One pro organizer (and mom of two daughters) shares her top tips.
We all know those families that seem to have it all together—the kids are always on time for school, the permission slips are signed, they never miss a ballet lesson, the kitchen's tidy. Don't sweat it (just imagine how messy their closets secretly are!). Then, steal some tips from super-organized families to help your own household run a little more smoothly. To find out what sets organized families apart, we reached out to pro organizer Rachel Rosenthal of Rachel and Company (and a busy mom of identical twins) for her tips. As it turns out, it's really all about setting up the right habits and building a routine. Not sure where to start? Here are five easy guidelines Rachel's family follows, and that you can establish right now for a more organized year ahead.
They have a permanent donations bin.
"Designate a donation spot in each of your kids' closets for outgrown clothes and in your garage or storage room for toys that your children no longer play with," Rachel recommends. When little ones outgrown clothing on a regular basis, the collection only grows unless you take the time to donate or give away what no longer fits. When the bin or basket is full, that's your cue to take it to Goodwill, or bring the hand-me-downs to a friend.
They make reviewing papers part of their daily ritual.
Okay, deep breathe for this one. It may sound daunting, but going through all of the papers (both mail and from your kids) that come into the house on a daily basis is much easier than letting it pile up. "When you grab your mail each day, recycle the junk mail immediately and sort the rest in vertical file folders," Rachel suggests. Label the files "to do," "to file," and "to shred," so you can see what's important to read. Then, when you have the time, you can start going through the "to do" file.
They organize based on how their families function.
"Be realistic with how you and your family function and create organizing systems based on the way that you live," says Rachel. For example, use labels in spaces that multiple people need to use (like the kitchen or pantry) so everyone is on the same page about where things belong. Then, keep everything at a height that is accessible to the intended users.
They keep food options within arm's reach.
"Dedicate a kitchen drawer or shelf in the pantry with the supplies that the kids will need to prepare their lunches," she recommends. Place lunch boxes and plastic bags where the kids can easily grab them, and they'll have no excuse for not packing their own lunches. The same logic applies to the fridge. Adjust the shelves so healthy, kid-friendly snacks are easy to grab, and they won't have to ask a parent for a snack.
They get their kids involved.
No matter what area of your home you're organizing, get your kids involved. "Have them help out in the pantry by grouping like items and checking for expiration dates, or let them choose their favorite colored bin to use for their toy storage," says Rachel. "Making them responsible for these little tasks will help them understand the process and make it easier for them to know how the organization can be maintained."