February 2, 2006


The question this week is on "how we keep a large family organized". Because all 5 of my children are young (the oldest is 3 1/3), I may have a different take of organized. My idea is being able to find what you are looking for (in under 10 minutes ), be uncluttered enough to be sanitary and safe, and stay baby-proofed.

One persons chaos is another person's organization. I only know that because we have 2 Personality Types right here in this home. I want "a place for everything, and everything in it's place" and my husband - Papa - is a "out of sight, out of mind" person (most of his "important stuff" is stacked on top of his dresser where I can't reach it easily). Even as he helps to put clothes, dishes, diapers, grocerys , and/or anything else away, the closest opening that can be stacked up is fine with him. Fold something? If it will wrap around your had 3 times and make a ball - it can be put away. Hang something up? Don't straighten the collars and button the top button - just drape it over the hangar and hope. Now - I know it sounds like complaints - but it isn't. Not until I spend an entire day going behind him and refolding, rehanging, and looking for the mushroom soup I know he brought home does it bother me. Even when I ask for Baby Rice Cereal and he brings home Rice w/Bananas for the 2 month old!!! I have a stash for just these occasions. Thus my "orginazation".

Step 1 - THE MOST IMPORTANT TO ME - Never run clear out of anything. The list on the fridge is added to when I get to the "next to the last" of an item that I use. Papa does the shopping while he is out-and-about most afternoons. When he "mis-reads" my list - I have another chance for the right purchase. This list is kept in 4 parts, actual groceries, diapers & other baby stuff, cleaning and laundry supplies, and "my stuff" (like ice cream, bubble bath, laundry baskets, or anything else that I saw in a sale ad that I want). This way he never has to do "big shopping". He can get whatever he desires. I do try to be as specific as I can on them - right down to supplying a picuture or empty container.

Step 2 - Never leave a room empty handed. Always take a backhaul. It is one less trip that I will have to make later. Going to the kitchen? Take whatever needs to go there with me. Kids following? Give them something to carry also. They have hands - they like to help. With the way Papa puts things away, I can always find something that needs to be somewhere else.

Step 3 - Like with S'te - Keep baskets and bins that the children can reach so they can actually watch you putting thier toys away - someday they may actually figure out that this is something they can do. I keep the toys for the babies in the living room in a basket. I also keep large amounts of toys hidden in closets to be taken out in rotation. Legos come out one day - picked up and replaced on the top shelf in the closet. Dress up stuff another time, Dora and all the dolls/stuffed animals with strollers etc, musical stuff another time. Otherwise everything is out all the time. I have shelves in the playroom with the "movies" on them and they take turns choosing what they want to see during the quiet time (ha ha) right after dinner.

Dressers have tape on the front of them with the size of the clothes inside. No one but me opens these drawers (well, sometime Papa does). My kids aren't old enough to do much besides help when it comes to clothes. Diapers are kept in the bags with their size on it until time to actually use it. A basket holding all the diaper stuff travels from the baby bedroom to the living room - but everything stays in it (no matter how many times I have to put it there).

Outside, the kids have a "cart" for thier toys. I don't care how things go on it but anything that does not "fit" goes into the closet.

Since we live in Florida, we don't need a mud-room and we only use jackets about 3 times a winter (but they are on hooks that only an adult can reach). Shoes are all kept in a basket in the boy's room. A gate crosses the kitchen door and my bedroom door. I also have an extra that hides behind the couch for when I am in "time out" and the kids need to stay in the playroom.

There are probably several other little things, but those are the ones that matter to me the most.

Now I have a baby up - so I'll get the colored pictures and put them away on my way into him. Have a nice day!!!

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