helpful for me.


"Busy Mom's Guide to Organization" was good too.


Mostly, it is a priorities thing. Organization has to be important. Your kids have to help. Everyone needs to be on the same page.


Always remember: KISS. Keep It Simple Stupid (or Silly, if you prefer). No elaborate systems that won't work for you or yours.


Identify your problem areas first. Here are a few of mine.

Shoes and coats piling up by the door? --  Install some Command hooks, buy a shoe shelf, and get a plastic bin for those odds and ends that tend congregate on the floor like scarves, hats, gloves, goggles, socks, stray flip flops, toy cars and whatever else seems to multiply in your household. Teach the kids to hang things up on the hooks (each kid has their own. I colored white hooks with colored sharpies so they would know whose was whose.) Teach them to take their shoes off by the door and place them on or near the shoe shelf. Gloves go in pockets, socks should be tossed in the bin, anything left on the floor goes in the bin as well.


Papers, papers, everywhere! -- Cut down on print outs. Buy workbooks, coloring books and activity books for each kid if you can. Only print essential worksheets. When you do print worksheets, hole punch them and place them in 3 ring binders or bradded folders. Come up with a system, such as sorting by subjects, topics, grade level, etc. Or make one for each kid. Whatever works for you. When it comes to Mama's papers, well, that's tricky. I keep a single 3 ring binder for my stuff and separate smaller binders for each kid as a portfolio. All saved work goes into the portfolio; things that don't make the portfolio get recycled into gifts for grandparents or decorations for their rooms. Or I throw them out when no one is looking.


Project build up and toy mania -- Take pictures of bigger projects and keep physical albums. DS1 has 2 photobooks of projects that he has completed, various Lego builds, K'nex projects, model planes and cars, puzzles he assembled, art projects, and other things. DD has one as well. We only let him keep his completed projects for a few months, if that. Most of the time he will take them apart himself. Legos are generally sorted by kits. DH resells them to other Lego enthusiasts he knows and we have sold some on Craigslist as well. Go through your kids toys a few times a year. Be ruthless. Toss things that are ratty, missing pieces, or that were buried at various locations around the house.


Enlist the help of the small messmakers -- Everyone should learn how to clean their rooms, sort laundry, do dishes and other small things. 8 is old enough to attempt some of these things on one's own, in most cases. 5 and 3 are good ages to begin actual training/teaching. Make it fun and the kids will want to help. Different things work for different people. My little ones like to "match socks" and use the handbroom and dustpan to sweep small messes off of the floor. DS1 likes doing dishes. DD is a good bed-maker. If you can find things they like to do, then get them to do them. ;)



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Oh! I read once about a chick who put all of her kids toys in a closet in the hallway. (I know your kids toys wouldn't fit in a closet because they have too many toys because all kids have too many toys, but you're cleaning them out now, right?  ;) ) They could only have one toy out at a time.This way the toys were out of sight and not strewn everywhere. I'm totally doing this when I have a house.


Remember, this needs to become a lifestyle. You can clean your house out once and pat yourself on the back, but it will be a waste of time. Get your Goodwilll bin. Whenever we buy a new article of clothing, something goes in the bin. A new toy? Something goes to the bin. Lifestyle.


Change is painful. Change will not happen unless the pain of change is less than the pain of staying the same. I had to realize the pain I was in before I could lose 70 pounds, get rid of 1/4 of our stuff or move across the country. Those changes hurt (particularly the 70 pounds!), but they were easier than staying in the horrible situations I was in before. You can do it!!! Even if it's :willy_nilly: right now.

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We have four kids too--9,7,2, and 2. One idea is the family closet. Hang everything. Eliminate dressers. And store all the clothing in one central location (we use the master closet, but in our new house, it will be in the laundry room). Seriously cuts down on the messy rooms with messy drawers. We have one bin per child with undies and socks in it.


Another idea is store all the toys in one central location, rather than in their rooms. This will probably require cutting down on toys, but that will also help with clutter. The way we have it, we have all the little kid toys in the living room, and all the big kid toys in a spare bedroom (you could easily use a hall closet if you don't have a room. This room is our catch all, and also where I change the babies and keep their cloth diapers and where we put a bassinet if we have a foster child at the time.


Paper is our other issue, so I tend to file things we need to keep and toss anything that is not essential. You just have to keep up with it.

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I just wanted to add, babies have their own special kind of clutter, don't they? Whenever we have a newborn (which is frequently due to foster care) we are inundated with stuff we don't need. Bottles we don't use, ten types of pacis, zillions of receiving blankets, too many clothes in styles I don't like or won't put on them. Hair bows, ten kinds of diaper cream. And every baby gadget known to man. I think if you can go through the baby stuff with the intent of getting rid of the things you really don't need, it will make a big dent in the clutter. Yes, we needed 30 burp rags since we had a reflux baby, but no we didn't need 15 newborn hats or eight pacis, or 5 receiving blankets. Decluttering is usually mostly about getting rid of things.

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Thanks for the ideas, everyone.  Wish my library had any of those books!  I am trying to find a few minutes every day to devote to decluttering.  This way will take forever, but at least it's something!!

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Set your timer for 15 min and de-clutter until the timer rings.  


Pick any number, say 10 or 25, and look for that many items to toss/donate.  (I did this each day in March and purged over 700 items!!)


This helped my sister:  pretend you are shopping in your home, only keep what you would actually spend money on if you were in a real store.  Keep only the best - quality not quantity.  


Good Luck!

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