All those school projects, papers, and awards are everywhere, and you can’t find it in your heart to let them go.
Organizing kids’ memories let you declutter your life and enjoy those mementos better. I will show you how.
First, gather all your children’s projects, artwork, school papers, trophies, awards, and the like. Go through every space, drawer, closet, and room in your home. Leave no space unchecked. Take all this kid-related stuff to a single place in your home to collect them together.
However, stay hyper-focused during this gathering process. Don’t get distracted by other things you might find. Your focus is crucial! Getting distracted is what trips people on this process, and then they get confused and can’t finish half the job.
Once you have this material in one place, you will have a large group of miscellaneous items. Now subdivide this big pile by the child if you have two or more children.
After having a separate pile for each of your children, sort each one by year. When you can’t recall the year when the piece was created, and the item does not show, assign some chronological order as best as you can.
You will have several groups of items per each of your children. Now follow the steps described below for each of those years, per child. You must work on one group (year or stage) for one child at a time.
1. Discard Unimportant Papers
Unimportant papers are notifications from school, lunch menus, and the like. These are things that won’t move our hearts at the end of the day. (You know what I’m talking about). So, recycle or trash all that.
2. Photograph Non-Scannable Items
Take good pictures of everything that is not flat paper, like artwork pieces, medals, trophies, etc. As you take each photo, include a post-it note with the child’s name and the item’s date. Place this post note at the bottom of each item so that you can crop it out of the picture later on. Then, when ready to work on a project with these pictures (like a photo book or scrapbook), crop the note out, if you can tag or caption the image.
If taking pictures of these items will suffice, you can let go of the physical object. When dealing with trophies, medals, and awards, if you or your child are not ready to part with the physical thing just yet, find a suitable location in the home where you can gather and display these items in a cohesive, aesthetic way. You don’t want them to look like accidents in your home.
3. The Written Work
Group items related to written work like stories, poems, analyses, and the like. The idea for these is to make binders or books later on. But, for now, organize the material to create these books later.
4. The “Warm & Fuzzy” Box
Regardless of your most ruthless efforts to eliminate clutter, there might be a few (a few), small items that you or your child can’t simply let go of, even when these have been digitized. That’s where the “Warm & Fuzzy” box comes in.
Everyone should have a “warm & fuzzy” box, by the way. This is a nice-looking box, basket, or container with a lid that includes items we keep forever. Those are the items that take us back in time and make us laugh and cry every time. Therefore, it is crucial to be selective with the things we include here. Not everything makes it to the coveted status of “warm & fuzzy” box material. Remember that!
5. Paper and Flat Media
Loose papers, awards, recognitions, messages, etc., on paper, are scannable media. As you do this, name the electronic file with the child’s name and the year when they made it. This process is equivalent to the post-it notes you applied to items photographed.
Scan everything using your printer/scanner, your iPhone, or any equipment you might have or can purchase for this purpose. This equipment is not that expensive anymore. However, it would be an excellent investment to have a reliable scanner at home.
Stories, poems, essays, and other items you put together to make binders or books (step 3), don’t need to be scanned individually. However, it is clever to digitize these, ensuring a safe record. If you do, ensure that pages of the same item remain together in sequential order.
You will manage the scanned material the same way you dealt with the pictures. So think of each scanned paper or project a digital image comparable to the photos.
6. Rinse and Repeat
Once you finish working with all the mementos of a child’s years, repeat the process with each one of your other children, working a year or a stage at a time.
In my case, we have three children, and for each one, I divided their electronic files into four main stages: infancy, elementary school, middle school, and high school. Note that pictures or souvenirs from extra-curricular activities and summers get included in one of these four stages, depending on the year.
7. Create Digital Files
Download all the photos you took of non-scannable items into an electronic file. You could name this file “Kids’ Projects” or something like that. Then create a file folder per child, and move every picture related to a particular child into their electronic folder. After this, you may subdivide each child’s electronic folder into years or stages or any way you want to do this.
Do not forget to add all images from your scanning process. Add these to the same digital folders.
From Now On
From the moment you gather all those projects, awards, and papers from around the home, consider it is a clean slate and new beginning. Pay attention to how you manage your children’s documents, projects, and awards. The key is to stay on top of things. Here’s is how you do that.
Every day, when kids come home from school or extra-curricular activities
Note important dates and deadlines and place those dates on the family calendar.
Post any school reminders for your children on a magnetic or chalkboard where they can see them every morning.
Discard those notes or papers. Those are the miscellaneous papers you tossed on step 1 above.
When the children bring home artwork pieces, trophies, medals, and other non-flat items
Photograph these as soon as they get home (so they look their best and you don’t forget to do this).
Save these pictures in the child’s electronic file. Name the file with the child’s name and year.
Add subsequent art projects during that year to that same file.
Create a new file with the child’s name and year every year.
You or your child might want to display such an item for a while. That’s great! Just ensure you place this item in that particular location you designated for this kind of thing. But, again, you don’t want their projects to look or feel like clutter.
In any case, taking those pictures early on gives you and your kids the freedom to let go of the item after displaying it for some time.
Scan all paper items and flat media such as report cards, academic evaluations, school pictures, stories, essays, and poems as soon as they come home.
If you can’t process these items immediately, park these papers in a bin close to the scanner, and assign a day of the week or the month in your calendar (yes, do it now!) to periodically scan these things. Of course, discard originals as soon as you digitize them. But should you need to keep it, place it in a file with the child’s name in your filing cabinet.
It’s a lot of work, I know. But consider that all this work needs to be done just at the beginning of the project because you did not have a method to deal with all this stuff so far. So once you follow the initial process, you only need to stay on top of it.
But why do all of this in the first place? First, this solves the overwhelming number of papers and artifacts cluttering our home space. Second, this process allows you to have all that worth-keeping material organized and ready to create meaningful stories of each stage of your children’s lives.
Telling a story is the real purpose of keeping all these projects, pictures, and awards. Having all those papers and items with no order all over the house does not tell any story nor inspire anyone to create one. This material is simply meaningless when scattered around or carelessly stored in a bin somewhere.
On the other hand, memories in book form, like photo books, are easy to keep neatly on a shelf or library and are a joy to share. Our children will be able to see and enjoy their path through life and share this fantastic legacy with friends, family, and their children.
Also, imagine the storage space you will recover when you let go of physical items and original papers! However, you might think that throwing all that away is what you did not want to do. But how many times has anybody enjoyed those things since you put them away? Is there space in your home to display them all? Are they all worth exhibiting? Do you want your home to look like a kindergarten classroom?
Maybe when your child created a project, you displayed it for about a week or so. But eventually, that project, along with so many others, started cluttering your home and your life. So, this way of purposely and intentionally working with your children’s stuff will take you where you want to be.
Looking Beneath Your Need to Keep the Stuff
If you feel it is too hard to let go of those physical objects and original papers, even when they are safely digitized, what you are probably trying to keep is the feelings they evoke. It is not about the item itself. Images of these items can still satisfy those feelings without drowning you in “stuff.” Instead, having these memories accessibly organized enables everyone to enjoy and share them for many years to come.
Space permitting, contain all edible items in your kitchen in thepantry. Kitchen cabinets are for kitchen equipment, dining, and serving items. Include in the pantry pet food and snacks. Use pet food containers to avoid having open pet food bags and spills. Use the smaller versions of these pet food containers for treats. If you mix treats together, snack time will always be a surprise for your furry friends. By mixing treats in a single container, you avoid having many bags and treat containers open at once.
2. Remove Cleaning Products
Avoid storing cleaning products in the pantry. Kitchen cleaning products should go in the cabinet space under the sink. All other cleaning tools and products have their place in the laundry room.
3. Use Floor Space Wisely
Fit your pantry floor with baskets or crates to store plastic and paper serving products, beverage bottles or cans, water gallons, water jugs, and other items like lunch boxes. The floor area is good storage space, but we need to make it appropriate for holding our stuff.
4. Zone the Pantry
Create zones in your pantry so that the various product groups are on their space/shelf. Creating areas for the different product groups makes the space more efficient.
5. Hook It Up
Include a hook behind the pantry door for aprons if you use them.
6. Contain Plastic Bags
Add a plastic bag dispenser behind the pantry door. Think Simply Human. Their Wall Mount Grocery Bag Dispenser offers a practical addition to your pantry space to contain those plastic bags and yet keep them accessible.
7. Got Bulk?
Dog food containers are ideal for storing dry bulk goods in your pantry. Utilize these containers, aligning them along the pantry floor or the highest shelf in the pantry.
Consider adding lights to each shelf underside and watch the magic happen!
9. To Line Or Not To Line?
Some people consider lining their shelves and drawers a must; others don’t even think about it. If shelf lining is essential to you, consider a product like Zip-N-Fit Premium Liner. This liner is easy to cut to size by folding and tearing the pieces. It makes lining a breeze. There are great alternatives out there, but you should get a product that makes the job easy and makes you happy. Lining shelves (the right way) is a project and can be an investment. Whatever you decide, measure twice and cut correctly so your shelves look sharp and are appropriately protected.
10. What To Do About Cans?
Organize canned products using tiered can organizers. These organizers allow you to see all cans at a glance and save space on the shelves. Look for the expandable kind to maximize the use of space.
11. Pantry Corners — Do We Have To?
Using Lazy Susans on pantry corners is a good idea to maintain access to those awkward spaces.
12. Snacks, Anyone?
Consider baskets or bins to place individually packed snacks. Remove them from their original boxes or packaging first.
13. Dry Goods: The Pantry Defining Item
Dry goods will decide the defining question about your pantry: Do you want a Pinterest pantry or a more functional one?
The Pinterest look is a high maintenance alternative, as it requires the consistent transfer of all dry goods to containers each time you bring new products home.
The functional approach allows items to remain in their original packaging but clustered by bins or baskets.
The dry goods we refer to are cereals, rice, grains, dry fruit, crackers, cookies, pasta, flour, chips, and the like. In general, these items should not be exposed to moisture and should last fresh for some after we open the package.
Pro Tip: measure each shelf to determine the space available and count the different kinds of dry products in the dry goods category. Whether you go with the functional approach or the high-maintenance one, you will need to know what to buy and how much.
Pro Tip: Stay clear of round containers as they waste much space. Go with rectangular or square but stick to the same type of container to achieve a polished look.
14. Labeling Is Important
Labeling is not an unnecessary detail. On the contrary, labeling allows everyone to find what they need quickly. Labeling also reminds everyone where to put things back; thus, it is crucial to preserve the pantry order when many people share the space.
When using containers in your pantry, label these with a system that adapts to changes. Tastes and preferences of household members change over time. You want a labeling system that looks great, but that can be modified.
If you’d instead use the cluster method to keep items in your pantry, then label your bins or baskets with the category of product it contains.
But regardless of your preferred method, labeling also the shelves is a good idea. Label the shelf space where each item category should go.
15. Where Do Spices Go?
Unless you keep your cooking spices next to the stove, these should go in the pantry. And as with any other pantry group, these should be together and have specific space on a shelf. A tiered spice rack on the shelf is ideal for placing all spices because it allows you to see them all at once.
When pantry shelf space is not an option, the Elfa Spice Rack comes to the rescue! This clever solution goes on your pantry door, on the inside. It is a lifesaver.
Hopefully, these tips will help transform your pantry into a happier, more efficient place for the benefit of everyone involved. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you need some pantry help. We love pantries!
Despite the increase of families ordering take-out dinners, the kitchen is still the heart of the home. This space is central to the house and allows families to gather and share special moments. A well-appointed kitchen is always a joy.
And whether getting the kitchen of your dreams you’ve wanted for years or just reorganizing the space to add efficiency to your days, here are some essential considerations for your kitchen space.
We don’t always pay real attention to these factors when thinking of a kitchen revamp, but they are critical and will make your life easier, your kitchen more appealing, and support your lifestyle and health.
1. Thoroughly Declutter
There’s not much you can do in a kitchen that is cluttered and unappealing. So, the first thing it needs is thorough decluttering. Remove everything from drawers, cupboards, and cabinets to start.
Then sort every single item and decide what goes and what stays. The more you let go, the simpler your life will be. For example, why keep kitchen utensils and gadgets in duplicate or that you do not use or want?
2. Establish Kitchen Work Zones
Kitchen efficiency depends on the proper designation of work zones. To get the most out of your kitchen, establish zones according to how you use the space. Think about how you move around the area and what you do there to understand better where to allocate everything.
Here are some ideas for zoning your kitchen:
Establish a clear distinction between a cooking zone, a meal prep zone, and a baking zone. Establish these zones according to how you will use each one and what is most efficient.
Assign the drawer and cabinet closest to the dishwasher to flatware and dishes. It is easier to put these items away when emptying the dishwasher.
Place all baking tools and accessories together to save time and effort when baking if you bake.
Keep most frequently used items within easy reach. Less frequently used appliances or seasonal serving dishes, for example, can occupy out-of-the-way places such as higher shelves or back sections of cabinets.
You want to place glasses and dishes in upper cabinets because that space is more accessible. But specifically, glasses probably should go on the upper cabinet closest to the fridge because the fridge is where beverages are.
Dishes might go on an upper cabinet above or directly across from the dishwasher to facilitate putting them away.
The counter area by the fridge is probably the ideal place for a coffee/tea station. Thus, the drawer immediately below that coffee station should have all coffee/tea accessories.
3. Create Extra Storage Options
Sometimes, a proper declutter won’t yield the kitchen space needed for optimal organization. In those instances, it becomes essential to create new storage space.
Over-the-door storage racks are good alternatives. These go on kitchen doors and inside cabinet doors. A formidable storage solution is the Elfa Spice Rack (sold at The Container Store). It goes inside the pantry door to accommodate all cooking spices and condiments, creating more space inside the pantry for other things.
Pull-out drawer or drawer inserts in cabinets solve the never-ending problem of things getting lost in the depths of cabinets. When the budget does not allow for a kitchen remodel, achieve the same result by using bins to organize the cabinet contents. You can pull out these bins to manage their contents, eliminating the need to bend over and reach inside the cabinet.
4. Evaluate Your Trash Situation
Few things are less exciting than trash. Whether you like to compost, recycle, sort your garbage some other way, or discard what you no longer need, you need a system that works for you. Nothing speaks of unhealthy habits like trash and perishing food accumulated in the kitchen for lack of a proper disposal system. To maintain a clean yet great-looking kitchen, we have to think about the trash situation.
Investing in a large, functional trashcan for the kitchen is a must. Some kitchens have a pull-out drawer that contains a space for the trashcan. If this is your case, measure that space and divide that number by two. Then get two identical containers that will comfortably fit together in that area: one of trash and one for recycling. Think out of the box when looking for these containers, as these do not need to be actual trashcans. They just need to be light in weight and conform to the required measurements.
If your kitchen does not have cabinet space for trash, it is even more important to pay attention to the style of your trashcan. Consider getting a rectangular, double-sided trashcan. Rectangular ones are easier to disguise. Please avoid round trashcans, which waste space and make their presence unavoidable. Budget permitting, get a trashcan with a sensor lid for a hands-free experience, which keeps the bin cleaner.
5. Clean Up Your Food Container Act
Do yourself a favor and recycle all that mismatched, old plastic stuff that overflows your cabinets. Get a set of new, BPA-free, dishwasher-safe, microwave-safe, plastic, or glass containers with lids. You need them to store left-overs and organize your fridge and freezer (more on that in the following section about systems you should have in place).
You should probably also get an additional but less expensive set for sharing food with others (avoiding resenting them for stealing your best containers or growing old waiting for them to return them).
Select a specific cabinet, preferably a lower one, to neatly organize those containers in one single place in your kitchen.
6. Corral Cleaning Products
Store cleaning products that pertain to the kitchen under the kitchen sink. Install cabinet organization solutions in that space so you can easily access these products and equipment.
The under-sink cabinet is also an excellent place to store the various types of filters you might need in the kitchen (sink faucet, fridge/freezer, etc.), as well as your trash bags.
7. Know What That “Junk” Drawer Is and Is Not
It is handy to have a miscellaneous drawer in the kitchen but not a junk drawer. Junk drawer implies accepting everything we do not want to decide on — clutter. And it would be best if you did not wish for a clutter drawer. This miscellaneous drawer is not a substitute for the garage either. I have seen drills and all kinds of tools in the “junk drawer” of some kitchens.
The miscellaneous drawer should contain a few things that are often needed, such as a tape measure, a couple of pens, scissors, a note pad, some tape, maybe envelopes and stamps, a mini screwdriver, and the like.
Tools go in the garage. Lightbulbs and batteries should have their bins and belong in the laundry room area or utility closet. Get the idea?
8. Determine Where the Spices Go
Where do spices go? The most convenient place for the spices is near the stove, given that this is where we frequently use them. Select an upper cabinet to the right or left of the stove area for the spices. Another great area is the drawer next to the stove.
Once you select the storage space for spices, choose among the many spice storage solutions available to make your life easier while cooking with them.
The pantry is the next best option in the absence of cabinet space or a drawer for spices. As with any other pantry group, herbs should be together on a shelf area. Use a tiered spice rack on the shelf to better see everything without much effort.
When a pantry shelf is not available, the Elfa Spice Rack comes to the rescue! This clever solution goes on your pantry door, on the inside. It is a lifesaver.
9. Light Up!
The kitchen should be well lit in various ways. Ideally, the kitchen will combine top light and task or functional illumination. Light sources are up to your style and budget. However, good, efficient lighting is crucial. In addition, lighting directly impacts your mood. For example, placing light under upper kitchen cabinets offers the functional task illumination needed on counters while preparing food, but it also does wonders for the ambiance of your kitchen.
10. Clear Counters
Sometimes people go overboard with décor on kitchen counters and islands. Although some décor items are important, do not overload flat surfaces with stuff. Counter space is not storage either. Keep counters as clear as possible. It makes the kitchen look much better and gives you the space needed to work.
11. Don’t Ignore The Pantry
The process of organizing the kitchen needs to include the pantry. Organizing the pantry is an excellent opportunity to clean the space and, if warranted, line or reline the shelves.
You will be amazed at all the duplicates and expired products in your pantry when you see it all in front of you.
Separate items you are keeping into categories and designate appropriate spaces in the pantry for these categories. Better yet, label the pantry areas accordingly to make it easier for everyone in the house to maintain the space organization achieved. Place products with a closer expiration date to the front to use these first.
Invest in pantry containers to store rice, cereals, flours, sugars, grains, chips, cookies, crackers, etc. Square and rectangular containers utilize the space best. Containers stand and stack better than the usually opened product bags with clips we keep in the pantry, right? With these containers, products stay fresh, and you can always see what you have and how much, thus knowing when to buy more. Additionally, your pantry will have that magazine look you admire while browsing social media. It takes some effort and discipline to keep the system as you need to transfer the products to the containers when coming home from the store, but it pays off immensely in the day-to-day kitchen operation. Oh, make sure you label these containers.
Remove pre-packed items from their primary packing — group snacks in clear containers for easier access.
12. Befriend Your Fridge
As a principle, it is best to limit your grocery shopping of produce and meats to smaller quantities that the family will consume weekly. This practice preserves the product’s freshness and nutritional value. It also helps organize your refrigerator space efficiently and enables remembering the items in your fridge so food does not get spoiled.
An excellent routine to achieve an organized refrigerator and freezer is to wash, cut, and repack produce and meats when coming from the store. This process takes some time and effort but ensures that the refrigerator and freezer stay clean and organized. Opening the fridge to see plastic and paper bags, some halfway open, saluting you is not an inviting proposition.
The washing, cutting, and repacking of produce and meat before placing these in your fridge or freezer also saves significant time throughout the week during cooking.
Being disorganized can cost you. Think about all the food you throw away in an average month. Get organized to stop the waste.
By the way, your fridge and freezer need a thorough cleaning and disinfecting each month, on average. Use an open pack of baking soda to get rid of odors in your fridge safely, should this become a concern.
A well-kept kitchen is not a one-time process. Staying tidy requires lifestyle changes. If you’re ready for those changes and would like professional assistance with your kitchen adventure, don’t hesitate to contact us at My Space Reclaimed, LLC. We will be thrilled to partner with you.
13. Adopt A Meal Planning System
If you don’t have a meal planning routine, you should see how it can make your life much easier. Of course, this requires some prep work, but it is just once. Then you’ll be gliding through your weekly planning, shopping, cooking.
It starts by going through all your clippings and books full of recipes. By the way, as a bonus for following this procedure, you get a streamlined kitchen book and recipe area.
Get all those recipes out and choose only those you truly like or want to try. Then, either clip them or make photocopies of those recipes, so you can individually place them in 4″ X 6″ index cards. Next, divide these cards into salads, main dishes, pasta, soups, desserts, beverages, protein shakes/smoothies, dressings, snacks, etc. Finally, get all your categories sorted into index card boxes (choose the style of boxes that makes your heart sing).
Select a day of the week to make your meal planning. On that day, each week, mix and match recipes to compose your weekly meals. For each meal, choose the main course and other dishes as desired. You’ll have all kinds of options, so choose the type and number of dishes needed per each meal you’ll be making. Then, group each day’s recipes and have them accessible for later cooking.
Since each recipe includes its ingredients and the amounts, you have your grocery list done! Add any other items like snacks and miscellaneous needed and go shopping to that list.
Coming back from the store, remove bags and packaging from every item. Wash all produce, meats, fish, etc. Store packaging helps you transport things home but is not appropriate for storing food items in your freezer or fridge. Peel, cut, divide, season all your items as needed and transfer them to your food storage containers.
If you still have some energy left and would like to save significant time during your week, batch-cook dishes shared by some of your recipes. Then use your containers to save those dishes until you need them throughout the week.
Provided that your dishwasher is in working order, there is no need to see the accumulation of dirty dishes and things in the sink or counter.
Start every morning with a clean kitchen and an empty dishwasher. As kitchen stuff gets used, each person should rinse their items and place them inside the dishwasher instead of leaving them in the sink or the counter. After dinner, presumably the last meal of the day, all dirty stuff will be inside the dishwasher. The dishwasher runs, and at the end of the cycle or first thing in the morning, whoever is responsible for this task, puts items away.
The dishwasher is available for a new day every morning. However, if the day starts with a loaded dishwasher with clean stuff, there is no chance to accumulate used equipment inside it. Therefore, dirty stuff gets all over the kitchen. It’s as simple as starting the day with an empty dishwasher. Really!
15. Clean & Maintain Appliances
Get in the habit of cleaning the refrigerator and freezer, inside and out, at least once a month. It’s always a good idea to do a weekly fridge cleanout before shopping for groceries. That ensures no food gets forgotten and spoiled in the fridge, plus it makes space in the refrigerator and frees-up containers for that week’s fresh groceries.
Clean your microwave weekly, inside and out. It makes no sense to warm up meals in a crusty microwave featuring food remains from weeks ago.
The dishwasher needs cleaning as well. Do not neglect the dishwasher filter. The filter needs to be hand-cleaned about every other week for the dishwasher to do its job correctly.
So, there you have it — fifteen less-than-exciting considerations to make your kitchen space more efficient, whether renovating the area or just reorganizing.
Hopefully, these steps will make your time in the kitchen more enjoyable and productive once into place.
But if you feel this is too much for you to handle alone, you don’t have to. Contact us! We’ll be thrilled to partner with you on your kitchen adventure.
One of the hardest things about moving is achieving a balance between getting a head-start on the packing, having what you still need to live and function in the house before you move, and keeping a home worth showing.
As a Professional Organizer, I deal with packing for moving quite frequently. Many people find the packing and moving processes abhorrent and excruciating, making this one of the biggest stressors in anyone’s life. Thus, many times they rely on a Pro to deal with all that.
Here is some advice to ease the burden of the packing for the moving process. If there comes a time when you have to go through this, hopefully, being better informed and armed with some strategies will ease your pain.
Home Areas & Item Categories
Pay attention to the order, the how, and the what of your packing. The best thing to do when in the process of moving is to organize the home before you pack your move. Why is this? There are three main reasons:
(1) in organizing the home, you realize there is a lot you can let go of before moving (less effort and money to move)
(2) organizing the home prior to packing allows things that should be together, to be together. Then the packing happens logically, by categories. This makes the unpacking so much easier and home set up, faster
(3) no one likes seeing (or showing) a cluttered home for sale. Homes should be organized for showing. Shoving things in closets, cabinets, and drawers does not work. Visitors open these if they come with the house. If the contents in these spaces are disorganized, visitors immediately think the house lacks storage space. That is a big red flag in selling a home.
Note that if a moving company handles the move, they might have restrictions and limitations about how to pack and who does the packing. Due to insurance, they might need to do the packing instead of the client.
But whether you pack your move, or they do, following a particular order in the process and grouping items in a certain way for later packing will make everything easier.
The main thing to remember is that packing logically and per item category (not by room) is the name of the game. Therefore, although this article is divided by house areas, you will notice the crucial importance of item categories in the process.
Miscellaneous & Décor
Pack decorative and miscellaneous items first. Gather artwork, framed photos, Knick knacks, books, paintings throughout the whole house. Wrap frames and delicate items in bubble wrap. Place decorative pieces in medium-sized boxes so they aren’t too heavy. Also, pack so that the weight of the top pieces doesn’t crush the bottom items.
Living Room/Media Room/Game Room
Most likely, your movers will take care of large electronics and furniture in that room. However, before moving day, you should empty the cabinets and drawers and allocate their contents in the groups, boxes, according to the item categories in the space. Examples of items in these areas are board games, DVDs, board games, CDs, smaller A/V equipment, toys, blankets, smaller electronics related to games, etc. So, you want to go throughout the house and gather all items that belong to any of these categories, so these items are packed together.
Pro Tip 1: Use small boxes for CDs and other living room items. The weight adds up fast — pack heavier items toward the bottom of the box and lighter items toward the top. Don’t exceed 50 pounds per box to make moving easier.
When a game room, living room, or media room includes crafts items, if you will have a dedicated crafts space in the new home, box crafts stuff separately and mark them as such. These boxes should land in your new crafts space when you move. If the new home does not have a dedicated crafts area, you might want to merge all crafts material with office supplies. In this case, take all crafts items to the current home’s office area to pack these items with office things.
You might need many files and documents right until the day before the move. Set aside all documents you will need, and you can transfer the contents of your filing cabinet to banker’s boxes. Label these boxes. You will only need to add those files or documents to the boxes on moving day.
It is best to pack your desktop computer last unless you have the same access to information using your laptop or iPhone. Laptops can go with you in the car, so there’s no need to pack them in anything but their case.
If you have been diligent in keeping your paper files in order and have cleaned up your files every year, you are in the best shape possible in that area. If not, take care of that now. It’s in your best interest to avoid moving messy files that will need sorting later and would only make your move more expensive.
Linen & Coat Closets
Linen and coat closets usually contain lots of random things. Moving is the best time to see what we own, what we still want, and what won’t go with you. In the process, it is essential to consider the function of those items we keep.
The purpose of each item determines where that item should be stored. Now is the time to take each item where it should go, rather than pack everything in these closets together.
At the same time, determine if other items in the home should rather be in any of those closets. In that case, gather such things and merge them with the closet’s contents. Why? Because you want to pack together items serving the same purpose or belonging to a particular category. Packing this way leads to a faster and more logical unpacking process on the other end, as mentioned before.
The kitchen usually contains items that we accumulate for years and never use. Before packing, spend some time assessing what you use, need, and want. Get rid of duplicates and other things that are you do not use or want.
Pro Tip 2: Pack dishes, trays, cutting boards, and other flat items in boxes, vertically instead of flat. This way, they are less likely to crack. Use smaller boxes for dishes and utensils because these items are heavy. Place thin foam sheets between the plates. For china, use bubble packaging material. Cloth napkins, dish towels, and tablecloths are also helpful to cushion.
Pro Tip 3: Avoid newspaper, though. Newspaper leaves ink marks, and you do not want to have to wash every dish in your new home when you move in.
Most bedroom items can be packed well in advance of the move, except for the sheets and blankets on the bed and outfits you wear regularly.
There are many things we keep in our bedrooms that fall into the “miscellaneous” category. Examine those items. If anything belongs somewhere else, take that item or group of items to where they belong so they can be with their logical groups before packing. If you no longer need or want something, this is the time to let it go.
Go through every toiletry product in your cabinets and discard unwanted or expired ones. Identify all hygiene and beauty products you will need until moving day and those in a box or bin, so they remain available for your use but are easy to grab and go on moving day.
Pro Tip 4: After this process, pack the rest of your toiletries in small boxes lined with plastic garbage bags, as toiletries can easily leak.
Pack all towels and linens that are not in use with other towels and linens found throughout the house, in one single category. This can also be packed in advance.
Pro tip 5: Keep a laundry bag handy for the few dirty clothes and towels used until the last minute.
Do not wait until the last minute to pack your closet. Unfortunately, closets become storage spaces for all kinds of things, and we forget about them because these items hide behind clothes.
Start organizing your closet ahead of time before your move so you can decide about those items that don’t belong in the space. Place those things with related stuff and where they should have been in the home. Then, once in the new house, find the logical, permanent place for those items (do not place them back in the closet!).
The use of wardrobe boxes makes packing clothes easier — transfer the clothes from the closet to the box, hanging them on the bar. There is no need to remove hangers, which facilitates unpacking your wardrobe later.
Pro Tip 6: Protect folded clothes by placing them in a large plastic bag before boxing. Then, if the boxes get wet in transit, the plastic will protect your clothes.
Before you cringe, let me say that you can tackle the garage with ease and grace.
Start by trashing everything that you can discard. There is usually a lot of trash in garages. That will make the process easier. Then, take all paints and chemicals to a specialized recycling facility. If paint cans have lived in the garage for years, they are no longer in good shape. Also, paint is specific to the house- you won’t need it in your new place. One idea is to take pictures of each can lid, so you keep a record of paint formulas and brands for the new homeowner.
Moving companies don’t transport chemicals and paints, but you’ll be better off buying new products, so you start in your with a clean, fresh, new garage area and supplies. Also, these items are heavy, and moving companies charge by weight. So probably it is less expensive to buy new garage products.
For this same reason, you want to clean up your tool chest or toolbox to keep what you need and use. Repair and building equipment are bulky and heavy and will substantially increase moving costs. You will be amazed at the many things you can let go, sell, and even donate to places like Habitat for Humanity during this purging process.
Now is the ideal time to take inventory of your holiday decoration. We usually store holiday decor in a garage or attic. So, see what works or not, what will fit your new place, and what can be donated or trashed.
Organize all items to keep in plastic, labeled bins with lids. Those bins will probably go inside moving boxes for the move, but the totes will protect their contents. Once at the new place, you will remove the boxes and place the containers in your garage shelving system, attic, or storage unit.
Treat any other things you keep in your garage the same as the holiday décor category (organized, relevant contents, in well-labeled plastic bins). You will see how manageable the garage is when you tackle it methodically.
Some pet items such as grooming supplies and extra toys and additional dishes can all be packed in advance. Ensure to leave out anything needed for your pets until moving day and during the moving process, such as kennels accessories, special toy(s), treats, etc. Ensure your pets are safe during moving day, including keeping them locked away when movers are in and out of the house to prevent them from running away.
Important Things To Remember
In summary, here are some things to remember for packing each space of the home:
Before starting the packing process, it would make sense to organize the home – during the organization process, items find their logical homes, and things of the same kind come together, making it easier to pack logically.
Purge as you go.
Get all items of the same category or use throughout the house and pack them together.
Pack item categories with your new home in mind – think about where the things will go.
Label each box with the name of the room where they will go in your new home (not where they came from).
Using a box number system, create a contents inventory for each box in a master file.
Creating a plan and starting the process ahead of time are crucial elements in making the packing process less stressful for you and your family. The less stress you face in this phase means a more enjoyable transition to your new home.
Many say they need to become more organized, especially each January. Some will even call an Organizer. However, those unwilling to adopt new habits will always struggle with clutter. No matter how easy or difficult that initial push to get the home in top shape might be. That is just a start. Without maintenance, that initial organization is just a waste of time and money. Organizing is not a project; it is a lifestyle. So, here are 11 key habits of an organized lifestyle. These will make a big difference in your home and how you live.
1. Make The Bed Every Morning
Making your bed makes the room feel in order and makes you feel accomplishment from the time you get up. In addition, this action helps you face the date with a can-do attitude.
2. Keep A Donation Bag In Each Closet
Having a bag for things you no longer need or want allows you to make those decisions when you think about them. You will have a designated place for these items and won’t need to remember to gather them later. When the bag is full, schedule a donation run. The moment you put on a piece of clothing that you feel is no longer suitable or is ripped or screams dated, instead of hanging the clothing back (or God forbid, throw it on the bed or a chair), you will place that item in the bag.
3. Create A Home For Everything In Your House
You will decide where things should go based on their use pattern in the home. The important thing is to assign one specific place to each category of items, preferably. If using an item requires storing it in more than one space, formally set those spaces up. Also, labeling storage areas allows everyone to know where to put things back. Finally, remember that If anything can go anywhere, everything will go everywhere.
4. Put Things Back In Their Place
To maintain an organized home, everyone must put things back where they belong every time. Hence the importance of labeling spaces until everyone knows the proper place of things. “I will put this here for the moment” does not work. It never has. It never will.
The words “free,” “save,” and “discount” act like a drug on the brain. Please don’t fall for it. Before you buy, ask yourself if you need the item and have the space to store it. If not, please walk away. The less you own, the more living area you enjoy in your own home, and the less you have to take care of.
When bringing home bags or boxes, remove the contents and strip those items of outer packing as much as possible. That is making the stuff truly yours. It also makes the item(s) ready to be organized within your home. This process is a critical step we follow when organizing a space. You want to have everything as visible and ready to be used as possible. Removing all unnecessary packaging also saves lots of space and makes all items of the same kind look the same. The more homogeneous your collection, the more functional the system is and the prettier your areas look.
Entertained garbage makes up for most of the clutter in every household. If you commit to removing the packaging of what you bring home, then go the distance and trash the garbage instead of allowing all the extra packing to linger around your home until who knows when.
Keep a recycle bin, a shredder, and a tray or sorter to process the mail. Preferably have your filing cabinet where you process the mail. Most of the mail you receive is junk. Throw it away before it can clutter your home. Also, be a knowledgeable shredder; only those documents with account numbers, social security numbers, medical information, or bank offers need to be shredded. Having a shredder right where you sort the mail allows you to take care of this immediately. Too often, I find boxes full of documents that need shredding cluttering my clients’ lives. Over concerns about safety compounds the problem. When we do not know what we should destroy, we accumulate more paper over time. Also, it is critical to have a mail sorting and filing system that works for you. This way, you process bills on time, and things needing filing won’t float around the home. Every piece of paper to keep needs a file.
9. Plan Ahead
Take a few minutes to prepare for the next day at the end of each day. Evaluate your “to do” list and set out everything you need to go through your planned errands the next day.
10. Practice Strategic Scheduling
Scheduling is logistics 101. College business programs include courses on administration and logistics, with algorithms to determine the optimal sequence of events to complete a project or the most efficient routes to get around. Of course, you don’t need to go to such an extent, but you can gain significant efficiency and add more time to each day with some planning ahead.
11. Clean Out Bags Daily
Whether it is your handbag, weekender, kids’ sports bags, or suitcases, emptying the contents of all bags allows you to assess what needs replacement, needs to be washed, trashed, or placed somewhere else. This practice is particularly beneficial in helping you plan for the following day or week. If you are a paper kind of person and love to write little reminders and notes to yourself throughout the day, emptying your bag consistently helps you remember that idea you wanted to pursue. Those reminders might be the start of more significant plans in the scope of your life.
Consistency Is Key
These 11 steps might not seem like much, but when combined and executed consistently, they will show a big difference in your life.