Sunday, June 10, 2012

Basic Tools for Family Organization

Planning and routines are such an imperative part of the well-being of our children as well as for our own growth. Every family is different, which means systems will work differently for each one. The intent of this post is to explore some very basic strategies that can be implemented regardless of family size, no matter how big or small. Of course there are plenty of times for fun and games too, it just wouldn't be fun if things were perfectly organized all the time!
 If you would like some insight on some simple ways to keep the organizational process flowing in the house, read on. You may already have a plan in place that works well for everyone, which is great! Remember one of the keys to allowing more time for yourself and for your loved ones starts at home, so why not begin by taking some time saving steps to enjoy that time!

Create a Family Binder
Put together a family binder, accordion file or even storage boxes which can hold important documents that you may need quickly and keep in a safe place. Use tabs or labels and create categories such as-
Emergency contacts (great for a babysitter to reference)
Auto Information
Insurance Forms
Home Improvement Receipts and Documents
Birth certificates
Medical records

Accordion Filing System
Decorative Folders with Tabs       
Magazine File for Folders
When you using a binder you can get creative with the design and have your children help! Create tabs for each family member, even your pets. As records become updated you may need to occasionally purge paperwork but stay consistent with filing these documents in the binder. When you receive documents in the mail file immediately so that they aren't piling up on the counters. This method is quick, easy and a time saver when looking for paperwork!

Family Mail and Appointment Center
The kitchen is always the center of the household and one of the best places to display a mail filing and appointment/task center. There are so many possibilities to organizing this area! One of my personal favorites is utilizing a dry erase board on the fridge and listing daily appointments and reminders. This can also be used to list chores for the kids. Allow them to choose which chores they would like to do that week which creates a sense of accomplishment and also independence.
One of the best ways to reduce a mail mess is to sort the minute you get the chance. Place mail in an over the door organizer, mail scroll or magnetic mail file like the ones pictured below. Create an in and out going pocket and toss mail you don’t need right away. The purpose of in-coming and outgoing keeps bills on track and acts as a reminder of when mail needs to hit the road.  The magnetic mail holder is also great for take out menus! Rather than have your menus hidden in a junk drawer transfer them to the mail file on the fridge. Think of the systems mentioned as a process to keep things flowing in the house and a way to rid yourself and your home of clutter. When everything has a designated place you will notice the difference! 

Hanging mail and key holder

Creating Zones
Creating zones in your household is a vital part of keeping items organized whether they are toys, books, mail etc. One of the key things to pay attention to when creating zones is the habits you and your family have developed over time in the house. For instance do your children tend to play in every room or just in one or two areas of your home. When you walk in the door do you toss your keys and purse anywhere or in a specific area? Begin to set up key spots in your home for specific activities. If you decide to sort through mail in the kitchen this is where the mail organizer should be stored. If you place your keys and purse by the door have a key rack available or storage for bags. Another great trick is to prepare a backpack with items you may need when running out the door quickly with your kids. Items such as books, dvds, snacks or extra diapers. Keep this emergency bag close to the door where your keys are so you won't leave the house without it.
 If you find yourself looking through magazines in the living room have a basket or bin for reading materials.

Organization beginning at home is one of the best ways to teach your children the importance of systems and a process. Children may not always recognize the process of organizing as a fun task so there are a few ways for them to grasp it. Keeping them involved with writing their own to do lists for school, providing specific bins for toys, helping you create a shopping list or even helping you plan a vacation will provide them with some tools to encourage organizational steps. If there is a place for everything and everything in its place you would be surprised how quickly your family will catch on! There are certainly no magic wands to wave around the house for everything to just fall into place in this department, but going step by step will help!

Ideas and comments are welcome! For everyday organizing tips follow me on Twitter!/laugia or find me on Facebook Happy Organizing!


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