Thursday, March 10, 2011


Ive been on a crazy organizing kick since Ive been back. I felt like our house was organized but that the organization was disorganised. Does that make any sense? Things were organized but they weren't working in a way to make our life run smoother. I needed to make it easier for us to keep our house clean.

Its been so much fun and I'm finding we are all so much happier, especially the boys. Not only because everything is easier and faster but I also see their sense of self esteem growing and their confidence expanding as they accomplish things. They love having clear expectations and knowing exactly what to do with things. I knew that was true before conceptually but I didn't realize how deeply that desire ran and how big of a difference it makes in their attitude. Kids yearn to succeed!

Ive expected too much from them and set them up for failure by never teaching them the underlying habit. I taught them new things as they grew older in concept but we were always playing catch up so it was impossible to learn and make a new good habit. We were always a step behind.

My goal is to teach us all (including myself and John) to use the 1 touch rule. We only touch something once. For example if I walk in and take off my coat and purse I usually drop it on the nearest surface because I'm usually trying to get someone to bed or unloading the car. Now instead of putting it on the ground and then having to hang it up later I just do it right then and there. Simple I know, but we are horrible at this! We have some bad and lazy habits.

Davis especially loves this new way of living. Its so funny to hear him say to himself as he gets undressed to take a shower, "Jammies in the laundry basket, pull-up in the trash." I feel bad that it taken me this long to teach them how to clean up after themselves - Ive always just expected that they understood how. I finding now that as I'm remind them to put something away right when we get home the answer almost always is, "I already did." Blessed relief!

Their playroom was the worst when it came to getting them to clean up. They hated to clean their playroom and I mean loathed it! They would beg to clean other rooms but "pleeease don't make us clean the playroom." I didn't get it. I had labeled bins and for the most part it was really organised. Only problem was it was adult organised - not kid organized and so it was overwhelming to them.

At California Preschool (where the boys went in CA) their classrooms were always clean and the kids enjoyed putting things away. It was habit to put it away right when they were finished with it. I felt so stupid! I use to work in daycare - I KNEW this! Why hadn't I implement those same techniques at home!?! I think I just got so enmeshed in the day to day that I couldn't see the bigger picture. That was one of the best gifts of last 6 months. I was able to step out of my life and see it from an outside point of view. It became clear what wasn't working and how I could make it work better.

Here is our new playroom!

I'm in love! Those shelves from Ikea are the best! Some of my favorite things about the new way the room is set up are the buckets on the bottom shelf (red, blue, and green). Each of those belong to one of the boys. They are forbidden from touching anyones bucket but their own. They LOVE having a special place to keep things that are important to them. Other favorite things:
  • Their games and puzzles are down low and they play with them a lot more now.
  • Their art supplies are visible and handy but not in Beckhams reach or tucked away in the closet.
  • Having a place to put things like the K'nex roller coaster, castle, and remote control cars where its easy to see and access but not where it can be destroyed.
  • The train table in the middle of the room has become the perfect play space! They actually play in the playroom most of the time. Hallelujah!
But my most favorite thing of all is UNDER the bins. Move any of the bins and you will find this:

.....looks like this when the buckets are removed!


I took a picture of each of their toys and in Photoshop wrote the name directly on the image. I ordered the pictures and then stuck them on the shelves with contact paper. It only took a few hours to do but has saved me hundreds of hours of arguing! They keep their playroom so clean! I have yet to find the toys dumped all over and its been 3 weeks and they are only getting better. They love it!

We had a friend over yesterday and it was funny to hear Davis say to his little friend, "No! You cant get another bin out yet, you haven't cleaned up yet. Let me show you. (singing...Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere) Okay, now you put it back. See look for the picture. All done. Now you can pick a new toy."

No joke - that is almost word for word what came out of his mouth. The little friends response was "Oh, okay" and when I went in later there was 1 bin out and everything else was cleaned up!

Its still the same thing I had before for the most part - labeled bins. Only this time its labeled for kids and its easy and convenient! I also took the time to spent the first week in there a lot teaching them and modeling for them how to do it. Its not a choice anymore, its an expectation and the way that our house works. I cant believe how much it has ignited a sense of accomplishment and pride and in my boys! I actually gave them the tools to succeed and its awesome to watch their confidence grow!

Before I didn't think I had the time to do something like this but now I realize how much time I was wasting with our cycle of huge messes and huge fights to clean up. I tried taking all of the toys away for a time and that still didn't work. Whats probably helping the most is that John and I have changed our behavior too. I'm cleaning up after myself right away before I get something else out. I am not expected more of them then I expect of myself. I think they appreciate that.

There have been a couple of times where things have been crazy and we have fallen behind but to compensate we had a 15 minute "jam session." John and I put on loud fun music and a timer for 15 minutes before bedtime and we all ran around and cleaned up as fast as we could for 15 minutes. The shocker - we are finishing in about 10 minutes - and that's to get the entire house clean! We've done this twice and it works great!

*I'm in heaven!*

Here is one last pic I wanted to share. Davis saw these at Ikea and HAD to have them - as in he gave up a new train to have them!

They are really fun. At first I wanted to put the colored pencils, markers, and stuff like that in them but Becks is still a little young for that. We use them for the miscellaneous things that seem to never have a place to go and they are great.

I can think of about a million uses for these hanging bucket. I think they would be awesome in the bathroom for bobby pins, rubber bands, brushes....
Or in the boys bathroom for toothpaste, toothbrushes, combs, and gel...
Or how about in the kitchen for spatulas, ladles, wooden spoons....
Or the office for pens, scissors, rubber bands, paperclips....
Or the laundry room...or even better the garage!

These buckets have SO many possibilities! What about an indoor herb garden!?! Oh my goodness I am so excited about that idea! I think I will be investing in another set!

Nice eye Davis. I do believe that you have your Grandma Silly's eye and love for all things organization!


Megan said...

I love your ideas... I can't wait to start organizing and getting things in order here. I just have to wait for money and deals. But I have the ideas, thanks to you!!! Keep them rolling!

Our Family Est. 2005 said...

Ok, can you come to my house and label everything? I only have one kid so it wouldn't be to hard :) and where did you get all those cool buckets? Please don't tell me Ikea cause I was just there on Saturday before we came home from Cali.

Lisa said...

The 3 buckets the kids have for their stuff were from the Costa Mesa Ikea.

The other square drawers are the ClosetMaid Fabric Drawers. My Mom bought us a 4 pack 3 years ago at Lowe's. I didn't think they would hold up very well but my boys have abused and used them for the last 3 years and they are still in great shape. I went on Amazon to buy more to add to our shelves here:

Megan - the pictures are not expensive at all. Just use what you have for now to put stuff in and on. You could always just label bins with pictures. I know you know how to take pictures! I had a lot of fun photographing their toys.

Lisa said...

I bought the two packs actually:

They were on sale when I bought them.

Abbie said...

LOVE IT!!! I feel the very same way of being unorganized. My kids rooms/our entire house is OUT OF CONTROL! Brielle is the worst (although I'm sure she learned it When I ask her to put something away, she just throws it anywhere on her floor. I've tried to tell her that everything "has a home", but she doesn't care. Good thing starting them early.

Marci Wittwer Butterfield said...

Love everything about this post. You did such a great job of making it look fab and being completely organized. I just wish I had a play room, toys, and kids to play in it. That time will come right!?