This week's challenge is to work on entryway organization and also organizing your mudroom if you have one, to make all the entrances into your home both functional and inviting. When you, your family members and guests walk into your home everyone typically has lots of stuff with them, from coats, hats, purses, book bags, today's mail, etc. That means the entrance -- the first place your family and friends see when they come into your home -- can easily turn into a dumping ground for stuff and junk. Below are the steps for this challenge, but before we begin I just want to clarify the spaces we're working on this week.
Whether you have one entrance to your home, or multiple entrances, we're working on those entryways, the hall leading from the entrance to other rooms, and the mudroom, which is typically a back entrance in many homes. In addition, if your home has stairs within sight of a foyer or other entrance, we'll work on it this week too. Then, clutter piles up on top of clutter as more people lay their stuff on top of everyone elses stuff, and you end up with a mess and perhaps a tripping hazard. The first step in the Mudroom & Entryway Organization Challenge is to really think about what people are bringing into the house (and carrying out if it), so you can identify what items you need to accomodate in these entrances and exits. As you consider all these types of items begin to look at the space you have and consider where everything can go to make it easier to accomodate all this stuff.
In the Morning Routine & Back To School Challenge we'll focus on these items again, this time making a morning launching pad to help us get out the door each day with less stress. Take a good hard look at all the stuff that is just piled up on the floor or on flat surfaces, cluttering everything up. Now all that should be left is the stuff which doesn't currently have a home, but should be stored in the entryway or mudroom. The next step in the Mudroom & Entryway Organization Challenge is to make a home for all that stuff that comes in and out of your home each day.
The entrances and exits of your home are not typically very large, but you've got to easily be able to store and access stuff quickly in them.
They are also very visible public areas in your home, so you want them to look nice and inviting.
Therefore, it is critical that the organizers and storage solutions you choose for this area be both beautiful and practical. Here are some entryway organizers and storage solutions that can serve these dual functions, and that you may want to consider using in your home. Remember that the front entrance of your home is more formal, whereas the mudroom can have a more homy look to it, so some of these suggestions may be more appropriate in one area versus another. The types of entryway furniture you may want to consider include hall trees, storage benches, wood or bright cheery colored lockers, narrow tables, or narrow bookcases, and include the items shown below. Further, one reader showed the narrow storage furniture she uses in her hallway to give her storage in a small space. It is great to use pegs and hooks for hanging up coat, purses, bookbags and more because as long as they're at a height kids can reach they can easily be trained to hang everything up.
Plus, if each family member is assigned their own hook they'll easily be able to find everything when its time to leave! Similarly, if you don't have room for a full bookshelf consider hanging a small shelf on the wall, such as the one on the left above, that also has several hooks underneath. While we're trying to keep most things off the floor there are a couple of items that should be stored there.
For instance, use an umbrella stand so family members can stow their umbrellas easily when they get inside and grab one if its going to be a stormy day as they leave the house. You may not want to keep all your family's shoes by the door, and I don't actually recommend it (we'll deal with shore storage in more detail in Week #42), but any shoes that come in from out in the weather with snow, mud, or soaking wet should be stored in a manner where they don't make a huge mess. If this is a common issue in your home, invest in a boot or shoe tray, to place your shoes on. Finally, once you've gotten storage space for the big items that come in each day, don't forget about all the smaller stuff. Ideally, you'll have a small storage container for each family member, so their small stuff can all stay together and doesn't have to mingle and get mixed up with everyone else's stuff. One of the easiest ways to do this is to have a small basket or bowl for each family member on a flat surface, such as a narrow entryway table.
In addition, something that wasn't always needed but that can come in very handy now that we depend on mobile devices so much in our lives, is to have a charger station set up in the entryway so you can plug up your devices for recharging when you come in the door. Finally, make sure there is a secure place to put everyone's keys, be it hooks on the wall, in a bowl, or in a key cabinet. You can get lots of key organizer ideas and solutions here, so you don't ever have to hunt for your keys again.
However, if you're like my family try as I may there is almost inevitably something on my stairs, since something needs to come down that's up or vice versa. The basket is designed to fit onto two stairs, on the side of course, and helps contain all that little stuff that needs to get transported between floors.
The final step in the Mudroom & Entryway Organization Challenge is to begin a new habit to keep this area we've worked so hard to get organized stay that way.
With the rush we tend to sometimes let it slip about putting everything in the right place as we rush in or out the door, and our entrances take the brunt of that clutter explosion.
Along with making it as easy as possible to store things in an organized fashion, take a little time each week to tidy up your entranceways. Especially look for "hidden clutter" -- such as the item that has been sitting on the hall bench for three days and you're starting not to notice it anymore. Dealing with mudroom and entryway organization every week keeps clutter from building back up, and keeps things functional most of the time without lots of extra effort, so its well worth the small time investment. I also love before and after pictures of your entrance halls, mudrooms and foyers, and would love to see some of yours. We're working on our homes slowly, one area at a time, so don't get too distracted from the Mudroom & Entryway Organization Challenge this week. Some links on this page are affiliate links, meaning that if you purchase a product through them I receive a small commission which helps me provide this information to you for free, plus support my family. Share Your Comments, Tips & IdeasI would love to hear from you, sharing your thoughts, questions, or ideas about this topic, so leave me a comment below. Great resources for implementing a decluttering system that works for you, with tools to help guide you too boot! Gather a team at work, or a group of entrepreneurs, to work together on some of these challenges! My goal is to serve you with resources and strategies that help you clarify, organize, and implement your ideas. In addition, below this table are links to other pages sharing common freezer storage times, and to a printable cheat sheet you can reference in your home with the information contained in this chart.
If a date on a package is shorter or longer than the dates listed, rely on the dates on the package instead of this chart. The times listed also assume you are placing items in the optimum places within your refrigerator for storage.
For more information about food safety, check out my article with 5 food storage safety tips, plus visit FoodSafety.gov. In addition, you can also check out my friend Marybeth's site here for additional guidelines and information about storing food in the refrigerator.
I've created a printable version of this information for you so it is easier for you to reference when cleaning out your fridge as part of the Organizing Refrigerator & Freezer Challenge. This cheat sheet will help you both know when to throw certain foods out and also when to plan to eat them while they'll taste their best.
Here are some additional printable forms about food storage, including other cheat sheets with storage times for food, that you may find helpful.
In this week's challenge we'll focus on clothing storage, especially related to both kids outgrown clothes and the seasonal switch or rotation of garments twice a year. Last week we started working on organizing our master bedroom closets, and we're making this a multi-week process so you can get all the parts of this task done.
That means this week we're going to focus on clothing that can be used in the future, but is not being used right now because it is either out-of-season or your child hasn't yet grown enough to fit into it. The key to storing these items is to know what you've got, and to keep it organized while you're storing it so you can find and use it again when you need it.
Plus, since it was the beginning of fall, officially, the other day, meaning the change from summer to fall and winter clothing is fast approaching, I thought the timing was perfect for this challenge. Instead, if you've got enough room in a separate area of your home for clothing storage you can separate out the out-of-season items from the in-season ones, basically doubling the space available for clothes in your closet. For example, now that it is turning cooler where I live I'm putting up my short sleeve shirts and shorts and getting back out my pants and sweaters. While this storage solution has the advantage of letting you have more total wardrobe while still having plenty of space in your closet at all times, the sacrifice is that you'll need to do a switch twice a year of the seasonal clothing, in both the fall and spring as the seasons change. While you'll have to carve out a few hours of your time twice a year for this task, the time isn't wasted since you can also use it to declutter and get rid of excess items in your wardrobe you no longer want and need, and to take stock of the essentials you may need to replace. If you don't have another child who could later use the outgrown clothing go ahead and declutter outgrown items from your home, donating them to charity, giving them to a friend or family member with a smaller child, or selling or consigning them. If, on the other hand, you've got several kids there is real economic incentive to saving and handing down clothes from one child to the next.
However, if you don't keep these outgrown clothes organized you won't find them when your next child can wear them, and there is a real danger of them outgrowing them before you come across them again. Similarly, I love to find clothes at thrift and consignment stores, or on clearance for my kids to wear.
The first step in the Outgrown & Seasonal Clothing Storage Challenge is to separate out all out of season and outgrown clothing from your family's wardrobe that is currently being used.


You can take this opportunity to do more decluttering too, if for instance, you see an item you know you won't wear again next season, go ahead and get rid of it now and don't bother storing it. Similarly, create a small space to temporarily store outgrown kids clothes in the future, as you or your child run across something too small. Then, you can periodically get rid of such things from your home, or place them into clothing storage in the system I'm suggesting below for the next child to use later.
Clear plastic storage tubs are ideal for storingclothes since you can see what's inside when youwant to retrieve it. The second step in the Outgrown and Seasonal Clothing Storage Challenge is to create space in your home to store these items. You can keep these items in a less accessible area of your home, such as in storage tubs in a storage area, such as the basement or attic, or a less used closet, such as a guest room. You can also use a wide variety of clothing storage solutions for the task, from extra drawers, closets, large storage tubs, or under your bed. The key is to find areas which don't get damp, and preferably don't suffer from heat extremes if you can avoid them.
Once you know what clothes you'll be storing, and where, take the time to get them all organized before you place them in the storage containers so you can find the ones you need easily when the time is right.
First, separate each person's clothes into stacks, including separating each child's clothing out separately.
Once you've separated out each person's clothes, again separate these piles first by season, such as winter and summer, and then by type, such as all shorts, shirts, socks, etc.
Especially for kids stuff, make sure you also separate it out by size, so all the 4T stuff together, and separated from the 6X items, for example. When you see an entire wardrobe laid out in this way you can really get a good sense of what you have too much of, and also what you're missing. Declutter your least favorite pieces if you've got too many of a certain item, for example. To make your notes, and also keep track of what you own in clothing storage, I suggest creating a clothing inventory.
You should create a separate inventory for each family member, or for a certain size of clothing, such as all size 2T outfits, for example. You don't have to list each item separately in the inventory, but instead can group things together into categories.
The inventory lets you remember what you already have, so you don't buy stuff you already own again, and also lets you note what you still need or should replace.
If you're feeling really organized you can create a shopping list based on your clothing inventory, and look for things off-season or at the end of season to complete your next season's wardrobe or slowly accumulate any additional clothing for the next child over time.
Once you've organized all the clothing and inventoried it, the final step in the Outgrown and Seasonal Clothing Storage Challenge is to add it to the storage containers or storage space you've chosen. Make sure the clothes are clean, and neatly folded so they look nice when you get them back out. Further, try to keep the organization you did in step 3 above in place as you add the clothing to the containers. For example, as my older daughter outgrew all of one size clothing I labeled the plastic tub holding all that size of clothing as follows -- "Girl, 3T." Then, when my next girl was ready to wear 3T clothing (a couple of years later) all I had to do was pull out the tub with that label and "shop" for her clothes. I examined the inventory and knew what additional items I needed to buy to complete the wardrobe and have everything a little girl wearing 3T clothes would need. I would love to know how this week's Outgrown & Seasonal Clothing Storage Challenge is going. I also would love to see before and after pictures of your stored clothing system once you've completed the challenge.
Further, if you get rid of a bunch of the clothing share your closet decluttering pics here in the hall of fame!
We're working on our homes slowly, one area at a time, so don't get too distracted from this week's Outgrown & Seasonal Clothing Storage Challenge. We're continuing to work on getting our clothes organized and under control, and next week we'll focus on the organizing the master bedroom.
If you love to decorate and go all out for the holidays you need some Christmas storage solutions to help you organize all the wrapping paper, ornaments, lights, decorations and even the tree from year to year so that you can find it all when you want and need it.
I would suggest storing all of your seasonal decorative items together, in one area of your home. Segregate each holiday's items into separate containers or boxes, like items for one season with another. Obviously, you should only be keeping from year to year the items you continue to use and love.
You can get more detailed and step by step instructions for Christmas decoration storage and organization here, as part of one of the challenges in the 52 Weeks to an Organized Home series.
Then, you can use this Christmas decoration storage inventory form to help you remember what is in each box, and where you stored it from year to year.
Finally, you can learn about some great Christmas planning resources here, to help you plan your holidays. There are all kinds of containers you can use for your Christmas storage items, but I would suggest stackable plastic tubs, with lids, as being preferable over cardboard.
Just as you should keep all your Christmas storage in one area, and all together, keep the various types of Christmas decorations corralled into their separate areas too, with a box for lights, one or more for ornaments, etc. One of the most frustrating things people experience each year as part of Christmas storage is dealing with the tangled up Christmas lights. Here are my tips for Christmas light storage to help you with this common problem, including suggestions for both commercial products and do it yourself ideas. Ornaments are often a favorite for people, since many ornaments are bought to commemorate special occasions in your family's lives, such as "Baby's First Christmas" or the special pasted candy cane your child made for you in third grade. In addition, many of these items are very fragile, and can easily break if they are jostled or clink together.
If you buy a real tree each year you don't need to worry about this Christmas storage items each year while the tree is not in use, but for those of us (like me) who have an artificial tree we all know how large they can be, and they take up a lot of room.
There are many possible methods for storing your tree, including tree bags and boxes, and other containers. Your artificial Christmas (or other seasonal) wreaths are also very large, and can be difficult to store without having them gather dust. We all do a lot of wrapping during the holiday season, making our gifts beautiful for giving to our friends and family. Therefore, you may need to store Christmas paper and also have a different storage area for the rest of the wrapping paper, ribbons, bows, bags, etc. Even if your laundry room is organized, you've got another part of laundry organization to consider -- how to collect the dirty clothes from all around your home and also how to return them to their place once they're clean. The reason I separated this part of the challenge out into its own week is that I believe having a system in place for collecting dirty clothes and returning clean ones is THE MOST IMPORTANT step you can take to keeping your washing under control. Once you do the steps in this challenge long gone will be the days where you were overwhelmed by mountains of dirty clothes on the floors of the rooms in your home, or feeling so behind on the laundry that you just want to give up. We'll also deal with the problem of clean but unfolded or not put away laundry that accumulate everywhere but inside closets and dresser drawers. Instead, after doing these steps below you'll be able to have a functional laundry system running in your home that keeps everyone in clean clothes that are placed where they should be when you need them. This step may not seem that important until you consider that chances are, if you've got trouble with getting dirty clothes into the laundry cycle to get washed, dried and folded, you've got a collection problem on the front end of the process.
If you have not given much thought to where your baskets or other collection containers are located, but instead stuck them where they'd fit, or where you've always had them, this is the time to decide if you made good choices for their location, or not. Consider that for every basket, bag, sorter or hamper you put into place you've got to have a system for grabbing these clothes periodically (at least weekly) to wash. On the other hand, if you don't have collection baskets where actually necessary in your home you'll just end up picking dirty clothes up off the floor, as they mix with clean ones, getting everything confused. Basically what I'm saying is don't skimp on placing enough baskets around your home, but carefully make sure you'll remember to deal with each one at least once per week if you put it there. You can get even more ideas, tips and questions to ask yourself when deciding where to place clothes hampers and baskets here in this article.
I've already hinted at Step 2 of the Laundry Organization Challenge above, which is to get your system in place for collecting the dirty clothes.
Now that you've strategized where in your home to place your baskets, place them there and begin training your family to put their dirty clothes into them and not on the floor, or wherever else you find them later. In addition, consider the fact that not all clothes, bedding, towels, dish cloths, etc., can be washed together. Therefore, to the extent that you sort your laundry (and with a good laundry organization system in place this shouldn't be too hard to do) you may want to think about getting several baskets, bags, hampers, or my personal favorite, a laundry sorter, placed next to each other in those locations, to do two steps at once -- collect and sort.
I personally have a triple laundry sorter of the exact variety shown above, to the right, in my bedroom closet and all my kids place their clothes in it each night as part of the bedtime routine.
Even my youngest has been able to sort her clothes, roughly, by color, since she was about two years old, so trust me, you can train your family members to save you this step if you put in a bit of effort! If you don't have room for multiple bags and baskets in each location where you have a collection basket, don't worry. For example, a good system in that instance would be to have three or four stackable laundry baskets placed in your laundry room, or to have a piece of furniture, such as the tilt out hamper seen above on the left which can be used to sort and hold laundry in the room while its waiting to be washed, and also doubles as a narrow folding table on top.
The third step in the Laundry Organization Challenge is to put a system in place for returning the clean clothes from your laundry room to the rooms where the clean clothes are held (most likely individual bedrooms). I've found the best way to do this is to have a rotating set of empty laundry baskets which can be used to carry clothes to the right location in your home, and then returned back to the laundry room afterward. Here again, the main thing is not really the type of baskets or other method chosen to do this task.


I know a lot of people struggle with getting the clean clothes folded and put away, so I've discussed this issue more in depth in my article about how to create a system for putting away clean laundry, and making it a habit. There is an almost unimaginable variety of laundry organizers and storage solutions you can choose from when getting your laundry organized and under control.
If space is an issue for you, folding and pop up hampers, such as the ones shown below, can be very helpful. Further, if you would like to sort at the same time you collect dirty clothes divider hampers and laundry sorters, as well as thin tall laundry baskets designed to hook together to form a sorting system, can all be helpful.
If you want to collect laundry in an area of your home where having a big laundry basket may be inappropriate a tilt out laudry hamper (such as the one shown above), or pull out baskets hidden behind cabinets can be the way to go. Finally, if your laundry room is on the same level of your home as where you're collecting the dirty clothes, and you don't want to pick up heavy baskets or bags of clothes, rolling baskets, carts and sorters can be very helpful for you (plus save your back). The final step in the Laundry Organization Challenge is to create a laundry schedule or routine that you can stick with.
The key is consistency, and a plan to make sure you wash all the types of things you need to wash each week to make sure your family stays clean and comfortable most of the time.
If you'd like more information about laundry scheduling, check out my article on creating a laundry routine, which includes four questions to ask yourself when creating your schedule, plus a free printable for your household notebook. In addition, you can check out routines and schedules from real people in all kinds of stages of life, or circumstance, to give you ideas of what might work for you as well. I also would love to see before and after pictures of how you collect dirty and clean laundry in your home, once you've completed the challenge. In addition, you can see a full list of laundry and cleaning clutter to get rid of here, including what I suggest as part of the daily decluttering missions related to this area of your home. We're working on our homes slowly, one area at a time, so don't get too distracted from the Laundry Organization Challenge this week.
Next week we're going to continue to focus on getting some schedules and routines going in our home. It just takes some thought, creativity with storage for items, and some weekly maintenance to keep it looking great. The Mudroom & Entryway Organization Challenge is part of the 52 Weeks To An Organized Home Challenge.
When we don't have an organized system in place to hold and store these items we end up with a cluttered mess.
That's not what you want greeting you each day as you come home, so we're cleaning it up this week.
Some of this stuff doesn't belong there are all, but doesn't have a home elsewhere and so family members have just gotten in the habit of dumping it here when they come in.
Get your family members involved in deciding where these items will go, since you'll want their cooperation in putting them there from now on. This is the exact stuff you've got to get creative with, and figure out ways to organize and properly store it all for easy access in and out (which we're working on in step 3).
Ideally all the furniture and other items will not only look pretty, but also serve some storage use at the same time. Ideally choose something that can accomodate some baskets or bowls on top (or underneath) so you can have a space for each person's individual stuff (see below for more details). If you only need to hold a couple pairs of shoes, and weather is not an issue a small floor shoe organizer may work well for your needs. Trust me, that makes it easier when each person leaves so they only grab and move around their own things. I first saw one of these on Pinterest (follow me, by the way, I love it over there!) and when I pinned a picture of one several of you told me how wonderful they were, and I have to say I agree.
You can tell me your progress or give me more ideas for how you've organized this area in your home in the comments below.
Submit your pictures (up to four per submission) and blog posts and get featured in the Creative Storage Solutions Hall of Fame. My integrity and your satisfaction are very important to me so I only recommend products I would purchase myself, and that I believe would benefit you. Join over 200,000 others and get tips, articles and organizing challenges sent directly to your inbox to help you get your house in order. While decluttering is not a direct action for implementing ideas, it’s certainly an indirect one.
Below are food storage guidelines for common expiration dates for items in your refrigerator, to learn when food will taste its best and be safe for consumption. Read all information on packaging regarding expiration and use by dates, and how long the item is safe to consume after opening. If you don't know what those places are for various food items make sure to check out the refrigerator storage chart and guidelines article which provides more information about this. Even if it says it's within the expiration date periods, if it smells or looks funny throw it out! The Outgrown & Seasonal Clothing Storage Challenge is part of the 52 Weeks To An Organized Home Challenge. However, if you've still got more stuff than you can easily fit in your closet don't despair. I'll replace lots of the contents of my closet, meaning I can have more total clothes without making everything too crowded in the process. There is no sense having these outgrown clothes stay in circulation, having your child constantly try putting them on only to find they still don't fit, and wasting closet or drawer space. I personally do this with my two girls, and to some extent with my son (although he can't wear many of the girls things, of course) to save major cash.
Further, make a note of anything you notice you don't have enough of, such as t-shirts or long pants, so you can get them later. For example, you can list that you have 9 pairs of socks but only one pair of jeans that isn't so worn out it can be passed down to the next child.
Then, when you see a great sale you can buy the items you need at a discount, or tell loving relatives what exact sizes and types of items your children need if they want to buy a clothing gift. Don't try to shove more than one size of clothing into a container unless you have to, and if you do have to, somehow separate out the sizes so things stay organized.
You can tell me your progress or give me more ideas for how you've organized these items in your home in the comments below. Click on one of these picture links below to find storage solutions and ideas you can use specifically for these types of items, or scroll down for some more tips and ideas. Because you only access these items once a year or so, don't give this storage area prime real estate in your home, but instead put it somewhere somewhat accessible, but out of the way. Ideally, as you put items away for each season you will put those items toward the back, so over the year the containers needed for the next holiday will be toward the front, and rotate them as the seasons change. If you need to add more than one type of item to a box try to put them in, in the opposite order you will need to retrieve them. However, with a little effort when you put them away at the end of the season will keep them in good order for the next year and save yourself some big headaches and holiday grief. Therefore, special care should be taken when choosing the right ornament storage containers. When choosing a Christmas storage solution, make sure you think about how you'll haul it back to storage, such as using rollers on your boxes, or a rolling artificial Christmas tree stands. If you're like me you've got quite a lot of gift wrap which is specifically for Christmas, and not for use at other times of the year.
Therefore, the fewer the number of baskets you've got to keep track of the easier this task can be. In addition, you're less likely to regularly wash everything that should get washed since you'll miss things. Just make sure you've got a system in place for sorting these clothes from the baskets before washing them somewhere in your house. Instead, the important thing is the routine of doing this consistently, as laundry is finished, so clean clothes don't pile up in the laundry room causing a back up or confusion about what is clean versus dirty.
What works best for you really just depends on the layout of your home, your laundry and physical needs, and what you find attractive and useful.
Further, consider using hanging space in your closet, or pull out stacking baskets to use vertical space for more laundry storage. This way you can still have the functionality of laundry collection, but camoflauged from view. That can mean doing a load or two every day, or just doing laundry once or twice a week, consistently. You can tell me your progress or give me more ideas for how you've organized this function in your home in the comments below. Since this week we focused on laundry schedules and routines next week we'll move on to create a house cleaning schedule.
A clear workspace opens you up to clear thinking and THAT’s a direct benefit to implementation. If I don't have these clothes organized as well, I'll completely waste my money because they'll never wear the item I spent money buying for them.
For example, you should put the garland lower in the box than the lights, for example, since lights go on before garland onto the tree.



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