A trek across the desert? A house crashing? A long and winding road? Whatever you call the journey, the interview with my grandma was well worth the 6 hour drive. She’s the queen of all organizing and I loved hearing her tips. Plus we had fun on the way; gravel at the rest-stop kept the girls entertained!
My grandmother has always been a role-modal, as any one of her 25 grandchildren or 28 great-grand children will tell you. So although I love to hear her ideas on a whole range of topics, for today, we are focusing on her organizing skills.
As a young girl, my grandparents would come to visit and magically our kitchen drawers would transform into organized wonders with each utensil and cooking accessory in a new home. I was in awe of the power of organizing even way back then.
Of course I have heard stories about my mother’s childhood before and subsequently my grandmother’s organization. Like how my mom’s chore was to clean the bathrooms, and each part of the bathroom had a different colored sponge… one color for the toilet, a different color for the bath and so on. No intermingling!
Now that I’m a homemaker, I listened to my grandmother’s stories in a whole new light. The details of how she ran a household in the 50′s/60′s with 5 kids was fascinating to me. She even attended a presentation in a friend’s home about organizing and running a household!
As I listened to the stories of the past, I learned I need to do more to get the kids involved. It is so much easier to do it ourselves, isn’t it? But I loved the ideas she shared to get the little ones involved. A few tips she shared related to how she got her children involved in laundry (my least favorite chore).
- Scheduling- The kids took their clothes to the wash room on Sunday nights in preparation for wash day on Monday. On Thursday morning they strip their bed. This routine was established early on, and the whole family participated.
- Ironing (a frequent chore in their household)- Start children at around age 9 with napkins and handkerchiefs to learn the basics of how to use an iron. The children next moved up to ironing my grandpa’s undershirts. When I mentioned I only take out my iron about 4 times a year, my grandmother assured me that back then everything was 100% cotton and wrinkled much easier. Whew, I think my iron will still seldom make an appearance.
Besides all the fun tips of housekeeping in the past, I also got a grand tour of her current organizing methods for her small space. She recently downsized to a small condo which required a great deal of editing and organizing as she transitioned from a large home.
We were all impressed with her downsizing skills as she settled into her new home (which maps out to less than 1000 square feet). She only brought furniture that served a dual purpose of maximizing storage also. A storage bench at the end of the bed, a dressing hutch with a mirrored door, and so on.
She added small touches to make other pieces of furniture more functional. For example, she added a tray underneath the coffee table to keep the surface visually clean and create more storage.
She doesn’t keep anything breakable in the lower tray and isn’t worry about her grandchildren pulling it down. With small kiddos at home, I’m constantly modifying tips I find to make my house feel comfortable and prevent as many ‘oops’ as possible.
Another way to keep a small space in order is to keep things off of the ground. Her errands station consists of hanging canvas bags in the closet filled with specific items for each errand. She also uses these bags for specific outings such as a trip to the spa. When she is heading out to the spa she can grab that specific bag knowing that her shoes to change into and pouch for jewelry are already packed and ready to go. She also has a canvas bag for each committee and volunteer group she is a member of with the binder inside and ready for her anytime she needs to head to a meeting.
Keeping info organized
Besides keeping small spaces organized, my grandmother reminded me that the golden years bring extra challenges when organizing important info as well as the day to day necessities. Here are a few tips I gleaned from my savvy granny.
- a post-it on the door reads “Remember water.”
- Three large index cards stay in her purse, each with important information needed for filling out forms and keeping everything straight.
- a list of all medications and the doctors who prescribed it
- Her doctors, their contact information, insurance information and family contacts
- Medical history and important procedures and dates.
- a calendar in the closet for recording the outfits worn to meetings, special events or volunteer organizations. Avoid wearing the same thing at the next historical society meeting!
- a little notebook to record where seldom used items are kept in case of a little mind slip.
I had planned to organize a few drawers in her dresser but I can tell you that I didn’t have to do a thing , I just watched the master at work.
Aren’t grandmothers great? Are your kids involved in the household duties? Does anyone else record their outfits?