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Organizing the everymom: Closets

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Oh joy! Here it is. The closet post. In case you’ve missed it, I’m in the middle of a series on organization. And if you want to catch up, here are Phase 1 and Phase 2. Let’s get started with the next phase, shall we?

I should start by saying closets are both the bane of my existence and my salvation. When I say I hate messes, what I really mean is I hate seeing messes. The closet is a beautiful thing for a person like me. In a pinch, I can close the door and pretend there is no mess to be found. And in a major bind, I can choose one closet to be the dumping ground for all the junk scattered around the house, and just leave it behind a door until I’m mentally prepared to sift through it all. It’s a beautiful thing.

Eventually, though, I have to open the door and deal with the nonsense. Nothing can stay hidden away forever. I finally dealt with closets in this house once and for all (except for the basement closet- please don’t anyone ever open that door) when we replaced all the carpet upstairs. We had to empty all the closets and start from scratch, which turned out to be an incredible motivator for me to do a mega-purge. And boy, did I ever purge those babies. I also invented a new system that we could actually adopt, and I am proud to say our closets have stayed organized for 2 solid months without any craziness (beams with pride). And since I take pride in transparency here, I figure I’ll show you instead of telling you about my system.

First up, I had to ask myself how my closet always turns into a disaster. I swear, when I said I wanted a walk-in closet, I never realized I was opening a gateway to a never-ending pile of clothes, created by yours truly. In dissecting the mounds of mom-garb, I found that I was usually just taking off and piling up at the end of the day, putting off sorting clothes into “dirty-enough-to-wash” and “fine-enough-to-put-away.” I also didn’t have a great plan for shoes (and shoe racks for me have always been too much of a commitment), and I slung scarves and belts over hangers instead of putting them in the original places I’d assigned. Ultimately, I needed an organization system I would actually use, and then I needed to set it up in a way that made using it easy.

Problem: Bras, panties, and socks in the bedroom not accessible in the closet. My closet is in my bathroom, and after a shower, I don’t exactly love traipsing in my altogether all the way across my bedroom to the dresser, only to go back to the bathroom to do my makeup and put my clothes on. I also had a total disaster in my dresser- piles of panties and socks and never being able to find what I needed.

Solution: A homemade lingerie chest/jewelry armoire to hold it all, nice and neat. I used Target’s ITSO storage boxes, with coordinating bins: 1 jewelry tray, 2 half-trays, 2 half-bins, 2 short bins, and 1 full-size bin.

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Problem: Laundry piled up on the floor, or slung over the laundry sorter vs. actually sorted or put away. 

Solution: This one was simple. I just needed to adjust my laundry system. Originally, my 4-compartment laundry sorter was set up to hold whites, permanent press, darks, and towels. But sorting laundry by color in my house is a pipe dream. I will never do my laundry that way- it’s just too ambitious for this everymom. Instead, I do laundry by person- me and the boys, the girls, the hubs, and then towels. That’s more realistic. So I used the sorter for categories I actually can handle- a section for regular wash, one for fancy wash (because even I have a few fancy things), one that holds black garbage bags for when I get the urge to donate something or put away things for later, and one that holds all the extra hangers I’m going to use later.

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Problem: Clothes/bags for other seasons never getting unpacked…or getting unpacked all over the floor over time. I start with the best of intentions- putting away winter scarves and hats, stashing summer handbags in a tote in the attic, putting bathing suits on the shelf- but I always end up throwing everything in the floor while I search like a madwoman for the one thing I need in the 10 minutes I have to get ready. Holy smokes.

Solution: Clear, vacuum-packed bags for seasonal clothes, clear sweater boxes for accessories, and one large tote bag to store smaller seasonal bags. Truth be told, I donated an absolute ton of scarves, purses, dresses, and seasonal clothes to make this more manageable. I am totally embarrassed by how much I have accumulated over the years. Downsizing let me actually put everything in one closet, where I can see it, with a personal commitment not to buy more of something I already have (although looking at this picture, I’m pretty sure this is not what downsizing looks like, and I still have quite a ways to go). Plus, there’s the added convenience of being able to locate something I need by seeing it vs. hauling out a thousand plastic totes full of folded clothes I’ll never wear again.

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Part of having everything I need in one place (note the home birth supplies) is having motivation first thing each day- the poster you see is full of sweet notes from my first team, when I transferred to Nashville. Those little positive thoughts go a long way to remind me to be a breath of fresh air to someone every day 🙂

 

Problem: Toddlers rummaging and creating havoc in my newly organized closet while I try to get ready, undoing all my hard work. Seriously. They’re cute, but come on. Piles of jewelry, panties, and shoes all over my floor is not exactly endearing.

Solution: Giant toddler toy, stored right in my closet floor. Okay, this one was by accident. I just didn’t have space to store the exersaucer-thingy in our attic. So I detached its legs (they’re stored under our bed) and put the seat in my closet floor, hoping to put it up in the attic at some point. Lo and behold, the boys stumbled across it one day and decided it was more interesting than all my shoes or my jewelry (which hangs on the side of the ITSO tower), and they’ve never looked back. I’m calling that a win.

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Troublemaker on the move!

For every other closet in the house, I followed the same basic strategy:

  • Am I going to use this? (Yes, then sort it into a category and decide where that category goes- shelf? box? basket? No, then give it away or trash it.)
  • Why is this not working? (System doesn’t work- come up with a new one. I don’t need this? See previous question. It’s not accessible? Change where/how it’s stored.)
  • Does the system address the problems? (Kids’ clothes too small? Keep a basket out for clothes that don’t fit. Shoes piling up on the floor? Move shoes to baskets by the door. Hats/gloves/accessories everywhere? Cold weather accessories moved to baskets by the stairs. Dirty laundry shoved in a corner? Spanks all around! Just kidding.)

With systems that actually suit our needs, and that are simple and easy to follow, we have been able to implement easy organization that doesn’t get out of control. Of course, we’re neat freaks, so that isn’t a major stretch for us. Whatever you implement at your house- be sure it suits your needs, and is something you can see yourself sticking to. There’s no sense losing your mind over something that doesn’t work for you!

Happy organizing!

xoxo~ LWH

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