Wouldn’t it be nice if once you organized, your space stayed organized for good?
If we are going to live in the space we all know perfection is not realistic. Organization requires some maintenance to keep your spaces up to snuff. Besides, the point is to organize so you can make space for living; even if that means some maintenance is involved.
What does it take to keep up your organization? Well the good news is, it doesn’t take much work. Many of the 10 minute organizing projects featured here on the blog are areas that were once in order and only needed a little re-boot.
When attempting to maintain organization, ask yourself if you are still surrounded by things that you love and use. With time, clutter inevitably grows, so it’s important to take a step back and purge items that no longer belong in your space. For example, let’s look at one of the spaces that requires maintenance most often (besides the kitchen): the kids’ room — and the all-consuming toys within it.
It has been a little under a year since I first tackled the toy overload.
There has definitely been daily maintenance, but what has really made a huge difference has been a permanent donation box in the closet.
While we put away toys (not every clean up of course, but occasionally), we quickly assess what is being played with, if anything is broken, what we might have a lot of, etc. As soon as we find a toy we no longer want or need, it goes straight into the box. The same applies to clothing that doesn’t fit. This is one way to avoid a huge decluttering session that might take a whole day or two.
Our donation box has been great, but today it is time for a bigger purging session. Currently the toy bookshelf, though not horribly overstuffed (thanks to our donation box) seems to overflow, especially with books.
What might not come across in this picture is the volume of books. Children’s books are so hard for me to get rid of– my kryptonite in the organizing world.
We have too many though. Having more than we need makes it hard for the girls to find a book. There are too many choices and it’s a challenge to maneuver the books on and off of the shelf. The library book bucket became the go-to books since you could easily flip through the 7 or so temporarily housed there and avoid a potential avalanche of books from the other shelves.
Time to focus on just books. First by sorting. I already had a bin of books hidden away in the closet to rotate in and out of our home library (did I mention we have a lot of books? There are also more chapter books in the garage for when the girls are older). As I sorted through the books I placed them into 3 piles (2 keep piles and 1 donate pile). I was proud of my sizable “to donate” pile.
In addition to finding books to donate, my goal was also to limit the number of books in the bookshelf at any one time. I want to use only one green bin to store books in the closet. I completely filled the bin but stayed within my self-imposed limit.
After my book sorting, I was inspired to do a sweep of the rest of the room, including some toys in the closet. In the end I had quite a donation pile! I can’t believe all this stuff even fit in the room (the trash bag is full of stuffed animals).
I got hung up on a few spots while trying to purge, especially when it came to gifts or sentimental items. Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you are looking for things to purge.
- Is there too much of a certain type of item?
- Why are items not being returned to their home? Is the area already too full? Is it too hard to reach or not accessible in another way?
- Are you holding on to certain things because it was a gift?
- Do you like the “idea” of something but it is not really being used?
The last two questions were hard for me to face when I was sorting through toys because so many of them were gifts. I had to remind myself that the girls used and enjoyed them but had indeed outgrown them. The last question about “liking the idea of something” really applies to my Lego table. The legs swing out and I love the idea of the girls sitting there playing with Legos. The problem is, it never happens. It is time to pass it on to someone who will enjoy it.
Now, the after picture is not a jaw-dropper, but remember it’s maintenance! The biggest difference made will be around functionality. I took the liberty of circling the major improvements since it is a little hard to see.
The benefits were immediately visible! The girls began reading right away. I didn’t even pose this picture!
While it is important to find a system that will work for you in the long-term, don’t get discouraged if things will need tweaking. Your needs will change and your kids will grow. Don’t be afraid to question whether something is working. Even with the needed maintenance, once a system is in place, it is so much easier to keep up with it and have space for living.
How do you stay organized? Do you follow the one in, one out rule to keep your space free of clutter? Anyone else love children’s books too much to part with them? Anyone have a system they need advice tweaking? We’re all ears!