Learn how to organize those messy spots in your house that drive you crazy -- in just one weekend.
Problem: I put stuff at the bottom of the stairs for my family to take up, but everyone seems to walk right past it.
Solution: To make things easier to carry upstairs, stash them in a basket with handles; we love the look of this woven pandan storage bag. Stencil "take up" on one side and "take down" on the other. Your family should get the hint! (containerstore.com, $40)
Problem: We've got a lot of gear for the kids' activities jammed into our back hall.
Solution: Label large bins with each child's initial so they can keep their equipment and supplies in their own personalized space -- no more fights about whose shin guard is whose! (themacbethcollection.com, $85 each)
Problem: Between birthday parties, PTA meetings, and playdates, our family has a hard time keeping our appointments straight.
Solution: Hang a jumbo calendar on the kitchen wall so everyone can see what's going on. This one's cool because you can wipe the magnetic calendar clean when the month is over, and it's got a bulletin board underneath for invites and tickets. (Home Decor Magnetic 3'n'1 Board, boarddudes.com, $26.50)
Problem: My toddler's sippy cups are a nightmare to keep organized in the kitchen cabinet.
Solution: Use this clever drawer system from Wiretech -- you just place the whole unit right on your shelf. Put your cups and caps in the drawer to keep them neat, and use the top shelf to stack bowls. (focuspg.com, $29)
Hang in There
Hang in There
Problem: My daughters share a bedroom and a closet, and they have a hard time keeping their clothes separated.
Solution: Color-code their hangers. Assign one color to each girl, then put dots of the same color on their shelves and shoe bins.
Problem: The top of the bathroom sink is never neat because it's filled with kids' stuff.
Solution: Put toothpaste, hair elastics, and other supplies your kids need every day into a few small boxes or jars. We like these magnetic Clique Bins because they really stick together. Store less frequently used products in plastic baskets under the sink or in a closet. (seejanework.com, $24)
Problem: My kids always leave their towels in a wet heap on the floor.
Solution: The towel bar may be too high for them to reach, so install colored hooks low on the wall. Assign each child his own special hook, and hopefully, your kids will get the hang of it.
Problem: I have a small laundry area with no built-in shelves. Any ideas for where to fit all my supplies?
Solution: The easiest solution is to buy a narrow laminate bookcase and put it next to the dryer. Look for one that has movable shelves so you can accommodate big detergent bottles. Store stain removers, rubber gloves, and other smaller items in a box or basket. (Billy bookshelf, ikea.com, $20)
Problem: The backseat of our minivan is covered with my toddler's toys and books.
Solution: Use an old lunchbox to hold crayons, paper, board books, and small toys. Your child will love opening her special activity kit each time she gets into her car seat. And don't forget to stash some fun CDs for sing-alongs -- keep them in a CD sleeve above your visor.
Copyright © 2007. Reprinted with permission from the February 2007 issue of Parents magazine.