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    Think Mary Poppins!

    This is the fourth, and probably final, entry on organization.  Well, the final entry in this series.  I am not one to exhaust a subject over the course of a few posts.  Or discussions.  Or letters, email messages, phone conversations; or an afternoon chitchat over a cup of tea.  If you have missed the previous entries on this subject, you can find them here:  Organize Your Life; Where to Begin?; Out of Sight, Out of Mind. You can find any of my earlier posts by scrolling down through each journal page, or searching through the Archives on the bottom right.  They are in chronological order, beginning with the most recent posts.

    Do you remember the scene in Mary Poppins where the children’s bedroom tidied itself, and they sang the delightful, “A Spoonful of Sugar”?  Clothes put themselves on hangers and folded themselves into drawers.  Toys took their rightful places in toy chests and on shelves.  “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and, snap!  The job’s a game…”  Where, oh where, is this wonderful nanny when you need her?  Not to make light of the work involved in straightening a disheveled room, but you can almost have this same precision and light workload.  The magical room had no problem putting itself back together (aside from the presence of Mary Poppins) because everything went right to the place where it belonged.

    When you remind your kids to tidy their room, or ask them to do something with that pile of books and magazines, do they know what to do?  Do they say to themselves, “Okay, take the magazines to the basket, and place the books back on the shelf (in some sort of order?)”?  Do they automatically know that the Legos go in the Lego buckets, the puzzles go on the bottom shelf, or that the CD’s belong next to the DVDs?  What does “put it away”, “take care of it”, or “that is not where that belongs” mean in your household?  It’s hardly fair or practical to put your family into a tizzy during an all-room cleaning spree by loading their arms full of items that have no real home.  Whew, that was a mouthful!  From the middle of the living room floor to the floor in the back corner of a closet does not organization make.

    What about those small items that roll around, jumble up, and usually can’t be found when needed?  We all use the occasional paper clip.  Nails, rubber bands, hair clasps, and corks are in most homes.  Catchall drawers are practical, but how long does it take to put your hands on the knife sharpener?

    Now that you have cleaned out your room, or chest, and have stored your storables, thrown away the trash, and donated the donatables; what will you do with the liveables?  Here are some more practical suggestions for keeping your things contained, managed, and within easy reach.

    Even though it has been said before, a repeat is always good - like items belong together.  All magazines in the same place, socks for each family member have their own space, kitchen gadgets and utensils belong…in the kitchen.  Within easy reach and contained (no countertop piles).  So, here is where neat, cute, and clever comes into play. 

    Grandma’s sewing basket is more than just a keepsake, it can be used to contain or organize just about anything (even sewing items - tada!).  Use those empty containers, of all varieties and sizes, don’t just let them sit empty.  Luggage, bags, baskets, bowls, tins, and my previously mentioned antique ammunition boxes. 

    If you don’t have enough shelf space for all your books, then stack them in interesting ways and make them a corner conversation piece - spines out, criss-crossed,  big and little.  Don’t just regular stack them any old place.  Another option is to make small pyramid stacks under end tables or on coffee tables.  Use them as part of your decor and then they have a permanent place.  Oh, and have your neat bookmarks out somewhere.  Let them stand in interesting tins, or a beautiful glass vase.

    Within drawers and cabinets, small items can be held inside bowls or unused plastic ware.  Lovely gift boxes are handier for more than just gift giving; they look great stacked inside cabinets and on closet shelves.  No one else will know that contained within are office supplies, ribbon, shotgun shells, or cake recipes.

    Great aunt’s powder tin, your in-law’s planter that was destined for the yard sale, your favorite mug that is now cracked - if you have it, and intend to keep it, use it.  File folders, expanding file folders, covered shoeboxes, silverware organizers, vases, jars, cleaned out candleholders - be creative and then feel good about your great storage ideas.

    How do you manage and contain the tangibles of your life?


    Out of Sight, Out of Mind

    Before we continue with organizing and sorting, I would like to invite you to preview my newest journal page:  Kids At Home.  My mind is reeling with all the ideas for great times with the kids in your life!  You can get to this post by clicking on the link here, or the Kids At Home title at the top of this page.


    One of the hardest parts of reorganization is finding the space for your neatly contained items.  Especially those that are to be stored.  If you decorate your home for the seasons, or the holidays, then you know how taxing it is to decide where to keep the evergreen garlands, American flags, or grapevine wreaths.  Sometimes the Spartan way of life sounds wonderful…nothing but a bed, maybe a chair, and unadorned walls.  Nothing to dust or keep uncluttered.  But, back to reality.  We do have our things, and our things should not take over our lives.  Unless you keep your wicker pumpkins or birds’ nests out all year, they must go somewhere when their display time is over.

    Here is where tubs or other large containers come in handy.  I hesitate to endorse cardboard boxes for long-term storage, as they are insect magnets.  Depending on where you store your goodies, paper and carboard do not do well in damp or even humid conditions.  There is a way to dress them up, though - cover with contact paper, shelf paper, or fabric.  You can even paint or decoupage them.  In this way, even plain brown boxes look great as file drawers, photo organizers, or any number of household receptacles.  Reusing and updating is much cheaper than buying new and you can coordinate with your room decor.

    I do put out seasonal and holiday items; and when it’s time to store them, they each have their own container (sometimes more than one).  Spring/Easter, Summer/Patriotic, Autumn, and Winter/Christmas.  Birthday, and miscellaneous holiday, party, and decorating gadgets go together as well.  Our sons’ keepsakes, our family yearbooks and memory albums, as well as extra family heirlooms (those that are not in use or on display) all have containers; and are stored out of the main living areas.  I watch for sales on plastic tubs and bins, because shelling out big bucks on storage is not how I want to spend our hard-earned money!  Yard and estate sales, thrift shops, and discount stores are all good stops.  Remember that these are storage containers and do not need to be neat, cute, nor clever.  A garage, yard shed, upper cabinet, basement, cellar, closet, etc are great places to stash your occasional use bins.  Oh, don’t forget under the beds.

    The keys are to keep like items together and give them a permanent home (which may change along the way).  If your space is small, there is nothing wrong with stacking your storage.  If they are out in the open, then ‘neat, cute, and clever’ can come into play.  Or, drape a lovely cloth or scarf over them, add a lamp, and you’ve got an extra side table.  Think outside the box and remember that sometimes you must be brutal in the quest for an uncluttered life.