Storage Solutions ~ For Our Family

This week’s focus at 4 Moms, 35 Kids is Storage Solutions. What fun…in our house with so many various ages and needs at any given time, I am always seeking to maximize our home’s space.

The best storage solution is NOT to have more than you need so that you limit the NEED for storing. Now, with that said, we also must be wise and good stewards of we have…so the answer isn’t to give everything away either. For those of us still in child bearing years, keeping items we know we would use with subsequent children is a good idea…or regarding schooling, keeping items we know we will use with children up and coming in various grades is also a good idea.

How do we utilize storage tools? I have done a couple posts in the past about organizing which may provide you a better understanding of how our use of labeling and baskets, bins, and totes are great tools we use. Maybe, seeing how we improved our school closet or pantry will provide you a few more ideas on maximizing closet space to its fullest potential.

School closet (normally has mirrored by-pass doors on this closet) is our foyer closet conversion...shelves were added (years ago), bins/plastic baskets, magazine racks, paper racks, and plastic drawers are labeled to help organize our materials better.

Our most recent project is remodeling one of the girls’ closets to accommodate a drawer system in order for “Little Bit” to have some dresser space. The local home improvement store carries this line of closet systems we have used in all our bedroom closets to fit our needs. Fairly economical and they have held up in all the rooms so far…so…

Closet emptied and new unit being installed with 3 separate closet rods...

In the bedrooms, I have combined the different closet systems with bins, baskets, hooks and storage boxes to help keep our things orderly. Labels are added on the containers to help everyone know where to put things. Hangers are color assigned to each person to help with putting laundry away and to keep closets looking uniform (see another picture at the bottom of this post).

 All out of season clothing or clothing that is outgrown is stored in the large Rubbermaid totes in our attic. I also utilize these totes for storing seasonal decorations, toys that are brought down for rotation purposes, baby/infant items and homeschool portfolios (not kept in the attic). I use our Print Shop program to print picture/word labels for the fronts of the totes so they can be easily located when needed.

In the living areas, baskets are one of the methods to increase storage. Books are typically kept in them to allow easy access and easy clean up. Now, we have a lot of books, but for the little ones I like to keep most of their books in a basket. We all have books on bookshelves and night stands, as well. Homeschooling has a tendency to cause book collections to GROW. An ottoman doubles as storage for baby toys (see picture at the bottom of this post).

Children's books are easily accessed for reading time and quickly put away using the basket storage method (surplus books are kept in the book cabinet or book cases).

 My husband (last year) added windows, vinyl flooring, shelving and paneling to our screen room to allow added living space that could be used daily no matter what the season/weather. I moved all the toys (after purging took place) to the now Florida room and put them in clear plastic bins, baskets and plastic dish pans with colored labels that include a picture of the contents and the content name. This has helped greatly to keep bedrooms clean and orderly, as well as keeping messes confined. Clean up is something even little ones willing can do because of the labeled bins with pictures. Love our space…great for play, reading and keeping an eye on the children when they are outside playing!

Our well used and enjoyed Florida room...adjustable shelves mounted to the wall to hold all the toy bins and plastic baskets.

An example of the Print Shop label I made to help identify each bins' contents...this picture/word label works great for helping little ones with clean up time.

Other baskets have been incorporated throughout the house for storing scrapbooking items on my floating shelves above my desk area or a hanging basket above my husband’s stand to hold charger cords for cell phones (see end of post).

I love using these floating shelves to hold books, scrapbooking tools, and display some special keepsakes. 

 Finally, not so long ago my husband added sliding wire racks inside our kitchen cabinets which I love (not an agape kind of love…just the practicality of them)! They have saved on bending and lifting of a lot of my HEAVY cookware…cast iron pieces and stoneware pieces (see another picture at the end of this post). Not only have they saved my wrists from lifting out of awkward places inside the cabinets BUT these sliding racks have allowed my cookware/bakeware to be better organized so that I can easily access all of them…which means they can be used….which means happy tummies. I’d say that’s a win win situation.

Sliding wire racks mounted in our cabinets to make accessing heavy cast iron cookware easy!

 So in summary…my preferred storage tools are:
  • Baskets
  • Plastic bins and totes
  • Shelving and drawer systems
Labels whenever possible really help to keep things organized…be it labels from our label maker or printed off of Print Shop. So what storage solutions work for you? Leave a comment (I love learning new tips…) or participate by linking your storage solution post here.

Always seeking to maximize space with storage solutions for our ever growing family ~

And another section with one single sliding wire rack and one double tiered sliding wire rack to hold stones and glass bakeware AND our KitchenAid...all quite HEAVY!

Hooks are another method to utilize wall space for storage...a hanging basket for phone chargers, keys and ceramic plaques to remind us of God's goodness.

Our ottomon serves as a storage area for baby toys...

Baskets to hold cloth diapers/burp cloths, travel crib bedding, etc.; girls are assigned "pink" hangers so all their hanging clothes are neat.

Laundry System...for Our Large Family

As you can imagine, in a family our size there is RARELY a day that the laundry bins STAY empty.  Try as I might, when there are children in the home, it is a very RARE occasion that clothes are clean for long.  So how do we try to manage the endless task of keeping laundry clean and keeping the dirty laundry organized?

Well, here's a tour of "Grand Laundry Station"...a place where the dirt stops and the aroma of bleach is a common scent.  ;-)

Looking into our laundry room from the hallway

A Blurr of a Week...

It's hard to believe it has been over two weeks since my last visit to blogger.  Life kicked in to full throttle this past week and our family put to practice what a primary caregiver overseeing/responsible for 24/7 care needs to do.  It was a challenge to be 100% present for Mom and still keep things (school, business, caring for our children and managing our home) on the homefront going as close to normal as possible...which was far from "normal".

Here's a glimpse of how the week went without getting into too much detail...continually thankful for your prayers:

Sunday ~ church…call afterward to check on Mom (not well at all)…arrive at her home, Hospice nurse there and stayed until 11:00pm (a little better, with some “good” signs, so I went home for some rest)

Monday ~ call to wake Mom up (this is the day I typically take her food shopping and out on errands…doesn’t answer either phone, leave my house (kids) and go to hers…not doing well at all (again). Try to get her pain & nausea under control…a friend comes to sit with my children (for the day…Mark is working), I stay with Mom…update Hospice on status and proceed to provide necessary care until my sister arrives for a few hours after she gets off work. (Austin goes to Orchestra…) I go home gather some things to stay the night, have dinner with my family, check school work and return to Mom’s. (No rest this night as I checked on her about every hour…quite concerned.)

Tuesday ~ with Mom, still not doing well…called Hospice, nurse comes out and another ailment added to her issues to monitor and care for. My sister arrives (her ½ day at work, around 12:30pm, and stays until 8ish) allowing me to go home for a while (another friend has come by to be with the children…Mark worked and oldest at college all day, so quite a bit of juggling ensued this day. We return around 8 and I stay with Mark until 11ish…he takes the night shift, I go home to a teething 11 month old…not much sleep this night either ~ Mom did okay through the night though...praise the Lord.

Wednesday ~ Mark and Zach trade places, I get kids on to their school; try to catch up around the house and then go down to get Mom situated with pain, nausea and care. Go back home for an hour, then return when Hospice nurse arrives…stayed 1 ½ hours this time (another friend helping with the children so I can go back and forth throughout the day…a gift)…return home, try to get some business done for Mark…then return to Mom’s again before little ones have their afternoon naps. Make sure she is on schedule with care/medications and monitor her for a while. She gets up – hallelujah! – Nurse comes for another check-up, but she returns back to bed not long after. (Austin goes to Orchestra.) I return home, my sister comes again after work for a few hours. Mark and I go back down when she leaves and Mark takes another night shift at Mom’s…I return home for that teething little one…nursing to comfort throughout the night.

Thursday ~ Mark is off (pre-planned weeks earlier due to homeschool function) so he stays a bit longer in the morning at Mom’s, I run out to do business errands, a friend picks up Alyssa for our monthly Mother/Daughter Bright Lights Young Ladies Group meeting…I return from errands and trade places with Mark. He stays with the rest of the children (Zach at classes again all day). Friend returns with Alyssa and stays for a couple hours, allowing Mark and I to get some business work done and me to meet with the Hospice nurse. I stay with Mom until my sister comes for a few hours after work. Mark and I return to Mom’s with Mark taking another night shift…I return home to the teething girl…a little rest this night – hallelujah!...Mom up and signs of some improvement.

Friday ~ Mark and I trade places for about an hour allowing me to provide morning care to Mom, kids get ready for a field trip (decided I would take them, since we both could not go…event planned a couple weeks ago), then we trade places again. Seems to be making more improvement with Mom being up a bit more today…not as nauseous although pain level still high off and on. Hospice nurse comes to check on Mom, I return back from the field trip and Mark and I switch places again. I stay until my sister comes after work again for a few hours, allowing me to return home and get things on the home front in order. Zach goes down until Mark and I return after kids are settled in bed…switching places with Zach. I stay with him and Mom until about 11pm, and then return home to – you guessed it- the teething girl. ;-) Mark sleeps soundly, Mom sleeps soundly after eating a good dinner (not necessarily healthy, but solid) and things seem to be improving.

Saturday ~ Mark and I switch places in the morning; I get her care in order, continue with her home tasks and prep lunch/dinner. A friend of hers calls desiring to come visit, which works well. Mom up and ready for a visit, enjoying a few hours with her friend, I, in exchange, go home…getting lunch and grocery shopping done for the week, then my sister goes to Mom’s for the night. Things seem much better now (under the circumstances) with some concerning issues seemingly subsiding after some medication changes…time will tell. All will be home tonight in their beds – the first time since Sunday night late. Thanking the Lord for this time…

Sunday ~ able to attend church together as a family and things with Mom seem improved…sister goes home in the afternoon, I return to check on her and ready her for bed. Praying ailment eases and the Lord provides added strength to her days…

Much to praise after this challenging week for her…

“…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Because of Him ~