I love organization. With three kids, a dog and a husband on second shift with lots of overtime, I have to be organized. There are three things I keep in mind when I organize:
1) Functional AND Pretty: I like to organize in a way that looks pleasing to the eye and works to keep my family organized. If I have a bunch of kitchen utensils that will not fit in a drawer, or that I use often, I will find a large, pretty vase and ‘display’ them.
2) Make It Work and Use Every Day Things: I used to love shelves, cubbies and Lazy Susans. I still do, but you don’t always need them. Organize things in a way that you can actually maintain. If you organize your bill box, but find you end up shoving the bills in a shoe box at the end of the day, maybe you should use a shoebox—just add some hand labeled note cards to divide or sort them. Think about how you operate and organize around that. AND, use things you already have (jars, old baby wipes boxes, toilet paper/paper towel rolls, etc.,)
3) Get Everyone Involved: Organize in a way that involves the kids and your significant other. Make sure kids can reach things so they can put them away or get them out themselves.
My dining room cabinet used to be full of knick knacks, figurines and shot glasses from many vacation spots. I looked at it one day and wondered “Why do I have this big cabinet full of stuff? Why am I not really using it? Why are all of these pencils, crayons, papers, and paintbrushes all over my house?” I was spending too much time gathering art and homework supplies from around my house and I’d forget what we already had and re-buy things.
I first grouped like items to see exactly what I had. You would not believe how many pencils I found! My kids would never be pencil-less again! I wanted to store these so that the kids could easily grab them and they would look nice. I used old jars. We recycle so I am always rinsing a spaghetti sauce jar, peanut butter jar, or pickle jar for the recycling bin. Even though they are being recycled, I felt like they could be used for something else. So, pencil jar it was.
I started with pencils and decided I wanted anything the kids needed for homework, or basic crafts, in that cabinet. Since it was going to be visible by everyone, it had to look nice. And, I had to use what I already had to save money. I found that by using every day items, I could make it look kind of cool and eclectic. Here is what I used:
Pencils: old jars
Markers : an old round vase
Pencil sharpeners (the little hand held ones): a candy dish
Erasers (I had lots of these…they come home in birthday party goody bags and multiply!): small jelly jar
Craft popsicle sticks: in a cup I bought in Japan years ago but never used
Mixed up crayons: a candy tin, with fabric hot glued to it
Short colored pencils: an old dish sponge holder shaped like a frog I made in fifth grade!
Scissors: an old tomato paste can with fabric hot glued to it
I used different sizes and shapes of containers to keep the cabinet a little more interesting. Hot gluing scrap fabric to some of the tins and cans created some diversity. I also tied ribbon around a couple of the jars.
If you are super ambitious, use floral tape to wrap artificial flowers to pencils and pens and display them in a vase. I have a couple of flower pencils that I keep in my kitchen stuck in my fake philodendron plant. They are at my immediate disposal and add some pizzazz to my window sill.
Our supply cabinet shelf is a little high, so two of my kids can’t just reach up and get stuff, but I can grab a couple jars and set them on the table so they can color, draw or write. It keeps things together, it’s easy for them to put things back and it looks a lot nicer than my previous ‘system.’
A win/win for us all!
You can read more about Michelle at her personal blog “I’m Living the Good Life” http://imlivingthegoodlife.blogspot.com/