Week 41 Basement Organization

This week’s challenge is basement organization. We’ll tackle how to declutter, properly store, and organize everything down there that you access frequently or infrequently.

Our basements can all too easily become a dumping ground for every piece of junk and clutter we think we might need someday, or just don’t want to make a decision about right now.

Plus, this space is often one of the largest storage areas in your home.

Put these two facts together, and you can easily accumulate a mound of stuff in this space, to the point where you can’t find anything.

In this week’s challenge we’re going to change the way we use our basements, to get both as much living space and storage space out of them as possible.

Are you new here? The Basement Organization Challenge is part of the 52 Week Home Organization Challenge. (Click the link to learn how to join us for free for future and past challenges if you aren’t already a regular reader).

Step 1: Get Rid Of Basement Clutter

The first step in the Basement Organization Challenge is to declutter your basement.

Depending on the size and state of your basement this may sound relatively easy, or a monumental undertaking.

If it is a big deal you may be suffering from “out of sight, out of mind” disease, where you think if you don’t see it often it doesn’t bother you. I’ve found that just isn’t the case though, and once you get rid of the clutter you’ll feel much freer, and like a weight you may not even have known was there has lifted off of you.

Whether you’ve got just a little to do, or quite a lot, the process is much the same. You’ll just need to dedicate more hours to the process if it is very out of control down there.

One thing often found in basement clutter are sentimental items. These can be especially difficult to get rid of, but trust me you’ll feel better when you clear space in your home and are able to find what you really and truly need, or actually cherish the few sentimental items you do keep.

If possible, to make the decluttering process easier, create a temporary staging area where you can move large boxes, bins, to create room for you to sort and purge easily in the basement itself. This will help you, so you don’t have to carry items upstairs just to take them back down later.

Step 2: Make A Plan For Your Basement Using Zones

The second step in the Basement Organization Challenge is to make a plan for how you want to use your basement, for storage, utility, and living spaces, so when you begin organizing everything you are working toward your goal.

There are three types of basement zones: utility, storage, and living area zones.

Not all houses are exactly the same so you may not have all of these in your basement (assuming you even have a basement), but you’ve got to keep the ones you’ve got in mind when planning how to both use and organize your basement.

The zones are pretty self-explanatory, but I’ll briefly explain them below.

basement storage shelves with wheels
Metal storage shelves with wheels on Amazon.com

Utility Area Zone

First, is the utility area zone. This is the area(s) of your basement that household equipment, such as your furnace, water heater, circuit breaker box, sump pump, water shut off valves, etc. are located

The key to the utility areas is to make sure you clear and then keep a path free to all of them. You don’t want piles of boxes in front of these areas, and then need access to them quickly or in an emergency.

If you want to put things close to these areas, such as if you’re short on storage space, I suggest metal shelves on wheels (such as those shown to the right) that you can move out of the way if maintenance workers need to come down there to work.

Always be mindful of safety first though, and still don’t get things too close to things like your furnace or hot water heater, especially things that are flammable.

Storage Area Zone

This is the zone we’ll really be focusing on during the Basement Organization Challenge. It is the area of your basement you’ve determined will be used for storage of household items.

Once you’ve determined what areas of your basement will constitute this zone, you may want to break it down into sub-zones, such as for certain types of items.

Always keep like items with like, when possible, so example sub-storage zones could include:

  • Holiday decorations
  • Stored furniture
  • Sports equipment
  • Camping equipment
  • Tools

Living Area Zone

Finally, last but not least, is the living area zone. This is an area of your basement, perhaps that is finished or nicer, that you or family members can come down into and use for various activities.

To the extent that you already have a finished basement, or an area in your basement designated as a playroom, rec area, craft or workshop area, make sure you look at the instructions for other of the 52 Week Organized Home Challenges with suggestions on how to organize these areas.

Step 3: Organize Items You’re Keeping In The Basement

Once you’ve got your plan in your mind of how you’ll utilize various zones in your basement, the third step in the Basement Organization Challenge is to place the items where they belong in an organized fashion.

The two things to keep in mind when dealing with basement organization are accessibility and keeping like items together.

storage bin organizer system
Storage bin organizer system available for purchase on Amazon.com

When consdiering accessibility, there are two important things to keep in mind.

First, make sure you do not pile containers too high or too deep because it can both be difficult to access them physically, but also if it takes too long and seems like too much trouble to get to something, practically you never will.

If you have lots of bins or tubs of stuff to store, I suggest getting a storage bin organizer system such as the one shown on the left. It allows you to stack your bins higher without the hassle of moving all the bins on top if you want to get to the one at the bottom. It solves one issue of accessibility, thereby giving you more storage space immediately.

Second, when considering accessibility, think about how frequently and at what times of year you’ll access various items you’re placing into storage in the basement. Obviously, the less often you use an item the less accessible it needs to be, and vice-versa.

Also, keep in mind that you should store like items together, so you can find them more easily. That is why you’ve got to carefully choose your zones and sub-zones mentioned in step 2 of the Basement Organization Challenge, above.

Step 4: Consider These Basement Storage Solutions

When storing things in your basement you’ve got to keep in mind that the area can be damp and is potentially prone to flooding.

For that reason you’ve got to make sure you choose storage solutions which will protect your stuff, and also that you don’t store things in this area of your home that could potentially be damaged by the storage conditions.

Items That Don’t Store Well In Basements

Because of the dampness and humidity problems in many basements, think twice before storing any of these types of items in this area.

  • Papers, including newspapers, books, bills and other records
  • Photographs and other memorabilia
  • Cardboard items, including cardboard boxes, boxed foods, etc.
  • Metals that are prone to rusting
  • Fabrics, since they can develop mildew and musty smells

If you have to store such things in your basement, take extra precautions to rid the area of dampness, such as using a dehumidifier, and also making sure your sump pump and other flood control mechanisms are properly working.

Use Plastic, Not Cardboard Storage Boxes

Make sure to use sturdy storage containers, such as plastic storage bins, that rodents and bugs cannot easily get into, as well as being impervious to dampness and slight flooding.

hanging storage shelves
Hanging storage shelves available on Amazon.com

The main thing I caution against is using cardboard boxes for storage in your basement. If there is a flood of even half an inch everything in the boxes on the floor will get ruined.

Further, even without a flood the cardboard can absorb water from the damp air allowing mold, mildew and musty odors to grow and flourish.

Keep Things Off The Floor By A Couple Of Inches

Further, because of flooding and moisture concerns it is best to keep any items that cannot get wet off the floor.

The best way to do this include with storage shelves (such as the ones shown above), or with hanging storage shelves such as the ones shown to the right.

Step 5: Label And Inventory Your Basement Storage

Finally, the last step in the Basement Organization Challenge is to take stock of what you’ve organized and stored in your basement, labeling it and making an inventory of the contents for your reference later.

You should label each box or storage container on the top and on all four sides, so no matter where you’re looking at the container you can know its contents.

Then, whenever you need something from your basement storage it will be a breeze to find it quickly and easily.

Tell Me How The Basement Organization Challenge Is Going For You

I would love to know how this week’s Basement Organization Challenge is going. You can tell me your progress or give me more ideas for how you’ve organized this area of your home in the comments below.


After School Organization

I don’t know about you, but even with just two kids, we get crazy busy after school. Please put emphasis on CRAZY! But, with a little after school organization, you can make the craziest of afternoons go a lot smoother.

After School Organization

I’ve created an after school checklist that will keep your kiddos on task and will make your life a lot easier.

After School Organization Checklist Daily

I have always believed that as long as you have a constant reminder, it is much easier to stay organized and on task. This is especially true for kids. I’ve created this printable checklist that you can laminate and put on your fridge for daily use.

If you don’t want to laminate (or don’t have a laminator at your disposal) then I have another option that I’ve created for you that you can print weekly.

After School Checklist

Personally, I print mine front and back and put them in my notebook with the behavior charts that I created for my boys… This way my boys can also keep a visual of how close they are to earning another treat as they check off the items on their list of things to do in the afternoons.

I really hope that this checklist will bring more organization and less stress to your after school routine! I know that it has made our lives a lot easier, and it makes my boys more accountable for the things that they know they should be doing anyhow.


Week 40 Master Bedroom

This week’s challenge is all about bedroom organization, and getting the room functioning as an inviting place to take refuge from the world.

Specifically, this week we’re focusing on the master bedroom, since in the future we’ll work on organizing the kids’ bedrooms.

Along with organizing the stuff in your bedroom we’ll also continue the third week of organizing our clothing, since many people keep clothes not only in their closets but in their bedrooms as well, such as in dressers, shelves or drawers.

When you finish this week’s tasks, if you’ve been following along you should feel like your clothing is now more organized and under control.

Are you new here? The Master Bedroom Organization Challenge is part of the 52 Week Home Organization Challenge. (Click the link to learn how to join us for free for future and past challenges if you aren’t already a regular reader).

Step 1: Determine The Functions Of The Room

The first step in the Master Bedroom Organization Challenge is to decide on the functions of your bedroom.

This one may seem rather obvious, sleeping, of course. Well, that is definitely true, and you should make your bedroom a space to rest and relax as its primary function, because sleep is good! You need sleep to function properly.

However, many of us don’t have space or inclination to only have our bedrooms be used as a place to sleep, but instead we do additional activities in the room, or use it for other functions as well.

Some of these may include, for example:

  • Storing additional clothes that you don’t have in your master closet
  • Relaxing, watching TV, reading, listening to music, etc.
  • Work area, such as use as a home office
  • Applying makeup and/or getting dressed

Only you can decide what the functions of this room will be for you, but make sure they don’t conflict with the primary function of resting and sleeping.

For example, some of the other activities listed above could potentially cause a conflict with your ability to rest in the room, such as if you stay up too late watching TV in bed, or working on your laptop.

When you organize your bedroom try to make sure considerations of your health and physical pampering play a big role in how you get the room in shape.

Step 2: Declutter Your Master Bedroom

The second step in the Master Bedroom OrganizationChallenge is to declutter the room of all things that don’t belong in your house, in general, or in the room, in particular.

I have found that when you have a clear purpose in mind of how you want the room to function this task is easier, at least in determining what doesn’t belong in the room itself.

Use the criteria I shared in the Organize Master Bedroom Closet Challenge to decide which clothing items need to be decluttered.

Step 3: Create Zones For Each Room Function

Once you’ve gotten rid of excess clutter in your bedroom, the next step in the Bedroom Organization Challenge is to create an activity zone for each of the room’s functions.

This is where you’ll really think through the equipment and supplies you need for each activity you do in this room, and get everything organized so it is all easily accessible, and in a convenient location.

drawer dividers
Drawer dividers, such as these from Oxo help keep items in your dresser drawers organized
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about, to give you an idea of the thought process for each zone you’ll create for the functions you identified for your room.

If you get dressed in your bedroom each day, it can be helpful to have a hook where you can hang your pajamas and robe each morning, so they can be used again that evening That way they don’t just get thrown on the floor or the bed each morning.

Further, you may want to think of a place to put a full length mirror where you can evaluate your chosen outfit, and make sure all is well with what you’ve put on before walking out the door.

Similarly, for your “sleeping” zone make sure you’ve got a cleared off bed, dark curtains at the windows to block out light, and anything else you need for a good nights sleep.

Thinking through each step of your typical routine for each activity or zone will quickly help you identify what needs to be done to make the space function optimally for such activity.

Reminders Of Bedroom Zones You May Want To Create Or Tame

Along with creating zones for all your activities, here are some hotspot tasks that often need to be dealt with in this room:

  • Make sure you have a laundry basket, or something similar in the room to gather up dirty clothes
  • Clear out the junk underneath your bed
  • Clear off your bedside table or nightstand, only storing a few current books or magazines, as well as personal care products, there
  • Clear the items off the flat spaces in your bedroom, such as on top of the dresser, etc. so they are clear or only have one or two decorative items on them

Step 4: Consider These Bedroom Storage Solutions

underbed storage container
If you store things under your bed use underbed storage containers to keep things dust bunny free

As you work through the Bedroom OrganizationChallenge, keep these suggestions for storage solutionsin mind, to see if any of them might work for you.

  • Bedroom furniture, such as dressers, bed side tables, etc., are actually great places to store items within this room
  • Under bed storage (such as shown to the right), for little used items, or seasonal clothing
  • Drawer dividers to keep items neat and tidy within these spaces

Tell Me How The Master Bedroom Organization Challenge Is Going For You

I would love to know how this week’s Master Bedroom Organization Challenge is going. You can tell me your progress or give me more ideas for how you’ve organized this area of your home in the comments below.


Favorite Drink

I am a long way from where I used to be… If someone had asked me years ago what my favorite drink was, it would have been cranberry and vodka. Now, I can’t even tell you when the last time I had a drink was. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a margarita every now and then when the boys are with their dad, but I just don’t have the need or want to drink anymore.

coffee my favorite drink

My Favorite Drink

Now, my favorite drink is very different. My favorite drink is COFFEE. Coffee of any kind. Particularly one that is high in caffeine, such as Death Wish Coffee, but also wonderfully flavored coffees such as the Kona Chocolate Macadamia Nut from Hawaii.

Now, I’m not such a coffee connoisseur that I have a coffee press, and I don’t have a Keurig either. I do, however like to grind my own beans when it comes to good coffee (i.e. NOT my regular morning cup). By grinding your own coffee beans, you get the freshest taste possible, and that is what is most important to me.

I have many, many, many different coffee cups, but I have two favorites… My around the house favorite is this AMAZING Wonder Woman mug (is it really a shock that I would go for a comic character?). And of course my fantabulous travel mug is my second favorite… This thing seriously keeps my coffee hot throughout most of my work day.

Now that I’ve told you about my favorite drink, what is yours?


Where I Work

I work in an amazing place. I work with wonderful children (who sometimes have the ability to drive me crazy) and great teachers. I work in an elementary school. I am a paraprofessional. I never thought that something like this would be my dream job, but it makes me happier than I ever expected, so let me tell you about where I work.

paraprofessional superpower where i work

Where I Work

Where I work is a great place. In the mornings, I go in and greet happy children (and some upset children) as they come in ready to learn. I talk to one of the teachers that I work with, and we plan how our day is going to go. When it’s time for the students to go to class, I go to another class, with another teacher.

This part of the morning is not something that just anyone would want to deal with. This part of my morning is spent in a special education class. This class is what’s called a self-contained class. These children have severe delays… Some are physically handicapped, some have emotional and behavioral issues, and some have simply been failed by educators and parents and are severely behind in school.

During this part of the morning, I work with a little boy who is in a wheelchair and is unable to communicate. We are working on teaching him how to communicate, and then will be teaching him his letters. I get asked how I do it, and while it does get frustrating at times, it is so rewarding to see him happy and learning to communicate with his teachers, family, and friends. That is how I do it.

After the first few hours of my day, I go to kindergarten. My teacher and I have a planning period there before I actually start working with the kids. This is the time where we discuss which particular kids I will be working with that day, and what I will be working on with them. We have some children that we know do not have any learning disabilities, but just need a little extra help. This is where I come in. I pull these children into what’s called small group and give them extra help and work.

After working with my kindergarten class, I ride a bus to a special needs school, where we pick up two students who are better served there. I help keep them calm until we get them home. When we get the two of them to their homes, I go back to the school and work with both of my teachers on the upcoming days and weeks lesson plans.

It’s a hard job. I stay busy. I love it. This is where I work.