We know. You’re tired when you get home, and the weekends are full of activities and errands. “Get Better Organized” makes the top 5 of your resolutions every January, yet you never quite find the time or energy to make it happen. Well, here’s something to think about the next time you want to close your eyes to the clutter: by organizing your home, you’re not only making it look better, you’re actually helping to create a safer environment for your family. Here’s a breakdown of what you need to organize and equally important – how to store it all and solve this problem for good.
Where Do I Begin?
There’s messy and cluttered, and then there’s dangerous. Statistics show that home accidents are one of the top reasons young children visit the ER. Above all else, these items need to be out of the way of small fingers, yet readily accessible when needed:
- Anything sharp – knives, scissors, sewing needles, tools even fireplace tools and pokers.
- CFL bulbs – EXTREMELY dangerous when broken as they contain mercury.
- Batteries, especially the small, shiny, round ones.
- Cleaning products, even that innocent bottle of dishwashing liquid.
- Certain foods – it’s amazing what kids will put in their mouths. Watch out for small food items like pastas, rice, pet foods and so on.
- Anything flammable – cooking and other oils, alcohol-based products, etc. And of course – matches.
- Medications for humans as well as your pets.
- Other sewing supplies – buttons, snaps, beads, ribbons, pins.
- Loose change, pens, pencils – again, you’d be surprised what kids will eat!
- Toys – when left on stairways or in hallways, toys can cause serious slips and falls. Your kids may bounce right back up but you might not.
- Cables – not every device is wireless; be sure excess cable is rolled up and secured to prevent any accidental strangulation.
How to Store
The primary reason things start to pile up is because we don’t know where to put whatever it is we’re holding at that moment. So it gets tossed on the table/desk/shelf “for later,” which as we all know is code for “never to be seen again.” The key step is to identify ONE AND ONLY ONE place for something, for example – the ONE PLACE you put your light bulbs. Or batteries. Or sewing supplies. You get the idea!
- Make a list of all available spots for storing things.High shelves are often neglected because it’s “too hard” to get stuff up and down from them. If you’re truly serious about organizing your home, you will dismiss this excuse. Small, 2-step mini-ladders that fold up can be found for less than $50. Obviously, high shelves are where you store things you don’t need every day. Light bulbs can go here; your daily medications will not.Another tip for those high shelves – many times, the space above the top closet shelf is huge, truly wasted space. Stacking boxes three-high up is not the safest way to go. You’re better off purchasing some stackable shelving units for such areas. This will make it much easier to retrieve items from those boxes.Don’t neglect the garage (or basement, if you have one) for storage. Honestly ask yourself if you need certain things in the house, or if they can be placed on a garage or basement shelf.
- Match up what you have to store with the space available. If you need to purchase storage containers, you will do so armed with the knowledge of what it is you’re trying to tuck away. Be sure to consider using boxes and baskets you already have before purchasing new. They don’t need to be beautiful, just functional, especially if they’re sitting on a shelf behind a closet door. A box labeled “sewing supplies” works just as well as a colorful sewing basket from a craft store. Wash out and reuse glass jars from spaghetti sauce to store everything from buttons to pennies.
- Label Everything. You don’t need to buy a fancy label-maker; hand-lettered tags work just as well. You could even get the older children involved. It doesn’t need to be designer-perfect, just legible.
- Write down where things are, especially if you’ve tucked them away in drawers where labeling doesn’t quite work. The last thing you need is your spouse ransacking the house looking for something.
- Commit to the plan. Now that you know where things go, make sure you put them there! Children should also be taught to pick up their things as best as they can.
It’s much easier to keep things organized when you know ahead of time where something belongs. Follow this plan and you will be amazed at the results!
In his role in the self storage industry, Tim Eyre helps customers care for their cherished belongings that must be put in storage. Tim regularly visits his facilities including a Willow Grove self storage. He was also recently meeting customers and staff at the El Cajon self storage center.