Well, here is my number one, shocking, genius tip for you: Don't buy the stuff in the first place. (If it's gifted but just doesn't suit your family's needs, pass it along without guilt.)
Let's talk kitchen. I do not have tons of storage in this kitchen so it's imperative that I only hang onto what I love and what works for us. I simply don't have extra drawers for seldom-used items. One thing that does threaten to sink me on occasion is this: party stuff, the candles, decorations, color gels, etc... A long time ago I put all these things in two separate containers (with lids) and I keep them on a handy shelf in the basement. They're there when I need them but not cluttering up my kitchen when I don't.
I wrote this post on organizing just shortly after moving here. Some things in our kitchen look a little different now, but the storage/organization parts look almost exactly the same. I think my favorite tip from this post is the storage capabilities of adding hooks to the insides of cabinet doors. It is THE perfect solution for awkwardly-sized or shaped items that you just don't want taking up space in a drawer; plus, you no longer have to hunt them down and fish them out- they're right there where you need them!
Look around for those spare areas that can be put to good use. They work wonders in our busy, full household. And don't neglect empty wall space, especially in a basement or garage. Hooks and shelves on these walls are often the workhorse to getting and staying organized, and getting things up and off the floors. Win win. This summer we're revamping our garage storage, so I'll share some before and after photos when we're done; having done this at our old house, I can tell you what a difference having a good system made.
I've got some laundry tips to help you stay organized.
This probably sounds like everything in my house is perfectly situated, where there are no junk drawers or hidden piles of things in the basement I just don't want to deal with... NOT AT ALL. My sewing stuff has the power to take over a room (or two!), the hobbies/sports threaten to sink me on a weekly if not daily basis, there are gadgets that I like to have in my kitchen after deciding that I really don't have a need for them. It's stuff, and lots of it!
Again, I try to be diligent about what I purchase. Bringing it back to tip #1, I guess. Just a couple weeks ago, I was staring into the eyes of the cutest little lavender bunny rabbit, and I knew Isabelle would loooooove it. It was only a few dollars and I snatched it up. But then I got thinking about all the toys she already has, how many of them don't seem special or unique simply because of the sheer volume, and how we can't adequately fit the ones we've already got. There may also be issues about picking up but I won't throw her under the bus about that, ha. So I put the bunny back on the shelf. I'm sure she would have loved getting it in her basket, she would play with it every day...for a while. But then what? Just another toy to find a place for. Her father and I are trying to teach her - and all our children- that the stuff of life isn't what's most important, and it's okay to say no to stuff. Better than okay, even. Tough lesson for a kid, I know, but we've got to start somewhere.
I'm not at all saying that we shouldn't buy toys and things ever again. I just want the things we do spend our money and attention on to matter. I think there's a big difference. It certainly impacts our day-to-day in terms of organization, too.
Okay, now I'm off to make mini-chip pancakes for my lovelies, today is Cookie Friday (woot!) and I promised them all Crepes with Berries & Cream for dessert tonight. Sugar overload, I tell you. We'll have to run laps later. =)
Perfect Pancakes (adapted to feed 5-7 people)
WHOA! I just looked through my recipes and saw that I don't have our favorite pancakes blogged...I will have to remedy that! So enjoy this blueberry one...