Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Stuff & Nonsense

Clothing Storage in the Basement
Do you feel overwhelmed by your stuff?  

This comes from being abundantly blessed, so we have a good reason to check our complaints and be thankful.  But there is more to life than managing our stuff, so it is helpful if our stuff is an asset to living our lives instead of becoming a chaotic distraction. 

A recent realization:
It’s not all about having absolute minimal possessions.  It is much more about using our resources, and one of our most precious resources is SPACE.

Some have more space than others, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution.  What we need is to achieve a careful balance of needful stuff for our present space.  The smaller the space, the less you are going to be able to need!  If you have more space, then you can keep more.  Just remember that needful stuff includes the things that we can use to bless others. 

So, we start by weeding out the stuff we don't need.  Is there a way to use it to bless others?  If so, do.  But if that pair of shoes is truly worn out, please just throw them away.  (This is very hard for me!)  I have discovered that I can free up a lot of space in my home just by throwing away all of the trash!!  So before you start organizing, go through each room with a trash bag and a giveaway box and get the stuff you don't need out of the house!

You know the cutesy saying, "A place for everything and everything in its place"?  Life can be so much more smooth and peaceful if this is just a habit in your family.  If you have trouble adopting this in your own life, I hope that my advice will help you put this saying into practice.

Four Important Things:
1.  Group like items together.
Books on bookshelves, magazines in a rack or basket, media in one area, sewing supplies in a sewing basket, mending in a basket, medical supplies and medicines together, etc...  Use what logic makes most sense to you, but try to keep like things together so you are not running all over the house when you need to get some hydrogen peroxide, antibiotic ointment, and a bandaid for your child.  Sometimes it helps to stop and think it all through, "When I am doing x,y,z, what things do I always use?"

2.  Put these like items into practical storage.
It's ok to have some little used kitchen items in an out of the way closet, but with items you use regularly, store them near the place where they are used when at all possible.  (Example - store coffee making supplies near the coffee pot.  Put towels and toilet paper in or near the bathroom.  Keep cleaning supplies in each bathroom.)  When I say "practical storage", I mean in a place where they are easily accessible.

3.  Acquire any practical storage that you need if you don't have it already.
Each home will have different amenities when it comes to things like built in closets, shelving, and storage.  Use what you have first, and then look around at what you already have for storage - side tables, baskets, large tins and crocks, plastic bins, etc...  Keep an eye out at yard sales for pieces that will help ease your storage problems.  I have found wonderful plastic drawer systems, side tables, dressers, chairs, etc... at yard sales.  Ask around and get paper boxes from a friend that works in a school or an office.  These are wonderful for storing off season clothing in an attic or a dry basement.  And if you still have a need, work it out in your budget to get what you need to make things work - from small things like shoe shelves and hangars, to bigger things like dressers.  

4.  Make sure items are returned to their place when not in use.
And this one is a biggie.  Make it a habit to return things to their storage place.  And I mean actually in place, not just sort of close to where they belong.  Make it a part of your routine to have everyone in the family stop to do a pick up a couple of times a day.  (We do before Quiet Time and bedtime each day.)  Try to start noticing things - when you are heading to your basement to work on laundry or something, take an armload of things and return them to their place in the basement.  If you have multiple levels in your home, it can help to put a basket near each set of stairs where you place things that need to go up or down to get back to their place.  It saves you a few trips.

I think when any of those steps get left out, chaos starts to take over, so if you have chaos going on, try to pinpoint where things are breaking down.  It could be that you just need to acquire a few more laundry baskets and your life would go so much more smoothly.  Maybe you need to pare down the kids' toys?  Maybe you just need to take out all of the trash?

Got any tips for managing your stuff?  I love getting great ideas from readers!

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  2. Oooh, I have a tip! An actual tip I can share! Every New Year's Day (sometimes it gets spread out over the course of the first week of the year), Brian and I commit to going through every cabinet, drawer, room, and storage area in the house. We evaluate, think, and then throw away. Any item we are on the fence about goes into a "safe" area for about 2 months. If it is not used in that time, away it goes! Our house is teeny (and we like it that way), so this habit helps us stay there. :)

  3. Under the bed is a great place to find that extra space. I have risers under mine that help me put a lot of stuff under there. I have everything in storage boxes or bins that enable me to pull them out to vacuum under there. For the kids I group their toys together ex. legos, cars, puzzles, etc. so that when they pull it out they play with one thing then they are able to put it back.

  4. Whenever something new comes in the house I get rid of something old. I have a Goodwill box in the basement and put the items in there until I have enough to make a trip.


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