My Wonderful Walls Blog — Organizational Tips

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Start 2017 Out Right with Our Top Ten Decluttering Ideas 1

Take out the Trash

Many of us make New Year’s Resolutions to “get organized” or declutter our homes each year. But why is it so hard to follow through? We definitely develop emotional attachments to our stuff and without some forethought, decluttering can quickly turn into a daunting project. It’s also easy to make excuses for why we didn’t get it done and let ourselves off the hook. So, start off on the right step in 2017 with our Top Ten Decluttering Ideas for your home and workspace. This is a great time to just say yes to less and get rid of the mess. In no particular order, here are some great decluttering tips:

1. Buddy Up!

Lianna George from By George Organizing says in her article, 4 Reasons Why Your Decluttering Isn’t Working, “When you declutter by yourself there is no accountability, no one to question your decisions (or lack of them).  If you want to see real results that lead to a change in your clutter, you have to be willing to have someone work alongside you.” Makes a lot of sense. So, grab your spouse, your sister, your best friend, whomever you choose and get to work!  

2.  Rome was Not Built in a Day!

Make yourself daily goals. Start with smaller spaces and move on from there. If you get done with one area and feel motivated, tackle another early. But make your goals S.M.A.R.T. – specific, manageable, achievable, realistic and time-based. There is no sense in making a goal to clean out an entire garage alone on a Sunday afternoon while taking care of your infant and toddler too, so don’t set yourself up for failure. There are lots of month long “decluttering challenges” you can take part in to help you keep your goals S.M.A.R.T., just google it or look on Pinterest.

3.  Be Real with Yourself!

One thing I am guilty of, is keeping clothes that are in great shape but don’t fit or things my kids got as gifts that we couldn’t return and pile them up thinking I’ll consign them or sell them on eBay for some extra cash. Well I have a lot of piles and no extra cash. So, if it’s not complete junk, donate it. Otherwise, trash it.

4. You Better Work!

Start with your workspace. Your desk can probably due with a little purge. According to LifeHack.org you should make cleaning off your desktop a #1 priority. ”Keep flat surfaces clear, and have an inbox for all incoming papers.  When the papers come in, sort them each day – toss, delegate, do immediately, or file simply file all documents, but whatever you do, DO NOT KEEP THEM ON TOP OF YOUR DESK.  All you want on the surface of your desk is your phone, computer, inbox, and maybe a special photo in addition to the documents you are working with at the moment.”  - LifeHack.org

Decluttering

5. Time for Virtual Reality (Checks)!

If you’ve been downloading pictures to share on social media over the holidays or have a lot of old files and emails clogging up your computer, it’s time to clean up. Use file storage solutions such as Dropbox to move pictures and files you need or really want to keep. Or use the iCloud if you’re a MAC user to store pics and music without slowing down your system. Windows users, check out OneDrive for a great way to keep your files organized without clogging up your desktop or your memory.

6. Take 5!

Leo from Zen Habits offers you 18 different 5 minute decluttering challenges to jumpstart the rebirth of your newly organized home. Just pick one, right now (seriously, right now). I like the idea to schedule a decluttering weekend and getting family on board so that it’s on your calendar and it’s easy to get everyone on board with enough notice. You probably have a lot of boxes you can use to sort your clutter from all those holiday gifts you ordered right now too!  

7. Make No Assumptions!

Just because you assume your kids don’t play with xyz toy, don’t just throw it out. Keep them involved in the decluttering of their own areas but also be realistic and talk about it ahead of time. You know younger kids are going to have some emotional attachments and older kids are going to want to feel in control. You can make it a game like the STOP clutter game suggested on HGTV with younger kids. Just make sure you are ready to not back down. If you have older kids or teenagers, let them be involved but be clear that the clutter is going. They can help decide what they really need and want or they can just deal with your decisions. One way to really drive home the point that there’s just too much “stuff” is to dump it all out in one big pile for each kid or each room. It’s pretty mind blowing.  

8. Dare to Declutter the Bathroom!

The bathroom can be an area that get easily overwhelming. If you have cabinets and drawers of stuff, empty them out. You probably don’t need three half empty bottles of shampoo and that great smelling bath scrub you never used from 2011 can probably go now. Work on organizing and simplifying your storage spaces and then get that vanity top cleaned off! Use small bins or drawer separators to keep things tidy.

9. Play Toss, Keep or Store!

If your kitchen cabinets or pantry have become a scary place you just don’t want to look at, it’s time! Check out this pantry decluttering checklist from Kristen at Chatelaine

10.  Live with Less!

Overall, you can declutter every month or even every day, but if you just keep buying more “stuff” you’ll never be done. With everything from tools to toys to clothes and home goods, go for quality over quantity.

Playroom Organization
Here's the Goins' playroom in 2011 after a thorough decluttering by Stephanie. Now they're painting over that jungle mural for the boys so stay tuned to see how it looks.

Just remember as you begin your decluttering adventure, it’s not about perfection. It’s about making your home a place of peace and comfort and having rooms that work for you, not against you. If you’re making a New Year’s resolution to declutter your life and home, let us know your own tips below.

Back to School Survival Tips 0

Back to School 


If you have school age children, you may be thinking about how you’re going to get back into the swing of things when school starts. Back to school time can be exciting but let’s face it, also exhausting! Here are a few tips to get yourself (and your kiddos) organized and ready to face the school day.

 

  • Get on a school schedule a week or two in advance. Hearing that alarm go off at 6 a.m. when you’ve enjoyed sleeping in all summer can be brutal for you and your children. Try to ease back into it by setting your alarm a little earlier each day so when the first day of school rolls around, your body (and theirs) won’t be in shock. Also if the kids have been staying up later during the summer, re-establish the “school year” bedtime a week or so in advance.

 

  • Organize your kids homework area and talk about their after school routines now. Don’t wait until school starts to try and establish “the rules”. Even if you had the same routine last year, it’s good to talk about it before school starts and set clear expectations. If your kids have a designated homework area, make sure it’s ready to be used and if not think about a good place for them to be able to spread out and finish nightly assignments. Let your kids make it their own by adding some colorful accessories and wall decor.

 

  • Look up healthy, delicious after-school snacks and let your kids pick a few to try. Stock up your kitchen with the necessary ingredients. This way they have something yummy to look forward to when school starts and you are their superhero. 

 

  • Make and freeze a few weeknight dinners ahead of time. When that inevitable “crunch” happens during the first week or two, you are already ready with a homemade dinner not fast food.

 

  • Designate an area for your kiddos’ backpacks and for school notices that need attention. There’s nothing that throws a morning routine off more than discovering that permission slip crumpled at the bottom of a backpack asking for $7.50 and due that day. Getting your children to take responsibility from a young age for their school communications will pay off in dividends later. Make sure backpacks are packed the night before and in their right place before bed.

 

  • If your child brings a lunch to school, let them help you pack it the night before. Younger kids love helping in the kitchen and will be more likely to finish their lunch that they helped prepare. Older kids and teens can take responsibility for packing their own lunch but might need reminding to get it done the night before.

 

  • When shopping for back to school supplies, remember printer ink and computer paper. Not something always on your list but if you have older kids there’ll be an essay or paper due before you know it that needs to be printed. There’s nothing worse than realizing you are out of ink or paper when it is 8 p.m.

 

Now it’s your turn. What are some of your back to school time saving tips?

 

Blog post written by Tara

Drastic Decluttering: Easy Steps to Organizing Your Life! 3

The urge to redecorate or renovate your home is not always predictable, but it is certainly powerful. When the need to revamp hits, it usually comes with the realization that your home may not be in prime condition for refurbishing. Life gets busy, and – inevitably - our lives become unorganized in the process of living. Before you set out to redecorate, here are some easy-to-follow tips to organizing your home and life that will lead to amazing and successful results in no time!

Spring Cleaning and OrganizingKeeping a kid’s room clean
While this may seem impossible, there are many options available for helping to keep the chaos of a much-played-in room somewhat organized. We suggest making clean up as exciting as a day at the zoo! With this toy pet cage, kids not only have a great space for clearing a room, but they can admire their handy work afterwards too!

Bringing order to the bathroom
It’s not uncommon for the bathroom to host some of the smallest dimensions of any room in the house. In fact, some bathrooms don’t have enough space for even the tiniest of cabinets. If you’re one of many people looking for a place to merely hang your towel, look no further than a sturdy basket. Hanging towel baskets on the bathroom walls can double as cabinet space and towel hooks at the same time. These well-placed baskets can even add an artistic edge to a freshly painted surface.

Chaos in the craft room
It’s fun to consider the possibilities redecorating your craft room holds, but containing the pre-decorating chaos might be another story. If you’re looking to bring order to your creative space, consider using fun and colorful craft boxes that can be labeled according to specific supplies. Not only will it keep your affairs in order, but it will free up your room and your mind for important décor endeavors in the future.

Lightening the load in the living room
When it comes to keeping your living room in order, the bigger the family, the larger the mess! Try using an over-sized shelf that has a designated space for every person in the family as a way to keep your loved ones from creating an unmanageable jungle of junk. Gone are the days of combined books, homework, games, and gadgets. Now everyone has their own personalized space in a room made to share.

 Cleaning up after cooks
The kitchen is made to create messes, however keeping cooking utensils handy is not always the easiest task when flour is flying. To bring order to your kitchen, try hanging up items that are necessary, but not necessarily easy to store. Rolling pins, pastry tools, and measuring cups, to name a few, can be set aside for later use in a way that is both practical and pretty.

Chalk it up to organization
If you’re tired of wasting wall space with sticky notes, or scribbled whiteboard notes, try replacing all of that with a full-size chalkboard. This writeable wall will give your entire family a way to stay in touch and keep organized, even when schedules and those that keep them are going in a million different directions.

Staying Organized – Talking the Talk or Walking the Walk? 10

Nursery Organization Ideas

Okay, so a couple years we made this video about decluttering the nursery. In it, we gave tips like giving everything a place, labeling baskets and bins, regularly removing and donating unused items, etc. Well, after 2 years, I have to admit that I “talked the talk” but definitely didn’t “walk the walk”.  I took a step back and looked at my once-organized kids’ room. Toys and games had become unused as they had lost parts and pieces. The closets were jam-packed with all sorts of clothing that was too small. I tended toward these collect-all, bottomless bins filled with toys that never got touched. It seemed that everything that once had a place had lost its way.  And I seemed to be spending so much time looking for things...which is SO annoying!

I finally hit my breaking point when I couldn’t find the baby nail clippers. We have about 5 pairs. Where were they all!?  I could take it no longer. It was time to get serious.  I called Grandma, “Please, please, please can you watch the kids?” She said YES!  I had 24 hours to make this right. I knew this was going to take complete concentration and very strong coffee…

Step 1: First, I gathered up every single toy from every area of the house and dumped it in one spot. I was speechless at how much stuff it amounted to. How was it possible that two little boys could have so much stuff?

STEP 2: Next, I took a deep breath and began to categorize and sort into piles---puzzles, games, anything with wheels, random plastic figurines, tools, electronics, play-dough related things, Lego’s, play food, items to donate, broken stuff.  (While sorting, I sent my husband to the store to buy a half dozen of those plastic storage bins with drawers and little storage baskets to go in the drawers.)

STEP 3: Then, I worked on each pile separately. All puzzles were put back together. Game pieces found their way back home. Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head were reunited, etc.

STEP 4: The fun part! -- I designated a drawer or spot in the room for everything and made little picture labels so the kids (who are only 2 and 5) would be able to find things and put them away in the correct spot.

STEP 5: We filled our big car with all sorts of great stuff we’d outgrown and took it to the homeless shelter. A rewarding end indeed.

The result was a complete success!  It took about a day and, whew, what a day well spent. Since the organization transformation the kids have been playing with their toys non-stop…and putting them away without complaints. How cool is that? So, I promise to try very, very, very hard never ever again to return to that out-of-control and disorganized state and this time, to not only “talk the talk” but “walk the walk” as well.

[Update - Jan 2012. One year later and the playroom has a few more toys but is still very organized. Woot! Woot!]

Stephanie Goins is co-owner of MyWonderfulWalls.com, offering wall stickers, wall mural stencil kits and canvas art for kids’ rooms and baby nurseries.