Simple Solutions for Getting Organized

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With the new school year approaching quickly, my family and I have decided to get organized and we have found, that by doing so, we have also solved a couple of problems, too.  I have learned to divide our get organized plan into two categories -- tools and rules.  The tools are items that we use to organize our stuff and the rules are what we follow to stay organized and keep it that way!  Take a look at our simple organization ideas to see if these tips can help your busy family streamline your home.  You will all feel less stress, too! 

Problem:  Kitchen sink clutter!

Tool:  The 11- inch sliding cabinet organizer that sells at Bed, Bath & Beyond for $44.99 is worth it.  I didn't like the price, but I love the results.  See the segment to see my before and after pictures.  Now all of my kitchen sink products fit nicely under the sink and when I need to find a sponge or the dishwashing detergent, I simply pull it out.  No more taking everything out to find that one needed item.  My teenager assembled and placed the piece under the sink for me, so getting him involved has made him more aware of how we can all work together to keep clutter, in the kitchen and elsewhere, under control. 

Tool:  Also try products that are multi-purpose to cut down on the sheer number of containers that crowd the area under the kitchen sink.  I like JAWS (Just Add Water System) Cleaner Line because this innovative cleaning product line gets it right, both environmentally and  price-wise.  First the cleaner does not contain any alcohol or ammonia, which I like.  And it is green because when the product runs out of cleaner, the consumer can simply reuse the original container with the handy little refill tube that comes with the product.  Simply fill the empty bottle water, insert the refill tube into the container and you have a full bottle of cleaner again, without ever having to throw out the original container.  And when that runs out, consumers only have to purchase the 2-pack cartridge refill set instead of a new bottle.  This keeps tons of empty bottles out of our landfills and the refill cartridge can be recycled, so it is a win-win. And the stuff  works very well on everything, especially my countertops! JAWS sells at Bashas.

Tool:  For cutting the clutter when you are trying to cook, try the Spoon N' Lid Space Saver.  Mom-invented, this cool contraption enables you to hold your pot lid and rest your spoon in between stirring all in one handy holder.  This keeps your prep area clean and tidy.  Plus, it folds flat, making it easy to store.  This device sells for $3.99 at Wal-Mart, Target, Kohl's and many other stores.  For more information visit

Rule:  Just because the kitchen seems to be Mom's territory, I have told my kids that it also their responsibility to keep the kitchen area clean.  That means that their dishes go straight from the table to the inside of the dishwasher.  We also have a big recycling rule in our home.  Wash it out and recycle it and if my trash bin is getting fuller than my recycling bin, then I know that the rule isn't being followed.  We are fortunate that Phoenix takes a lot of recycled items.  I have visited relatives in other states and their programs are more limited, so be green and recycle everything you can.  This is one rule in our household that I hope sticks, so that my kids that grow up to be green and earth-conscious.

Problem:  Papers, papers everywhere!  With the amount of school notifications, sports team paperwork, rehearsal information and more that my kids bring home, it was no wonder that we are either buried under stacks of paper or couldn't find the one sheet that we needed at that moment!

Tool:   Buy a hanging wall basket with three to four pockets.  I love my Allamalla wall basket that hangs nicely in our laundry room.  The top bin holds my important papers, the middle bin is my son's pocket and the bottom one houses my daughter's things.  No more lost assignments and paper clutter all over.  Unfortunately, the one that I showed in the segment seems to be out of stock on, but similar items can be found at IKEA and will provide the same service. 

Rule:  My kids know that the papers go from the backpack to the wall basket as soon as they come home.  Once the papers in the bin are outdated, they go right to recycling or to the shredder.  This system will greatly reduce the piles are paper that can take over a household!

Problem:  Can't keep up with the endless piles of laundry!

Tool:  Make your laundry room cozy and nice, so that you will be comfortable enough to fold the clothes as soon as they come out of the dryer.  Instead of leaving a pile somewhere else to be folded later, I fold mine as I take them out of the dryer, placing each piece on top of the washer/dryer and then into the basket for immediate sorting and storage.

Rule:  I have implemented two new rules with this one and it has made a difference!  I am no longer falling behind on my laundry loads.  Rule #1 is that if the family wants their stuff washed, then they have to bring their own laundry basket down to the laundry room.  Once my kids realized that they wanted to wear something special, but it didn't get washed and they were out of luck, they quickly got the message.  Now they regularly bring their dirty laundry down to the laundry room.  The other rule is one that I imposed on myself that as soon as the clothes are dry, I stand there in my laundry room and fold them right away.  I then either get the kids to put them away right away, or if I'm home alone, I do it right then and there.  This has made a huge difference because the pile doesn't get put in a room and left for later folding...and then forgotten about!  Try these two rules and you will be surprised how fast you can get a handle on that annoying endless laundry pile!

Problem:  Me tripping over random shoes that have been left all over the house, only to discover that these same shoes can't be found when needed!  I was simply done with the shoe issue!

Tool:  I found a study and easy-to-assemble shoe rack at Bed, Bath & Beyond called the Dazz 3-Tier Shoe Shelve that holds 12 pairs of shoes.  This contraption sells for $12.99 and doesn't look that sturdy the way it is packaged, but it works great.  I had a different one that did not hold up well, but this one does the trick. 

Rule:  I implemented a new rule with the purchase of this shoe rack -- shoes go on the shoe rack in the garage.  And I ask my family to please place their shoes on the shoe rack the second that they kick their shoes off.  No more shoes laying around for us to trip over.  Plus, now when we are headed out the door, the shoes are easily found in the garage shoe rack.  I keep the shoe rack high on a shelf to reduce the chance of a scorpion taking up residence in our shoes.  Keep in mind that this still can happen, but my family can see their shoes before they slip their feet inside, so doing a scorpion check is quick and easy.

Problem:  Kids' bathroom cabinets so overloaded that they can't find what they need in the morning, resulting in grumpy and sometimes late kids!

Tool:  Inexpensive organization bins from the Dollar Store.  The Dollar Store has a good selection of bins that come in different shapes and colors.  Different items for your different kids can be color coded by bins. 

I also purchased a handy product called the Shower Day/Night Caddy ($7.99 at Bed, Bath & Beyond).  This handy caddy has a smaller compartment that lifts right out so that your child can take out what is needed and then pop it back in to be neatly stored under the sink.  This works great for my son, who sometimes will take a shower in the other bathroom because my kids share a Jack/Jill style bathroom.  For my girl, the caddy has become the perfect hair accessory station because all items needed to style her hair are handy in one place. 

Rule:  The kids know to simply put the caddy back under the sink when they are finished. 

Problem:  Toys, toys everywhere and don't always have the time to clean up quickly.

Tool:  Lay-n-Go and Lay-n-Go Lite are both awesome activity mats/storage units that kids can use themselves to play and then store toys like Legos.  The Lay-n-Go is a huge 5-foot diameter activity mat that simply converts into a big storage bag that can be carried or hung on a hook for easy clean-up and storage.  The Lay-n-Go Lite is a smaller version of the Lay-n-Go that is great for travel, too.  Both are available at  The large one sells for $64.95 and the Lite version costs $24.95.  They are both cool items that were invented by a Mom and Dad team who love to play Legos with their kids, while keeping an organized home, too!  Very cool!

Problem: Some unnecessary back-to-school clothing shopping since we have clothes from last year that may still work, but how do we store and find those items!

Tool:  My girl has triple the amount of clothes than my son owns, which is not unusual when it comes to girls and their love for fashion.  To streamline her clothing needs, while maximizing space in her room, we first purchased a set of framed/wire basket drawers from IKEA that fit into my daughter's closet.  See the segment to see our set from IKEA.  So that replaced the bulky dresser that took up a lot of space in her room.  She likes this system. 

Next, we store her off-season clothes in a very helpful storage device called the Ziploc Flexible Tote which is a 22 gallon sized baggie that is secured by zippers and can be stacked and stored easily.  I found mine at Fry's Marketplace for $6.99.   When my kids have to find winter clothes in a pinch, this item is easy for them to access, open and put back.   To keep clothing smelling fresh and moth-free, add a cotton ball saturated with a few drops of the essential oil lavender.

Rule:  Every few months, my kids sort through clothing to see which pieces can be donated and which clothes to store for next season in the big Ziploc bag. 

Problem:  Bulky robes and wet towels left on the floor and that drives me crazy!

Tool:  Wall hooks are inexpensive and simple to install.  I have placed one behind every bathroom door and behind my kids' bedroom door. 

Rule:  Robes and wet towels go on the hook, immediately after the shower, so that they dry nicely and are handy in the morning when the kiddos want their robe.  I did the same thing in my own bathroom.

What cool tools and rules do you implement to keep your busy home organized?  Share here in the comments section and remember to check for more parenting ideas, recipes, beauty news and more.