Monday, January 14, 2013

Getting Organized for a New Baby

Getting Organized for a New Baby
by guest author, Tracy K. Pierce, holistic professional organizer
Getting ready for a new baby is a big life transition. It helps to do a bit of planning of course for the birth itself and for the adjustment phase afterwards. Getting prepared and organized in your home environment is equally important, and this is where a professional organizer might be of help to you. These tips aren’t just for new parents. With each new addition to your family, your system may need to be shifted or adjusted to accommodate.
The two kid categories I’m most frequently hired to help with are clothes and toys. Here are some tips:

Clothes. If you’re planning to have more kids (or give to friends/family), it’s really helpful to pack away outgrown clothing by size (we all know kids’ clothes sizes aren’t exactly a science, so opt for similar-sized clothes together). You may want to separate winter and summer clothes if you rotate clothes seasonally. Label your boxes or bins on the top and two sides. I suggest something like “Winter 0-6 mo”. If you do this with each of your kids as they are outgrowing their clothes, it’ll be a whole lot easier to pull out the next round clothes your kids need as they continue to grow into hand-me-downs. 

Get pictures of your kids in their/your favorite outfits. It’s much easier to let go of the outfit if you have a picture. If you decide to keep the clothes as a keepsake, be sure you have a plan. Are you going to make a quilt out of the fabric from those outfits? Perhaps make a wall hanging or other memorable art item? Decide your limits for these types of keepsakes – they can quickly become clutter. How much are you willing to store? What do you have room for? Decide your limits and stick to them.

Toys. A lot of parents struggle with toys. Oh how generous the relatives and friends can be when a new baby arrives. The absolute most important thing when it comes to toys is setting your limits. If you decide each child gets two bins of toys in one room and then has a toy box in his/her room, then when those bins get full it’s time to get rid of something. Start following the “one in, one out” rule when the kids are young – when something new comes in, something old goes out.

Sometimes setting your limits means running the risk of offending someone, but if you don’t decide your limits, all your generous relatives and friends may try to fill every nook and cranny with every cool new toy they find. What matters more to you, not offending someone or having your home less cluttered and more comfortable to you? Don’t be afraid to return or exchange gifts, especially the ones that come with gift receipts!

Container systems are my favorite way to round up toys. Many different stores have many different organizing set ups, and custom storage solutions are always an option, but you don’t necessarily need to spend tons of money to contain the toys. You could use simple 22-gallon storage totes that are easily stored away when company comes over. I’ve seen people use containers from dollar stores. Keeping it simple is often the best way, especially with some of the wear and tear kids can put on things!

If you have multiple children, it can be helpful to have a color-coding system. Johny’s toy bins are blue, Sally’s are red. (You could also extend color-coding to your kids’ clothes storage system if you use bins or containers instead of hangers).

Overall the biggest challenge I see parents have is with setting limits to the amount of stuff that’s coming into the home. As uncomfortable as it may initially seem, learning to say “no” and setting your boundaries while being able to say “yes” to the help you really want are two of the biggest things you can do to keep clutter under control and chaos to a minimum during your time of transition.

MINI BIO: Tracy K. Pierce is a holistic professional organizer, clutter coach, and certified B.E.S.T. practitioner based in Iowa City, IA. It is her passion to help her clients reclaim space for what matters most. Tracy will consider travel to anywhere in North America for professional organizing services. She also offers Skype clutter coaching sessions to anyone in the world. For more information visit