I’m a fan of giving your kids some (note: some, not most or all) space around the house. I’ve already shared part of my living room, but I also love to give some space in the kitchen. When my kid is hungry, she goes right over to her bin and gets out a plate for us. She puts it away after it’s been washed.
Since forks are still a little troublesome, we still use the high chair tray and bib at every meal. On the middle shelf, there are just some miscellaneous teethers and small toys in the bin, but eventually, I want to put some snacks in there. We’re not there yet – she’s still a little too messy! The washcloths help keep our paper towel usage down a little. The bottom shelf has all of her plates, bowls, cups (gray bin) and the plastic containers for her school snacks (pink bin).
Getting her on the organizing train when she’s young will hopefully save us a lot of trouble down the line!
After you’ve completely decluttered your kitchen or if you’re blessed with ample storage, there are some items that always bewilder the best of us. For me, it’s the cookie sheets and other (mainly) flat, rectangular items that don’t quite stack easier. The best way in my house to store these is to keep them in a filing rack! Now, they are kept upright so I can always grab exactly what I need without having to pull out a entire stack of stuff. And the person putting dishes away always knows exactly where to put the missing item. Since that is usually after the kid’s bedtime, the lack of pans banging against each other is just another win!
Giving your kid some space to play in an small house can be tough. I’ve found that trying to sneak some small places can make it easier to clean up and add some creativity to playing by having less toys available. We used to have a table (fort) in this area, but once our tall toddler started knocking her head when standing up, it was time for a change. I moved the garage sale shelves up from the basement and cleared off a bottom shelf to stash some bigger toys and books.
Now, we have a perfect little play nook without the toys completely overtaking our living room!
If you spend any amount of time on Pinterest, you’ve probably seen these Ikea/Target carts being pinned left and right, used in every room of the house in a variety of ways: art station, sports equipment, doll storage, book case, shoe rack, baking cart. The versatility of this cart makes it a must have in my home!
In the year I’ve had mine, it started a changing table side (with diapers and wipes, burp clothes, extra diapers) and now it’s been moved to our basement to be a toddler command center for those lazy moments when you don’t want to go upstairs to get a diaper.
When my amazing mother-in-law (and site proofreader!) recently came for a visit, I saw something new: some colored tape on the spine of her library book with a date on it. Though it was the arrival date for a intralibrary request, I would use this idea and put the due date on there. Remember when there were conveniently placed stamps inside the books and you didn’t have to look at your app to figure out what books to renew or return? (Or what ones are from the library if you have kids with lots of books!) This makes it even easier – you don’t even have to open the book!
I recently got motivated to do a little pantry clean up. I used the same technique I discussed in my recent kitchen decluttering post – taking everything out, dividing into frequency of use, then putting the most used items close at hand. Moving some stuff around and spending less than $15 made a huge difference on how my pantry functions. I can now find items right away. Everything is very nicely labeled (due to the fact this was the day after I got my recent label maker). You can check out the before, during, and after in my Instagram Highlights.
I used to have some shelf risers in here for my cans, but some items were still getting lost in the back. I still love shelf risers, as you can tell by the 3rd shelf (as well as my posts here, here, and here) but they were not cutting it in my pantry for the cans. So I got a tiered rack to help keep those cans in check. From the moment I put it in and added cans, I knew it was the best decision of the day!
The other thing that became obvious to me: I don’t bake much anymore. Back in the day, I was a baker – any excuse to make a cake or cookies! I had sprinkles, cute cookie cutters, 20 pound bags of flour. As I decluttered my own kitchen, I realized that it had been YEARS since I had used many of these items.
I may need to repurchase some items when I get back into baking as the kid gets a little older and is able to help. But for now, I’d rather enjoy the extra space in my home.
We have a relatively small house under 1,500 square feet. A perfect little starter house. But as our toddler has started moving around, we realized that having an extra space for her to run around would be a great addition, especially during those cold Champaign-Urbana winter months! Since we have a full, unfinished basement, we have been slowly and cheaply setting it up as an extra play area/office space/guest room – basically an extension of our 3rd bedroom upstairs!
After this winter, we will likely evaluate to see if we will spend enough time downstairs to necessitate a little more “finishing.” This is our (unpatented) way to try something out without having to invest a lot of money upfront. We are doing a similar thing in our backyard during the summer months. If it turns out we spend a lot of time in either area, we may consider investing some money. If not, then we will be glad we didn’t spend thousands of dollars on an unused space!
Back to the basement: there are basically four quadrants in the basement: play area (seen above), Organizing CU area (desk, supplies, etc), an extra bed and nightstands, and the storage area. The play area was, of course, the easiest to set up since there are always so many extra toys around the house. We had gotten the mats from a neighbor and they are a great addition to the concrete floors. The paint by the bed (not seen) was leftover from an earlier project. The couch was a remnant from merging households. I did splurge on a $7 desk for my office area (thank you Facebook Marketplace!).
Considering the amount of times our kid will go to the top of the stairs and shake the gate, I think the (slightly more) finished basement is a hit.
I doubt it will surprise anyone to hear that I didn’t come across my organizing habits on my own: “I got it from my mama.” This is the cleaning shelf at my parents’ house – how clever is this?!? When they put on an addition in the early 90s, they put a large laundry room in, adding a long rod and shelf. Since then, it’s been dedicated to all the cleaning supplies! The teal basket is to take to the kitchen and bathrooms for those projects, while the other bottles are more one pony tricks and some back up supplies. If you’re looking to remodel or upgrade your laundry room soon, I definitely recommend adding some additional storage for cleaning supplies.
When you have 4 seasons like we do in the Midwest, you can go months without using some of your clothing (think: bulky sweaters and swimsuits). If you’ve read this site before, you know I love a bin – in the kitchen, in the playroom. Let me give you a peek into our closet. I love to use big baskets to store some of those out of season items. Since we are approaching fall, the sweaters and hoodies are going to be making their way out and the shorts and sandals taking their place. Keeping everything nearby, but out of sight, is a great way to keep what you’re currently using organized!
If you’re like me, you have a TON of Tupperware and Pyrex. The Tupperware is kept in a lazy susan, but the Pyrex needed to find a new home when we child-proofed (basically, decluttered and organized by putting all breakables in the upper shelves and the kid-approved stuff in the lower cabinets). Putting an under shelf storage basket in this cabinet with the Pyrex means the lids will always have a safe home near the container without risking them falling every time we open the cabinet!