This time of year feels both motivating and paralyzing to me. Everyone’s out there rolling their matched socks into cute little bundles that they then line up in an actual drawer, and my socks have not lived anywhere other than a jumbled heap inside the family communal “sock basket” in a decade.
I don’t want to start caring about my socks!
I think most of us can get serious organization burnout if we take a running leap into the new year vowing to sort our way to happiness in 30 days. That said, I do think this is a great time of year (just like ANY OTHER time of year) to consider new systems and habits that will help you feel more in control of the clutter and chaos in your life.
I’m partnering with the #TalkEarly program on this post, which encourages parents to talk to kids about alcohol responsibility early and often. They have a ton of resources at Responsibility.org to help foster those conversations, and I’ve enjoyed partnering with them for years because of the valuable discussions they’ve sparked for me and my kids about underage drinking and responsible alcohol consumption.
What does organizing have to do with alcohol? When life feels chaotic, sometimes we may feel like turning to alcohol to cope, and that’s not healthy.
So instead of feeling overwhelmed by clutter OR overwhelmed by the pressure to tame the clutter, I thought I’d share my favorite SIMPLE way you can calm some of the chaos in your home- without having to match your socks. I’ve been doing this single thing for almost 8 years, and it’s effective and easy to stick with.
The Save Box
Dedicate a clear plastic box to each child. I like clear because I can see what’s in it and how full it’s getting without digging through it. Something like this:
Moving forward, this is the ONLY place you will keep anything you wish to give to your kid when they are an adult.
I’m not saying you can only have one box for their whole life, but I am saying you are going to feel ridiculous if you have 50 and they need a U-Haul to take them all away when they buy their first house. So for now, just the one box, and try to make it last a few years!
When they are babies, this is the box you put the toys and baby clothes you want to save for them. It’s gonna fill up really fast if you decide to save more than a couple of those things a year, so you have to be intentional about what you choose to put in it, and this next part is KEY.
Whatever doesn’t go in that box? GET RID OF IT ASAP. Donate to friends, family, drop off centers, etc. (Unless, of course, you are saving things for another baby.) The point is to keep stuff out of purgatory- where it just waits around for you to figure out what to do with it. If it’s not in the box, then you know it needs to go. Boom. Simple. Make it happen.
When they are school-age, this is where you put all the artwork, certificates, report cards, and any of the other treasured pieces of paper that come home in their backpacks.
Home organization expert Rachel Rosenthal has great advice when it comes to the avalanche of paperwork you have to deal with once your kids are in school:
When it comes to papers, I subscribe to the “touch-once” principle, which means that each incoming item is dealt with as it comes in. I try not to let papers pile up without taking action, whether that be signing, filing, or recycling. The idea is to avoid holding onto things that you don’t need. It takes two minutes! I treat my kids paperwork like the daily mail. Seriously, when my daughters get home I go through the papers with them to identify what is To Do, To Read, To File. Once the “To File” folder gets full we do a once-over to make sure that they still want to keep what they’ve included inside the folder, and then I transfer the contents over to each of the girls’ “Save” boxes.
I’ll add that sometimes kids, given the choice, will want to save every single piece of “art.” Personally, I feel like I get to make the final call. I’m happy to display anything they are super proud of. We have a designated space on the wall, and something must come down before something new goes up.
But not even half of those pieces make it into their Save boxes. If you’re feeling really guilty about trashing that glitter macaroni poster they made, you can always take a photo of it or use something like Artkive to remember it in a way that takes up less space. (But really, you guys, don’t feel guilty throwing stuff away!)
As you move through the year, go through the piles and stacks you have from the past, but try to stay on top of everything coming in from now on. Don’t overcomplicate it. Don’t decorate the box. Don’t think too much about what makes the cut into the box. Keep it simple and make it a habit. It will help so much!
If you’re interested in more realistic home organization tips, check out Rosenthal’s online course “Your Home, Organized.”
And don’t forget to head to Responsibility.org for more resources to help you talk to your kids about alcohol responsibility from as young as age 6.
Thanks to #TalkEarly for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.