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House Keeping 101Organize With Ease
The benefits to a clutter-free home are many. In addition to creating a calm and comfortable living environment, research shows it also has positive long-term effects on children. Of course it's one thing to know this, yet in most families, imposing any kind of order is an ongoing minute-to-minute challenge. But not impossible. One of the most effective methods for managing the overgrowth of stuff is to literally find a place for everything that can be put away. Establishing a specific location for specific objects is simple enough to allow all family members an opportunity to participate. "If the process is easy, you and your family are a lot more likely to keep it up," says Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, Ph.D., health psychologist and author of The Well-Ordered Home (New Harbinger). The following surefire solutions, listed room by room, will get the whole family involved in putting stuff away every day.
Entry Hall As much as possible, keep items off the floor to avoid entry hall chaos, says Kendall-Tackett. Put up a coat rack or shaker pegs at various heights. Pegs are helpful for young children or others who don't want to bother with hangers. Assign cubbies, baskets, or shelves of a bookcase to each member of the family. Label them with names, or pictures for young children, suggests Rita Emmett, author of The Clutter-Busting Handbook (Walker & Company).
Family Room Store items near where you use them. Have baskets for often-used objects, such as magazines, toys, and TV remotes. If you often find socks and sweatshirts lying around, don't be afraid to add an attractive looking laundry basket to your common rooms, says Kendall-Tackett. People seldom have wastebaskets in their family and living rooms, but a small wicker trash-basket can catch wrappers, tissues, and such. Make room on the lower shelves of bookcases for toys and items that children can put away themselves. One of the best ways to control clutter, says Emmett, is to give away what you no longer use. Right before gift giving holidays (birthdays and Christmas) go through your DVDs, books, and toys and give away those you won't use again.
Kitchen If you bring your mail into the kitchen, stash a container for recycling in a corner and have a drawer with bill-paying supplies handy so you can handle it right there, says Kendall-Tackett. If you need to keep track of important dates, post a calendar on the refrigerator that you can check regularly with a quick glance. A big bulletin board can be used to tack up flyers, coupons and invitations that arrive in the mail. "It's also a good place for important phone numbers and permission slips," says Emmett.
For those kitchen items that you use often, keep them within arms reach. Give away what you don't need and move less-used items out of the way. Put a silverware organizer in a drawer near the dishwasher. Hang measuring cups and spoons on the back of your cabinet doors. One of Emmett's favorite rules to putting things away is "if it takes less than a minute, do it now." For example, when you're finished with the flour, put it back in the cabinet not on the counter.
Bedroom Stock each room with a laundry hamper, a wastebasket, and a chair or bench to "catch clothes that aren't really dirty," suggests Kendall-Tackett. Make room to put things away by donating unused items. Move special-occasion and seasonal clothes to a designated closet or box. Invest in under-the-bed storage containers. To help your kids who are organized and interested in old toys, tuck some of their toys away in a box and save them for a rainy day or a new babysitter. Old shoeboxes can hold socks and underwear in dresser drawers. Label baskets (again with words or pictures) in the closet to teach your children how to put everything away neatly.