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The Simplest Storage Solution Ever

The Simplest Storage Solution Ever

Simplicity is not only something to be valued, but is often the secret to success.  Today I’m sharing with you the simplest storage solution and it will transform your basement, attic, and crawl space.

I think we can all relate to this from our childhood.  Mom needs the tablecloths and gravy bowls that she uses every Thanksgiving, so she asks Dad to go to the basement to get them.  He returns with the box marked Thanksgiving, but finds it filled with camping gear.  Mom doesn’t know why this is the case until she remembers buying some other cute Thanksgiving serving pieces.  So now the Thanksgiving box wasn’t big enough, and she ended up putting them in a new box.  Only she doesn’t remember which one or where it is.  So all the boxes are pulled out and opened, old treasures are rediscovered, but no Thanksgiving items are found.  Surrounded by a mess of open boxes, she suddenly remembers storing them in the back of her closet so they would be easily ound.  And dad shoves everything back into boxes and onto shelves until the next time something is needed.

It is chaotic and overwhelming.

One common solution frequently offered is labeling the outside of the box with the contents so that you can see at a glance what is inside the box.  But what happens when, like in the example above, the contents change?  Or there is more than one label is on the box?

When our 3rd child was just 2-months old we were in the process of moving.  I was still nursing so much of my time was committed to the baby, so several friends helped us pack our house.  Additionally, our moving boxes were used and had writing from (other peoples) previous moves.  Writing listing the contents or denoting which room the box needed to be placed in at the new location.  So as we were moving into our new house, no one knew where anything really needed to go.  And since other people had done the labeling, we didn’t always recognize handwriting.  In many cases we just had to guess which label was new and which was old.

Unpacking was already going slowly because of the baby, but it was even slower because of the chaos of finding master bedroom stuff in the kitchen, garage items in the master bedroom, and kitchen items in the garage.

So labels are not quite enough.  We need something simpler.

So what then?

This is the simplest storage solution.  Ever.

Numbers.

Yep.  A simple number on the outside of each box, tote, or other container that you want to know the contents of without opening the lid.

So how does it work?

The idea is simple.  Start by putting a number on the outside of the bin and finish by keeping a master list to track the bins and contents.  Personally, we keep our in Google Keep, but you could have a spreadsheet, or just a piece of paper.  The list should have three columns.

  • Box Number
  • Contents
  • Location

So it might look like this:

So now, not only do you know which container, but you also know where to look.

When we need to change out the kids clothes, I pull up the list on my phone, know which bin needs to come upstairs, and then update the list to reflect that the bin is now empty or with it’s new contents.

It’s that simple.

Here are some ways to customize this a bit:

  • Use descriptors with the numbers. When I started this system, I was only using white cardboard bankers boxes with lids.  So when I see a plain number, I know it’ a white box.  But then we added blue totes and clear totes, so those boxes will say “Blue 4” or “Clear 4” which helps narrow things down even further, especially when the majority of your storage is in the same place.  (And to further clarify, yes, I do have multiple boxes labeled 4, but only one of each bin type.)
  • Use specific numbers for correlated contents. I use the number 25 for all things Christmas, so I have a 25A, 25B, etc.  This makes it easy to know that any box numbered 25 needs to come up for decorating for Christmas.  15 is for Tax Day so that is where I keep older financial records we have to store.
  • Use plastic sleeves like these for the label if you don’t like the idea of writing on your tubs and totes.

So there you have it.  The simplest storage solution. And it’s one you can start implementing today.

5 Things Every Mom Needs

5 Things Every Mom Needs

The laundry is piling up.  You forgot to change the loads and are re-washing it.  Again.  Dinner didn’t get pulled out of the freezer so it isn’t thawing but it doesn’t matter because the dishwasher isn’t running so there aren’t clean dishes anyway!  The finger-painting keeping the kids occupied so nicely while you were talking on the phone was holding their interest because they were creating a mural on your living room wall.  It’s a swirl of chaos.

Suddenly you feel a hug on your legs and hear these words.

“I’m going to be just like you when I grow up, mommy.”

Melt my heart!  You can be in the middle of the worst day ever, and when sweet, innocent eyes look up at you and that little voice says those words time stops and everything melts away.  It makes it all worth it.

In that moment, being a mom is The. Best!

Unfortunately, those moments can be more like cameos than they are leading roles.  But what if I told you that we can lay a foundation that would make the joy of those moments become something that becomes a more regular part of being a mom?

Then, read on…

Thinking about my kids wanting to be just like me when they grew up, made me panic.  What if they did grow up to be just like me?  It struck me that I was creating a childhood for them full of the importance of cleaning and cooking but I wasn’t really building into them relationally.  I want my kids memories of their childhoods filled with doing things together and enjoying each other.  I want my kids rememberng these “mommy moments” and I knew I needed to be creating more of them than I was currently giving.

If you know my story, you know that I was deep in the depths of overwhelm.  Enjoying each other was not something that was happening.  My kiddos had a stressed out, burned out, checked out mama.

As I tried to climbing my way out of overwhelm I was assuming that I was the problem.  ‘What’s wrong with me?’ I asked myself. Often.

Imagine my surprise when I realized that nothing was wrong with me.  The problem wasn’t me or my desire to do all the things of being a mom.  The problem was that I didn’t have the right structure in place tomake doing the things moms need to do run smoothly.  The things that would let me simply be mom.  Wanting to be a mom who rocks at being a mom, I knew I was needing to make some changes.

What do moms need? Here are 5 things:

1. Relationship

Relationship is what being a mom is all about.  This includes relationships like those with our spouse, our friends, and our own moms, but when it comes to our kids, intentionally nurturing a relationship isn’t always on our radar.

When it came to parenting my kids, intentional relationship wasn’t something that I had ever consciously thought about until we adopted our youngest kids.  As we were learning about the steps that we needed to be taking to intentionally develop and nurture attachment, frankly it added to my overwhelm.  But the more I was learning, the more I began realizing that this was actually the heart of being a mom.

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

It was all about the relationship.  A lot of effort during the toddler years is what would be providing the framework to better navigate the teen years.  Why? Because of a deep-rooted relationship.

I began applying this to my older kids, and the changes, though slow (have you ever tried to redirect an ocean liner?) are noticeable.  Things like focusing on what they did right rather than what they were doing wrong, learning to say yes more and saying no less, listening to understand and not just for responding, and stopping to look them in the eye when they were talking to me.

When relationship is the goal, it puts everything else into perspective.

2. Operations

When we were moving into our house almost six years ago, our move was “squeezed in” between a lot of life that couldn’t be slowed down or postponed.  The day after our move I had a fundraising gala that I was organizing.  The kids still had six more weeks of school in 2 different buildings with 3 different schedules, so my days were spent driving and in the car rather than unpacking.  

And then we left on a 2-week trip just days after school ended.  It was literally months before I was able to start to settle our family into our home.

Settling in is more than unpacking and hanging pictures.  It’s just as much about learning patterns and rhythms that work in your space and with your people.  Noticing where coats are dumped, where the mail is naturally being set down, and how convenient it is put clean dishes away in a cupboard are all part of settling in.  Settling is is about operations.

When the operations of the home are running smoothly, the things that build relationship (and memories!) begin happening without becoming major productions themselves.  Last minute invite to the beach?  No problem.  The gear is where it needs to be, and the tasks of the day can be quickly assessed.

3. Cleaning

Everyone loves a clean space.  But cleaning that space is not always very fun.

Why?  High expectations and low appreciation.

When I was in High School, I was hired to clean someone’s home. While I was learning a lot, but I didn’t enjoy it at all.  The list of things needing to be done was lengthy (who dusts their baseboards every week?) and after I was done cleaning, I was told everything I did wrong or missed.  Even though I was rewarded with cash, it was still discouraging.

Whether you hire someone to do this, delegate to your kids, or do it yourself, cleaning is simply part of life.  So why is it overwhelming?

Most likely for the same reasons I dreaded my job – high expectations and low appreciation.  (High expectations are not the same as high standards; Expectations are about quantity and standards are about quality.)  Most often it is literally expecting too much.  There are too many steps.  One job could be broken down into 3 jobs.  Then once it’s done, no one notices when it’s done right, just what was missed. And if no one is going to appreciate your effort, why try?  That’s when standards slip and the whole thing falls apart.

After battling with our kids about dinner clean-up, we finally took that one large task that was taking them 90-minutes or more to do, and broke it into 3 smaller tasks, none of which typically should take more than 15 minutes.  It cut the time in half!

And by using a simple checklist [link to checklist] to outline the expectations, when it’s done, we can focus on what is done well and work on improving specific steps.  Our kids begin to take pride in their work.  And the cleaning becomes a natural part of life.

4. Kitchen

Have you ever seen the meme that says something like “If you could choose to never do one of these things again for the rest of your life, what would you choose?” Following it is a list of things like cooking, cleaning, yard work, and other tedious chores.

I always choose cooking.

Similar to cleaning, cooking just has to happen.  Eating is something people like doing.  And while we have choices about ordering in, eating out, or cooking from scratch, whatever we choose has an impact on our time, money, and long-term health.  No pressure, right?

But similar to cleaning, there are too many things wrapped up in cooking.  It should really be called “Kitchen” because it involves planning meals, shopping for meals, managing food inventory, prepping for meals, and then the actual cooking.

It’s a lot to process at 4:00 in the afternoon.  And that’s why I always chose cooking.  It was too overwhelming to wing it.

Breaking this down into the smaller parts and learning to make those part of your family’s rhythms can flip this on its head and make the kitchen run effortlessly.  (I’ll even let you in on my secret weapon: Plan to Eat.)

5. Simplicity

This feels like a no-brainer, right?  But it’s not as simple as it seems (see what I did there?).  When something is simple, it works.  Most of the time something doesn’t work because it’s too complicated.  And, funny enough, most of the time it just requires a simple tweak to make it less complicated.

Simplicity is the key to success. And success is the desired outcome pretty much across the board. So, don’t overcomplicate things.

Want to be a mom who ROCKS?  Join me on this journey.  Start by downloading your 9 Things You Can Do To Raise a Confident Kid.

 

 

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