Check out some of these great home & family organization questions from our Simply Home Members and how Pro Organizer, Katie responds!
Question #1: What’s the best way to organize important papers and documents?
Answer: Great question! Figuring out a way to organize paperwork, especially if it something you need to keep, can be a challenge, but you can minimize document storage by scanning or using photos to document all your paperwork. This keeps paperwork storage not only minimal, but easy to access and locate when stored on a computer drive or electronic folder system. Storing and organizing your paperwork this way is also much safer than having the physical copies in your home.
Even using Google Drive to store and organize all your paperwork is a great resource! Use logic when creating your folders to make sure they’ll be easy to reference in the future. Too many folders can over-complicate your brain when searching for a form, but not having enough categories can be overwhelming sorting through it all.
My rule of thumb for (most people) is that 10-15 folders is plenty to organize all your physical paperwork. Remember, most of the paperwork we receive can either be tossed or if it’s important (tax purposes or needed to reference), you can store it electronically.
Remember to store important documents like wills and estate trusts, birth and marriage certificates, passports and other significant documents in an out of children’s reach location and preferably in a fireproof, securely locked container.
Question #2: Do you always store categories of items, like toilet paper, in one location?
Answer: Love this question! When it comes to creating a system of storing items that works for you and your family, remember that every family and home is different, and yes, storing items will differ from home to home. What may work for one family, may not be as logical or functional for another. My suggestion is to try out different ways of storing your various items to see what locations work best for you and your family. There is no wrong or right way!
For example, with regards to toilet paper, my family likes to store all the bulk toilet paper in one place, but I have a small basket with 2-3 rolls of toilet paper that sits on the toilet shelf. When the basket has 1 roll of toilet paper left, my family knows that it’s time to go to where we store all our bulk toilet paper supply and add a roll or two more to that particular bathroom basket. No one wants to run out of toilet paper when they’re using the bathroom, so this is an easy, functional way for our family to store toilet paper.
Another suggestion when storing toiletries in the bathroom is to use a small tote bin that holds all your ‘daily toiletry items’ like toothpaste, body spray, lotion, makeup, etc. When you are getting ready in the morning or for bed, you can just pull out your handy dandy tote and sit it on the counter as you use your daily products. This is a great solution for kids, spouses or guests!
Try different ideas and spaces to store items and see what works best for you and your family. Be creative, logical and whatever you do, make sure things are stored in places that will be easy to maintain. Many items can be stored in one place, but if they need to be spread out for convenience or a few different items, like toiletries, stored in one location, that’s great too!
Question #3: I have three daughters who share a bedroom. They are on wildly-different parts on the organization spectrum. How do I help them work together to keep their bedroom tidy?
Answer: Such an awesome question and one I can personally relate to, since I also have multiple kids sharing a bedroom together. I have some fun recommendations that can really help in these kinds of situations:
1) Require each child to make their bed in the morning before joining the family for breakfast (this really helps motivates my kids, since they’re usually hungry in the morning.) The Bed Makin’ Machines Chart shown here: https://yoursimplyhome.com/lesson/bed-making-chart/ is a great place to start by hanging it up on the fridge and rewarding kids who stay consistent in their bed-making habits. I always tell people that making their bed each morning is the very best habit to create first. It’s so simple and makes a big impact!
2) Provide a laundry basket for each child as their first “storage container” for their bedroom. Label their name on their basket and have them throw every item that belongs to them in that basket before they leave for school in the morning and head to bed each night. This is another super simple way to start creating great new habits and does not overload their mind with having to put different items away into different locations. Start small by having one spot for all their stuff. As they sustain that habit, you can then help them expand their skills by showing them how to put away items in more specific locations.
3) Have a family discussion on “The Japanese Way of Thinking” shown here: https://yoursimplyhome.com/lesson/japanese-way-of-thinking/ and share as a family how showing love and respect for items and our home is important. Teaching these principles will help your children connect more to the things around them and treat their items better.
4) Lastly, make tidying a game! Have fun and be creative as you inspire your children with these new skills and habits. Set timers to make clean-up a race! Reward kids for good behavior and their “tidying” skills, and praise, praise, praise as they try. This handout here has some great ideas to try: https://yoursimplyhome.com/lesson/family-involvement-ideas/ It’s a journey for all of us and some of your kids will catch on to these new habits faster than others and that’s okay! Have fun and just keep trying to be that example for your family and making it fun. Over time, these new habits will become part of their daily routine and help them build life-long skills that will serve them well.
*NOTE: Want access to worksheets? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for FREE PDF’s sent to your inbox.
Question #4: How do I keep up with all my kids’ arts and crafts projects and not hurt their feelings by throwing them away?
Answer: I love this question! Here’s a fun suggestion…when my kids were crafting up projects day in and day out, we had a couple cords that hung on a large wall where their art would display. We only had 20 hangers. If the 20 hangers were all full of art projects and our kids had more projects to display, we’d say something like, “That’s so great kids, but all the hangers are full. So, you can decide which ones you want hung up and those that aren’t hung, we’ll take a photo of it and let it go.”
This taught our kids that they were ultimately in charge of what artwork they wanted to display, yet set boundaries for our home by having a space to display, while respecting the rest of our home environment from being overtaken by projects.
Create a special place to display your kids artwork in your home, but feel free to set some boundaries and allow your kids to make some choices on what artwork they want to display and what artwork they’re ready to let go of. If they’re having a tough time deciding, then have them take a picture and store the photo in a fun “art portfolio” booklet that they can treasure and keep in their room to look at. I still have a really special art pieces my kids have made and keep them stored in my kids individual “special person box” so they can have a few physical art pieces from their childhood.
It’s amazing how quickly children can jump on board and learn new ways of doing things. By giving them some power to choose the art they want displayed, setting some boundaries on one or two areas they are allowed to display and sharing with them why other areas of the home are needed to be used for their respective purposes (such as: kitchen table for eating, desk for writing/work, kitchen counter for cooking, etc.) it empowers them, rather than discourages them.
Best of luck to you and your creative kiddos! Embracing the projects and being creative as you build some new habits as a family will greatly aid in your success.
Question # 5: I’m going through the Simply Home program and am half-way through decluttering all of my own items! Now, my husband and kids want me to help them declutter their items. Do I stop decluttering my things and help them? Or do I keep going and help my family members when I’ve completed my own decluttering process?
Answer: Well, first I want to congratulate you for all the progress you’re making! It feels amazing, doesn’t it? I also want to congratulate your family for wanting to jump on board too and start simplifying their lives. While this is great news, I do understand the feeling of overwhelm that comes when we are trying to help others, but want to work on your own things too.
This is what I would suggest for you. Let your family members know how happy and excited you are to help them with their items, but express to them that right now you are focusing on your own organizational journey. Once you are complete with the program and have gone through all of “your” items, you can then focus on helping your family members with their journeys.
Organization starts with you! When you make change and really incorporate all the tools and skills you have learned in this program, you can then be a full-force of help to your family. It’s better for you and them when you do it this way. I always like to think of what they tell you on airplanes, that in case of an emergency, you must secure your own oxygen mask before helping others. It works the same way in this program. Make the changes for yourself first so that you can help your family too.
Good luck and way to set the example for your family!
Have a question that needs an answer? Post your question on one of our message boards here: https://yoursimplyhome.com/contact-us/
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