How to Organize Your Bathroom

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How organized is your bathroom? And if the bathroom is such a small room in the house anyway, why should you even care? We all spend the first and last part of every day in the bathroom getting ready for the day or getting ready for bed. The level of organization in your bathroom can make these two time periods either quick, easy, and peaceful or slow, complicated, and stressful. I know that I would definitely prefer the former to the latter, and I’m pretty sure you would too.

Before you answer my question about how organized your bathroom is, take a moment to go and look. What does your bathroom sink look like? How many items are on the bathroom counter, and how many of them do you actually use every day? When it’s time to clean your bathroom sink, how long does it take you to clear off the counter? What about your bathtub and shower? How many toiletries are in there, and how many do you use every day? If you’re feeling brave, take a peek in all of the drawers and cabinets. Do you even know what’s in there? Can you quickly find what you need? Now try the medicine cabinet. Are there medicines that are expired or that you can’t even identify?

If you’re still reading, I assume you now see a need to get your bathroom organized. You’re in luck! This article will give you a step by step guide to finally get this room in order. So grab some trash bags and cleaning supplies, and get ready to get organized!

  1. Start with the sink. Identify a large flat surface(s) for sorting. The counter spaces in the bathroom alone probably won’t be enough space. If you decide to use your bed, you might want to put a sheet over it to protect the bedspread from any toiletries or makeup that might spill. You could use a small portable table in addition to the counters.
  2. Pull everything off the counter, out of the drawers, and out of the cabinets and start sorting into categories. Some categories would include soap, lotion, makeup, hair care, nail care, shaving, dental care, etc.
  3. Pick a category, and look at every item.
  4. Yes, there will probably be a lot of items. No, there really is no shortcut. Yes, you have to look at each item individually. Ok, now proceed.
  5. Be realistic. Do you really use this item? Don’t ask yourself whether you should use it or whether you might use it. If you don’t use it, it’s clutter, and it needs to be removed. If it’s empty or near empty, throw it away and recycle the container if possible. If there is still product remaining, donate it.
  6. Go through this same process with each category, looking through each item and removing anything you aren’t using.
  7. There are a few items that you will want to keep on the counter. Most likely, you will want to keep hand soap right beside the sink. You’ll probably want to keep your toothbrush, toothpaste, and a cup on the counter. If possible, the rest of the counter should be kept mostly clear.
  8. Before you start replacing the rest of the items, think through each step of your morning routine. Pull out the items that you use every single morning. Put these items either into one container or into one drawer. I always prefer clear labeled containers, but you can use anything that holds all of the items and fits in the space. Ideally, this container could be stored in an easily accessed drawer or cabinet, and not on the counter. If it must be kept on the counter, at least it can be moved quickly for cleaning.
  9. Think through your evening routine and repeat the last step with those items you use every evening.
  10. Clean every counter, drawer, and cabinet really well. Chances are it hasn’t been done in a while.
  11. As you begin to replace the rest, keep in mind that items used more frequently need to be easier to access. Try to utilize all available space. Most bathroom cabinets are tall, and if we store items directly on the bottom of the cabinet, we are often left with empty space above them. To solve this problem, you can use either a shelf riser (a U-shaped device that extends above the objects and turns one shelf into two), a storage unit with drawers, or stacked bins.
  12. Replace all items into drawers and cabinets, preferably in clear labeled bins.
  13. Hopefully you will quickly see the value of your newly organized space. As you use it, you might need to make slight adjustments until it is most efficient and pleasing to the eye.
  14. Use these same steps for other areas of your bathroom: medicine cabinet, tub/shower and linen cabinet or closet. Be realistic about what you really use, keep only a reasonable number of items (no one needs 47 shades of lipstick or 23 towels), and be ruthless.
  15. *Special instructions for medications: medication needs to be disposed of as quickly and safely as possible to prevent misuse and to reduce the amount of drugs entering the environment. The best option for safe medication disposal is to use a medicine take-back option. There is a drug drop box at the Justice Center at 200 Shelby Street in Kingsport, and at West Towne Pharmacy, 1619 W. Market St.in Johnson City. Only if this option does not exist in your area should you consider throwing the medication into the trash can or flushing it down the toilet, and even then, there are specific instructions. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration website is a helpful resource (https://bit.ly/2lvl836).
  16. Now that your bathroom is organized, you have a new and even bigger challenge. How will you keep it that way? Maintaining order is just as important (or maybe more) as organizing it in the first place.
    1. Be extremely choosy about bringing in anything new. Remember how many unused toiletries you got rid of? Keep that in mind as you’re shopping, and don’t buy it unless you are sure you will use it.
    2. As soon as you identify something else you’re not using, get rid of it. It may have survived the first purging session, but now that you’ve seen the benefits of an organized space, be even more ruthless.
    3. Be determined to return items to their home as soon as you use them. Yes, there will be days when you’re in too much of a hurry. But don’t wait too long to restore the order.

I hope you have found this article helpful. I’d love to hear your questions or suggestions for future articles.

Happy organizing!

 

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Better Organizing=Better Grades

school supplies

The first day of school is fast approaching. Some families are trying to squeeze out every bit of summer fun in these last few days by heading to the pool or sleeping late just one more time. Some are busy shopping for school supplies and making plans for that first day. There are so many mixed emotions about the beginning of a school year. Parents are worried about everything from paperwork and packing lunches to bullying and report cards. Children can feel excited one minute and terrified the next about meeting their first day in a new grade. Teachers are finishing up getting their rooms ready and frantically planning those crucial first few days. Clearly this is a busy time packed with activity and planning.

Even though my children are grown, I still get excited about the beginning of a school year. It takes every bit of restraint I can muster to not go out and buy things I really don’t need. As a student, I took the selection of item on the school supply list very seriously, making sure that the color of the notebook corresponded in some way with the class subject. I wrote especially neatly on the first page of a spiral notebook, knowing that I would be looking at that page all year. After the first few days of school though, the excitement of new supplies was soon replaced by anxiety as I began to worry about my grades. I was (and still am) very driven and competitive, so good grades meant everything to me.

For many students and parents alike, grades are the biggest worry throughout the school year. This worry starts early and continues throughout all grade levels, even into the college years. It can often seem like so much is riding on these scores. So many factors can influence grades, and volumes of research have been done to find the magic formula to produce top marks. When I think back over my school years and those of my children, I am convinced that the most important factor in achieving good grades was simply being organized. While intellect, creativity, and study methods definitely played a part, basic organizing skills were pivotal in achieving good results.

In light of this observation, here are my top suggestions for staying organized during the school year. Keep in mind that depending on the age of the student, parents’ assistance may be needed. The older the child, the more responsibility should be transferred to them. I strongly advise parents, grandparents, or anyone who is working with a child to teach them basic organizing skills. These principles will serve them well throughout their lives. I would like to thank my daughters Emma and Lydia (both college students) and my husband Eric for their input.

    • Check backpacks before leaving school. Nobody enjoys finding out at 9:30 pm that your child forgot the textbook they need to complete their homework. If you pick up your child from school, this isn’t too difficult, but if they ride the bus or with someone else, you’ll have to train your child to do this. We learned this lesson the hard way.
    • Establish and reinforce routines for papers. Students come home with a LOT of papers, some of utmost importance and some that go straight to the recycling bin. Make it a habit from day one to have a designated spot for papers. Establish a drop zone for backpacks with a container (one per child) nearby for all papers to go into as soon as children arrive home. This container can be wall-mounted to save counter space. If possible, a parent should look through these immediately to identify anything urgent (forms to be returned, homework to be completed). At the end of the evening, check again to make sure all papers that need to be returned are in the backpack.

 

  • Declutter backpacks regularly. At least once a week, every single item in the backpacks needs to be taken out and everything unnecessary removed. I have heard many stories of children getting a 0 on a homework assignment that was completed on time but not turned in because the backpack was a disaster area. Don’t be that family!

 

    • Keep an updated checklist. Each child needs one central location to keep track of dates, deadlines, homework, etc. You might try using a different color for each class. There are some wonderful student planners that are perfect for this. Or it may be that a digital solutions work better for your family. Either way, I can’t overstate the importance of this strategy.
    • It’s never too early to start an assignment. Look over assignment sheets and descriptions early to avoid last-minute issues. For a large assignment, use a technique called “backwards planning”,  which is working backwards from the desired result to figure out all the steps needed to achieve it, and creating mini-deadlines to break big tasks up. For a long-range assignment, one good strategy is to work a little on it each day after finishing homework that is due the next day.

 

  • When your child says they don’t have any homework, don’t believe them. I’m not implying that your child is a liar. I’m simply suggesting that perhaps they have forgotten it. Either way, it’s better to just double check before assuming they have the night off. There is always something to work on (see above point about long range assignments).

 

  • When your child says they don’t have any homework, don’t believe them. Yes, I meant to repeat that sentence. Did you catch it? So many times when asked about homework, I was assured me there was none. Then I would find out there was a test the next day. Studying for a test definitely counts as homework! There are many effective methods of studying for a test: looking over notes, working problems, making note cards, having a group study session, creating a practice test (this was my favorite), outlining material, etc. Different methods work better for different subjects and learning styles. Teachers are great resources for best study habits.

I’d love to hear from you, readers! Do you agree that organization is the biggest factor in student success? What has worked well for your family?

Here’s hoping for a wonderful and organized school year!