I have four children. Four wonderful, kind, beautiful children who very possibly may be part human — and part Tasmanian Devil. Sometimes I look up from whatever I am doing and feel as if I’ve been plopped in the middle of a Looney Tunes episode. Kids move around like little tornadoes as objects fly through the air.
Is it really that bad? Probably not. But at times, it feels that way.
For example — when they come home after a long day of school, the door opens, shoes go flying, they strew coats about, and drop their backpacks haphazardly. They simultaneously tell me about their day and how famished they are —as they make a beeline for the pantry.
The words out of my mouth? Always the same.
“Hello! Welcome home! Stop. Put your shoes on the shoe rack. Hang up your coats. Empty your lunch boxes. Pick up your backpacks.”
They will do it — but not without prompting. Every. Day.
Of course that’s how it is. They are kids. None of them mean to be part Tasmanian Devil. They just are. Each little bundle of energy, excitement, and enthusiasm never simply walks through a door. They explode.
Excited to be home, they are ready to unwind, eat snacks, talk about their day, and get outside to play.
The only problem with this explosion? My personality and a chaotic environment mix like oil and water. When the house feels cluttered and crazy, it rubs off on me. I start to feel out of sorts. It just doesn’t work.
Systems. Lots of systems. Systems that have been created over the years through trial and error as different needs have arisen.
Today, I’m sharing a few that help our family tremendously. I hope they may be of help to someone else who desires to go from chaos to organization as well.
The Basket to Go Upstairs
Not creative. Super literal. Incredibly awesome. And most of all — a sanity saver.
Prior to the existence of The Basket, I made countless trips up and down the stairs. With each trip, I carried items back to their proper destination. A great workout? Yes. An incredible waste of time? You betcha. Eventually, I started to pile items at the bottom of the stairs to be carried up later in the day, but that started to drive me crazy too.
And then, it dawned on me. Why don’t I put that pile into a basket? That way, I don’t have to see the items and I don’t have to carry them up until I am ready. Win. Win.
And that, my friends, is how The Basket was born. Now, it gathers items daily and is emptied once or twice a day. At my convenience.
The Outdoor Catchall
Let me paint a picture. It’s a sunny Saturday afternoon. The kids gather outside playing. With the windows open, the sound of squeals and laughter carry throughout the house. Pure weekend bliss.
Unfortunately, it rarely stays that way for long. Three out of five times, the squeals of glee change quickly to the screaming sound of a child who unexpectedly met their match — concrete.
Over the years, I learned, regardless of the size of the boo boo, a hug and a bandaid (or more) go a long way.
Bandaids aren’t the only outdoor play necessity. Let’s not forget bug spray and sunscreen. The problem I found? I seemed to be the only one in the house who could locate these items in a pinch.
Now, a tray sits by the front door with bug spray, sunscreen, and a cute tin that holds bandaids. Problem solved.
Laundry Baskets. LOTS of Laundry Baskets
With six people in our house, the dirty clothes quickly pile up. To help keep the piles to a minimum, we have multiple laundry baskets that are easily accessible. Everyone can do their part in keeping the house tidy.
On a nice day, there are usually lots of kids from the neighborhood playing outside. We have a basketball hoop, so our driveway gets a lot of play time—which I love. The problem? At the end of the day, I found toys strewn about the yard and in the garage.
We realized we needed an easy way for the kids to be able to access they toys—both for play time and clean-up. The solution? Two large bins and a shelving unit for all of the toys.
Quick access. Quick clean-up. The kids? Happy. Momma? Happy. Winner winner chicken dinner.
These bins are located by the garage door and are switched seasonally. (Hence the name.) In the spring and summer, they hold swim towels, spray bottles for cooling off on a hot day, swim toys, and flip flops. In the fall and winter, they hold hats, gloves, scarves, and other outdoor winter necessities. The bins for my husband and I are located on the top shelf. The ones for the kids stay down low for easy access.
Shoe Rack and Umbrella Stand
Immediately upon entering our house, you find an umbrella stand nestled in the corner and a shoe tray that is home to a multitude of shoes (only one pair per family member at a time please). This makes it possible for us to leave the shoes we are wearing that day close to the door while keeping it from looking like a major shoe explosion has taken place. It’s organized and functional. Two of my favorite things.
The umbrella stand belonged to my grandparents. It serves the purpose of holding umbrellas for a rainy day (including my grandmother and grandfather’s umbrellas — still in the stand) and brings fond memories of their house to mind whenever I see it.
And these, my friends, are just a few items that have have been placed around the house to help eliminate that feeling of chaos and clutter.