Last Fall I received a call that literally made me jump out of my seat. The Dr. Phil show was looking for a professional organizer to help with one of his guests who live here in Las Vegas. Over several phone calls, emails, and holding my breath over the Thanksgiving holiday I received confirmation that we would be connected with the Taylor family who have twelve children with number thirteen on the way!!
The episode aired the day we were connected with the family so it was an interesting experience preparing for my assessment. Obviously, you only get a glimpse of how people live when you see them on television. To be honest, I felt a little apprehensive before my initial assessment and notified my team that we’d need all hands on deck for this project.
A few days later I met with the Taylor’s in person and my fears were alleviated. I walked into a neat home with the most polite children I have ever met. Truly, these children are so friendly, always have a fun project they are proud to show off and are very well behaved!! Our meeting was scheduled at the end of their homeschooling session, so I was able to witness the system they used as they tidied up. Each child knew exactly where to put away their books and pencils in their neat little organized bins. I’ll be honest I thought, “Why am I here?”
As I did my assessment, I quickly discovered that Mama Taylor was a woman who knew how to organize. She simply needed help in a few very common areas that most of us struggle with. She gave me a tour of their home and I noticed she had implemented organization systems throughout. From laundry to the kitchen there were signs posted communicating family routines. With twelve children in tow organization systems are a necessity. There were a few areas she struggled with:
Random piles of stuff
I’m sure you’re familiar with these piles. We ALL have them and they generally move from room to room growing in volume and if they’re not dealt with end up in my worst nightmare….a junk drawer or worse a JUNK CLOSET!! This Mama knew better than to do that. So, tackling those piles was a top priority on her list of items to organize.
The Taylor garage was typical. This is the one area where they needed a bit of help tweaking. I suggested a color-coding system that I use for most clients and they seemed happy with the results.
The master bedroom
It’s very common for master bedrooms to have more than one function and the Taylor’s master bedroom was no exception. Mom had zoned her bedroom and closet outfitted with neatly labeled bins throughout. The trouble spots were storage boxes full of photos and again the random piles of stuff that needed to be dealt with.
Baby #13 was due in a couple of months so we worked out a weekly schedule and mapped out a plan. Mama Taylor led the way as she knew how she wanted her home to be organized and what her goals were.
Tip #1 Sorting
If you’ve followed my methods you know I use a 4-Step system to organize:
1. Declutter & Sort
2. Create A Zone
3. Label & Contain
4. Teach & Maintain
As we worked with the Taylor’s it was clear that they understood the importance of decluttering and downsizing. In fact, they did the majority of the decluttering before we arrived making our sessions more effective because we could jump right into helping them sort.
Here’s a quick guide to decluttering and sorting:
• First, sort the pile by KEEP-TRASH-DONATE. Just grab a trash bag and bring it over to your pile because I don’t want you to leave your sorting zone. Stay put otherwise you’ll never get through those piles.
• If it’s a KEEP then simply place it in your KEEP pile….don’t run to put it away. If you do you’ll get distracted and be left with the same pile.
• Next, once you’re done getting rid of the items you no longer want or need it’s time to tackle that KEEP pile. This is the part we all overcomplicate! So, don’t. Keep it simple and group like-items with the following guidelines:
By person (These all belong to John.)
By frequency of use (I use this everyday. Or I only use this once a year.)
By room (These belong in the kitchen.)
How is this used (I use this in the bathroom. The kids play with this outside.)
• Lastly, put the items away:
John’s items go into his room.
Items you use every day are placed in a spot that is easy to access AND near where you actually use it. Items used infrequently can be stored up high or in the back of a closet.
Put items away in the rooms they belong in.
It is that EASY. Don’t leave piles around forever and don’t just stick them in a drawer and call it a “junk drawer”. Your house shouldn’t store junk. Give items a function and a home in your home.
Again, I was super happy that this client understood the importance of this which made our sessions successful!
It is very common for the garage to become the dumping
ground for the house. If you can’t find a place for an item the
probability of it ending up in the garage is high. Although our
goal for most client’s garages is to park their car in them that wasn’t necessary for the Taylor family. Mom had already started a system for how she wanted it organized. We just needed to figure out a few tweaks so that her system was understood by the rest of the family. Here’s how we did that:
Tip #2 Color-Zoning
Once the clutter was gone and the sorting was done we could focus on Mom’s system. We decided the best way to communicate the system was by physically marking the zones with different colors:
This was the zone that stored the items that the kids CAN touch, use, and play with. We placed this zone near the garage door so that bikes, helmets, sports balls, could be grabbed by kids and put back once playtime was done.
Red-Recycling- We literally marked boxes in red tape to indicate where the recycling boxes were to be broken down and stored until trash/recycle pick up days.
This zone contains the items used for the house. We placed cleaning supplies, extra chairs, tables, appliances, extra kitchen supplies in this zone. This zone was also placed near the door to the house for easy access.
This was the zone where Mom can store her homeschooling supplies, home décor, keepsakes, and everything that is important to her. This is a “Kid-Free” zone.
We stored Dad’s hunting, fishing, and camping items here. Tools, home improvement projects, and auto also found a home here. This was another “Kid-Free” zone to keep little hands off potentially dangerous items.
Tip #3 Label Everything
We literally took the color-zoning and mapped out zones with colorful duct tape. We used it on the floor, on bins, and wrote notes on it for the family. We even used it to tag items so that everyone knew which zone the items belonged in. For instance, the sleeping bags were tagged with GREEN and belong in the FAMILY zone. Not Dad’s CAMPING zone as one would assume. Mom and Dad said the kids love to use the sleeping bags and they wanted them to have easy access to them.
Tip #4 put the kids in charge!
Well kinda…… As we became more familiar with the Taylor family we noticed how each child had responsibilities around the house and did an excellent job keeping up with their tasks. I asked Mom to assign Garage Maintenance and Recycling to a few of the kids. She did and we mapped out a plan so that everyone understood what their responsibility was. Easy to do with this great family! Of course, Mom and Dad are ultimately in charge but giving some of the responsibility with the kids can be a great way to keep a space in order as they take ownership and pride in their duties.
Here’s what we created for them:
The Master Bedroom
It’s common for the Master Bedroom to be dumping ground #2 in most homes. Since it’s an assumed “private space” we pile items in that room before company arrives in hopes that no one will see it, right?
In addition to sleeping and dressing, we generally need our Master Bedrooms to function in a variety of ways: home office, exercise, newborn baby, storage, rest and relaxation.
In the case of the Taylor family, their Master Bedroom needed to provide space for home office, craft space, and storage.
Tip #5 Set up zones
So, we knew what the goals were for the room.
Again, we assisted with sorting the different piles and distributing the items to where the belonged.
Mom was great about preparing for our sessions and ensured boxes filled with family memorabilia and photos that had been temporarily stored in the room found their permanent home. In addition, she already had a great system in place for storing items in her closet inside labeled bins. This was working well. She just needed us to be the arms and legs to help her rearrange it a bit.
Once the piles were sorted and items were distributed Mom found the momentum she needed to work on the room without us. She is a woman after my own heart as she also loves to map out a space before organizing it! She showed us her plans during our sessions and we just became the arms and legs that moved the stuff to where it belonged.
Tip #6 Give yourself a deadline and enlist help
Since the Master Bedroom was the last space we worked on in the Taylor home, Mom was nearing her due date so she was a woman on a mission to get it done before baby’s arrival.
Overall, this family just needed a few helping hands to help them accomplish their goals. We often joke with our clients that we are just the motivators to make sure THEY get the work done and that was certainly the case with this client.
On behalf, of my POISE Organizers, Hannah and Sydnee we want to thank the Taylor family and the Dr. Phil show for this opportunity.
We laughed, learned, and shared a lot with this wonderful family!
Congratulations on your newest addition!
-Janel, Hannah, and Sydnee