Probably 65 percent of my clientele for my organizing business are families, which means I often find myself recommending the same storage products over and over. So I thought you might find it useful to know which products are essential for just about every family to get organized:
*Totes for sentimental items: You know all of those Mother’s Day cards from your kids, old love letters, and medals from your marathons that you never know where to put? They should all go in a Rubbermaid plastic bin labeled “Sentimental Items.” Each family member has sentimental items, so each family member needs his/her own bin. The bins can live in the back of the closet or even out in the garage or basement.
*Treasure box for kids’ special items: Younger kids tend to find little treasures like small pebbles and toys that clutter up their rooms, so give each child his/her own treasure box and let them keep it on their nightstand to hold those treasures. When the box is full, the kids know it is time to pare down some of the treasures. Find wooden treasure boxes they can paint themselves in the wood craft section of Michaels Arts and Crafts for about $10.
*Incline file sorter for mail. Everybody gets mail, which means everybody needs a solution for storing the mail beyond leaving it in a pile on the counter. I recommend everyone get an incline file sorter and fill it with 3-4 file folders each labeled with the task each piece of mail needs (e.g. “Needs to Be Paid, Needs to Be Looked Into, Needs to Be Filed,” etc.) Sort your mail into the incline file sorter each day, then sit down once a week and do all of the tasks your folders tell you to do. At the end of the week, those folders should be empty, ready to accept the next week’s batch of mail.
*Basket for “Things to be Returned.” Most people have a lot of items sitting around their house that need to go out the door. For example, they have library books to be returned, clothes that need to be returned to a store, or a toy leftover from a playdate that needs to be returned to a friend. The easy solution is to get an attractive basket that can sit by the front door with a big label attached to it that reads “Things to be Returned.” Then whenever you leave the house, glance down inside the basket and see if there is something you can take with you
*Goes Upstairs bags/baskets for each family member. If your family has bedrooms on the second floor, you most likely are experiencing the situation where family members put things that need to go away ON THE STAIRS instead of in their rooms. Solve this problem by getting everyone their own little tote (I usually recommend the bags from LL Bean with each family member’s name monogrammed on the bag.) Hang the bags from hooks on the wall going up the stairs or leave the bags directly on the stairs. Throughout the day as you come across things that need to go in their rooms, put it in the bags instead. At bedtime every evening, each family member takes their bag upstairs and puts the contents away. Every morning they bring the empty bag downstairs and put it back on the hook.
Nothing too expensive is needed. I usually find all of these products on sale at big box stores (e.g. Target, Michael’s, Fred Meyer) or even at Goodwill. They are simple ideas, but they make a huge — huge! — difference in how orderly your house stays. Try them, and let me know what you think!