Simple Ways To Organize

by HEAB on June 25, 2014

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I thrive on order.  Often times I read about those moms who greet visitors with, “Kids are messy, and we welcome you into to our chaos.  Come on in!”  I tried being that mom – I really did, but I just can’t.  When stuff is everywhere, and the house is a mess (which happens daily!), I feel suffocated, and my mind simply can’t handle it.  So, even though we cannot avoid messes (I want our kids to have the freedom to play and create, and let’s be honest, making messes can be a lot of fun), BUT, before nap and bedtime, we try and put everything back where it belongs.  Otherwise, I can’t relax.  It’s just the way I’m wired, and thankfully, Chris and the kids are good about helping me keep the house fairly well organized.  So, today, I’m sharing a few simple ways we keep the chaos in check.

We like to have friends over for play dates and dinner, and we’re often going over to friend’s houses for get-togethers.  Therefore, I like to keep some sort of cookie or baked good stocked in our freezer at all times.  For me, it’s much easier to bake several batches of cookies at once and thaw when needed rather than carve out time every week.  And since we eat oatmeal and rice daily, I finally decided a few weeks ago to organize all of my dry goods and put them within easy reach of our prepping/cooking space.  I’m a big fan of keeping counter tops clutter free, but I figured if I could find a pretty way to display our dry goods, I wouldn’t mind them being in plain sight.  Since we don’t have a pantry, everything in the containers below used to be stashed in several different cabinets and/or on some shelves in our laundry room.  However, now everything is in one place, and I love it!

Yes, we consider Dove milk chocolates a necessary dry good around here.

The glass jars are from the Container Store and range in price from $3.99 to $6.99.  A few reasons why I love these canisters in particular:

  • No rubber gaskets.  Although rubber gaskets would give me a tighter seal, they usually wear out after a few years of washing.  Since we go through all of these dry goods rather quickly, I figured the tight seal of these aluminium lids would be enough to keep things from spoiling.
  • Wide mouths – perfect for scooping out oatmeal and flour with a measuring cup.
  • They are glass – so pretty and easy to clean.

Toys, toys, toys.  We try to keep things simple around here and clean out our toy supply often, but toys and art supplies easily accumulate.  Neither Chris nor I are very handy, and so you won’t see me posting about us building shelves or storage units together.  Nor do we live near an IKEA (IKEA please come to Nashville!) where there seems to be an abundance of available storage options.  Thankfully, we do live near a Container Store, where I purchased these milk crates for our outdoor toys.

Art.  Between home and church, we make a lot of it, and after perusing Pinterest for various ways to display it, I decided to keep it simple, and tape it to the windows.

Sunshine + kid art = happy mama.

Favorite storage/organization tips?

{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

s June 25, 2014 at 3:56 pm

i use glass jars to organize my dry goods too! i bought a bunch of mason jars from the dollar store (they are smaller than your glass jars, but i keep my oatmeal and rice in different containers) but i never thought to store my chocolates in them…right now my chocolates are kept in what was formerly the fruit basket, lol.

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HEAB June 29, 2014 at 12:59 pm

Mason jars are so versatile. We love using them for drinking glasses, flower vases, and for storage. Very economical too…oh, and definitely good for chocolate! ;)

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Susan June 25, 2014 at 3:58 pm

I thrive on order, too! Both Rick and I keep the house picked up so when it’s time to clean, the job goes so much quicker. I keep a set of cleaning supplies under each sink so I can do spot cleans throughout the week.

I am not sure if this counts as organized, but since we share a closet that isn’t huge, we literally have a set amount of hangers and floor space. If we buy more clothes or shoes and they don’t have a space or a hanger, something old has to go to Good Will.

I also keep a cardboard box in our laundry area. I start to fill it with things to go to Good Will as I think of them and so after a few weeks, I have a full box and I send it with Rick to drop off on his way to work.

I am just so much happier without mess & chaos.

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HEAB June 29, 2014 at 1:02 pm

Susan,
I do the same thing – every bathroom has some sort of all purpose cleaner under the sink for quick clean up jobs. Make it so much easier than running into the laundry room to grab cleaning supplies when we have a spill somewhere in the house…and we have a lot of spills happening these days! ;) Love the idea of an ongoing donation box for Goodwill. Will be starting my own today!

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Colleen June 25, 2014 at 5:56 pm

I think having kids actually made me MORE of neat freak. I used to be okay with clutter, but now it gets out of control so fast that I need to keep up with it or I go insane. FlyLady.net, a home organization/cleaning routine site really helped me. The biggest thing I took away from that site was to GET RID of stuff that you don’t use or don’t absolutely love. We keep toys accessible, but if it takes more than 5 minutes to put everything away, something goes into our “Toy Library.” We have other toys in plastic totes that we occasionally rotate in when we rotate other toys out. Things that were huge, annoying, or not-played-with went to Goodwill. Honestly, if my son only had a couple cars to roll around and some art supplies, he would be a happy boy!

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HEAB June 29, 2014 at 1:12 pm

Colleen,
I think I was always a neat freak, but I didn’t totally realize it until I got married and had kids. Wow, I am anal. Ha! Thankfully, I’ve rubbed off on CD quite a bit, and he’s great about helping keep the house in order. I’ll have to check out FlyLady.net. Thanks for the tip as I LOVE a good housekeeping purge! And you’re so right, kids don’t need so many toys. Mine get totally overwhelmed and prefer just a few favorites.

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Catherine June 25, 2014 at 7:26 pm

My favorite organizing item is an over the door shoe hanger in clear plastic. Currently, I have one that holds all of my daughters school and art misc. supplies. The pockets are perfect for storing pencils, markers, glue sticks, tape, index cards, sheets of stickers, etc. Since it’s clear, it’s so easy to spot what you are looking for, and makes for quick and easy cleanup as well. We also use the same type of hanger for doll/toy storage. Again, it’s quick and easy to find what you need and then fun to look at!

I found mesh pockets online for shower storage that hang from your curtain rings, and those are fantastic as well to help keep the bath area organized and clean (no more scum rings from bottles sitting on the ledges)!

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HEAB June 29, 2014 at 1:14 pm

Catherine,
I saw on another blog where a mom used the over-the-door shoe hanger for her son’s legos, army men, etc., but I hadn’t thought to use the same concept for art supplies. What a GREAT idea. Thank you! Also love the shower organizer idea. Not a fan of shampoo bottles sitting in water. Gets yucky.

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Catherine @ Chocolate & Vegetables June 26, 2014 at 10:48 am

I am a big fan of shoeboxes for organizing–they seem to be the perfect size for a lot of my “things”. Actually, boxes in general. I especially love my “gym in a box”, a rubbermaid container with exercise bands, jump rope, a few different weights, and a yoga mat.

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HEAB June 29, 2014 at 1:15 pm

Catherine,
We love our big storage boxes over here too. Been a lifesaver for baby clothes. SO MANY CLOTHES to store and organize.

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Tracy June 26, 2014 at 11:20 am

I’m glad to know I’m not alone in my strife over clutter! When my kids were as young as yours, we would routinely pick up and put away before nap and again before bed (on a routine day of course). It became a habit of all of ours! And that kept me sane and happy :)

Now that my kids are teens… ugggghh! Their stuff is everywhere! So much more difficult to control because their “stuff” is more important and/or valuable now (school or sport related, usually). Oh well. I have become more relaxed about it if only because I have no choice! Pick your battles, right?

I love your pretty artwork windows! That would make me very happy, too!

I’m glad you’ve found time to blog again (at least this week!). You’re very good at it and I always enjoy reading!!! :)

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HEAB June 29, 2014 at 1:19 pm

Tracy,
No no no, I was hoping for less clutter once the toys were gone, but I remember you telling me about the sports equipment before. Thankfully, hockey isn’t big down here – haha, that’s the one sport I can think of that seems to require a lot of equipment. So curious to know if any of our kids will be interested in athletic endeavors, and if so, which ones. Chris always ran, and I’m picturing running shoes out the wazoo. I think I can handle that. :)

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Tracy June 29, 2014 at 2:17 pm

No hockey players here either…it’s football for my boys. Lots of equipment! Luckily my daughter is a runner so hers is minimal! She’s the only one who cleans up after herself too :/

Happy Sunday!! :) Have a great week!

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Deadra June 26, 2014 at 12:38 pm

Oh the mess! I agree, it makes my head hurt and my temper bubble a little, so we try to keep it tidy. Luckily we have a nearby Ikea, but I actually don’t much like Ikea because I feel like we live in an Ikea showroom if we’re not careful, but they do have good stuff for toy storage. I also do lots of toy purges so that there is less to put away, and wouldn’t you know, they’re just as happy with less toys! Now I just need to figure out an easy way to keep Lego contained! (we use a big swoop bag, works well, when it’s used, I want a Lego vacuum!)
AND I’m so happy to see you blogging more! I missed my frequent dose of HEAB, but I understand how you’re busy, no pressure!

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HEAB June 29, 2014 at 1:22 pm

Deadra,
Good to know I’m not the only one who can lose my cool when it comes to clutter. That being said, Chris and the kids all seem to know when I’ve had enough and can get things picked up and in order fairly quickly. And I agree, less toys is definitely a good thing over here too. My kids get overwhelmed with too many choices and seem to prefer just a few favorite toys. Same goes with books. Oh, and regarding the Legos, another blogger I read used an over-the-door shoe holder for her sons’s little Lego pieces and army men. Looked like it work great for all those small toys.

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brittany @thegingerlifeblog June 26, 2014 at 1:51 pm

Organization is probably one of greatest weaknesses. That and spelling.
I have however, been digging this DIY mail sorter I made from an old shutter. It has been pretty effective at keeping mail off our table. I also dig dove chocolates. But if I kept a jar like that I would eat them all with in 3 hours. For sure :)

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HEAB June 29, 2014 at 1:25 pm

Brittany,
Haha, if it makes you feel any better, my spellcheck isn’t working lately for some reason, and when I go back to read my posts, I always notice spelling errors after publishing. So embarrassing, but oh well. That’s what the edit button is for. Love the shutter idea – what a pretty way to sort mail. I once saw a photo where someone was using an old shutter as a table runner with flower vases sitting on it. So neat!

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Cherie June 26, 2014 at 2:12 pm

I’m a little OCD neat freak. Over the years with five children I had to learn to let some of it go, which was good for me and they learned to be more organized, good for them. I do have one of our youngest (twin) who is like me though and he couldn’t help but help out more. Sometimes he’d also get frustrated with how messy the rest of them were and that they didn’t care. Over the years I’d try to explain why I/we needed it “clean & organized”, but the usual response was…oh Mom it’s fine or it’s better than how most of their friends live, ha! I have become a lot better at sending stuff off to Goodwill and at just buying less stuff. They do grow up too fast and I love how you are able to balance it all Heather! Also love the window art.

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HEAB June 29, 2014 at 1:29 pm

Cherie,
Yes, I definitely have some OCD tendencies, and the kids have all inherited them. They all go around shutting drawers that aren’t closed all the way. I’m so curious to see if they will be neat or messy. For now, they’re all just toddlers and don’t seem to notice the mess but are good about helping me pick up (for the most part). Hoping I get at least one neat freak that understands why his/her mama is the way I am. :) I too am learning that less stuff is the way to go. Life is just easier with less clutter!

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Katie June 27, 2014 at 10:49 am

I am the same way! I hate it when toys are strewn all over and I NEED for everything to be cleaned up in order to feel relaxed during naptime/bedtime. I love your counter top jars. They look awesome and that’s a great way to make sure you don’t run out of dry ingredients. I hate it when I want to make cookies and realize I am missing something that I need!

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HEAB June 29, 2014 at 1:31 pm

Katie,
Can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to make/bake something and turns out I don’t have one key ingredient that I was sure I had in the cabinet. No more thanks to my jar system. Love it!

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Maria June 30, 2014 at 8:28 pm

I know what you mean! I need for the house to be clutter free in order for my brain to relax. So, my husband and the boys clean the living room and playroom prior to bedtime every night. I’ve also noticed that when the playroom is picked up the boys tend to play better together. It’s nice to know that I am not the only one who appreciates an organized space!

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HEAB July 2, 2014 at 8:50 am

Maria,
Sounds like your boys are so helpful. Happy to hear it. :)

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Jess July 1, 2014 at 10:26 am

I love your blog and find it very useful! I catch myself nodding in agreement while I read posts like this one. Haha. Thanks for helping to educate and impart knowledge on your fellow Nashvillians! I hope you’ll come visit Avo when we open in September. I’ll send out something extra healthy and special for ya :)

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HEAB July 2, 2014 at 8:51 am

Thanks Jess, and I see y’all are opening up on Charlotte. We’re close by and look forward to trying out Avo when it opens!

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Health Bee July 3, 2014 at 7:27 pm

Thanks so much for the recent posts, Heather. Love reading your updates. Keep it up. :-)

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HEAB July 5, 2014 at 8:15 am

Thanks for reading Health Bee. :)

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Tara July 3, 2014 at 7:46 pm

My studio is so tiny that it’s imperative that I keep things organized otherwise I’d be swimming in my belongings. I try and reuse as much as I can. One way is by using my old nut butter jars to store pastas and lentils.

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HEAB July 5, 2014 at 8:15 am

Tara,
We reused our nut butter jars as well. Love saving the glass ones for odds and ends, and I often use them for water drinking too. The perfect size!

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Lou July 4, 2014 at 3:12 pm

Oh my goodness Heather – I can’t believe you keep organised with your bustling household. I only have 1 child and 1 dog and seriously my house constantly looks like a toy & laundry bomb exploded. I am so not a domestic goddess. Don’t even mention my kitchen…… ;)

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HEAB July 5, 2014 at 8:14 am

Hey Lou,
Trust me, we have several bombs explode daily over at our house. ;)

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Purelytwins July 5, 2014 at 9:06 am

haha sadly we are not organized girls

every time we try to “organize” it last probably about 10 minutes

love the kid art in the windows!!!

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HEAB July 5, 2014 at 7:57 pm

No way, I don’t believe it. You guys strike me as the organized type. So, if you’re not, you hide it well. ;)

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Christine (The Raw Project) July 6, 2014 at 10:15 am

Great info and wow on your organization! I have a lot of air tight containers I use in the pantry to store open and bulk food items and a complex labeled wall mounted shelf system hubby just finished in the garage. Organization is still an ongoing project for us, hubby has book collections and other collections.

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HEAB July 6, 2014 at 8:03 pm

Hey Christine,
Sounds like you guys are getting pretty well organized over at your house…I dream of a pantry and a garage. Oh the fun I would have storing and organizing – sounds like my kind of project! :)

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Robyn jones Clark July 6, 2014 at 9:24 pm

Unfortunately, my house is very cluttered at the moment and I feel like I’m gonna go crazy. But between a toddler and full time job, it’s just hard. I try to get it picked up at night, but it still feels like there are stacks everywhere. A lot of it is stuff I need to just throw away or clean out the closet and take to goodwill. Unfortunately, we may be moving soon so I may be doing all of it sooner than later. It would be nice to just have a few days off to focus only on the house. I guess I will dream.

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HEAB July 7, 2014 at 7:48 pm

RJC,
Man, you’ve got a lot going on – I’d be going crazy too. Maybe just take it room by room, and for a few hours each weekend, concentrate on clearing out one space at a time. That’s what I’ve had to do – peck away at my tasks b/c there just isn’t time to spend a whole day or even a weekend cleaning out the house. Trust me, I feel your pain, but even crossing that tiny organization job off my to-do list feels so good, and I love love LOVE giving things we no longer need or use away. I didn’t know you were moving – are you staying in AK?

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Jen @ Existential Evolution July 8, 2014 at 12:33 pm

As someone without children, I have to admit sometimes it is quite alarming when walking into a child-filled home to see a tornado-like scene. I usually do receive the doorstep disclaimer from the mom or dad!

I’m going to share this post with my sister because she struggles with balancing mental wellness in relation to toy chaos. Thanks!

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HEAB July 8, 2014 at 12:50 pm

Jen,
Sounds like your sister and I could commiserate. Some days, I can handle the chaos, but most days…not so much. ;)

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Jess July 12, 2014 at 6:58 am

I need to take notes from this post and the comments! Our house feels out of control since we had a new baby and my in laws came with bundles of toys. We have way too many toys and not enough time! I have been training the girls to help with the clean up, even though it sometimes takes longer I hope it becomes more of a habit for them!

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HEAB July 12, 2014 at 1:35 pm

Jess,
We’re working on forming those same habits over here. We’ll get there! :)

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