From school and business closures to entire nations going on lock-down, the reality is that many of us are going to be spending a lot of time at home.
So, after you stock up on essentials, why not take this forced opportunity to declutter and organize some spaces that you’ve been avoiding?
When I’m feeling completely overwhelmed, which is often, I look to experts for help. So, I called on two people I know who own organization companies.
Q: How should people start? If your whole house is a mess… where do you begin? A: Tara Bremer, Owner of House Peace: “I like to encourage people to think about the space that makes them the angriest! Harness that power! If you’re getting ready for your day and bathroom clutter just GETS TO YOU, start there. That anger can help you be honest about what you really use and love versus what is just in your way and wrecking your morning.”
Carrie Thayer, Owner of Kempt Professional Organizing: “If people don’t know where to begin, start with a small project, like a junk drawer. Completing something quick and easy will give them a sense of accomplishment, but also the confidence to tackle a larger project that will make a difference for the entire family, like the mud room or pantry.”
Q: I can’t go out and get organizing tools. How do I navigate that? What about cleaning supplies?
A: Carrie Thayer, Owner of Kempt Professional Organizing: With any organizing project, the first thing to do is empty the space, so take everything out the drawer, cabinet or closet. Sort each item into three categories: keep, toss or donate.
Put like items together. For example, if you are organizing your junk drawer, put all the pens together, stack the notepads, and put all the paper clips in a pile.
Once you know what you are going to keep, you can decide the best way to organize the items.
Since we are all supposed to be limiting contact, order what you can online and either pick it up curbside or have it delivered to your home. Amazon and The Container Store have tons of organizing supplies, or if you prefer to get your items more quickly, stores like Bed Bath & Beyond have the option to order online and pick up in the store.
Tara Bremer, Owner of House Peace: “There’s a lot people can do without going shopping. For example, I often use small cardboard boxes (iPhone boxes, glasses boxes, etc.) as drawer organizers. If the cardboard is in good shape and won’t be getting wet, this can function nicely in a bathroom drawer or in a child’s desk to help them keep their treasures tidy.
But even if you don’t want to “make do” with found objects, the absolute BEST thing you can do is to pare down stuff you don’t like, don’t use, don’t wear, and so on. A common mistake is to use our houses as a storage unit for all the items we once loved or needed, but I’d like to view my house as a work horse — it’s there to work HARD for me. I need my house to help, not to hinder. So, this is a great time to purge if needed!”
Q: How to get kids/whole family involved?
A: Tara Bremer, Owner of House Peace: “With a little instruction, kids are great little organizers! Have your preschooler sort Shopkins into one container and LOL dolls into another one. Ask your elementary age child to neatly line up canned goods in the pantry, or to create a snack basket with individual bags of chips or granola bars. Your middle schooler can help organize their own closet by separating long-sleeved shirts on one side of the closet, and short-sleeved shirts on the other side. And teach all kids how to label things to keep everyone on the same page!”
Carrie Thayer, Owner of Kempt Professional Organizing: "Children love to help and they will appreciate having a different type of project to do! Preschoolers can test pens and markers to see which ones still work. Elementary-age children can check expiration dates on canned goods. Older kids can do even more, including manual labor like taking out the trash or putting the donations in the car.”
Q: What do we do with all that stuff we need to get rid of?
Tara Bremer, Owner of House Peace: “I am an advocate of donating household goods and clothing to charity. Sometimes our clients want to sell stuff, mail stuff, deliver stuff to a friend, etc., but all that takes an incredible amount of time and that can be a barrier to getting your house where you want it. It helps my mind game a lot to consider how someone can benefit from an item that I don’t use. A few of my favorite charities around Birmingham: Grace Klein, Vapor Thrift Store, Lovelady, King’s Home, America’s Thrift Store, The Foundry, Goodwill, Salvation Army.”
Carrie Thayer, Owner of Kempt Professional Organizing: “There are multiple places the drop off donations around town, including the United Veterans Association boxes in the parking lot at The Grove in Hoover. You can also have agencies such as King’s Home, Community Furniture Bank and Habitat for Humanity.
And if you have a large item that you don’t want to donate, contact your city and request a bulk item pickup. The city can usually pick up the large items within a few days.”