- Am I a robot? Well, actually I am somewhat of a machine when it comes to organizing. I can walk into a room and have it organized in my mind immediately. Now, depending on how "far gone" a room is it might take some time to actually make what I have in my head happen, but I'd say organization is a strong gifting that I have. Baking...not so much. Ehh, it's give and take.
- When I'm organizing I'm always thinking about how to make it "work" the best. If a room isn't workable it won't stay organized very long. I also ALWAYS include the people who need to use the space while I'm organizing. For instance, when Manly moved into his office space he put me in charge of organization of his office supplies and desk things. While I did most of the work, I made sure to ask questions about how he likes things so that I'd be able to get it put together in a way that would work for him. The same thing is true with kids. They usually have a pretty cool opinion on how they'd like their space to work. Just ask. Most of the time you can make what they'd like happen.
- ALWAYS use the workforce you have to help you complete a job. Sure, I would rather do most things on my own, but then the kids would be going nuts in another room and I'd feel like I needed to stop to spend time with them. There is ALWAYS something that EVERYONE can do. It might be slinging a feather duster around, or nailing up the shelf(obviously Manly's job!), but give them a job to help them feel important and part of the project.
- When we were working on the playroom/dining room/school room/quiet room overhaul I put people in areas I knew they'd do well in. For instance, Addi LOVES to organize. She's much like me. She's also very fast, so I usually put her close to me so that I can give her jobs she can easily finish and move on to other things. Her job while we were moving things out of the quiet closet was to empty out the floor puzzles, count the pieces to be sure none were missing, then put them into the new boxes. She LOVED this job! While she was doing that I had Brubbs taking the boxes to the recycle area. He loves doing "boy jobs" like trash, so he was content to watch Addi and be ready when she handed him the empty boxes. He also stacked the new boxes once they were full. The big girls carried the filled boxes up the stairs to where Manly was working to get the shelves installed. By the time I was finished cleaning out the quiet closet he was finished with the shelves and I was able to load them the way I wanted.
- Use the materials you have in your own home to help with projects. Unless it's Monday I'm ALWAYS using my laundry baskets and bags for other things. When we unloaded the school shelves I had the kids help me by putting the books into the laundry baskets, then Manly would hoist them up the stairs. Once he'd get them up there I would put them up on the shelves myself so I'd have them where I wanted them while the kids were busy loading up the next basket. This is how we do most tasks from cleaning up dinner to cleaning out the garage. Everyone gets a job and it gets the JOB done quickly.
- Always put the people who work best together...together! If you have two kids who really don't get along well don't try to get them to work together while you are doing a big project. That's for another time and another place! Pick teams that work well together. In our case it's usually Addi and Olivia, and Isaiah and KK, but sometimes there are things that require a switch up. For instance if I need the strength of the big kids I'll put them on a job together and use the little kids to do other things.
- Work quickly and make fast decisions. When I'm cleaning out a space and get to something I think I should trash I do it immediately. This keeps me from deciding to keep useless stuff and usually gets me finished in record time.
- You should know, if you don't already, that I do all things QUICKLY. If I'm cleaning I'm usually almost running. I HAVE to be fast. If I didn't do things quickly the kids would start to take over the house. I usually have only a few minutes to complete a task before I need to get back to them or give them a new job, so I've learned to move fast. The entire project we just finished took us less than half a day. Probably about 4 hours total.
- Keep some things for when the kids are in bed. My kids take fantastic naps, so I can usually finish up any project like the one we just did at nap time. I usually don't like to do ANYTHING at nap time other than blog or watching hulu on my laptop in my bedroom, because momma needs to rest too, but there are times when putting the finishing touches on a project is just the right thing to get me feeling refreshed. In this case, I waited until the kids were resting to get everything just the way I wanted on the shelves. I had already put it all on the shelves so that it would be up out of their hands, but I wanted to be sure, like I mentioned earlier, that I had things in a good working order. SO, I put all the math manipulatives together and all the art supplies together. I also used this time to decorate the space so that when the kids were up from their nap they could come in and be surprised with the finished project. It was much like Christmas morning for them too. That's the biggest perk of finishing up a project while they are sleeping-the surprise element. Love that!
- What I DON'T like to do with the kids while I'm really working on something is to put a movie on for them. Sure I'll do that here and there if I just need a few minutes to finish up on something or in the afternoons while I'm cooking dinner, but when it's going to be a little longer I don't like to do TV because my kids(I don't know about yours) ALWAYS end up being uninterested in the TV and more interested in what I'm doing. In that case they would just be coming in mid-job and not really know what's going on and ask a million and one questions and pretty much just need busy jobs. If they are part from the beginning this keeps most of the questions at bay and helps keep your own attitude in check as well. Working as a family isn't always the easiest job in the world, but it's worth it in the end. Promise.
- Try to only do big projects when your man is home to help. This may mean having to wait a while. In my case it was several MONTHS, but it was worth it when I FINALLY saw "school room" on Manly's post-it for the day(I'll tell you more about Manly's strange post-it issues another time...)! Trying to do things you weren't made to do(like carrying really heavy baskets of books up the stairs or moving furniture) will just get you frustrated and hurt. Ask your man when a good time would be to get your project done and wait.
- In our case I tried to make the space not only workable, but growable. For instance, right now we have those five tiny chairs, but as my big girls get bigger they will outgrown the little chairs and table. When that happens we'll install another higher desk on the opposite wall with full-size chairs. When I was putting the room together I had that in mind. It's the end result of the project. We just aren't ready for it yet.
- Put the baby in a sling or swing. My Eli loves being in the swing. Probably more than being slinged, but do whatever works so they have a happy mood. You DON'T want to try to be working while you have a fussy baby, so be sure to include time to stop and play with or feed the baby. They don't know you have a giant project going on, so they aren't going to stop being a baby for the day. I used the help of Manly too, so that's another reason to wait for your man to be there. When he had to run to Lowes to get a part he needed he took some of the kids with him while I stayed home and nursed the baby. Now, don't think I don't get frazzled when I'm in the middle of something and thinking the baby will still sleep another 45 minutes only to find him crying after a 15 minute cat-nap. But, TRY to include "the baby de-railed my plans" time.
- Use Ziploc bags!! I use Ziplocs to help organize ALL the time. I prefer the freezer kind because they are thicker and more durable, but whatever you have on hand will work. I use zip locks to micro organize things like party supplies, then put them all into one big tote labeled "Party things." When I'm looking for the zebra party plates I know they'll be in the party things basket, I just need to look in there and they'd all be in a Ziploc. Some of you coupon queens can probably get the real deal for a few cents, but I always just get the store brand to save money. I get them in all sizes. My favorite is the gallon size.
AND, for those of you wondering what I did with the quiet closet.
I spent about an hour the next day(while Manly was setting up the pool with the kids outside) and made THIS!
Olivia now has her own "room." She doesn't sleep in there, but that's about the only time she isn't in there unless I have other things for us to do. She loves to sew and paint and create things, so this space is perfect for her. She asked me what I was going to do with the quiet closet and I told her I was going to store supplies in there. Little did she know it was her OWN supplies! She was SO surprised, thankful, and EXCITED when I asked her to go in there and get me a roll of paper towels! Ha! She said afterwards, "MOM! I'm SO glad you didn't use my studio to store paper towels! That would just be SUCH a waste of space!" Ha!
This is right after she walked in. I used the shelf we'd had in there. I just took out one level and put it back together. Manly found the chair on one of his early morning runs out by the side of the road as trash. I simply added some fluff and fabric from Lulu's sewing stash and had a new chair in about 5 minutes. She LOVES it!!
Since I took these pictures she has totally decorated the walls with her drawings and other projects.
This is one of the old bookshelves from the old school room. It fits in there perfectly.
I put a few of my own things in there too(like the wrapping paper/gift bag organizer), but it's all stuff I don't mind her using. She feels so big and independent in that space. She even cleaned it today while we were picking up the rest of the house without being asked.
Total cost to me for this project? ZERO dollars. Yet it's priceless to Livi.
Thankful for a way to bless this sweet girl for all the hard work she helps me do.