• The Psychology of Small Space Living

    An NYC-Based Professional Organizer Shares Her Tips For Families To De-Clutter, De-Stress And Enjoy Their Homes

    By New York Family

    Trying to
    “get organized” at home is one of the most difficult tasks faced by
    New York City families. The truth is, small space
    living pressure-cooks normal “where do I put it” problems. We don’t have
    backyards or basements to store off-season stuff, or mudrooms to fling seasonal
    coats and shoes.

     Most
    challenging of all is where to place things we don’t even use, like clothes
    saved for a second child, or sports equipment for “when we get to it.” These
    items end up on shelves, pushed into closets or tucked in open corners of our
    homes, visible to all.

    No matter
    how hard we try there never seems to be enough room to keep everything we want
    while also keeping a tidy home that supports our growing families. So how can
    we “get organized” when our precious homes seem too small every way we turn?

    By
    practicing a little conscious intention. When we focus on ‘how we live’ vs.
    ‘what we live in’, even the tiniest of homes can be a haven for a growing family.

     Here are
    my top seven tips for how you and your family can to take control of your small
    home, and make it work for you:

    Get on
    the Floor

    When it
    comes time to “get organized,” most of us turn first to a store for a product
    to transform chaos into calm. But no amount of plastic tubs or shelving is
    going to help if you don’t know what it is that you are living with—and what
    you need to store.

     Before
    you buy, get on the floor. Make piles of “like things,” and then ask
    yourself—with each object you hold—if this were living, breathing and alive and
    needed to be fed and nurtured (like a member of your family) is it worthy of a
    home? Personifying things helps to clarify what’s important in our lives.

     It also
    provides an inventory of our lives—when you make your piles you may be
    surprised at what you are holding on to, and how much. Give yourself permission
    to let go of items that don’t support your family. You’ll free up valuable real
    estate, your home will appear larger—as if it has lost weight—and you may not
    need to buy that storage product after all.

    Do The
    Math

    “Too much stuff” overwhelms both
    kids and adults. You can decide as a family how much is “too much,” but find a
    threshold that works for you. If you notice a child struggling to decide what toy
    to play with, or what snack to pick out, the answer may be volume more than
    indecision.

     Once you have your
    piles, do the math. Identify how many items from each category your family
    needs and give away the rest. For example, if you are sorting clothes,
    calculate how many dresses your daughter can wear the summer she turns two,
    then eliminate the rest.

    Think
    Like a Retail Store

    When you shop, you can see
    everything quickly. This makes it easy to make choices. Take this concept home.
    A child who can’t see into the back of a jammed drawer will grab what’s up
    front, limiting what they use. Or, they will reach deep and yank out what they
    want, making a mess of what’s up front. Adults are the same—what we see is what
    we use.

    As you pick your piles up off the
    floor, think about how and where you are going to store them. Let shelves “breathe,”
    instead of packing them tight. You can help your family achieve by allowing
    them to see all the tools and resources at their disposal.

    OSL:
    Organization as a Second Language

    With your home
    streamlined, it’s time to communicate with your family. Imagine having words
    other than “put that away,” to express how you feel.
    Try replacing, “please put it away”
    with “where does that live?” and “thank you” with “you put ‘like with like’!”
    When you introduce an organization language into the home, parents and kids
    have a common base from which to communicate problems and celebrate triumphs.

    Children as
    young as one year old will get excited to pick up and will do so without being
    asked, if they know where something goes. Positive language about organization
    leads to excellence at school, increased self-esteem and stronger independence.
    And, organized kids serve as role models for other kids—which can benefit you
    on play dates and at home.

    Create
    Kid Power

    Children love responsibility. Invite them to participate
    when organizing the home, particularly their rooms. Ask a child to show you
    what they like, what they don’t like, accept their answers and thank them
    heartily for their input.

    Empower
    your kids with responsibility and watch them get excited for their weekly home
    and school routines. Kids love to demonstrate how helpful they can be, so
    you’ll be reinforcing valuable lessons about helping and sharing. Teach your
    kids to make their beds or set out their breakfast bowl. Give them one job to
    call their own during your weekly routine. Learn to organize with your kids,
    not around them. Make them part of the solution, and watch for positive
    behavioral changes around the home.

    Create
    a Nerve Center

    Time and
    again I see families with life scattered inward from the front door. Bags
    dumped in doorways, mail dropped on tables, keys and wallets scattered about.
    Family calendars are on countertops and laptops are plugged in wherever they
    can.

     Every
    family home needs a two-tiered nerve center: first, a place to ‘stop and drop’,
    and second, a place to take care of business of the home. Make certain you have
    a table or landing zone for what comes in the front door. And then, establish a
    second spot a nerve center for important documents, school papers, phone
    numbers and schedules, health information. Keep folders labeled by kid names,
    activities or color. Try storing your
    nerve center on the kitchen countertop or pullout drawer.

    Get
    Shelved

    In small
    apartments, every shelf inch matters. Invest in a closet system that does the
    sorting for you, with space for shelves, hanging rods and slide-out drawers or
    bins. There are a variety of price levels from California Closets to DIY
    shelving from Home Depot, Target or Lowes. These units are flexible and easy to
    change-up over time. With a few adjustments a system styled for a child’s room
    can turn into a teenager’s closet or home office. You can even disassemble and
    take them with you on a move. One up-front investment can last a long time.

     If you
    already have good shelves, make sure they are spaced efficiently. Once again,
    think retail: stores don’t waste valuable real estate, neither should you.

    Maeve
    Richmond is the founder of Get Your House in Order, a NYC-based home
    organization firm that teaches organizational skills to kids, pack-rats, busy
    professionals and parents needing extra time in their days. Contact her at
    maeve@organizemyhouse.com for tips on how to get to the other side of household
    clutter, and follow her on Twitter as ClutterGirl.

    Pictured: Apple Bank Condominium, 2112 Broadway.

    See More Related Articles

    The Psychology of Small Space Living

    An NYC-Based Professional Organizer Shares Her Tips For Families To De-Clutter, De-Stress And Enjoy Their Homes

    By New York Family

    Trying to
    “get organized” at home is one of the most difficult tasks faced by
    New York City families. The truth is, small space
    living pressure-cooks normal “where do I put it” problems. We don’t have
    backyards or basements to store off-season stuff, or mudrooms to fling seasonal
    coats and shoes.

     Most
    challenging of all is where to place things we don’t even use, like clothes
    saved for a second child, or sports equipment for “when we get to it.” These
    items end up on shelves, pushed into closets or tucked in open corners of our
    homes, visible to all.

    No matter
    how hard we try there never seems to be enough room to keep everything we want
    while also keeping a tidy home that supports our growing families. So how can
    we “get organized” when our precious homes seem too small every way we turn?

    By
    practicing a little conscious intention. When we focus on ‘how we live’ vs.
    ‘what we live in’, even the tiniest of homes can be a haven for a growing family.

     Here are
    my top seven tips for how you and your family can to take control of your small
    home, and make it work for you:

    Get on
    the Floor

    When it
    comes time to “get organized,” most of us turn first to a store for a product
    to transform chaos into calm. But no amount of plastic tubs or shelving is
    going to help if you don’t know what it is that you are living with—and what
    you need to store.

     Before
    you buy, get on the floor. Make piles of “like things,” and then ask
    yourself—with each object you hold—if this were living, breathing and alive and
    needed to be fed and nurtured (like a member of your family) is it worthy of a
    home? Personifying things helps to clarify what’s important in our lives.

     It also
    provides an inventory of our lives—when you make your piles you may be
    surprised at what you are holding on to, and how much. Give yourself permission
    to let go of items that don’t support your family. You’ll free up valuable real
    estate, your home will appear larger—as if it has lost weight—and you may not
    need to buy that storage product after all.

    Do The
    Math

    “Too much stuff” overwhelms both
    kids and adults. You can decide as a family how much is “too much,” but find a
    threshold that works for you. If you notice a child struggling to decide what toy
    to play with, or what snack to pick out, the answer may be volume more than
    indecision.

     Once you have your
    piles, do the math. Identify how many items from each category your family
    needs and give away the rest. For example, if you are sorting clothes,
    calculate how many dresses your daughter can wear the summer she turns two,
    then eliminate the rest.

    Think
    Like a Retail Store

    When you shop, you can see
    everything quickly. This makes it easy to make choices. Take this concept home.
    A child who can’t see into the back of a jammed drawer will grab what’s up
    front, limiting what they use. Or, they will reach deep and yank out what they
    want, making a mess of what’s up front. Adults are the same—what we see is what
    we use.

    As you pick your piles up off the
    floor, think about how and where you are going to store them. Let shelves “breathe,”
    instead of packing them tight. You can help your family achieve by allowing
    them to see all the tools and resources at their disposal.

    OSL:
    Organization as a Second Language

    With your home
    streamlined, it’s time to communicate with your family. Imagine having words
    other than “put that away,” to express how you feel.
    Try replacing, “please put it away”
    with “where does that live?” and “thank you” with “you put ‘like with like’!”
    When you introduce an organization language into the home, parents and kids
    have a common base from which to communicate problems and celebrate triumphs.

    Children as
    young as one year old will get excited to pick up and will do so without being
    asked, if they know where something goes. Positive language about organization
    leads to excellence at school, increased self-esteem and stronger independence.
    And, organized kids serve as role models for other kids—which can benefit you
    on play dates and at home.

    Create
    Kid Power

    Children love responsibility. Invite them to participate
    when organizing the home, particularly their rooms. Ask a child to show you
    what they like, what they don’t like, accept their answers and thank them
    heartily for their input.

    Empower
    your kids with responsibility and watch them get excited for their weekly home
    and school routines. Kids love to demonstrate how helpful they can be, so
    you’ll be reinforcing valuable lessons about helping and sharing. Teach your
    kids to make their beds or set out their breakfast bowl. Give them one job to
    call their own during your weekly routine. Learn to organize with your kids,
    not around them. Make them part of the solution, and watch for positive
    behavioral changes around the home.

    Create
    a Nerve Center

    Time and
    again I see families with life scattered inward from the front door. Bags
    dumped in doorways, mail dropped on tables, keys and wallets scattered about.
    Family calendars are on countertops and laptops are plugged in wherever they
    can.

     Every
    family home needs a two-tiered nerve center: first, a place to ‘stop and drop’,
    and second, a place to take care of business of the home. Make certain you have
    a table or landing zone for what comes in the front door. And then, establish a
    second spot a nerve center for important documents, school papers, phone
    numbers and schedules, health information. Keep folders labeled by kid names,
    activities or color. Try storing your
    nerve center on the kitchen countertop or pullout drawer.

    Get
    Shelved

    In small
    apartments, every shelf inch matters. Invest in a closet system that does the
    sorting for you, with space for shelves, hanging rods and slide-out drawers or
    bins. There are a variety of price levels from California Closets to DIY
    shelving from Home Depot, Target or Lowes. These units are flexible and easy to
    change-up over time. With a few adjustments a system styled for a child’s room
    can turn into a teenager’s closet or home office. You can even disassemble and
    take them with you on a move. One up-front investment can last a long time.

     If you
    already have good shelves, make sure they are spaced efficiently. Once again,
    think retail: stores don’t waste valuable real estate, neither should you.

    Maeve
    Richmond is the founder of Get Your House in Order, a NYC-based home
    organization firm that teaches organizational skills to kids, pack-rats, busy
    professionals and parents needing extra time in their days. Contact her at
    maeve@organizemyhouse.com for tips on how to get to the other side of household
    clutter, and follow her on Twitter as ClutterGirl.

    Pictured: Apple Bank Condominium, 2112 Broadway.

    See More Related Articles

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