I decided to take on the 29 Day Organizing Challenge at orgjunkie.com, and it was hard work, but I finally finished my room organization and makeover. Here are the before and after's followed by a few questions.
I chose to organize the basement play room/craft room. I have been working on getting this room in order for the past year but I've never been able to get it to all come together before it falls apart again. I originally decided to make the finished basement a playroom since my now 4 year old son is displaying classic symptoms of ADHD. He can't have any toys in his bedroom to distract him from his morning routine, and since banning all toys from upstairs, mornings have gone soooo much easier! Unfortunately, this room also ended up becoming a dumping ground for all things that didn't have a place, and I couldn't bring my blind 2 year old down there because it just wasn't safe for him. I also couldn't really create anything crafty in this space myself since everything was so disorganized and never got put back.
First, I sorted everything by person. My crafting stuff went into one corner to organize. Liam's toys went into another corner, and Collin's toys went into a third corner. Anything else was put away in a different room. By breaking things up into these groups it made it much easier to tackle each group individually as smaller projects.
I didn't want to overwhelm Liam too much with sorting through his toys, so I organized the toys that I knew he played with every week, and let him sort through the rest. I put them all in a basket and caught him when he was in a focused mood. I had all the toys in a basket. I picked them up one by one and asked him if he liked playing with it or if he wanted to give it away. It was funny listening to him considering if he liked the toy or not.. "umm. that one makes a lot of noise, so yes, I like it", or "I don't like Handy Manny to speak spanish, so no". We kept a few of his favorite larger toys in the toybox in the living room, and everything else got organized downstairs.
Collin's toys were a little harder to organize. Since he's only 2, and not verbal yet, I couldn't really get him to help me. Instead, I asked myself several questions to determine if each item was something we should keep or not... Is this item in good shape? Is this an item that is used during his therapy appointments? Is this item something that can help him meet his developmental goals? Is this item something he loves to play with?
The hardest part was just getting started! The room was such a mess that it was overwhelming just trying to think of where to start! Fortunately we had friends over for Superbowl Sunday and I had my husband bring the coffee table up into the living room for snacks. That was enough to start the momentum for me to sort everything into categories and more manageable projects.
Toys that were broken were thrown out. Those that weren't were donated to goodwill. Collin had a lot more toys than would fit into the space allowed, so I allowed two storage containers for extra toys to rotate and put them into the storage section of the basement. With my crafts, I threw out a lot of small scraps I wasn't using, and everything else I managed to purge will be going to a tag sale at my local scrapbook store. Anything that doesn't sell they will donate to a local charity.
I have been working hard on using up what I have in my scrapbook supply instead of buying more and more, but the area was so disorganized it was hard to see any improvement. I was actually able to consolidate a lot of things from two to one container!
I actually repurposed several things from around the house. I had a really pretty punch bowl that I never used taking up valuable cabinet space in my kitchen. I brought that down here and now I use it for storage for my ribbon on spools.
I've also been saving jars and used a few smaller ones to hold my buttons and brads.
Then I had a trifle bowl that I used once for a pot luck that was collecting dust. I decided to use this here to store my Unity stamps.
Other ideas I used:
The rest of my embellishments are sorted into photo boxes and iris scrapbook cases. Once a month I go through my supplies and create my own kit to use for the rest of the month. This kit goes into a pizza size box and sits on the coffee table to use. That way I'm only searching through everything once a month instead of with every project. Occasionally I'll search for something specific, but it's definitely reduced how much I drag everything out (and reduces the potential mess from not putting things away). I also use 2 gallon ziploc bags for each of my paper packs and to sort the rest of my paper by manufacturer.
For the kids toys, we have the storage system from Ikea that most things fit into. I got two yellow buckets to put on top - one for balls and the other for Collin's farmhouse toys.
We also got a new bookcase for upstairs to hold all of Liam's books, Collin's braille books, and Collin's braille book kits (which take up a lot of room). The book kits come in cardboard boxes so I put each kit into a see-through plastic storage container.
7. What is ONE piece of advice you’d give to someone else to encourage them on their organizational journey?
I've read sooo many organization books but I just can't seem to make anything work long-term. The one idea that has worked for me and that has stuck around I read in Julia Morgenstern's Organizing from the Inside Out which is the "kindergarden model". In a kindergarden, you have everything sorted into areas based on what you do, and everything for that activity is in that area. You have the dress up area, the reading area, the crafting area, etc. So with any room organization, the first step is to figure out what activities you do in that room, and then organize everything into those zones. I have my crafting zone, Collin's toy zone, Liam's toy zone, an open play area zone, and a small zone for table activities (crafts, preschool books, play dough). This may not always work out perfectly and some zones may overlap, but I think it's a great way to get started to figure out your room's needs.
Finally, I want to end by giving a big thank you to Laura at I'm an Organizing Junkie for providing this challenge. It was just the motivation I needed to get this space organized and pretty. No longer will I be ashamed to have my friend's kids go downstairs to play with toys!!