Coat Closet Craziness
It’s been a long day – typical – but long.
You have battled parking lots, rush hour traffic and the daycare pickup. You try to make it into the house in as few trips as possible – juggling lunch bags, work bags, keys, purse, kids! You somehow manage it all in 1 trip (it’s like a working mom superpower).
The kids are tired and hungry so they alternate between whining and non-stop chatter about their day. You know you have about 30 minutes before the ‘hangry’ meltdowns begin, but you can’t even make it in the door. Everything starts to build – the whining – the crying – the stuff everywhere (and yes – you’re probably hungry too so that doesn’t help) and then you trip over someone’s shoes or backpack – that’s it! Why wasn’t this put in the closet? You open the door and are met with utter chaos!
You are now in a bad mood!
If there’s one thing I can’t stand its coming home at the end of a busy day (with still so much more to do – like making dinner and bathing kids) and tripping over all of the coats, shoes, bags, and stuff that comes into the house at the end of the day. Preschool forms, book orders, crafts and art work masterpieces – it’s enough to push me over the edge.
That hour between daycare pickup and dinner seems to last forever! I decided that I had to end the coat closet craziness to save my sanity! But how? It seemed so overwhelming.
I decided to spend a Saturday morning tackling the problem. I sent my kids to the basement to play with my spouse (don’t have a spouse – set up a play date, enlist the grandparents help, aunts or uncles are also great for watching the kids for a couple of hours – especially if they don’t have to bath or put them to bed!).
Next, I took everything out of the closet – yes everything that wasn’t attached to a wall or floor. I swept out the dog hair that appeared from nowhere, wiped down the shelf, rod, “shoe organizer” (ha it was buried under the mound of shoes – some organizer!), and the shoe mat (catches the water/mud). And because I am slightly OCD I took a magic eraser to the scuff marks on the wall, floor and organizer (this is not necessary but it made me feel better).
I then turned around to tackle the mess on the floor. Where to start? This is a common problem when deciding to organize. I chose to start with the coats. I sorted them by season – since we no longer need our winter coats I emptied out all of the pockets (mostly old Kleenexes – gross!), zipped everything up and tossed them in the washer. While I was at it I grabbed winter hats, scarves and mitts – in the washer they went too! When they were dry, I put the coats back on hangers and moved them to the basement closet. The mitts, scarves and winter hats went in a clear plastic storage bin from the dollar store and were put on the shelf beside the coats. Don’t have a basement closet – try a spare room closet, a utility closet, or install a closet rod in your furnace room or storage area. This way when the weather takes a turn for the worse next year I will be ready to go (because you know it’s going to sneak up on you! This way you look like the mom who is prepared and has it all together).
While the winter coats were washing, I examined the remaining coats, vests, sweaters, etc. on the floor and again emptied all the pockets and selected one coat for each person living in our house. Depending on the size of your closet you may allow two per person. The others were put on hangers and hung in their closets in their bedrooms – easily accessible should they need that particular coat. This freed up some hangers so we had somewhere to put visitor’s coats.
The shoes were next – winter boots went in a clear plastic bag (or if you happen to have a large tote laying around) and were put in the basement closet along with the winter coats. With what was left I matched up shoes and began to organize the closet floor. Old worn out shoes or ones with holes or ripped laces got tossed in the garbage. Dress shoes got placed near the back of the closet and our everyday shoes and running shoes went near the front.
For the miscellaneous items such as hats, sunglasses, etc. I put them in a storage tower with a clear plastic front and coloured plastic side – you can find these just about anywhere (Superstore, Walmart, Target – if you’re running out to grab one might as well get that large tote for the winter boots while you’re at it). Everyone got their own drawer (kids on the bottom, adults and dog on the top). Again, with my slight OCD the drawers were labelled with my label maker. But, depending on the age of your kids you could get them involved in making their own drawer label – they might be more likely to put their stuff in there if they “helped” organize it.
For the shelf, I used baskets to organize what was up there. One for small sports stuff, one for bubbles and chalk, one for lint brushes (a must with a dog), sunscreen, coat cleaners. I also have a small container with our spare keys – labelled and up high so the little ones can’t reach it.
I tossed my old phone book – why it was still in there I don’t know – there was just some part of me that thought I needed to have one. Well I’m clearly over that – into the recycling it went. I tossed a couple of empty packages (I had good intentions of putting the items back in these to store them but let’s be real – I’m too busy to put things back in their package (that’s how my closet got so messy to begin with) – a bin or basket is much more feasible).
What was left? The backpacks and papers that came home with the kids. I decided the coat closet was not the place for these items and instead hung up 2 decorative hooks in the entrance at a height they could reach and this is where they are to hang their backpacks when they come in.
I put a small basket on the floor below the backpacks and all paperwork goes in that basket. It is more of a temporary holding place just so I can get in the house and get dinner started. Once dinner is under way (or sometimes finished) I collect the basket and spend time with the kids talking about their artwork or whatever paperwork has come home with them. This way I can give them my full attention during a time that I am not in the midst of chaos.
This took about 2 hours Saturday morning (keep in mind I took a magic eraser to the closet, put laundry in and ran the items up and downstairs to their proper place) and guess what it’s working so far! The coat closet craziness has been fixed. Even toddlers can hang up their backpack and put their shoes away and their hats in a bin if they know that is what is expected of them (& things are installed at their height).
I’m not saying that hour between daycare pickup and dinner isn’t still busy, but at least coming through the front door is a lot easier and everyone is helping – it’s not just mom trying to manage all the stuff!
So go ahead – block off a couple of hours this weekend and tackle this one small project. I bet you will feel a whole lot better and your upcoming workweek will be smoother! Leave a comment below to let me know how your coat closet organizing went.