Today’s post is one of my favorite topics! While we are not true minimalists, there are definitely some more “minimal” approaches as to how we set up both our home and apartment (more on that in a moment). I love a good home organization or simplification strategy, because it allows us to find and put away items in an easy-to-manage way and get on with living our life!
A little background: due to my husband’s job, we live in two locations (together as a family) throughout each year. For about half of the year, we live in a 2-bedroom apartment, and for the other half of the year, we’re in our own home. Both places are homey and cozy, and our home is not huge. Going between two locations and also not having vast spaces in which to spread out all of our stuff has forced me to be intentional and thoughtful about how we organize and store our things!
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Minimal Homeschool Organization
Regardless of the size or style of your place, though, this blog post is for you! I’ve been brainstorming some of my favorite home organization hacks and my hope is that the tips below give you some fresh ideas and motivation when it comes to simplifying your own place!
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Minimal Home Organization Hacks and Tips
1 // Get toothbrushes off the counter (and away from each other) with wall holders. Our house has two bathrooms but we all store our toothbrushes in the same bathroom. We used to put all four toothbrushes in one storage cup together, and although the cup had separations for different brushes, I never felt like it was the most lovely or sanitary thing to do. Enter: little toothbrush wall holders! These affix to your wall with an adhesive back. I was able to put the pack of 4 of these holders up on the wall in a matter of minutes. They’re very easy for our children to reach and use (I made sure their holders were lower on the wall than the adult ones), and I love how the holders each have a little cover on them that protects the toothbrush from “the elements” a little more.
Bonus: this way, your countertop space gets cleared off, which is ideal! If your house is feeling cluttered, it’s important to evaluate how you can simplify visual space, especially on your “horizontal spaces” (counters, tabletops, etc.).
*The next few tips have to do with socks, which may seem funny, but trust me – implementing these small changes in your home will make your everyday life MUCH easier!!
2 // Wash and dry your socks together in a delicates bag. I first heard this tip when I read the book Lazy Genius a long time ago. It’s brilliant! Hunting for those little socks amongst your dry laundry can be tiring, plus they often end up stuck inside someone’s sweatshirt arm or pant leg! If you just take a minute to get all your dirty socks into a delicates bag when you start your laundry load, then they’ll stay together for both the washing machine and the dryer! Then, when it’s time to match socks in your clean laundry, you don’t need to look for them!
3 // Keep socks by the front door. I’ve done this for a couple years now and it makes all the difference! I store my socks and my children’s socks in a little open bin in our entryway area. Gone are the days when you’re trying to head out the door but then you realize someone doesn’t have socks on and you have to run back upstairs! (My husband’s socks are still stored up in our room in his dresser, but this system works so well for young children, especially!)
4 // Only buy one sock color per child. I switched over to this system a while back, feeling the need to eliminate decision fatigue for both myself and my children. And it has made our life so much simpler! A pain point for us, as I suspect is the case in many families, is the more tense or hurried times when we’re all trying to get out the door. Although my older children (one boy and one girl) know how to put on socks themselves and they technically knew which sock pairs were their own, it was harder for them to sift through all of our pairs of socks to determine that this blue-purple color was Sophie’s, or these darker blue or striped ones were Soren’s… There was just too much variety going on, which adds to the visual noise and therefore decision fatigue as we were trying to hurry. I feel like this kind of decision is compassionate towards our children, making it more manageable for them to listen to Mama when she says “put on your socks and shoes!”
So, I hopped on Amazon and bought all-white socks for my 5-year-old, Sophie, and plain black socks for my 3-year-old, Soren. Although they were slightly disappointed initially at the prospect of only having “boring” socks and no more fun patterns, the kids soon got used to our new system and since then haven’t complained once! (Dare I even say, I think they prefer and enjoy this new system!)
The socks we have: I bought 2 of these packs of 15 pairs of ankle socks. Each of these big packages had half white socks and half black socks. Now Sophie and Soren each have about 15 pairs of socks – probably a little more than what we need, but things happen to socks over time and it’s so nice to always have a pair ready to grab! (Also, the specific socks I chose are listed as age 4-6, so I know these will last our children a long time!)
Okay, one more sock hack:
5 // Keep a special bag for socks without a mate. In our bin of socks in our entryway area, I have a gallon size ziploc bag on which I literally wrote, “Socks Without a Friend!” That bag is where, without exception, I stash a sock anytime I can’t immediately find its mate. Then, every couple days or when I think of it, I just dump out that bag and make a few new matches to move out of the ziploc bag and into the general sock bin! I love this system so much, because then when we’re trying to grab a pair of socks quickly, we don’t have any loose, single socks to sift past. The result: even less decision fatigue, less frustration!
6 // Have a hanging file folder to stash kids’ current art projects in! I saw a friend of mine do this and I knew I had to try it out! You may be sensing a pattern here regarding pain points driving your organization decisions… 🙂 But one of my pain points or areas of frustration is when our little art table area becomes swamped with my children’s unfinished art projects, coloring pages, or other small crafts. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids’ artwork (and even have some up around the house!) but I just don’t want a mountain of it growing daily (with the bottom layers being forgotten about) out on a table in our main living area. It makes that corner of the kitchen look really messy, and it’s visible right away when you enter our home. So, I got this small hanging file organizer and labeled one file folder inside for each of my older children. Now we keep it on the floor underneath our art table, and that’s where any unfinished crafts or sheets of paper can go at the end of each day, leaving the top of the art table mostly clear!
7 // Store extra-special papers/items in a “keeping bin.” Ours is technically a “keeping file folder!” For almost a decade, I’ve been keeping Bjorn’s and my special papers or notes in a tub, sometimes in a folder, sometimes in a pile in a not-often-used closet. But adding three children to the picture has resulted in an even bigger collection of special things I want to keep! So I finally decided to conquer the pile with…a file folder system! I got this file box on Amazon – bonus, it’s actually fireproof! – and store it tucked away from the high traffic areas of our home.
Note: the items going in this file folder system are not the “most” important papers, like Social Security cards or birth certificates. Those are elsewhere. This system is for me to keep the more sentimental stuff: notes from Bjorn, a drawing Sophie made for her dad when she was 2, a few pages from a past journal of mine, a program from Sophie’s first Irish dance show, a lock of Soren’s hair from his first haircut…
As far as the folders go, these are the folders I bought. (They’re legal size.) I have one folder labeled for each of the 5 members of our family. I also have a folder labeled “Holiday Crafts,” where I put the handprint and footprint crafts that the children and I make for holidays! (You can see an example HERE.) Then I have a folder labeled “Holiday Cards,” where I stash our family’s yearly Christmas cards (the ones we send out, not all of the ones we receive). Finally, I labeled a folder “Family History/Genealogy.” Both Bjorn and I have family members who have collected special family stories that in years past have been recorded or typed up. I also used to spend time learning about my family’s genealogy, so I have a few family trees I’ve worked on in there, too. Additionally, this folder is where I slip any older photos I’ve been given of grandparents, great-grandparents, etc.
There is more room in this file box for any other topics I come up with later on, but for now, I’m satisfied with the categories we’ve got, and I have LOVED being able to quickly put away sentimental items in a place where I know they’re safe!
8 // Streamline your spice organization with alphabetizing AND matching containers. I know people have mixed feelings on going to the effort of putting spices in matching containers, but I’m all for it! I love the uniform look, and I think it not only looks more beautiful, but it is less fatiguing or overwhelming when you’re trying to locate a particular spice! (I also cook every day, and I’m in the kitchen a lot, so having a manageable and fun-to-use system is important to me.) I got this set of 36 glass containers and stickers years ago, and after you set it up one time, this system is incredibly easy to maintain! It’ll also make you smile every time you open your cupboard. 🙂
Additionally, and perhaps even more helpful than matching containers, I highly recommend alphabetizing your spices!! Yes, it sounds Type A, but if you cook a moderate to substantial amount, it will make a huge difference for you! I have my spices organized in alphabetical order on 3 small-ish lazy susans in my cupboard.
I do keep a few baking items off to the side and not with my alphabetized spices – things like salt, pepper, vanilla (and other extracts), and then I keep any spice blends (like Montreal steak seasoning) grouped together on a higher shelf.
I have more to share about how I organize all of my baking and cooking items, but maybe that could be saved for another post! Let me know if that’d be helpful for you!
9 // Keep children’s water cups within their reach! This final tip has a bit less to do with organization, but it’s a system that has made a big difference for us, so I wanted to include it for you anyway! While I was pregnant with our third child, I found these hangable cups on Amazon. I was predicting (accurately, ha!) that my older two children may get thirsty and ask for a drink of water while I’d be nursing the baby, so I wanted an easy way for them to get fresh drinks of water for themselves. These cups are wonderful! Each cup has a little loop that easily fits onto an adhesive hook you can attach anywhere! At our apartment, I have the hooks attached on the front of our fridge. Then, when Sophie and Soren get thirsty, they can run right over to the fridge, take their cup off of the hook, and fill up their water! (At the apartment, we have a side-laying Brita water dispenser inside our refrigerator, and at our house, our fridge has its own water dispenser, so either way, it’s easy for the kids to fill up their cups!)
There you go! I hope these hacks and tips gave you some fun new ideas regarding your own home organization and great systems to set up! Which of these ideas do you think you’ll implement in your home?
Comment below and let me know if you’d like to see a “part 2” of this post with more ideas!