Sunday, January 16, 2011

If mama ain't organized, mama ain't happy...

If there's one thing I know for sure about myself, it is this - I do not function well in a disorganized, cluttered environment. I cannot think. I cannot focus. I cannot motivate myself to do what needs done if the area around me is a mess. I'll blame it on my genes 'cause my mom's the same way.

Our house is small by today's standards. It's currently 1600 square feet of living space (we're in the process of remodeling the basement.) I have three kids, a dog, a ton of books, and all our homeschooling materials that somehow have to fit in this space. It used to stress me out to the max. I'd have some things here, some things there, and I found I was constantly running around trying to remember where I put that thing I needed.

And, sure, I still do that at times. (I have a nasty habit of shoving stuff places when unexpected company comes and then later forgetting where exactly it was that I shoved it. I'm kind of notorious for that; just ask my husband.)

However, homeschooling has really pushed me to work my space and take advantage of all the nooks and crannies. And to use the storage space that I have wisely.

Take this armoire below. We found this on craigslist. We got it along with a big coffee table, and two lovely end tables for $250. Yep. 250. I know. I was elated, and it was the color I wanted and the rustic style I wanted and everything. The secret with craigslist is that if you're on the lookout for something, you check craigslist and you check it several times a day. It really doesn't take that long to hop on the net and check out the listings, and it's so worth the time when you find great deals (which I've found plenty of on there!)

Another thing I've learned with craigslist is that if you really want something, you jump on it. Don't wait around because chances are good that there's at least one another person who wants the same thing, especially if it's a really good price.

So we got this armoire from craigslist back in the summer. It was originally for a television, but my handy husband converted it into homeschool storage by adding some shelves. Simple, really. And now the top part of the armoire holds our current year's homeschool curriculum, literature, and manipulatives, and the bottom portion is packed full with fun stuff that the kids are free to browse and use.

I love baskets for organization. I have some really nice baskets that I have received as gifts like the one right below, but I also have a ton of nice, cheap baskets that I've purchased at yard sales and thrift shops for under $1.00 each. I have baskets EVERYWHERE in my house, and almost every single one of them serves a storage purpose of some sort.

Use those baskets if you have them, and don't feel as though you have to go out and buy a bunch of matching baskets. You don't. Sure that looks pretty, but it's not realistic for the average person to dump a bunch of money into baskets. And I personally think a bunch of unmatched baskets adds character and makes it more interesting. Plus, if you keep your eyes on the lookout, every now and then you'll find nice baskets like Longaberger, Mountain Trails, and Petersboro at thrift stores. I have several times, and I've always snatched those up.

These stacking baskets were purchased at one of our local Ross stores for around $15.00 for the set. I know - pick yourself up off the floor. Pretty good price, huh? The top basket holds the wii games and remotes and the bottom basket holds some of our family picture albums.

And that leads me to say that if you do find yourself in need of some nice, matching baskets because they are going to be out in the open and you want something that looks more "put-together", try looking at a Ross store. The two that we have in our area always have really nice baskets for unbelievably good prices (as I've already pointed out above.)

Now those of us moms who have young children know that it can be difficult to keep our children busy during the winter months when they're not playing outside as much due to the weather. I wanted an area that my 7 and 4 year old could access on their own and choose some enriching, creative activities during those "I'm bored" moments. This area under the armoire serves exactly that purpose.

Just to give you an idea of what's down there: lots of ink stamps (most of which I've purchased at thrift stores,) stickers, drawing and sketch tablets, regular ruled tablets, coloring books, markers, pastels, oil crayons, watercolor pencils and paints, beads and cord to make necklaces/bracelets, colored paper, dried beans with measuring cups (my daughter loves playing with those; so simple yet she enjoys it so much,) paint-by-number, fusion beads, etc. The key to this area is to keep it low to the ground so that the kids can get into it by themselves and to stock it with materials that will inspire creativity.

Here's the top, with all or our current homeschool stuff. There's a basket for math manipulatives, one for flashcards and other language-related material, and a basket that holds miscellaneous learning manipulatives.

I also have the pencils, paintbrushes, glue, rulers, and extra erasers down low where the kids can grab them by themselves.

So I guess my point in this post is to encourage you to make it a point to get organized if that's one of those New Year's resolutions of yours. Nothing has to match. Forget about those HGTV shows that show the closets with the pretty matching canvas bins and lined wicker baskets. Shop the thrift stores, use the baskets you already have laying around, buy some plastic, lidded bins from the dollar store.

If you really want to find your home (and subsequently your mind) in a state of order this New Year, then make it happen. You can do it! Quit dreaming about it, and use what you have, use your creative minds and work on it. Day by day. Pick an area of your home you want to see organized and devote 1/2 hour each day of that week to get it organized. I'm still working on it, and, truth be told, it's kind of fun! And I can personally say that in our family's case an organized home leads to a happier and more peaceful mama and a happier and more peaceful home.




Elise said...

I LOVE this post, Amber!! I think we are going to homeschool Jackson again and we are about to downsize to about 1300 sq. ft-I'm excited, but its about half of what we currently have so I have to organize and more importantly, PURGE!!!

Wendi said...

I love the armoire! I couldn't agree more that a clutter free, organized home is much more peaceful. I am in the process of purging and organizing. With Megan and the 17 mo and 14 wk old baby I watch it is slow going, but I am determined to get it done!

Anonymous said...

What a lovely armoire - love it!!