Saturday, August 13, 2011

Organized livin'

Rarely organized, often dreaded, and always embarrassing....
I assume we don't pay much mind to this area because is isn't exactly a show piece of the home and unless a visitor is staying over there would really be no need for them to open this dreaded and sometimes dangerous closet; So we let it go, often to the point where we don't even want to put the towels away!
Well like  Kenny Rogers said "you gotta know when to fold 'em,... know when to walk away, know when to run".  Now I am not delusional I know he was speaking of cards/relationships and not linen closets but come on you know it applies, "Folding", that is a battle ground in this house, but I promise it isn't HOW the towels and sheets are folded but the place you are going to put them, after, that matters!!!  "Knowing when to walk away or Run"  have you ever tried to get that pillow case out of the large stack and had it come toppling down, that is the walk away, or tried to get a roll of toilet paper down only to have 5 bottles of shampoo come firing out like cannon balls, that is the RUN!!!!!
Well don't be nervous we can fix this!  Here is a photo of my linen closet:
It is VERY small but holds everything our 4 bedroom, 3 full bath house needs for our family of 5!  With those stats I will admit there is not only the need to have a well organized linen closet but the use of organizational techniques to help have the linen crisis controlled with help throughout the house!  You can see that there is nothing pretty or "Martha Stewart" about this functional closet but again it isn't a show piece, however I am proud of it and actually have heard an audible sweet sigh come out of me when I open it to put something away or grab something out!  
This area like all others needs to be sorted and paired down because lets face it we all have WAY too much in there!!!!!!  Start by sorting like items, some people and organizers do this differently, like keeping sheet sets together, towel sets together or some other fancy way.  I however think simple is better, and lets face it I use more fitted sheets and bath towels than wash clothes and flat sheets (we have the occasional issue when there are 3 kids under 10!) so why would I want to have to reorganize the closet every time I have a few items to put away so they are with their if you have a HUGE linen closet and each stack has its own space then by all means pretty it up!  OK so piles.... pillow cases, flat sheets, fitted sheets, blankets, misc bedding (bed skirts, mattress pads etc.) wash cloths, hand towels, bath towels, decorative holiday towels.
FIRST take the decorative hand towels that are for specific holidays and put them in the bins with those decorations, no sense in having pumpkin, Christmas tree, and Easter egg towels in the way all year and come on be honest how many of you have these and realize it after the holiday is over because it is buried in the linen closet!  Ok, with those out of the way lets start to sort using those favorite questions:
1. Do we use it regularly and do we still have that size bed?  ( I found full size sheets and we haven't had that bed in 4 years)
      a. yes and yes, Keep Pile
      c. no and no, Sell or donate pile
2. Don't need or want it? Is it torn, ripped, broken or damaged in any way?
      a. Yes, toss pile
      b. No, Sell or donate pile
3. Do we have more than one?
     If yes how many do you logically need?  Any extras go to #2
     Washcloths: min- one for each person in the house and two extra for visitors; MAX 3 per person and 4 for visitors. 
     Towels: 2 sets per bathroom in your house and up to two extra sets for guests.
     Sheets: 2 Sets per adult bed and 3 per child bed
     Pillow cases: the mates for the sets and up to 2 extra per bedroom
     Blankets: 1- 2 for each bed in the house
     Mattress pads: 1 for each adult bed and at least 2 for each child bed
Some of you may be thinking this is too little and some might be thinking this is never all going to fit in my linen closet....well it is not all going to be in there, remember one of everything for each bedroom and bath will be currently in that room being used. Later I will give you some time saving and space saving tips for this closet that will have it pared down even more!       
4. Does it belong to someone else?  Yes, Return to owner box
    Contact those people and let them know you will be dropping it by.  If they no longer want the item offer to donate it for them!

Well now we all know there are more than just linens in that linen closet!!!!  So pull it all out now that you have your piles sorted and pared down and lets get down to brass tacks!
1. Sort by type, oral care, men's care, women's care, first aid, adult medicine, children's medicine, home fragrance (some of you might have this in the laundry room or cleaning closet if you have one and that is great!!!), tissues, toilet paper, and shampoo, conditioner and styling aids together....well and then miscellaneous (not sure what you might have in there but heck make a pile)
2. Expiration dates: They are on everything, if it is expired pitch it!  Items that have an expiration may be less effective after that date and some have preservatives that will go bad so be mindful of these!  If it is an old prescription medication after you check the date make sure you still actively use it and if not pitch it!  Prescription medication is just that and you should not try and self diagnose later and use an old one that was prescribed for a different ailment!
3. Ok now the misc pile you created....Does it belong here?  NO, Move it where it belongs.  Yes, Put it into one of the categories above or if it doesn't mesh with one start another category.

I said in my last blog I didn't like see-thru containers and you see I have in fact used them here, WHY?  Because this area is not seen regularly by anyone and these container were around.  They are $1 plastic shoe boxes and they work well for keeping me in check!  If it doesn't fit in the bin I probably have too much of it.  This also helps keep me realistic on my free items from couponing.  If the oral care bin can not fit anymore items then we are set for several months and there is no need to get more, if it is free then get it and donate immediately! No one needs 20 tubes of tooth paste or 25 deodorants, remember if you are a couponer it will go on sale again every 6 weeks or so, your supply WILL hold out!
So now I fill my little bins, put the lid on and label it accordingly.....these stack beautifully and slide out easily if I need something out of a lower bin!  These bins go on the top shelf, one because they need to be out of reach of my kids and they really don't need to be accessed often.  Along with these I neatly stack extra boxes of tissues and toilet paper up there as well.  Shelf one done and now we can deal with the true linens!

The remaining shelves are smallest items to largest working downward as they are used in that order in terms of frequency.  Hand towels, washcloths and pillow cases, neatly folded go on shelf two.  These items on shelf two are not deep so I line up Shampoo, Conditioner and styling products along the wall behind them.  Shelf three is towels, smaller on the left larger on the right for me, but you don't need to be that anal it just looks better for me for them to be segregated by size! Shelf four is sheets, all flat together and all fitted together, largest (Queen for me) on the bottom and smallest (twin) on the top.  Again seems that it works out that the smaller ones get changed more i.e. pukes, wetting accidents ect. in the younger kids rooms!!!! Then on Five is Blankets and special items like mattress protectors.  Finally the bottom ground level is large items like extra comforter and bath rugs.

NOW  I know you are thinking no way that all fits there based on the number I gave you earlier on what to keep and here are some little tricks and tips to make the quantity go down and your life get a little easier!

1.  Double make all childrens beds.  One mattress protector, then a sheet, then a mattress protector, and finally another fitted sheet....this works from cribs to full grown kids.  THEN when there is an issue, bed wetting, accidental spill, vomit or whatever else, you can simply peel off one set and put your child back to bed. This takes one hand and no lights so if you are holding your baby or just don't want to turn on a light waking them further than you have to TA-DA!!!!  In the morning you can assess the situation and add the fresh sheet right over that or change it all together if it was a particularly messy night! EWWWWWW
2. Keep an extra pillow or two with a pillow case on it in the closet, helps with the nights we just spoke about to not have to fight with changing a pillow case or finding a new pillow if need be.  These also come in handy for sleep overs, no need to search around it is ready for you!  This also keeps bulky pillows out of the linen closet!
3. Now towels, if you have a vanity in the bathroom keep at least a set of towels in there, great for when you forget so you don't have to scream for someone to bring you one and extra great if a guest needs an additional towel!  ALSO keeps the quantity down in the closet, can you hear the broken record!!!! If you think you don't have room in your vanity it is probably time to tackle under there in your quest for organization!
4. Items for the kitchen, GO in the kitchen, table linens, in the china cabinet, nuff said on that!!!!

One last item you might be thinking about ad that is pool/beach towels.  If you have a pool, you probably have a separate space for them like we do by the pool, perhaps you go to a neighborhood pool often, or the beach less often!  I would keep those in a plastic tote, with a nice fabric softener sheet in it, in the garage.  You can throw some towels right in the car and be off!!!!!
So there you have it!  YOU CAN DO IT!!!!!!Next we are going to tackle the junk drawer!!!!!!  ARE you Ready????

Peace and Love,

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