Previously posted in January 2011
Yesterday, after weeks of non-stop gatherings, I decided that I needed a day to myself. I left my cellphone in the car and took the other phone off the hook. Solitude! I spent the day downstairs, dejunking in the babes' rooms. Three giant black trash bags later, they were done and ready to be reassembled, about the time the kids got home from school. I've decided that doing it alone is better than having their help because they don't mourn the loss of every candy wrapper that you toss!
When we were all done, we picked Doug up from work (remember his battery was dead yesterday morning) and Gracie got her final part of the birthday celebration ~ dinner at Wingers. Actually, it wasn't dinner she was so excited about, but the giant piece of asphalt pie. We discovered last night that Wingers no longer gives asphalt pie to the birthday girl, no it's a scoop of icecream with sprinkles. So, she got both. The end of the 12th birthday celebration. ZJ is already talking about what she wants for hers in March. Life just never slows down!
Let's talk dejunking...
Today, I'm talking about drawers (and I don't mean your undies.) I took a walk through my home and counted yesterday. I have 71 drawers in my home. That's drawers, not shelves and that's not counting file cabinets, storage container drawers and portable stacking drawers. I don't know if that's an average number, but it's a lot of places that need to be checked frequently and kept in order. If I give every one of those drawers five to ten minutes of attention, that's about ten hours just to organize my drawers. And if you check them often, once they are organized, you can keep up on them in a minute.
Think outside of the box... or drawer in this case. Pretty much, anything that can go on a shelf can go into a drawer, as long as it fits. If you don't have built-in drawers, invest in a few IRIS carts or plastic stacking drawers. You'll find that they come in very handy! My kids each have IRIS carts for their toys and "stuff". It makes life so much easier for them. Gracie has a drawer for her belts, one for her rubber stamps and art supplies, one for her Liv Dolls, one for her Polly Pockets, one for her purses... this way, there is a place for everything. Labeling them helps even toddlers with clean-up.
Open the drawer and empty it completely. Determine the purpose of this drawer and only refill it with things that fit that purpose. Most homes have a junk drawer (or two or six). But, you don't really need six junk drawers of you designate each drawer with a purpose and stick to that. Here's a few drawer ideas.
- school supplies - not for your office supplies, but for the kids' items that they tend to look in your supplies to borrow. If they know that they have a drawer with things for them, they'll be less likely to get into yours. This drawer is in our entry way, central to everyone and it's used frequently. I didn't do a thing to clean it up before taking the picture but put the lipbalms in the big tray instead of letting it float. (The lipbalms are there because it's so dang cold in the mornings that they need to put it on just before walking out the door to the bus stop, so, it's a natural place to store it...in the entryway. Store things at their point of use.) For the most part, this drawer looks like this all of the time. Having a few organizers in the drawer is like saying "Put that in here" to every item.
- cleaning supplies - rags, sponges, special cleaning products and tools like a squeegie, magic erasers, etc...
- jewelry - a drawer, separated into sections just like a large jewelry box is easier to get in and out of.
- medicine/first aid ~ We have a first aid kit, but if you have kids getting into it often, it becomes a mess. So, I have a small drawer in the bathroom that has triple-antibiotic, bandaids, wet-wipes and a few things for the kids to doctor themselves with. Why have the stress of getting after them for dumping out the first aid kit on the counter and leaving it when they could just open a drawer, grab a band-aid and only leave the wrappers? ;) (I believe that most humans are born with a natural trait of not throwing away bandaid wrappers until they become mothers. Hence, children and men never do it, so why fight nature?)
- cosmetics/toiletries -if possible, it's awesome to have each person have their own drawer for bathroom items. Even if it means purchasing a little stackable set of mini-drawers so that they can have their own personal items stored and not all over the counters. If you have kids sharing a bathroom, this is an answer to much contention. Storing their personal items like brushes, deodorants, medications... in their own drawer will keep the counters free of clutter and cut the contention in half, as long as they stay out of each others' drawers.
- gift-wrap/party supplies ~ if you have the space, a drawer is great for this purpose. Scissors, tape, some tissue papers folded neatly, cards or gift-tags, all stored together to make one step wrapping. This can save you time and energy.
- winterwear - this is a must have! Every home needs one. Store all mittens, gloves, skicaps and scarves only in this drawer. Anytime you find misplaced items, toss them into the drawer. It's so much more simple than looking through every drawer trying to figure where the missing glove is. The kids will even get the idea and help on this one because they are the ones who wear and need them the most.
- sock drawer ~ I remember hearing a mother of six children share this tip. She has one giant sock drawer in her laundry room. All socks are folded and stored in that drawer. For the entire family. She didn't have to spend her time sorting and separating. The whole family reached in grabbed their own socks, as needed, and they were always contained. I thought it was a great idea. (It's actually where I decided that it it worked for socks, it would work for hats and gloves.) I don't use this idea, personally, because Doug and I are on a different floor than the laundry room, but I do have a container for socks that come out of the wash without mates. Then, on a weekly basis, we have a "sock convention" where we all gather, dump the container, match our socks and everyone puts their own away.
I also have an extra chest of drawers in my laundry room. The room is small and tight, but this dresser helps immensely! I keep extra linens in one drawer, winterwear (see below), a drawer of tableclothes and a drawer for Zaylee's things (a change of clothes and a few of her little toys.) You can pick up an old dresser at a secondhand store or Craigslist for near nothing and put it right to work.
Use containers to separate sections in each drawer. If you can't afford to purchase separators or containers, use shoe boxes or cups or bowls. But, keeping things separated makes them easier to find. Just think of all the rolls of tape, batteries, paperclips, sticky notes that are replaced when you know that you have some somewhere. This is my "junk drawer" but it's really not a junk drawer. It's the "adhesive" drawer... nails, glues, tapes, wires, tacks and a few other odds and ends used when attaching things. Again, having little containers inside a container keeps things organized. The dollar store has a gazillion choices of inexpensive storage containers. (Notice the little purple game in the drawer has nothing to do with attaching, but, this drawer, in my gallery, is a great place to hide a toy that kids are arguing over!)
A few other thoughts about drawers:
- Once emptied, do not put items back into the drawers that are broken, torn, have missing pieces or parts, that don't fit and most important, that don't get used. If it's not been worn or used in the last six months (or season), more than likely, it's not going to be used. Get rid of it! Donate it. Pass it along to someone else who may need it. If you can't bear tossing it, cut it into pieces and make a cleaning rag out of it. "As my granola husband says, "You won't owe the earth an apology if you recycle it."
- Don't over stuff drawers. It pushes the bottoms out of them and ruins the furniture. If your kids have so many clothes that they can't fit in the drawers, then they shouldn't be trying to make them fit. If the drawer doesn't close easily, it's got too much stuff in it. One of my friends/decorating and organizing heroes, Mary Ann, has a very limited wardrobe by choice. She believes that you don't need fifty pair of shoes and a hundred outfits. Her wardrobe is simple and classic. Her walk-in closet, which is the size of ZJ's bedroom, is perfectly clean and in order because she chooses to simplify by not owning so much "stuff". I took her advise last year and tossed over forty shirts out of my closet and it's still overflowing! I've never missed one! Simplify! (By the way, going through my clothes and dejunking again this winter is one of my January projects!)
- Seasonal things should not be stored in drawers along with the everyday used items. Things like swimsuits, ski clothes, Christmas socks... you get the picture. Store those in containers out of the way. Why go through them day after day, moving them from one place to another when you won't be needing them for nine more months?
That's just a few of my own thoughts on drawers. What are yours? Stay tuned for the next few weeks, every day, I'll be sharing my favorite dejunking/home organizing tips!
We cannot do everything at once, but we can do something at once.