Wednesday, January 7, 2009

First topic for discussion: Organization

I've been thinking over all of my resolutions that I entirely mean to accomplish, but have so busy I don't feel like I can get to some of the organizational projects yet. I haven't even had time to blog!!!

Why have I been so busy? My mom's transportation to dialysis has lapsed for the time being, so my sister and I *are* the transportation service. During the week I have the privilege of taking her, and my sister takes care of Saturday. So yesterday and today I will drive back and forth to a distant town 30 minutes away to take her to dialysis. This arrangement will last for up to 3 weeks. She took good care of me, so it is nice to be able to pay her back a bit, but have I ever mentioned that I really don't like to drive much? Especially on slippery roads while it is still yesterday. Up and back twice. She *did* buy the kids and me Mexican food yesterday though, and we did get to spend some time with her for awhile, and those parts were nice!

So today I'll take my mom to dialysis and Michael to therapy.

Anyway, that brings me around to the subject of my post today. I thought it might be fun if I propose a topic common to many resolutions, and then ask for your methods, suggestions, recommendations, or any other comments that you'd like. Okay? Are you sport?

So today I thought we'd talk about organization, since that is my Achilles heel.

I'd love to be organized, and I have made progress through the years, but I want to do even better.

This includes daily maintenance of the house *and* the keeping of bank statements, pay stubs, medical deductions etc etc etc for taxes in April.

A big, kind of overwhelming feeling sometimes comes over me when I discuss the next kind of organization: organizing hand-me-downs for the next kid coming along. Can I just tell you how many times I've had to go out and buy a certain item of clothing that I know I have in a box *somewhere*, but who knows which one it is?! Labeling is a huge need when organizing "stuff"!

My ex-husband's mother was an organizing genius. That woman, if asked for any item, even a picture that her son painted and won an award for in 1st grade, could find that item by the following day. No joke. She *loved* organizing in apple and orange boxes. She had a storage room full of orange and apple boxes. And they were all labeled. She had 5 children and her husband was a school teacher, yet they went on vacation twice a year, ate name brand food, dressed nicely *and* had money in savings. All I can say is "WOW!"

So, for all of us who'd love to organize our time, money, and resources, I'd love for each of you to tell a success story of how *YOU* successfully manage and organize the many aspects of your lives. Or, ask a question for other's to answer.

The comment section will be a big part of these question and answer posts, so feel free to respond to each other there and keep the discussion going for as long as you all would like.


  1. This is a huge one for me. I have worked really hard on becoming more dependable and reliable over the last 8 years, and the biggest obstacle was being organized.

    I don't have any problems making lists of things to do. But actually knuckling down to the work would give me the "deer in the headlights" feeling. Trapped.

    So here's my hindsight inspiration. I think the biggest thing that has helped me get organized and stay that way is by only doing ONE THING AT A TIME and PUTTING WHATEVER I WORK ON AWAY if I have to stop for whatever reason.

    Seriously. It's that simple. Sometimes I can't put it away because a kid is bleeding and I have to run, but most of the time, I can take a second to sweep everything back into the box or file it away or whatever. It's a pain to get it back out again, keeps things from getting sucked into that Black Hole of Stuff I Know I Have But Can't Find.

    And babystep it. Someone suggested FlyLady to me a few years ago and it has changed my household and my meals. I CAN keep a house clean! I just literally had to take it super-slow and learn one habit a month (or one habit every two months).

    You can do it! But don't make it a single-year or single-month goal. Maybe to have a load of laundry done every day. Just one. You know? My latest goal is for everything to have a place and be in its place. If it doesn't have a place, I don't need to keep it.

    On another topic, if you know some great homeschooling resources or websites, I would LOVE to hear from you! I loved your suggestions on the family blog. We are having so much fun already.

  2. Those are some really good points, Becca. The load-of-laundry-a-day needs to be something I incorporate so that I'm not hustling to wash underwear when people are out, or so that I don't feel like I have to do 3 or 4 in one day.

    But I think my biggest struggle is *finding* a home for everything.
    :-( Especially the long-term-storage stuff, like the hand-me-downs that I mentioned.

    There are some things I simply can't do without, so the doing without it doesn't work in those situations, but finding the homes is what I am going to work on this year. Any tips for that?

    I plan on utilizing more shelves, since vertical space is the most available space for me.

    And labeling, definately is a must. And rather than cardboard boxes like my ex- mil, I want plastic, so that water, spiders, and mice can't ruin things, since I *am* talking about long term storage. But am I overlooking anything? And is there a simpler way to do what I'm doing?

  3. Oh, and Becca, I'll make sure and put together a page full of homeschooling books I have used thoughout the years and post it somewhere, all together in one place. And I'll do it soon, like before February.

  4. Well, I guess I'll hold on to that bag of hand-me-downs that I have for you :) Actually, they will still work since they would fit Matt now, rather than having to store for later.

    I think you should check out fly lady, she really did it for me. I don't subscribe to the emails, because I get just as bad at cleaning those out as clutter in my house. Basically what she did for me was help me to see that I needed a routine. Now it's like auto pilot.

    Every morning I go straight to the dishwasher, empty it out and wash pots and pans. I throw in a load of laundry and think what's for dinner. Sounds crazy but if I get those three things done, everything else doesn't seem so overwhelming.

    In the afternoon a bell in my head goes off...did I switch over the laundry, and think what's for dinner.

    I usually fold laundry at the dinning room table as I cook dinner. That helps in reminding me to have it put away by the owner. You can't eat at the table if it's full of folded laundry.

    I do need to get back into the swing of things with vacuuming on particular days and cleaning various rooms on their designated day, but for now that seems to happen as it is needed. I actually have a folder with page protector/baseball card holders in it. One for each day with index cards that have chores written on them. As I would do a chore, I would flip the card over. You can also switch cards around and make cards for appointments, especially standing appointments like therapy. It really helped.

    Hmmm...I may need to go back to that....

  5. You are one smart mom - I'm sure you're not overlooking anything. Long-term storage is everyone's bane. I just read in USA Today that the biggest dream people have for their new or ideal home is more storage space.

    I could definitely use some space! Finding a home for everything is HARD. I finally had to say that if it didn't have a home, I was going to get rid of it. So if it isn't something I use a lot, I am a lot more motivated to give it away or toss it, because it is taking up precious storage space for the stuff I DO love and use all the time. I figure I can always borrow the stuff I don't use often. Well, here's hoping...

    Maybe some under-bed rolling shelves or bins? Martha Stewart had a link to how to make some cheaply with a protective cloth cover. Plastic... hmm.... I like that idea because it keeps pests out. Do you need more shelves in the closets? Maybe you could put up some board shelves and use the plastic tubs. If you find a good solution, post it on your blog. I would be excited to try it!

  6. Becca - I *do* need more shelves put up. We have the materials, I just need to strategically locate them to fit our needs best. And I *love* under-the-bed boxes! I have one specifically for my out-of-season clothing, but I think I need two...I must have bought some new clothes this past summer because not everything fits. I need to do the equivalent with my kids' clothes too.

    April - I love getting hand-me-downs, thanks! I just need to be better at keeping them in the right containers & labeling. Someday I'll be perfect at it...but by then my kids will probably be moved out and the hand-me-downs will cease!