Thursday, March 12, 2009

We don't want to label our children. But let's label everything else.

Ah, the wisdom in the words of fellow DC-area professional organizer C. Lee Cawley. One of her playroom organizing projects was featured in today's Washington Post. You can read about it here:

I worked with a mom recently on just such a project. As a member of the interestingly-named "Sandwich Generation", she not only runs a busy household and the schedule of her active kindergartener, she also manages much of her father's day-to-day paperwork, bill-paying and other needs while he lives in a nearby assisted living facility.

Below you'll see a few before and after pictures of her basement project. It's a lovely space with a large open area divided into three distinct-use areas: "grown up" den, playroom and TV area for games. However, as the parents of many little boys and girls will tell you, the Legos, Bionicles, Power Rangers, Transformers, et. al. can easily consume a play space rendering it just not that much fun! We spent time in the room using my favorite organizing method, S.P.A.C.E., from the Julie Morgenstern book "Organizing from the Inside Out". BTW, you can use this method to organize ANYTHING, from your wallet to your entire house.

Sort: Sorted through all of the toys and set them in piles by category. This is the most time-consuming, onerous, but necessary, part of any organizing project. I think I've used the quote before "The only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time!" Take a deep breath, pick something up and start a pile! Post-it note pads are your best friend in this endeavor. As you create a sorting category (dolls, Spider Man, blocks, puzzles, books, dress-up, games, etc.) make a "sign" for it on a Post-it note so you can keep track of what categories you've got going on.

Purge: Purged. This mom did a great job setting aside toys for an upcoming rummage sale at her son's school. She also created a box for giving away items to younger cousins. Finally, some things really did need to go into the trash. And that's where they went!

Assign a Home: OK, now where's all this stuff going to go?! She had some good storage pieces already i.e. a large shelf unit with several nooks for baskets, a bookshelf and a nice chest with some drawers and shelves. Once we saw what we had, and figured out what she needed, she went to Target and bought one of my favorite pieces, the Whitmor Kids' 12-Bin Organizer. It comes in the primary colors you see below and also in a palette of pastels that any little girl with a pink and purple passion would love! Handy woman that she is, she put it together in about 20 minutes. Her son also had a train table with two oversized drawers underneath that could be pulled out. He was kind of over trains right now so she brilliantly repurposed those drawers for Legos. Which leads us to:

Containerize: Once we had all our "containers" we set to work putting the categorized toys into their proper place. A container can be anything from a clear basket to an old peanut butter jar used for storing marbles. We labeled baskets and other containers with their contents. For younger children you can "label" with photographs or let them draw pictures of what's contained in each area. She also set up a bin labeled "Toys for Later" that was placed in her storage area. These were toys that were received as gifts and just not quite age-appropriate yet.

Equalize: This really just means keeping things in order on a day-to-day basis. Her son was thrilled with his "new" playroom and is very motivated to keeping it organized. Even at five, he can see the advantage of being able to find exactly the Bionicle or Leggo he's looking for very easily!

Best of all, my client says that she gets a real sense of peace when she walks down into the basement now.

1 comment:

Veralana Photography said...

That basement looks great!