Organization and the New Year
Crystal Miller

Every January I begin the challenge of going through my home and clearing out closets and storage areas and dealing with things that have been forgotten, misplaced, worn out, served its’ purpose, broken or just needs to be moved to a better location. After Christmas there is the job of finding new places to put things and there is only so much space in our home. It requires evaluating what I have and what I need and what can be given away or thrown away, etc…

This year I am thinking about this process even more than usual. My husband remodeled my kitchen and finished the job on the day before Christmas Eve. Now I am looking at all my kitchen pots, pans, baking ware, waffle irons, small appliances and wondering how much of it do I use, how much will be used enough to justify the space it takes up and what are the things I would never want to live without.

I learned how little I needed to do the basic cooking for my family as I spent all of last year in my laundry room turned makeshift kitchen. It was a challenge to stay organized in this little room (which we still had to share with the washer and dryer). But now I have had the joy of moving into this kitchen. I have been looking at all the drawers and cupboards and deciding where to put everything.

To help me with this process of figuring out what to keep and where to put it all I think in terms of systems. I think of the things done most often in my kitchen and then try and divide my kitchen into work areas. I have a baking area where I put my measuring cups and spoons, mixing bowls, my Bosch mixer sits on the counter under these things. I also have baking powder, baking soda, vanilla and cinnamon there as well. I like to have all these things in easy reach because it is quick to mix up bread, cookies and the like. Then I have a sandwich/cutting area. I have my knives in a drawer, the cutting board near this, and this is usually close to refrigerator to make cutting up veggies, finding mayo and peanut butter and jam an easy task. I also have the coffee section. Coffee, filters, mugs, tea bags, sugar and creamer etc… This may make it sound like my kitchen is very large, but it is not. I just organize it in a way that groups like things together so I am not walking all over the place when I am working in there. These to me are systems of organization.

The kitchen is not the only place where systems of organization help in operation of the home. I have found that a system for dealing with all the daily things that must be done is very helpful. Operating systems make a home more organized and daily activity flow better. Aside from the systems for kitchen organization, I have systems for my cleaning supplies, cleaning rags, vacuum, etc.. these are in my now reclaimed laundry room. I have a system for laundry such as giving each child color coded towels, their own laundry basket (which I buy in different colors so I know who the basket belongs to) and their own laundry day, there are systems for making our home school function better… this entails things such as bookshelves, file drawers, Rubbermaid containers for school books and supplies for each child and places for finished school papers, etc.., I have systems to deal with my children’s clothing, which can be a chore with as many children as I have. I have storage containers and I only keep the clothes that are in top condition and then pass these onto the younger children. The clothes that have to wait for a year or two or the summer/winter clothes that are not being worn are stored in the basement in a few large plastic totes. I only allow myself to have as many clothes as I have totes (which are 4 currently). Anymore clothes then this just creates chaos and it becomes too hard to deal with them. I also have a system for dealing with my children’s toys. I have large Rubbermaid containers and divide toys into these.. doll’s in one, cars, trucks in another, Lego’s in yet another, etc.. I store these away and rotate them to allow only two or three out at a time so as to keep the mess manageable for them. As I go through my day I am not trying to figure out what to do with things and how to accommodate new things that come in the house. I just plug whatever I am dealing with into its’ proper system.

However every year my systems need to be gone through and evaluated, changed when needed and reset at times. We start to slip and toss things where they don’t belong or shove things in the storage areas and closets to “deal with later”. We usually need to reset a few of these systems by January. I don’t like the process, in fact some years I dread thinking about what I have to go through. But I love the end result, which is my motivation for cleaning up and clearing out and getting back to a place where things flow better again. For me it is a great way to start my New Year!!

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