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How to organise the top 10 messy things around the house

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Given that mess is a problem most mums face on a daily basis, we thought we’d ask local organisation expert, Rosemary Boreham of Pick Me! Organisers to give her tips on how to get, well … organised! Especially when it comes to those items that can easily get out of control, such as toys and books and stationery items.

Organising doesn’t mean you have to be perfect and live in a picture-perfect home. For me, organising has always been the ability to put your items away with ease and get them out again with no frustration, anxiety or fear.

There are items and everyday events in every home across Australia that get people anxious or upset. A simple outing to the park with a newborn can send any normal woman into a tailspin when she can’t put her hands on the baby wipes in that very second she needs them. So the trip that was planned with careful time and consideration suddenly becomes one of panic.

With some careful thought and reflection on the issues faced by my previous clients, here is my list of the top 10 items and areas that can get messy quickly and how to organise them for the better.

1. Flat surfaces

While the likes of kitchen benchtops, tables and bedside tables are all very different entities in your home, clutter can build up on these surfaces very quickly. A quick and easy way to keep clutter at bay is to take everything off the surface, throw out the rubbish and rehome everything that doesn’t belong there. Deal with the mail while standing over the kitchen recycling bin and file the important papers – don’t just leave it on a table to look at two weeks later! Once the essential, most loved items have been reassigned to their rightful locations, your surface areas are clear for you to wipe down with ease.

2. The kitchen pantry

Every shelf, every inch of space in your kitchen is precious. So why give away such real estate to a can of expired goods? Or to those unused bowls you ‘have’ to keep because Aunty Dot gave them to you for your wedding 20 years ago? If you haven’t used any item within six months of owning it, you probably never will. The ‘I might need it one day’ philosophy is a trap that will keep your home cluttered.

Pantries come in all forms, but most will have abou six levels. Here is a good system of organising to follow.

  • Top shelf – non-essential items such as napkins and trays.
  • Second shelf – dry ingredients such as pasta, rice and couscous. Store in square or rectangular tightly sealed containers. Why square or rectangular? Because that’s the shape your cupboard is!
  • Third shelf – snacks. This shelf is good to keep the naughty (yummy) food on as it’s not directly at eye level. Out of sight, out of mind.
  • Fourth shelf – canned goods / easy meals. These are conveniently placed in your line of sight.
  • Fifth shelf – sauces, oils and vinegars.
  • Bottom shelf/floor – appliances / pet foods / bulk goods.

3. Toys

No matter how old we get, we all have our toys or items that cater for a hobby, and we like to use them. Some easy tricks are to set limits. From a young age teach your child the ‘one in, one out’ rule, particularly around Christmas and birthday times. Don’t have all the toys out to be seen and played with on a 24/7 basis, but rotate the toys available, depending on your storage. And try not to have all the kids’ toys in their bedrooms – store them in a different area of the home and take your child ‘shopping’ when they become bored of playing with their latest Barbie or, for an older child, the latest app.

4. Dirty clothes and laundry

Laundry is one of those necessary chores in life. Have a two system hamper in every bedroom: one for whites/delicates and one for dark clothing. Set a laundry day, then stick to that day and don’t deviate. One of the first set of responsibilities you can teach your child is to bring their hamper to the laundry. For those lonely socks who have lost their mate, turn them into sock puppets.

5. Books

I love books but they can be bulky and take up a lot of room, so why not invest in a Kindle for an older child? Organise colouring books and pencils in a dish drying rack with the books stacked from largest to smallest across the rack and the pencils placed in the cutlery holder. 

6. Pens and stationery

An easy way to keep track of pens and stationery for any child is to create their own stationery box. All pens, highlighters, calculators, and whatever else is necessary for each project or homework assignment, will be there in the box and ready to go when they need it. You will soon find that the cries of ‘Mum, come find my calculator for me’ will have disappeared.

7. Lego

A bane of existence in any household, some fun organising is the key to keep these pieces together instead of finding stray pieces on the floor and hurting your feet during the night! Invest in a Lego mat or similar (which is round and has a drawstring edge so you can scoop up the pieces at the end of play) then enforce the rule that all pieces must stay on the mat. Keep the mat in one area of the house and no stray pieces will escape. You could also use a small floor rug for the same purpose.  

8. Shoes and school bags

Usually dumped by the front door in one big heap, there is a better way! Hang a plastic bag organiser behind the kids’ bedroom doors or a door in a mud room or laundry, then place a wooden basket next to the organiser. Now all bags and shoes can be caught by these two items and your entryway will be mess free.

9. Household bills

Even the best of us miss a payment sometimes, but you can limit the late fees if you’re more organised. Take note of when you receive the bill, use your diary or calendar to enter in the date it’s due with a reminder a week before and then pay the bill by the due date. You will be able to control when money is taken from your account and no penalty fees will be incurred.

10. Cables

Don’t invest in expensive products to keep cables in check – bullnose clips and empty toilet rolls are the way to go when organising these messy items in your home, which are often out of sight. Even the hands of Lego people can also be used to organise messy cables in view, which the children will love.

For more tips and organising tricks, visit Pick Me! Organisers website or Facebook page. 

Do you have any other ways you use to organise the ‘messy’ items around your home? We’d love to hear them in the comments section below.

More on organising…

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