It’s that time of year again! The season is changing. We are wearing our flip flops and fleeces daily. It’s time for fall organizing–cleaning out the closets, readying the yard, the house, and the people in it for the winter ahead. Whether you are doing just that or tackling a larger project that requires organizing and purging–a remodel, moving your children into a shared room, listing your house, etc. here are some practical tips on how to make the transition as fun and efficient as possible:
1. Get the kids out of the house! This is a must for the initial round of organizing. Send them to the park, a movie, or the Y. You only need a couple of hours (if you are alone!). With them away, you can get rid of the things that are just “done” without a fuss and then make piles of all the things you need them to try on when they get back home.
2. Involve the kids. Once they are back in the house ask them to participate. Blast the stereo. Show off some amazing new dance moves! Get inspired about what your newly organized space will look like! Talk with them about why you are cleaning, how they are helping, and what it will mean to the family to work on this together. Give them each a box and have them fill it with things to share with others–toys they no longer play with or books they no longer read. Another friend would love to have these treasures and, at least in our house, we have to make some room for Santa to visit in the near future. When involving the kids, we also have a “visiting” pile. Sometimes your little ones’ things mean too much to them to let them go entirely (and it’s just not worth the battle!). The bottom line is you need them out of your house. Toys and other items find new life when they “visit” grandma’s house.
3. Start with the items that are least sentimental. Maybe this is clothing, lawn and garden items, toys, or your seasonal decor. It’s different for everyone but by starting here, you get momentum and find your rhythm. Now, you are ready to tackle the tougher items!
4. Sort, but agree on the parameters first. Set a few ground rules. We have the traditional trash, keep, donate, and sell piles. The sell pile contains what we can sell for $20 or more. This is objective. You can easily look it up on a sale site and know what similar items sell for. The threshold may be different for your family but the key is to agree on that threshold in advance. This provides a little extra cash to replace the things you need for the next season or the babysitting, entertainment, or the takeout required to tackle this project! The last pile is lend.
5. That’s right, I said lend. I realize this violates traditional “rules” set by other organizers but sometimes you just cannot make up your mind. Are you going to have another baby? Maybe you will start that yoga or tutoring business next year. Your oldest is done with soccer and your youngest is too young to start, but they might play too! This stuff is expensive. You don’t want to just get rid of it! There are categories of things, mostly children’s items, tools, and some sporting equipment where this is well suited. Find a reliable friend or colleague in need of this equipment. Lend it to them and get it back in good condition. Win/win. It is out of your house for at least a season (of life or of the year) but you get it back. By this time, you will likely have decided if you need these items or not. Bonus, the best types of items to loan are typically the most cumbersome to lug into the attic or out of the basement—car seats, baby swings, bicycles, large bins of clothing etc.
6. Make a list of things you need to purchase. Keep your notebook beside you as you go room to room. Capture them all in one comprehensive place. Include sizes, as well as any other considerations or notes–how long does that replacement garden hose need to be? Once you have the list in total, you can organize your shopping list. What can be done online? What items can be purchased from the same store? Consider shipping and return policies to make the most efficient use of your time and money.
Now you are ready to get off your phone and get to work! (That’s what I’m telling myself anyway!)