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Category Archives: Week 3: Organizing Kid’s Toys

After the “After”

I have spent the last few months pouring over articles, pictures, books and blogs researching methods of organization. It’s been inspiring and given me so much to aspire to in my own home organization. Yet, this morning I looked around and thought, “You are writing a blog on organizing!? You’ve got to be kidding!”  The couches were stripped of their cushions and blankets and pillows were strewn about the living room as the kids played “pillow house”; breakfast dishes were undone, crumbs and Cheerios on the floor and counters; laundry I had folded was still on the table; the floor needed mopping (again); the areas I have yet to get to in my week-by-week organizing were leering at me; and even my organized spots didn’t quite look as I thought they should.

I’ll be honest. I wanted to get angry — with the kids for making another huge mess, with my husband for not keeping up with my system exactly as I envisioned it, with myself for not keeping it together better. . . However, this morning I had managed to accomplish one thing on my to-do list – my quiet time. I had just finished a study on Jonah. We’ve all heard the story of Jonah and the great fish, but sometimes the end is left out of the Sunday School story version. Jonah is sitting outside Nineveh, angry with God for His compassion, watching and waiting for Him to destroy the city. God sends a vine to shade Jonah, then a worm that eats and destroys the plant, and finally a scorching wind that makes him miserable. Again, Jonah is angry, this time about the plant dying. God says, “Have you any right to be angry?” and makes the point that Jonah is more concerned about a plant that brought him comfort for a short period of time, than he is about a group of living, breathing people who make him uncomfortable.

In that moment of my frustration, as I started to get angry, immediately the thought entered my mind, “Have you any right to be angry?” So things got a bit messy. That’s life, especially life with four children. This incident got me thinking about how discouraging it can be comparing my home, even the organized areas to those pictures in books and magazines and the beautiful “after” pictures on blogs. The reality is, these pictures are taken at the moment when that area is at the absolute best it can be. These “after” pictures are the writers and bloggers putting their “best foot forward.” And truthfully, that is what I do in my after pictures as well. So, today I thought I’d do something a bit different. I’m going to put my “real” foot forward and show you some After the “After” pictures — my organized spots when life is actually happening.

I’ll start with my kitchen counters.

  

The first picture is my “after” picture. The second is after the after. Unfortunately it currently houses my seedling trays because it is the spot with the best sun exposure. And that’s how it will stay for the next month or so until I can plant.

This was after I organized one of the kid’s toy areas.  Below is what it looked like this morning (before I sent them back in to clean up).

And now my command center area.

       

Clearly, I need to attend to my “to do” box. I’m putting it on my to-do list now.  I could show you more, but I think you get the general idea. Things can’t always look like the “after” picture. We have to do some living too. The benefit of organizing is that you create an ease with which you can get back to that “after” look. My kids can quickly get their toys back in order because of their labels. I can quickly go through my to-do box and my filing box (if I don’t let it grow too large), and on planting day I’ll have my counters back. So, there you have it, real, but sometimes not-so-organized order.

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Kid’s Toys Done!

After considerable set-backs and way too many chocolate chip cookies (see previous post), I finally had my break-through and completed organizing the kid’s toy room.  What I had to get past was my magazine-perfect vision for what I wanted to accomplish.  I had to remind myself that my goal is to organize, not renovate and redecorate (although that would be nice — next year’s blog :-)).  In other-words, my goal is to set things up in such a way that it is simple for the children to clean-up their toys and keep them neat, and to do so using mainly what we already have for storage.  I may not have the Pottery Barn toy room, but I think I have achieved order.

The first obstacle I realized was simply the amount of toys the children have . . . really, how did they acquire so much!?  I went through and made some decisions about what they did and did not play with.  I threw away and boxed up to donate.   As I set about organizing what was left, I realized there were still more than could fit on the shelves & in the bins.  I made a third box.  This is a box I am keeping because it contains toys that are played with; but I have it hidden away.  In a few months, I will bring those toys back and rotate out some of the toys currently sitting on the shelves.  I was a little concerned about how this might work, but they haven’t even noticed there are toys missing.  In fact, when I brought them in to explain the new system, you’d think they’d been given all brand-new toys.

The next step was to label specific spaces.  I found printable label’s on Better Home’s and Garden’s site that were ideal for what I wanted to accomplish.  I also found pictures to represent each item I wanted to label, so that even my two pre-schoolers would be able to understand.  I used packaging tape to fix the label and picture to the assigned bins or cubicles.

       

For my fabric or basket storage containers, I placed the label and picture back-to-back, used packaging tape to “laminate”, then hole-punched it and used ribbon to tie it in a visible place.

  

I did leave a few bins un-labeled in order to allow them a few miscellaneous toy spots for quick pick-up.  Here is the final result!

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Mission accomplished, and it didn’t break my shoe-string budget.  I did purchase 6 new fabric cubes (buy 2, get 1 free) and some packaging tape, bringing my room make-over to $24 and some change.  Next stop . . . the linen closet!

Organizing Toys – Take 2 + Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Week three of organizing and I’m already stumped. It has been a bit of a rough week.  Someone has been sick at our house everyday this week, which has seriously impeded my organizing.  As a result, it wasn’t until today that I approached the toys armed with new storage bins, a garbage bag and a box for donations.  I filled one large garbage bag, filled a box to take to the Goodwill, and attempted to organize things into the storage bins.  I am not pleased with the result. I had a vision of something out of a magazine, and it only looks slightly neater than it did before.  So. . . take 2.  I’ll be sleeping on it tonight and hoping to come up with something brilliant in the morning.

Image by ponsulak

To cheer myself up (and my kids who caught a glimpse of the Goodwill box), I decided we needed some Friday night chocolate chip cookies.  I love chocolate chip cookies and have tried a lot of recipes.  This is the most amazing chocolate chip cookie recipe I’ve tried.  Thought I’d share it with you in case you need it too. 🙂

Yum!

Extraordinary Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 1/2 cup butter

1 1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 Tblsp vanilla

2 eggs

4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 bag (24 oz.) chocolate chips (I use milk chocolate to make it especially yummy)

*For nut lover add 2 cups chopped nuts with the chips

Preheat oven to 350. In large bowl beat butter, sugars, vanilla, and eggs on medium.  Stir in flour, baking soda, salt.  Stir in chocolate chips.  On an ungreased cookie sheet drop dough by Tablespoons 2 inches apart.  Flatten slightly.  Bake 11 – 13 min.  Cool 1 -2 minutes.  Remove to cooling racks.

Here’s a helpful tip:  I only make one batch, then roll the rest into balls, place in a rubbermaid container with waxed paper in-between layers, and stick in the freezer.  That way we don’t eat more than we need in one sitting and they are all ready to go the next time we “need” a cookie night.  I also have a quick dessert ready when I’m bringing a meal to someone or have an unexpected guest.

Week 3 – Organizing Kid’s Toys

Due to the three day weekend in which my husband was home, kids got sick, and I got sucked into a book I just couldn’t put down, I’m getting a late start on this week.  My to-do list completely went out the window, and I really didn’t get much accomplished.  It was actually rather nice.  But now it’s time to roll-up my sleeves and get back to work.

In my previous post, I had a little bit about dust mites.  I learned from an article that leaving your bed un-made actually helps kill off some dust mites.  So with warring visions of dust mites crawling in my bed and my mother telling me “always make your bed!”, I set out to find a way to leave my bed un-made without it looking un-made.  One of easygoingorganizer’s biggest fans (my sister — she’s required to be a fan) showed me a picture in the February edition of Better Homes and Gardens in which a bed is neatly pulled back to display the sheets, but still decorated with pillows and looking very “made”.  Here is my attempt to recreate this in my own room.  Please bear in mind that I had to make due with my own not-brand-new sheets and our old denim quilt (which we adore) as a throw, but I think the result was rather cute.

I hope that was un-made enough to kill off a few of those disgusting critters!

My dust-mite obsession aside, my task for this week is to finally get around to organizing my kids’ toys.  Currently, this is what they look like:

and this:

Clearly I have some work today.  First, I will be going through the children’s toys and getting rid of the broken and donating the un-played with.  My mother reminded me that she used to put away some of our toys when we were children and rotate them out every so many months.  Then, when she brought out the box that had been hidden away, it was like Christmas.  I am thinking I may start applying this to my own children’s toys.  I have some other vague ideas I’m working on — different storage solutions, labeling, etc.  While I’m researching (actually, scouring the Internet and various magazines for ideas to imitate), I would welcome any clever solutions from my readers (if there are any 🙂 — readers, that is).  I have a busy week ahead of me!