Do you spend a part of your morning picking up washing from different parts of the house? How close to the laundry basket does the dirty washing get?
Last year I introduced small washing baskets into each bedroom, as well as the ones already in the bathrooms and for the most part the dirty clothes make it in. I must admit the favourite spot for most of the dirty clothes is next to the washing basket.
The other small change I implemented is different colour baskets to help me sort all the washing at once. I bought these mesh baskets; they are easily folded away and stored in a cupboard between use. They were cheap and I bought 2 a month until I had the colours I wanted.
I then created a schedule. I only have one child in uniform, so as you can imagine we have a lot of laundry each day. If you have nursery school children or younger, you will also have a fortune of washing to do.
I created a schedule for the washing to be done, this mostly ensures that the most important clothing items are washed first. This helps especially when it rains for days.
I have 4 children plus my husband and myself, with a smallish washing machine. Unfortunately my beautiful large Speed Queen died after 25 years of dedicated service and because of its age there are no longer spare parts. I have a really good machine now but it is small and we do around 3 loads of washing per day.
Here is my schedule:
Monday – whites/lights, blacks and hand washing
Tuesday – blue/ greens, brown and reds/orange
Wednesday- Linen ( there are 5 beds, this takes the whole day)
Thursday – Towels and table cloths.
For the most part this schedule works well. Obviously there are colours and patterned clothing that you have to decide where they fit in,
I have an ironing lady who comes 1 full day and 1 ½ day each week, I do my first load of laundry at around 6 am, all three loads are then done by 8 when I need to leave for work.
Put it away
I have spoken to a few ladies who do not have help and one of their main issues is not getting the clean laundry to where it belongs. This is another system that you need to then put into place. How to get the clean clothes back where they belong? Depending on the age of your children you can possibly get them to put their own stuff into their cupboards.
This would only work well with some of my family members, my husband, my eldest daughter, who is an organiser by nature, and my youngest and my son, who would get it to the cupboard but not sort it. My middle child has server ADHD and depending on what happens between where she collects the washing and her bedroom will dictate where the washing ends up. If it makes it to her bedroom she will also get it into the cupboard but not sorted.
Getting it fixed
Another aspect of laundry is repair. Lost buttons, torn pockets and seams. Create a small repair kit to help with mending or a space to put the clothes into so that they can be taken to be repaired.
Another handy tip I learned is to have a singles basket. This is for the socks that have lost their partners, every few months go through the basket and see if you can find matches.
Your fridge and freezer are one of the most used items in your kitchen, except for the sink, stove and ovens. We do not deep clean these often enough.
In a program I once watched, a cleaning team went into a home that had a vegetarian and two meat eaters sharing the space. They dyed a piece of meat with ultraviolet dye and then asked everyone to prepare their meals. The contamination of all the food was quite surprising, even with washing utensils after each use. Is your kitchen actually clean?
How often do you clean the back of the fridge/freezer door handles? Cleaning the inside of the fridge should be a regular task in your households cleaning routine.
If you have a self-defrosting freezer you need to schedule a good clean out of that as well. For those of us who have to periodically defrost the freezer, it is the perfect time to deep clean the shelves.
Month end shopping
I planned this task to coincide with when most people will be doing a big shop. Pay day has just been and we are all about to replenish the food in our kitchens. If you are putting this task onto a regular cleaning schedule, the best time to do this is right before the grocery run. You will then have a nice clean fridge and freezer in which to put all your new shopping.
How cluttered is the outside of your fridge? It is time to make room for the new paintings and drawings the children bring home from school. When the children were younger, any birthday invitations we received went onto the fridge door, sometimes sitting there for weeks after the event.
To get a good deep clean and to get rid of any odours that may linger after the food is gone, use a mixture of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) and water, make this into a paste and spread it with a cloth onto the surfaces and use a toothbrush to get into the crevices of your fridge/freezer.
Leave it for about 5 minutes and then using warm water wash it off.
For stubborn marks and odours, spray vinegar and then wash with the warm soapy water. Pay special attention to meat spills.
Repacking your fridge
When repacking your fridge, it is important that certain items be placed on specific shelves. Items that need defrosting should be placed on the bottom shelf in a bowl, or on a tray, to prevent the inevitable spillage from cross contaminating the rest of your food.
A rule of thumb is, cooked and ready to eat items top and middle shelves, food needing to be cooked, middle and bottom shelves.
Your fridge door is best used for items with a longer shelf life.
Don’t over fill your fridge as this can cause items to freeze and uses more electricity. Don’t overload the fridge door with heavy items as this can cause breakage.
How to pack your fridge
For more information check out the list I saved on Pinterest for how to pack your fridge https://za.pinterest.com/pin/6051780730348903/ or go to http://www.home-storage-solutions-101.com/refrigerator-storage-chart.html.
Packing your freezer is just as important as packing your fridge properly. You actually want to have this packed full, as the freezer works better with more food inside.
Pack like items together and also size and shape to make stacking easier. Label and date all frozen food.
Happy cleaning! Let us see those before and after photo’s please.
This week we are working on sorting out the kitchen cupboards and drawers.
My cupboards refuse to stay sorted! I just have too much stuff!
What’s in the drawer?
Starting with the drawers, empty them out and get rid of anything broken! Last week we looked at the function of our kitchens, anything in those drawers that do not fit the function, needs to go.
What the end result should be is, drawers you can open and close easily and where you are able to find what you are looking for!
For your cupboards, the aim is to be able to get to things without having to stack and unstack anything first. I’m still working on that after having done this declutter assignment for the last 3 years.
You need to be a little tougher on yourself here and get rid of the chipped plates no matter how sentimental and useful they are. These are dangerous, especially if you have young children or do the dishes by hand. Someone can easily cut themselves.
Stop mugging about!
I think you can never have too many coffee mugs but if you haven’t the space to keep them then it is time to clear out.
It is not a good idea to pull out everything from all the cupboards at once as this may just become overwhelming. One cupboard at a time works best.
Then sort by what you use daily, weekly and rarely. The rarely gets put back at the back and the daily, where you will be able to reach it easily.
In the zone!
If you have the space to do it, you should try and create ‘zones’ in your kitchen. Placing your chopping boards where you would prep your veg, your pots and pans where you would cook and your cups and saucers near your kettle or boiling water source.
This may help you with efficiently getting meals out and not having to scrounge around for things you need.
As you unpack your cupboards, before putting items back, work out if you really need that item and how many of it do you need. Water/juice bottles are an example of items that just seem to multiply.
Food storage containers are also another item that you need to monitor. If you often have left overs or you cook in bulk then you may need quite a few, however, if your house is anything like mine then there usually aren’t any left overs at all, you don’t need too many containers.
If you want to buy fancy organising gadgets to help you keep your kitchen cupboards neat and tidy, please wait until ALL your cupboards and drawers are sorted, so that you can make good decisions on what to buy and not end up with stuff you don’t need or won’t fit.
Remember to ask yourself these questions before putting something back in your cupboard.
- When did I use this last?
- Does it still work?
- Do I have all the pieces?
- Does it fit in with my kitchen functions?
Every day I will cover a different area of the kitchen cupboard in the Facebook group, small tasks to prevent overwhelm.
I will be posting pictures of my sorting in the Facebook group (the ones in this post are my before) and would love you to do the same. If you haven’t joined the group yet, now is a good time to do so. Want to read more? Here is the link to last years post on this What’s in the drawer?
It seems strange to have a whole week dedicated to decluttering and sorting out of your kitchen counters. If you are anything like me you will understand why this is.
I love cooking and I think I own almost every conceivable kitchen gadget, with a few more on my wish list.
As with last year I have planned the kitchen sorting goal around the Jewish holiday of Passover. Our kitchens need to be scrupulously cleaned and with 5 weeks to go, now is the time to start.
What is it for?
The first step in keeping your kitchen clear of clutter is deciding what you use your kitchen for besides cooking.
Is it a homework area? Is it a home office? Having a definite idea of what is going on in your kitchen will be a huge help to your ability to keep organized.
If you are going to be using the space for homework or a home office, get yourself a nice box or basket to place the work into after you are done for the day, before you begin cooking.
Where to start?
One of the reasons we are starting on the kitchen counters, is that walking into a messy cluttered kitchen can ruin your mood for cooking. A nice clear space is far more calming that having to face a mess of disorganization.
I am not saying that your kitchen counters must be cleared of everything. I don’t do minimalist and I am not expecting anyone else to.
Once you have defined your kitchen’s uses, it is time to clear, pack, sell or give away anything that does not fit this function.
If you have a space designated as a home office, then any paperwork should be packed up and moved to the home office.
Where does it go?
One of the hardest tasks of clearing your kitchen counters is finding a place for those things that actually do fit your kitchens functions. The best way is to work out what you use daily and leave those out where you can reach them easily. Go through what you use weekly and finally what you use rarely.
I am Queen
Gadgets are another thing, I am the kitchen gadget queen. I have said it before, I love kitchen gadgets almost more than cookbooks! If it is broken it must go! A lot of appliances can be recycled. I no longer have the excuse of it being a schlepp to take it out of the house. The recycle people collect at my house. How to do recycling without leaving your house.
Make it a habit to tidy as you, when working in the kitchen.
Making use of nifty space savers will help you keep your kitchen tidy and still be able to have what you need at home.
Knife blocks or magnetic knife holder for the wall
Hooks for hanging pots
Something I still have trouble with, is training household members to actually put their dirty dishes in the dishwasher. Most of them can manage to get the dishes to the sink, the dishwasher is just underneath!
Happy Kitchen, Happy Home! I would love to see before and after pictures on the Facebook group or if you have come up with a great space saving solution, why not share it? For those who would like a little professional assistance with your sorting Catherine of Sensibly Organised Spaces is running a special now, she will talk you through everything Book now $147
Some women have a weakness for shoes. I have a weakness for cookery books, so in answer to the question, most definitely YES they are taking over.
In all honesty, I maybe use half of them over and over, when I use a recipe that is. Even when I look up the recipe in the book, I have to substitute and change things for various reasons.
I still love the inspiration found in my books and I can see how my cooking has evolved over the years.
2016 Clear out
Last year, I cleared out over 20 books, this year I will have to clear out more. Just because I have a lot of cookery books hasn’t stopped me getting more.
Some books I have been given and are over 50 years old, it is interesting to also see how the trends in cooking have changed.
Then there are the recipes that I have taken off the internet and more recently my new favourite cook book, Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course which I was given as gift.
Sorting it all out
Last year I tried sorting out the recipes that I had taken from various magazines and the newspaper but I really am not that good at keeping it up, I think it lasted a whole month. A new solution to this may be a concertina file, where I can just slide the recipe in under its correct category.
My mother has a book in which she has written her favourite recipes to pass down, this way family traditions will also not be lost.
This week we are looking at sorting out the cook book and recipe situation in our homes.
What has been a solution in terms of space in my kitchen, is that the books I use more frequently are kept in the kitchen, the rest have been moved to the bookshelf in the lounge. I can still get to them, they are just no longer taking up valuable kitchen space.
Do you need them or do you want them?
Look at your collection and have heart to heart with yourself, be honest, how many do you really use?
This week we tackle the car, this is a fairly tough task, for those mom’s with little kids.
keeping the car clean!
Every time you get into the car you bring the outside in with you! Then the kids eat or drink in the back of the car so, inevitably, there is spillage, whether it’s the yoghurt or the raisins, it still needs to be cleaned up. I have learnt to keep a plastic shopping bag in my car, with one handle tied around the gear shift to work as a dustbin.
Snotty tissues, plastic wrappers and that ‘take away’ coffee cup all go in there when they no longer serve their purpose. That way you will have slightly less to clean out. Depending on how much and what is in the bag, I either remove it weekly or monthly. If your left- over tuna bagel is in there, daily might be your option.
It’s in the bag
For the weekly stops at the store, I have a collection of plastic bags in the boot (trunk for the non-South Africans). That way I save money on bags, save the environment by recycling and have the emergency sick bag nearby.
The car seat
Car seats (those amazing things that save our children’s lives) remember, your child must be in a car seat till the age of 4 and a booster seat till the age of 10. No child should ever be in the front seat of the car until they reach a height of 1,2 m or 35kg. Sorry for the tangent, this is a topic I am quite dogmatic about. You can learn more at https://www.facebook.com/CarseatFullstop/. Back to my topic, the amazing car seat has all sorts of nooks and crannies into which little fingers can stuff so many goodies. It is important to clean your car seat regularly, especial around the harness buckles, as a sticky buckle can malfunction and endanger your little ones’ life.
The cubby hole; what can I say? I won’t even begin to tell you the weird and wonderful finds discovered in this tiny little storage compartment of the car. The half-eaten sandwich and the now melted chocolate that was meant for after dinner, and that’s just me.
The boot/trunk, what a treasure trove we have there except possibly the one thing you actually need! Your boot must contain a red triangle (R500 fine if you don’t have one), a first aid kit, a tow rope, a lug wrench (that cross thingy to loosen the nuts, when you change the tire), a flat tire repair kit (don’t have that one though) and your plastic and fabric reusable shopping bags and, most importantly, a fully inflated spare tire.
During my last car clear out, I found about 30 tiny salt and pepper packets, a single sock and a towel which doesn’t match anything in my house.
Car activity organiser
One of the life savers in the car when the children were small, was the sorter in which we stored paper and coloured pencils, books and other bits to keep the natives quiet for all of 5 minutes, you hang them over the back of the front seats. Carefully empty those regularly as you never know what can be stored in there.
One friend, who shall remain nameless to protect her now adult children from mortification, could not work out why her car smelled so bad. The car sorter/activity centre had been put into the boot without being checked and during their road trip to the Cape, her husband had changed the dirty nappy (diaper to the rest of you) and stuck it in there and then forgot about it as the enjoyed their holiday.
What interesting finds have you uncovered cleaning out the car?
This week we look at sorting out the craft room, or area.
I have a huge confession to make! My bead area is going to take a lot more than 15 minutes a day to sort, it may just take a nuclear explosion!
I make beaded jewellery as well as teach a class, so over the last 6 years I have accumulated a ton of beads and accessories for making the jewellery. Not all of it has been sorted out and put away!
Let’s start with the sorting part. This task is to sort through any craft items you have and to get rid of the old and broken items. If you are a scrap booker, work in mosaic, or even just have the everyday things your kids use to make art projects, you will have lots of things to throw out.
Do you have items for a whole lot of different crafts all stuck into whatever space is available?
Everything in it’s place
Use your 15 minutes to separate the different craft items into different piles, boxes, or areas.
Items like dried glue, empty paint bottles and bits that you know, if you are truly honest, you will never use. It is also time to take any of the items that have nothing to do with crafts, back to where they belong.
Save the environment, recycle
I use food containers to separate my items and to store them. Wash out old salad tubs and label them. I prefer to use the clear plastic ones so that I can see what is in them. The ones I’ve sorted I mean.
I also use the little sorting boxes sold at hardware stores for keeping nails and screws.
With whatever you have left over, draw up a crafts calendar to make use of what you have on hand, before going to buy new stuff! I am working on a list of projects for the jewellery class right now.
It’s a weakness, I know
Besides jewellery, my Achilles’ heel is stationary, pretty sticky notes, notebooks and cool pens! What is your craft weakness?
The final task for August is probably the hardest one of all – sorting old photos.
Photos tell a story, what’s yours?
‘A picture says a thousand words.’ This is so true and as you page through old fashioned photo albums or scroll through your phone, the memories and stories that pictures evoke is hard to match.
Hands up, those of you who have a box of loose photos that haven’t made it into an album. Do you have a backup of the photos on your computer or phone? Time and again we hear of people crying over their lost phones, not because of the inconvenience, but because all those pictures have been lost.
Do you know who is in your pictures?
Going through the loose photos, do you know who is in them? I have a box filled with photos and, even though on some of them my mother has written who it is on the back, these are not people I remember and certainly not people who my children know. It is time to get tough with yourself.
Go through these photos and know that this will definitely take more than 15 minutes. If you don’t know the people in the photos and there are no names, put it aside to ask a family member or friend. If no one can help you then you need to decide to throw it away or scan it into your computer to keep.
This is a hard task
Start with really old pictures first. This is often a very emotional and difficult task, so have patience with yourself and tissues – lots of tissues.
Once you have scanned in all the pictures you want to keep, you need to go through all the pictures on the computer and delete the ones that are blurry and out of focus. Your next step is putting all the ones you want to keep either onto disc, or a memory stick, or even better if you know how, get cloud storage. This way if you have, heaven forbid, a fire or a robbery or your computer crashes, you won’t have lost your pictures. The same can be done with items on your phone.
Make a collage of old photos and frame them on the wall as a beautiful way to remember loved ones. Another great option for photos is scrapbooking, it is a way to create memories and also to ensure people know what the pictures are about. http://www.scrapbookden.co.za/
What have you done with yours?
Have you ever lost all your pictures on your phone? Do you backup your phone? How have you stored your pictures?
Books. Everywhere I look there are books!
This week we are sorting out our books. Over the last 25 years of marriage, 4 children and going back to study, we have managed to amass a small library’s worth.
We have run out of space on the shelves. Thank goodness for kindle! There are nearly 800 on my kindle.
My son and I are big readers and I often find it difficult to get rid of books. My son often rereads his a number of times. This means keeping some is definitely a necessity. I know that the library is just down the road from me and this would be a solution. The problem is I tend to forget to return them and can often go months past the return date!
I love books
The solution for me was this. I get books from my mother in law after she has finished reading her book club books. I belong to a book club. My mother has an extensive library at the retirement village where she lives. As well as this there is a great thing called book bub http://www.bookbub.com where I can download to my kindle at extremely reasonable prices or even free from Amazon. I read very quickly and can go through a 400 page book in about 8 hours.
This week’s mission and in my house it will be a joint mission for the 6 of us, is to sort and clear up the books shelves.
The first task is deciding how the shelves will be arranged and categorised.
Sorting your books
The next step is going through all the books and finding the ones that are damaged. Some will need rebinding and others will go for recycling as they are too damaged to read and these are most likely to be the toddler and baby ones. Once children learn to use scissors and pens it is almost as if the books call to them and say “come and cut out the pictures” or “colour all over the pages”.
Step 3 will be collecting all the books that you no longer want. These are books the children have out grown and books that are obsolete. I have a set of Encyclopaedias with the last update in 1976! My youngest child is now 12 and I still have the baby books that we bought for my oldest who is going to be 20 in a few months!!!!
Now it is time to decide what to do with all these books. Please remember to only donate books in good condition.
Sort the books into categories like baby and toddler, pre-school and primary/ high school. Include old textbooks which, although not curriculum compliant, can be used as reference books by teachers and pupils. The same goes for University or college textbooks and finally adult fiction. Once this is done, it will be a lot easier to take them to the appropriate places like Crèches, nursery schools, orphanages, under privileged schools, places of shelter and charity shops.
Getting rid of the books
There is a list on the website and in the file section of my Facebook page “we’re getting sorted” titled ‘Charities to support’ where you will find the name and contact number of each place. Some will collect from you, or you will need to drop the books off. I also take a lot of mine to a second hand store at Stoneridge Mall in Greenstone JHB, called Books Galore. The owner of the store will take your old ones and you can swap them for a few new ones, or buy a couple at a discount price. She will also take and pass on books that you want to donate to various charities, as long as there are not too many for her to handle.
If you have a charity not on the list that you feel would benefit, please drop me an email, comment on this post or comment on Facebook, with the name of the charity and a contact number so that I can add it to the list.
This week we are doing the laundry!
The refrain, ‘ I don’t have anything to wear!’ is a regular sound in my house. I am not sure about you, but in my house it seems that as soon as you put the clean clothes in the drawers, they are back in the washing!
I read about setting up a schedule for laundry last year and implemented it in my house. It mostly works but there are still times where the refrain down the passage is “I can’t find my….”. This may just be because there are three teenage girls, two of whom share a lot of clothes. And so the search begins! First they look in each other’s cupboards and then in the washing basket. My son has a different problem; his clothes seem to land up in his father’s cupboard!
No matter how many times you tell everyone, ‘If the clothes are on the floor, then it is assumed that they need washing’, it doesn’t seem help!
We go through a lot of clothes in a week as none of us are in a uniform. The school my girls are at don’t have one, I work in an office and no longer wear one, my son (sort of) has a uniform of black pants and white shirt and my husband wears a white jacket over his normal clothes.
Creating a laundry area
Very few of us are privileged to have a laundry room but even if you do, it still needs to be planned out and kept tidy. You can’t iron or fold clean laundry in a dirty space.
Your detergents, bleaches, stain removers and softeners, should be kept together, clearly marked and away from the children.
I used to have this big, wonderful 10kg capacity top loader machine, but sadly after 23 years of use, it died! The manufacturer doesn’t even have spare parts anymore! Now I have a very good front loader, it works beautifully but the only problem is, it is a normal size and we are doing a minimum of 3 loads of washing 4 times a week.
Here is what we created to keep up with the demand of 6 people!
Monday – Whites and blacks
Tuesdays – Bright colours and delicates
Wednesday – Dark colours like brown and blue
Thursday- Sheets and towels
Friday – Dish cloths and underwear (separately, of course)
I use separate baskets to help with this.
Do you have a laundry routine? How often do you wash your bras? How often do you change the sheets on your bed?
Need help staying on top of your clutter, why not join the group! https://www.facebook.com/groups/gettingsorted/