Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Organizing a Nursery, Part 1

The Prequel

In just a few days, my husband and I are having our first child. We are truly thrilled about becoming parents and we’ve tried to prepare as much as possible. I’m putting my organizing skills to the test in a brand new way, by planning to have an organized nursery and a home that incorporates a new baby without introducing a lot of clutter.

Here I am at 38 weeks! This photo was taken by Hylah Hedgepeth who is an incredible natural light photographer.

There’s plenty that I don’t know about what the coming months will bring, so I’m calling this post The Prequel. I’ll post an update in a couple months or so, to let you know how my organizing ideas worked out when tested against new-parenthood. But here’s a glimpse into what I am hoping will be a successfully organized nursery.

Nursery Floor Plan

We’ve got a 2-bedroom condo, with loft space that I have transformed into a home office and is where my incredible Office Manager Anna and I run Operation Organization. The second bedroom is now going to be the nursery.

The biggest space maker would have been to remove the guest bed, but we opted to keep it. I plan to spend late nights in the nursery with the baby. And we do expect to have guests in the future.  It’ll be easy to put a small crib in our master bedroom when needed. 

But that means less furniture for storage of toys, books, diapers, clothing... everything.

We chose to keep the room simple and not overly decorated.  My husband and I like a modern look and neutral colors...can you tell?  We want our room to grow with our child and his style, so we will add to it as he gets bigger.  For now, we have a few decorative things to start us off.

The prints I got from Etsy.
I made some easy art by framing a page out of a favorite childhood book.

This little car I found at T.J.Maxx.

This is my hubby when he was a baby!

Gift Management

First of all, thanks to everyone who sent us gifts! Second, what are we going to do with this stuff!? Some people were thoughtful and sent us slightly larger clothing, which will come in handy later on but needs to be stored for now in a way that ensures I won’t forget about it. We’ve got lots of things we’ll use every day, and some things we will only need every once in a while.

Clothing - Newborn sized onesies and pajamas are handy, just below the diaper drawer in the dresser we’ll use as the changing table. To make best use of the nice big closet, I divided it into sections that work for baby clothing. The hanging baby clothing is organized in order of size, with labeled dividers so we can see sizes at a glance. Other things, like shoes, hats, and baby blankets, are sorted into baskets. The baskets are labelled so I’m not tempted to shove things in the wrong places. Labels keep me honest!

                       Onesies organized by size.

I got these these baby clothing dividers from Amazon.
The hangers are no-slip baby hangers by Closet Complete.

Water Hyacinth baskets from Container Store fit perfectly on baby's closet shelf.

Diapering - I didn't want to invest in a traditional changing table because a dresser will be so useful down the road.  I also don't enjoy looking at diaper creams and wipes out in the open.  Call me crazy, but for now, I am saying "no" to a wipes warmer (against the suggestion of my new mommy friends). Instead, I dedicated the top drawer of the dresser to all of baby Teeple's bottom booty!  I will let you know how this works out.

Books - We don’t have a ton of floor space in our guest-bedroom-turned-nursery for extra furniture, so I put in a number of floating bookshelves to maximize the usefulness of wall space.  The books sit right above the rocker in the "story-time" nook for easy access.

These Umbra floating bookshelves are a steal from Container Store!

Toys - I don’t like the look of toys everywhere, because of my general clutter-phobia.  I’ve used bins on the floor for toys. I’ll have one toy basket in the living room, but I’m going to try to keep the majority of kid things in kid space.

In the bathroom, I’ve organized the medicine cabinet so baby medicines, creams, and powder will be handy. On the inside of the medicine cabinet door I’ve taped up an info sheet with details about what’s safe to give to a baby.  I left the bottom two shelves with toiletries for our house guests.

I wanted to make sure I have access to baby washcloths during bath-time, so I repurposed this three tier storage basket from Pier 1 Imports.  I also installed a white hook for drying hooded towels.

A Major Life Transformation

Everyone says having a baby is going to be an unpredictable life transformation and will really mess with my organized life-style. No matter how much we plan and prepare, we know that the feelings will be new and the exhaustion potentially unprecedented. But I’m resisting the urge to transform the whole house.

Incorporating a Baby Into the Everyday

Life is going to continue. I’m fortunate enough to like my work, so depending on how it goes, I’ll be back to work at least part-time about a month after the birth. That may only mean I’ll be spending nap time in the home office, so I’ve got a spare crib behind my desk.

We’ll have baby stations of varying sizes around the house so the things we need will always be within reach. We’ve also been able to use otherwise dead space, like the space under our spiral staircase, in novel ways like for storing our stroller and baby swing.

I’ve also got this great mommy-baby basket from my Doula (Emma Goodman-DaSilva) that I can easily bring from room to room. It’s got the essentials, like a few spare diapers, wipes, burp cloths, and a changing blanket, as well as a few things for me, like snacks, a book, lotion, and tea bags.  She says if I’m happy, it’ll be easier to keep the baby happy.

Are We Ready?

As ready as we’ll ever be. Maybe we’ll realize that with a real baby around, some of the systems we put into place won’t work the way we thought. It’s highly likely that we’ll have to adjust for reality. But a big part of being organized is trying things out and seeing what works.  For me, when I feel prepared, I feel positive and that is how I am entering into motherhood.

More experienced parents, maybe you have some ideas to contribute? Tell me about it in the comments - I’m open to all the help I can get!

~Katrina Teeple
Founder of Operation Organization

Photo by Hylah Hedgepeth

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Little Things - Organizing Your Purse

Whether it’s a purse, a day-bag or a “murse”, your over-the-shoulder carry-all can quickly become a disaster without regular TLC. I don’t know about you, but I get a sense of relief and a feeling of calm when I take just a few minutes to remove receipts and other junk that has accumulated in my purse over the course of the day…or sometimes the week! Remember, purses can make or break a first impression.  Do you really want an overflowing, discombobulated bag speaking for your personal organizational skills?

You may have noticed, I don’t like a cluttered purse and why settle for one when an organized purse feels so good! Besides taking the time to re-organize my purse regularly, I do a few things to keep myself from getting frustrated throughout my day that I’d like to share.

Not all Purses are Created Equal

They come in all shapes and sizes. Some are just big enough to fit the essentials. Others are like one giant, endless black hole a la Mary Poppins’ carpet bag. Like most women, I change out my bag regularly depending on where I am going and what I am wearing. But, the one constant is that I always need a lot of the same stuff.

Divide & Conquer

I have found that the best way to have access and flexibility to my on-the-go must-haves is to separate and consolidate.  First and foremost, I divide the contents of my purse into categories and then use little bags and a small wallet to house my items.

For example, I have a small kit of overnight/medical stuff including spare medications, a couple band-aids, a hotel sewing kit, and I even carry a small toothpaste & toothbrush set so I’m always ready for a spontaneous, romantic overnight with my Hubby. All these things are carefully stored in a small make-up bag I got at The Container Store.  I can’t tell you how many times that extra pair of contacts and sewing kit has saved me!

I use a separate small bag to hold all the make-up that travels in my purse. I keep the basics on me: mascara, a blush stick that doubles as lipstick (I love the Josie Maran Argan Oil Mini Color Sticks), a mini shadow compact, lip balm and a concealer (I use a product by MAC as my concealer called Paint Pot in Painterly that is actually a shadow primer). It’s another double-duty product! To carry my make-up brushes, I invested in a great travel set from Bobbi Brown Cosmetics.

Tip: Use smaller bags to sort your purse into sections.

Then there’s the financial side of carrying a purse - I use a slim wallet for cards and cash and have a change pouch for those occasions when I need change.  Cut the clutter by tossing most of your membership cards.  Most stores that hand them out, keep you in their computer system by your phone number.  So, say “adios!" to all the extra plastic in your wallet. Another item I keep stocked in my wallet are a few business cards.  You never know when you will make a good connection!

Items You Need Handy

It feels like most of the things in your purse should be handy, that’s why you’re carrying it all around, right? Small bags will help you to easily grab things that can be identified by category, but what about those valet or parking garage tickets? Digging around looking for a misplaced ticket can be frustrating.

Now I’m going to give you an organizing tip that goes beyond the purse. You can use this in your everyday life to stay less flustered and confused.

Tip: Put things in the same place. (I know, you've heard this before, but you should do it!)

Do you keep your tweezers with your meds or your make-up? That’s up to you, but always keep them in the same place so you know where to find them.  For example, your keys. If they are not in one of the doors you use, they should be in an easy-to-grab place in your purse. I love purses with a little clip inside for just this purpose. If I am carrying a purse without a little key clip, I make sure to stick my keys in a purse pocket.

Everything about organizing your purse can make sense for your life. Take a few minutes each day, or each week, to empty and organize your purse so that it’s back to its resting state. Your mind will appreciate the relief from clutter and chaos and friends will appreciate not having to help you find your keys!

Staying organized is one way to stay sane, it turns out!

~Katrina Teeple~
Keeping you Operation Organized!

P.S. When I head out for a night on the town or a special event like a wedding, I always bring a clutch which never fits everything from my everyday purse.  So, what I grab from my regular purse and pop into a clutch are the following: my mini wallet, lip balm, concealer, and my double-duty blush stick, sewing kit for wardrobe malfunctions, and some gum! What are your clutch-worthy items?