During National Adoption Awareness Month, I will introduce you to numerous guest bloggers, highlighting many parts of the adoption journey. I met Shery through a women’s networking group we both belong to. She has an amazing energy and when I learned about what she is doing, and her love for children, I thought this could be a natural fit. I knew she could be helpful to me, but also to all the moms-to-be and current moms I work with. Let’s face it. Getting organized is something we ALWAYS need more of. Do you agree? Shery gives us some great tips.
By Shery Hill
Ah, babies! They’re adorable and smell so heavenly! It’s hard to believe they can wreak such havoc in our lives…if we let them. I may not be able to help you with sleep disruption, but I know a thing or two about maintaining relative calm in your household. Returning to some semblance of “normal” by the end of each day allows you to feel some modicum of control over your life – it worked for me when I was a new mom (and now as a grandma)! When you start organized habits early, you will probably experience less stress and more joy in your family.
Thanks to gift registries and generous friends and family, many new parents find themselves with lots of stuff! They suddenly have the equipment, bedding, toys and clothes for every age. It’s a great idea to find a place for everything before the excitement of baby’s debut. As you sort and store, follow your intuition about where things should go because that’s where you’ll naturally look for them.
- Before opening packages and removing tags, lay out all clothing and bedding and sort by size. You can exchange your extras to ensure you have a good balance for each stage.
- Clear lidded bins are perfect for storage because you can see contents and they’re easy to find locally and online. You’ll want bins a little bigger than needed for the clothes to be stored since you’ll add along the way. Keep them uniform in size, so they stack to save space. Be sure to buy one for your newborn to 3-month clothes and one for keepsakes. You may want a few extras for the next two sizes and shoes – oh, the shoes!
- Label the bins by size/age, getting as creative as you like – from Sharpie on masking tape to printed fonts and artwork. Then find a handy area of the nursery closet for your bins.
- Wash the clothes in baby-friendly detergent so they’re soft and fresh, then sort into the appropriate bins.
- Put the clothes you’ll need right away, along with receiving blankets and burp cloths, into your nursery dresser or bassinet for easy access.
- As you need the next size, wash the smaller clothes well (getting any stains out) and fold them into their labeled bin for your next baby, loans or consignment. They can be stored in the nursery or in your storage area. Remember to use the keepsake bin for one or two outfits that are special to you, so you can share them with your children later.
Dressers and closets.
Parents constantly complain the drawers are always overflowing and messy, so consider going without dressers! You heard me right. Bins, baskets, and shelves in the closet work very well. From toddler age, many kids love to be involved in dressing themselves and you can help set them up for success. Visibility with clear bins and kid-sized hangers make it easy to find what they want while keeping clothing neat (with a little help from mom or dad). As they become more autonomous, you can buy solids and prints that go together. When my son discovered Nike in grade school, he loved having pants and shorts that all looked great with colorfully printed shirts and I appreciated the ease of shopping for clothes that made us both happy.
- Bins are great for socks, undies, pajamas, sheets, and loveys.
- Shirts can be hung on kids-sized hangers and use clamped hangers for pants and shorts. Child-sized hangers can be found online for little cost and are a great idea.
- Place a laundry basket in each bathroom or child’s room and teach them to toss their clothes in as they take them off – they’re even available with basketball hoops to make it fun. When you collect laundry, take empty hangers with you to the laundry room, making it easy to hang clothes right out of the dryer. As children mature, you can deliver the clothes to the kid’s doors and have them put them away with the expectation that all will be neatly stored by that evening’s bedtime stories.
You can set up a rich environment that leads children to follow their curiosity and learn on their own, which is a great start! They need fewer toys/activities than you may think, and I encourage you to rotate toys in and out of play regularly. Also, as kids mature, set a regular schedule for toy donations to a local charity – it’s never too early to share your good fortune with others.
Again with the bins! The tilted wooden holders of colorful bins in daycares and preschools are popular because it’s easy to see contents and they don’t hold too much to dump and quickly clean up. Bins also work on any shelving and you can make fun labels with photos of the contents – blocks, cars, animals – along with printed words to help them learn naturally.
- Designate play areas that work for you, as well as the kids.
- In the kitchen, a couple of lower drawers or cabinets are great for toys and items that are safe for play – like plastic storage containers, unbreakable bowls, small pots, and long-handled spoons. Kids love playing with the same tools you’re using, and you have them in sight and can interact as you work.
- A creative bin in the kitchen is also a great idea for quiet play for toddlers and older. If you have children of different ages, be sure each has an age-appropriate bin. Keep in mind that everyday items can be added – egg cartons can become alligators – and old envelopes and stickers are always fun!
- Consider the rooms in your house that will be shared with your little one. In a family room, you may use shelving in doored cabinets for an easy transition to adult only activities.
- Many parents keep bedrooms for bedtime reading and loveys so children are not distracted from sleep. Keep playtime outside of their bedroom.
- If you have a “playroom” away from the main areas of the house, it’s still important to have clean-up at the end of each day, so play can start fresh tomorrow. If tired children resist, reading their choice of books can be a great enticement.
Clean-up is easiest if it’s done in small jobs as they change activities. There are lots of fun and educational ways to sort toys while playing the clean-up game: color, shape, use, etc. As they get older you can make it more interesting: things that fly, things that bite, things with hair. Beat the Clock is another way to make it fun…and fast! Be sure to keep the “prizes” small so children pick up on the fact that a clean floor and happy parents are rewards too!
Now that you have tips and checklists, I’ll share my best advice: get down on the floor and play with your kids at every age – show ‘em how it’s done! Some of my most treasured time as a mom and grandma has been spent racing cars, doing puzzles and trying to see who can get the blocks back into the bin first – and I especially enjoy the bedtime reading rewards!
My wish for you is that these ideas simplify routine work so there’s more relaxing time to experience the little everyday joys.