A quick Pinterest perusal shows zillions of photos of perfectly symmetrical, color-coordinated shelves and cabinets, but you don’t have to go craft crazy to enjoy the benefits of some basic organization. Before you head to Amazon for cutesy chalkboard labels and a pricy storage system, try some of these simpler ideas for keeping your home tidy and organized – with your baby in tow.
Embrace the Crate (or the Basket or Tote)
What can’t you put in a tote, basket or crate? If it’s got four walls and holds things, we’re counting it as storage! Any local HomeGoods store has shelves of baskets and crates in every material, fabric, and color imaginable. Whether you’re putting away shoes, toys, books, blocks, or baby spoons, no one has ever said, “This house just has too much storage!”
Here’s where people lose it: they play organizational nesting dolls, adding tiny little containers to big containers, trying to give everything a proper home. You don’t need baskets within baskets! And don’t bother labelling your totes, or you’ll lose your mind trying to make sure everything is in the right place. As long as things are in a tote, basket or crate you’ll be [basically] clutter-free. Need to tidy up after playtime? Turn it into a game! Zoom toy cars into the ‘parking garage’ basket, or toss balls into crates from across the room. If you start in with, “No, no, baby, that ball goes in the orange basket!” then clean-up will be a lot less fun for everyone in your household.
Cuddle and Clean
Strap that baby in, mama, cause it’s time to clean! There’s no getting around it: you need two hands to organize and clean a house, so a comfortable carrier is a win-win for everyone. We’re currently crushing on Moby Wraps, which come in super-luxe fabrics with patterns that look like they came straight from the mind of a designer. The wraps can be used for babies between 8 and 45 pounds (although if your baby is 45 pounds, he should probably be helping you with the organizing!). Trust us: it’s much easier to get things done with a sleeping baby swaddled against your stomach than it is to clean and organize while your little one wails in his crib or swing.
Recycle, Reduce, Reuse
The world’s easiest DIY projects: turn your dresser into a changing table by adding a changing pad. An over-the-door shoe holder becomes the ideal catch-all for miscellaneous toys, burp cloths, onesies, or even baby food. Buy a shower caddy and use it to hold bottles and pacifiers. Place trifle bowls filled with pacifiers in the rooms where you spend the most time; this way, neither you nor your baby will be crying when you can’t find the paci. Use what you’ve already got rather than buying yet another piece of baby furniture, and you’ll cut back on clutter.
How could something so adorable be so incredibly hard to keep organized? For baby clothes, come up with a system that works for you and make sure everyone in your house is aware of it – we’re looking at you, husbands! Now you can add ‘Professional Wardrobe Consultant’ to your LinkedIn profile. Focus on keeping your system as simple as possible. Who has time to fold laundry? Hang up those leggings, tees, and teensy onesies. Bonus: you can get rid of the dresser if you’re hanging everything up! Can’t stand sorting? Just wash it all in cold water, and you don’t have to worry about it. You don’t even need to iron if you toss your wrinkly clothes in the dryer with a damp towel for ten minutes before you’re ready to wear them. When you find a lonely solo sock, toss it in a basket. Go through the basket once in a while to see if you’ve found any mates. Remember, less is more when it comes to baby clothes. Be brutal about culling the onesie herd when your child moves up a size. You don’t have to save everything, especially if you don’t love it!
Go Ahead and Hoard Those Tissues
If you constantly find yourself wandering from room to room looking for a favorite toy or pacifier, do yourself a favor and just buy a duplicate. Place baby-friendly cleaning wipes like these in every room so you can quickly wipe down a surface before your little one has a chance to get his gums on it. While you’re at it, put some bottles of hand sanitizer around the house, too. Thieves Spray is an essential oil-based cleanser that fits in your purse, so you can surreptitiously wipe down toys on playdates or at the library.
Remember, when it comes to organization, there is a happy medium! You can live somewhere between total squalor and a color-coded closet wonderland. If you’ve got lots of spaces to hide that clutter, your home will look tidy and you’ll be able to catch a mental break. And don’t feel too bad if you let things go a little during those first few months. After all, if a cluttered home is the sign of a cluttered mind, what does that make an empty home?