In the shack – oasis – that was his well-appointed office, I listened to several of his heart-felt, well-written masterpieces. I did not have to pretend to be impressed. He listened to mine too.
Still sipping my coffee, he offered me a few drops of wisdom, from his many years. He wandered a variety of paths during our conversation, but among the threads was the suggestion to listen to what every employee has to say. “Find the best in each one.” (In my poem, I had done just that). He said, with a wry smile, that sometimes those that appear least willing to work find the best efficiencies.
I thought of him yesterday, as I pondered my organizational strategies. Based on his experienced logic, a woman who despises housework (yes, yes, that’s me!) should be capable of brilliance in the face of disorganized chaos.
With that in mind, I bring you my heart-felt, “top-10” suggestions on how to manage some of the most unmanageable aspects of raising children. For our family, I find that the simple solutions are the only ones with staying power.
1. Shoes. Four pairs of shoes and boots times five people . . . . buy a set of shoe cubbies. Buy one that is too large for your family, it will fill up. I put off-season items in a bin in the basement.
3. Play space. With a boy who is 6, a girl who is 4 and another boy who is 2 years, I think we have every toy on the planet: dolls, trains, legos, oh my! A few years ago, my house was completely out of control (now its only partially out of control). Since we could not afford a fancy basement re-finishing project, I decided to do the ‘bare minimum’ to allow my children the safe space they needed. With a $130 carpet remnant, $300 in shelves, and another $60 in bins and racks, my basement became playroom central.
4. Toy bins. The only toy bins worth having are once that the kids can put their own toys into by themselves. I let my older children help decide our organization strategies, but the categories are fairly obvious: balls, dolls, cars & trucks, little people, legos, dress-up, etc. Buy a bin that is slightly too large to allow for new toys in that category.
5. Dress-up. With a $10 rack and a yard sale mirror, a star is born!
6. Special toys. If your child has a particular love, find a way for that child to store those toys in a special place. These “garages” for my son’s “fragile cars” are a little too high for a two-year-old to reach, but well within his grasp.
7. School papers. My two older children bring home reams of paper every week. I put all of the papers in one notebook as they come through the door. I can do in the midst of chaos, and I can always find things by remembering approximately when that paper came home from school. For odd-shaped “precious art,” I keep a bin in the basement.
8. Hand-me downs. Kids grow SO fast, especially the little ones. I keep a bin (often a diaper box) in my kid’s closets. As soon as something is too small, it goes right in the bin. If it is too stained, throw it away! If you don’t have a friend with a smaller child, there are many organizations that would be thrilled to have your treasures.
9. The Children. Don’t forget that by storing the smaller one on the upper shelf, there is plenty of room for a larger child on the bottom of the cabinet.
10. Take hints from others! Have an organization idea that works for your family? Share it!! Add your comment, or send me an e-mail and I will add to our ongoing list at email@example.com.
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And, why did I start this post with the production manager? That production manager was very tough, hard-working, full of grace, and commanded respect from the inside out. He didn't control everything. He controlled what was important.
And everyone knew it.