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Ask Erin: “Fall” Into A Clutter-Free Life: Part 2

By Melanie Moffett
In AskErin
Oct 26th, 2015
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by Erin Sharplin Love

As I mentioned last month, Fall is the perfect time to slow down and dispose of any clutter that has accumulated over the Summer.  In my October article, I have the first eight days of a thirty- day organization process mapped out for you.  This month will include days nine through nineteen, so let’s get started!

Days Nine & Ten – Toys
Really, an entire article could be devoted to this topic!  Before having children of my own, I never imagined the number of toys that can accumulate.  They practically multiply over night!  Let’s tame that monster and create a space where all toys and games are organized in a functional and neat way:
1. Ask these questions–What is the current state of the toys?  Do your children play with and utilize all of their current toys?  What type of toy seems to be the hardest to keep organized?
2. Sort, toss and donate.  Begin sorting all toys and decide what stays and what goes.  Keep toys that your children play with regularly,  that are in good condition and that encourage creative play.  Toss or donate any toys that your children rarely or never play with, that are broken or damaged, that cause conflict within the household (i.e. – those that frequently cause fights between siblings), or those generally non-creative and non-educational playthings.
3. Categorize!  Organize all like items into piles so they are easier to put away.  If you know how many of an item you have, you can plan accordingly and find the best organizing tool(s) to create the perfect functional space. For instance, use storage bins and baskets.  Bins and baskets are great for corralling small toys and their parts, such as legos, balls, stuffed animals, and puzzles.
4. Label!  Don’t forget to label those bins and baskets so that  putting toys back in their proper containers is easier.

Day Eleven – Junk Drawer
Every home should have a junk drawer!!  Such a space can serve an important purpose in a well-organized home because some small items simply have no other place to reside.  The trick is creating an organized junk drawer!
1. First, take a peek at what is in the junk drawer now.  Are there things tossed in there that have another home?  Is there an organization system already in place in that particular drawer but somehow it became easier to disregard than to “stick to the plan”?
2. Remove and replace.  Remove and replace any items that have a home in another area of you home.
3. Purge.  Junk drawers typically end up with a lot of items that can simply be trashed.  Immediately toss any item that serves no purpose. (Pens that no longer have ink, out-dated sticky notes, etc.)
4. Sort. Begin making some sense of the items that remain in the junk drawer.  Do you have paper clips and rubber bands?  Nails and screws?
5. Organize. I suggest purchasing a drawer organizer that is specifically made for a junk drawer because they have small cubbies that are perfect for the small items that are typical of most junk drawers

Day Twelve – Kitchen Counters
The kitchen is already a catch-all, but the flat surfaces double the likelihood of clutter accumulation.  Instead, let’s create a clear and functional kitchen that is easy to navigate and can serve as a gathering area that you and your family can enjoy:
1. Stand back and take in the full picture.  What is going on in your kitchen now?  Where does the clutter accumulate?
2. Tackle the trap!  There will be one area that most of the clutter accumulates.  Tackle that area first by removing anything that has a home in another area of your home. (Like the toothpaste and mouthwash you bought at the drugstore yesterday!)  Then you should sort what’s left and create a plan.
3. Implement a plan.  If papers such as bills, schoolwork, and mail need to stay in the kitchen I suggest creating a docking station for them.  In doing so, they will be contained and, therefore, more organized.
4. Clear the counters as much as possible.  The clearer the counter top, the more organized your kitchen will look.  Find new homes for rarely used appliances and other items that reside on your counters.  Now you have more prep space, too.

Day Thirteen & Fourteen – The Pantry
Maintaining an organized pantry can make cooking for your family quicker, easier and less expensive!!  How many times have you purchased an item only to realize you already had it hidden in the back of your pantry?  Your pantry should be easily accessible like the supermarket, so you can quickly and easily “shop” it:
1. How much space do you have now? Are you using it appropriately?  Could you make more use of your vertical space?
2. Remove everything!  Take everything out of the pantry and begin sorting and purging.  Throw anything away that is expired or that you no longer want or need.
3. Turn everything!  Pair like items together and turn labels forward so they can be read easily.  Check the freshness of any opened products and consider placing them in air-tight containers to prevent staleness and weevils.  I also suggest removing individually- wrapped items from their boxes and organizing them in a basket or bin.  They take up much less room, and you are able to  see quickly when an item needs to be replaced.  No more empty boxes!

Day Fifteen – Medicine Cabinet
First of all, if your medicine is in your bathroom, I suggest finding another area.  The bathroom is actually the worst place to store medicine because of heat and moisture.  A dry, temperature-controlled area is best, but most important is the matter of safety, protecting your children from accidental ingestion!!
1.  Where is your medicine now?  What is working and what is not?
2. Toss any and all medicine that has expired.  Expired medicine typically loses its efficacy, so you might not be treating whatever ailment you have.
3. Kid proof it!  Make sure your medicine is out of the reach of small children and animals!  Certain medications can be deadly to children and pets.
4. Pair like with like.  In other words, put all pain relievers together, all prescriptions together, and all sinus-related items together.
5. Organize!  I love using a lazy susans in medicine cabinets.  They are super functional, easy to use, and they make the most of vertical space.

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