Organizing Kids’ Clothes in a Dresser

We recently transitioned our two children from having their own rooms to being together in one bedroom.  This meant combining two (very recently re-organized) closets to one and figuring out what to do about a dresser.  There wasn’t enough space in the bedroom for the two separate dressers that they were previously using and neither one was big enough to accommodate both children’s clothes.  My task, should I choose to accept it: Organize kids clothes in a dresser.

My husband has the Ikea Hemnes 6-drawer Chest of Drawers, and we decided that would be our best option for the kids.  A tall chest of drawers utilizes vertical space, which we have plenty of in their room.  They cannot reach the top two drawers, but because they are two and four, that’s currently to our advantage.  This chest of drawers is slightly wider than most, but we got double the storage space for only a few more inches of floor space.  That’s the kind of math that I like.

How to Organize Kids' Clothes in a Dresser ::

One Clothes Drawer Per Kid

Because of the size of the dresser, I knew that I wanted to – and could – have one drawer for each kids’ clothes.  This includes, pants, shirts, sweatshirts, socks, underwear, under shirts (a necessity in the Minnesota tundra) and tights.

Even with our (what some would describe as) extra-large dresser, getting all of this in one drawer takes intentionality.  We purposefully don’t have a lot of clothes for our kids.  The more they have, the more laundry I end up doing and the less clothes get worn. I would rather ere on the lesser side and run out of clothes before a season is over than get to the end of a season to find clothes that barely got worn.

At the end of each season, I go through what we already have for the upcoming season, and then fill the gaps with what they need.

What does “fill the gaps” mean?  I wash all of their clothes once a week, so my rule is one week’s worth of outfits + 20% + 2 nice/church outfits.  I take that number minus what we have, and that’s what needs to be purchased to keep them appropriately clothed for the season.

What does that look like?  For us it’s:

4 year-old daughter: 5 pair of jeans/jeggings, 6 pair of leggings, 4 long-sleeve shirts, 4 sweatshirts, 6 sweaters, 5 tunics, 7 undershirts, 9 pair of socks, 16 underwear, 5 pair of tights

How to Organize Kids' Clothes in a Dresser ::

2 year-old son: 5 pair of jeans, 5 pair of khakis, 10 long-sleeve shirts, 3 collared shirts, 3 sweaters and 2 sweatshirts (not potty trained, so no need for underwear – YET).

How to Organize Kids' Clothes in a Dresser ::

The drawers open without incident, every piece of clothing is easily accessible and my children aren’t naked.  WIN.

Pajama Drawer

Each kid’s pajamas and diapers along with nighttime toiletries fit in the next drawer.  The drawer is divided in half, with each kid getting a side.

We follow the same guidelines for pajamas as we do clothes; each kid has approximately 8 pairs for the season.  The Ikea drawer dividers fit perfectly.  In addition to creating the boundary between each kids’ side (this is a bigger deal than I ever thought it would be), they corral all of the toiletries.

How to Organize Kids' Clothes in a Dresser ::

Accessories Drawer

Even at 2 and 4 years old, these kids come with a slough of accessories.  For my son, it’s swimsuits, suspenders, bow ties, a belt and a fedora.

How to Organize Kids' Clothes in a Dresser ::

For my daughter, it’s swimsuits, scarfs, belts, a fedora and jewelry.

The small, shallow drawers at the top of the dresser are perfect for this.  And not just because my kids can’t reach them – although that is a plus.

Old perfume boxes are perfect to corral the small items together.

Surplus & Storage Drawer

The top full drawer in this dresser is the stuff storage dreams are made of.  It is SUPER deep.

I needed a place to store surplus diapers & wipes, extra blankets and the kids’ ‘Grow Into Clothes‘.  I ended up trying all three in the drawer, and decided on diapers.  The bins with the clothes that they will grow in to will go to the garage where they can be stored until they need them and there’s a plastic set of drawers in the kids’ closet that the blankets fit in perfectly.

Honestly, I’m not sure that’s a long-term solution.  But, it works for now, which is the name of the game.

How to Organize Kids' Clothes in a Dresser ::

Deciding Factor for getting your kids’ clothes organized?  Less is more.  Do I sound like a broken record?  There’s a reason.

How to Organize Kids' Clothes in a Dresser ::

How to Organize Kids' Clothes in a Dresser ::






Owner’s Manual Organization

I often find that one of the trickiest parts of organization can be the stuff that you know you should keep, but don’t use often, so it’s hard to know what to do with it.  Owner’s Manual organization is one of these tricky things for me.

We recently combined our two children into one bedroom and made my son’s old room our office.  As part of settling into that space, I am going through the piles of things that never found a home when we moved here.  One of those piles was our owner’s manuals.

In our previous house, we had them in magazine files in a storage closet.  But the magazine files weren’t working because it was essentially two vertical piles.  We couldn’t ever remember how the two were classified, and even if we did know which one to look through, it was a matter of thumbing through each holder until you stumbled across the manual you were looking for.

I had this file box that I had purchased to store bills before we had a desk that had file drawers in it.  I kept the box because I knew that I could use again, but didn’t have a purpose for it.

Until now.

Owner's Manual Organization - Use a file box to store manuals ::

This file box would fit all of our manuals, with room to spare and fit perfectly on a top shelf in the office closet.  They would all be in one place and the box was easily accessible in the closet.

Operation: Owner’s Manual Organization, Commence!

Step 1: Purge Owner’s Manuals

Recycle any manuals you have for items that you no longer have.  (I’ll admit that there were more than a handful of these in my pile).  There’s no need to store instructions for an item you no longer need to know how to operate.

Step 2: Sort Owner’s Manuals

I decided to put the “Big” (i.e. major kitchen & home appliances) manuals in their own file folders – partially because of their size and partially so that I could quickly and easily find the manual for which I was looking when I was looking for it.

Some other smaller items were grouped together, such as small kitchen appliances, kid stuff and furniture.

Lay out all of your manuals and decide 1) What is most important to you to be able to have access to quickly and 2) What items are less important and, therefore, can be grouped together.

Step 3: Label & File Owner’s Manuals

This entire process is moot if you don’t label the files.  Without labels, you might as well just lump all of the manuals together with rubber bands because they won’t be any easier to find in a box if they aren’t labeled.

Owner's Manual Organization ::

I use this label maker (but have been drooling over this one).  It was $9.99 on Black Friday a few years ago, and I was so excited to snag it.  Never mind that it ran on batteries, and I later paid $14.99 for the A/C Adapter for it.  I’m not bitter…

We got a roll of neon green label tape for free with our steal-of-a-deal label maker, and I decided that this would finally be a great time to use it.  Translation: Who cares what the labels look like in my owner’s manual box, so long as I can read them?

Step 4: Store Owner’s Manuals in an Easily Accessible, yet Out-of-Sight Location

This step isn’t necessary for everyone.  But it was for me.

Owner's Manual Organization - Store manuals in easily accessible, yet out of sight location ::

*This closet is still a WIP (work in progress).  Actually, the entire office is a WIP.

We did have a few tools and accessories that we had been storing with the manuals.  The file box that we had has a magnetic snap lid with a compartment that was perfect for holding those items.  The trick was making sure to label them since they were no longer connected to their manual.

Owner's Manual Organization ::

I learned a great tip for what to keep with your owner’s manual at an organizing seminar that I taught a couple years ago.  I’ll share it on Instagram next week.  Stay tuned.

Owner's Manual Organization ::



6 Things to Do Each Night to Make the Morning Go Smoothly

A couple weeks ago, I shared my morning cleaning routine which helps my house feel clean even when it isn’t.  The truth is so much of how smoothly a morning goes depends on what got done the night before.  Establishing an evening  routine is a game-changer for the mornings.

I was a huge procrastinator when I was in high school.  So much so that my grandpa called it pro-kristin-ating.  He thought he was so clever.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve swung to the other end of the spectrum and now subscribe to the “why put off until tomorrow what you can do today” school of thought.  Call it wisdom that comes from aging.

Each night, I go through what needs to happen the next morning to get us out the door.  Items on that list that can be done the night before become today’s to-do’s.

Immediately after putting my kids to bed I have found is the best time for these tasks.  Wrapping them up is motivation to have some relaxation time before I hit the sack.

My Evening Routine

1 – Choose Tomorrow’s Clothes

My husband has a work uniform, so his is the easiest.  The kids pick their clothes when they choose their pajamas.  That way, everything is in a pile and ready for the three-ring-circus that is getting the two of them dressed each morning.

Admittedly, I don’t always have my clothes chosen when I fall asleep, but I will have at least looked at the weather and thought about options.  Even doing that shaves a minute or two off the morning routine.

Pick Next Day's Outfits - 6 Things To Do Each Night to Make the Morning Go Smoothly ::

2 – Pack Backpacks & Bags

Go through bags and fill them with tomorrow’s necessities.  Place the bags by the door.  Then, the only thing you have to remember about them in the morning is to grab them and go.

Pack Backpacks - 6 Step Evening Routine to Make the Morning Go Smoothly ::

3 – Pack Lunches

Getting breakfast prepared and eaten in the morning is hard enough.  Don’t add another meal to that if you don’t have to.

The trick to this step is that you have to remember to grab the lunch boxes out of the fridge when you leave.  I have no advice for that.  At least once a month, lunch boxes get left behind.  Does anyone have any suggestions?

Pack Lunches - 6 Step Evening Routine to Make the Morning Go Smoothly ::

4 – Run the Dishwasher

Having an empty dishwasher in the morning makes breakfast clean up faster.  More importantly, it leaves no excuse not to put that morning’s breakfast dishes in the dishwasher, which means you don’t start the day with the sink and counter piled up with dirty dishes.

Start the dishwasher after supper so that it’s finished before you go to bed.  Then, open it and pull out the racks so that items can air-dry overnight.

Run the Dishwasher - 6 Step Evening Routine to Make the Morning Go Smoothly ::

5 -Pick Up

Decide on an amount of time and set a timer.  Walk around your house and pick up anything that isn’t where it belongs.  Either put each item away as you pick it up, or throw it all in a basket and then do a put-away round through the house before the timer goes off.

The timer helps you to not go down a clean-up rabbit trail.  When you know that you have a set amount of time to get things in some sense of order, it helps to keep you on task and not get distracted by alphabetizing the magazines on your coffee table.

Do an Evening Pick Up - 6 Step Evening Routine to Make the Morning Go Smoothly ::

6 – Set Up Your Morning Beverage

Each morning, I make a mocha in our Keurig.  So, the night before, I put a little hot chocolate in a mug, set it on the tray and put the k-cup in the machine.  The Keurig is set to turn on automatically at 6AM.

As I brush my teeth, I close the lid on the k-cup and choose my brew size.  By the time that I’m finished brushing my teeth, the coffee is done and I can undo any cleaning I just did by covering them with caffeine deliciousness.

Prepare morning beverage - 6 Step Evening Routine to Make the Morning Go Smoothly ::

What have you found is helpful to do before you go to bed in preparation for the next day?


Most nights, 4 of the 6 of these things get done.  Because Netflix is calling my name.

What you need to remember is that the more of these 6 tasks get done the night before, the more you will enjoy your morning.  Or, at the very least, not want to throw your family members out the door and pull your own hair out at the same time.  Hypothetically speaking.

6 Things To Do Each Night to Make the Morning Go Smoothly ::








Junk Drawer Alternative

The number one question I get from people when they hear that I write an organizing blog is “Is it okay to have a junk drawer?”

Yes, it is okay to have a junk drawer.  But don’t think about it like that.

Junk Drawer makes it sound like a place for stuff that doesn’t have a home or a purpose to accumulate.  Which is what it usually ends up being.

Think of it more as a utility space.  Your junk drawer should be a place to keep tools and items that you use frequently and need to be easily accessed often.

We bought our house almost two years ago and did some renovating before and after we moved in.  Our original plan was to put lower and upper cabinets along the wall in the dining room where the door in from the garage is.  Because of it’s proximity to the kitchen and it being a high-traffic area, the junk drawer would be included in the lower cabinets.  We did not include a junk drawer in our kitchen when we renovated it because it was going to be in the dining room.

Then we decided not to put an addition on the house, which meant no renovating the dining room.  That  also meant no lower cabinets.  So I’m stuck with stuff for a junk drawer and no drawer for the stuff.

We had a junk drawer organizer in our last house, so that organizer sat on a shelf in our hall closet holding it’s contents.  It wasn’t so much a junk drawer as it was a junk space.  And not a very well-utilized space.

Junk Drawer Alternative - How to create an organized junk drawer space when there isn't an obvious one ::

It was time to come up with a junk drawer alternative.

The hallway closet was a great place to keep our “Utility Drawer” (formerly known as the junk drawer) contents, because it’s centrally located on our main level and is in a high-traffic area.  But the closet didn’t lend itself to shallow storage.  I needed something that would utilize the vertical space of a closet shelf, but also compartmentalize items.

These plastic drawers on the clearance shelf at Target called my name as I walked passed them.  I would have much rather had clear drawers than the blue, but they served the purpose for which I was looking.  That and they were half the price of the clear drawers.  Not being able to see the contents inside was a great excuse to bust out my label maker, so everybody wins.

Junk Drawer Alternative - Use plastic drawers on a closet shelf to create a junk drawer space ::

Junk Drawer Alternative - Use plastic drawers on a closet shelf to create a junk drawer space ::

These small drawers did double duty as drawers and an organizer all in one.  This isn’t the ideal situation for everyone, but it can be helpful to see how thinking outside the box can often be the best organization solution.

Transition time.

Step 1 – Empty the Junk Drawer

The best first step to any organizing project.  It’s the only way to know exactly what’s in there.

Step 2 – Purge the Junk Drawer

Your junk drawer is not long-term storage.  This is a space for items that you use often and need to be accessed easily and quickly.  Minimizing is the first step to organizing.

As far as quantity of items, only keep the number that you need for one use.  For example, this is not where you keep all of your extra batteries.  Just keep one or two of your most frequently used sizes to be able to grab quickly when they are needed. (Sidenote: See how I organize batteries here)

Step 3 – Sort Items that will stay in your new Junk Drawer

The best way to do this is to group items of similar purpose (i.e. cutting, writing, measuring, etc.)

Junk Drawer Alternative - Empty junk drawer contents and sort them into categories ::

Step 3 – Get an Organizer or Divider

The two most important factors when choosing this are:

  1. Size: Make sure that the organizer will fit in it’s intended space.  Beyond that, you also want to maximize the space you have by getting an organizer that uses as much of that space as it can.  Short of a custom-built piece, using 100% of the space is unlikely, but get as close as you can.
  2. Compartments Fit What You Have: Don’t buy a drawer organizer with mostly small compartments if the majority of you utility drawer contents are writing utensils, scissors & glue.  Those little space will be wasted.  Again, only a custom-built piece can do this perfectly, but do a little searching (let me introduce you to my friends, The Container Store & Amazon) to find the best fit.

Step 4 – Fill the Organizer

Fill, like the put the stuff in it.  Not fill, like shove it full of so much stuff that you can’t get to items when you need them.

As much as you can, utilize the compartments of the organizer to keep your categories separate.  It’s not always possible to do completely, but start with that as the goal and go from there.

Junk Drawer Alternative - Use plastic drawers on a closet shelf to create a junk drawer space ::

Junk Drawer Alternative - Fill compartments with each category ::

Step 5 – Fill the Space Surrounding the Organizer

I had a couple inches between the top of the drawers and the bottom of the next shelf, which was the perfect place to keep my bottle of whiteboard cleaner.  All of my other whiteboard supplies fit in one of the drawers, but the cleaner didn’t.  It did, however, fit in that little space.  I killed two birds with one stone.  The previously wasted space got used and all of my whiteboard supplies are in one spot for easy accessibility.

Junk Drawer Alternative - Utilize wasted space around junk drawer organizer ::


Throw a few labels on the compartments if you feel so inclined, and you have yourself a completed project.  Well done.

Junk Drawer Alternative - Use plastic drawers on a closet shelf to create a junk drawer space ::

Junk Drawer Alternative - How to create an organized junk drawer space when there isn't an obvious one ::

See how I used some of the same techniques to organize my makeup drawer here.





4 Steps to Organizing Makeup

As you may know, my favorite blogger is Kate at The Small Things Blog.  She started doing this thing called #freshinfifteen a few years ago, which is her way of getting herself ready to go for the day in fifteen minutes or less.  Her first attempt didn’t go so well, and part of the reason was because she couldn’t find the tools or products that she needed when she needed them.

That got me thinking… how much time could be saved (translation: How much longer could you sleep?) in the morning if you didn’t have to waste time trying to find what you need to get yourself out-the-door ready?

This blog might be called Maximizing Days, but really, I’m all about Maximizing SLEEP.  Any place in life where I can change something so that I get more sleep, I am all over that.

4 Steps to Organizing Your Makeup ::

Step 1 – Purge!

Does it feel like this is always the first step to any organizing project?  There’s a reason.  Because we have a tendency to accumulate stuff that we don’t need or use.  Minimizing is the first step to organizing.

Start by being honest with yourself about what you use.  Not what you might use.  It doesn’t matter how much you spent on it or how well-intentioned you are, if you’ve owned it for more than a month and haven’t used it yet, you aren’t going to.

There’s also a pretty good chance that a few of your makeup items are expired.  I found this graphic from L’Oreal to use as a guide.

4 Steps to Organizing Your Makeup - Use this guide from L'Oreal to know what to throw away ::

The same rule that goes for food goes here too:  When in doubt, throw it out.

Step 2 – Categorize

You can do this one of two ways.  You can do it by makeup type (i.e. brushes & tools, foundations, eyes, lips, etc.) or by container type (i.e. tools, tubes, pots, flats).

I find that organizing by container type is best because it maximizes space.

4 Steps to Organizing Your Makeup - Categorize what you use every day ::

However, I don’t have a lot of makeup.  My husband wouldn’t agree with that statement, but comparatively, I don’t have much.  Because I don’t have much, I don’t need to have all of my eyeshadows in the same compartment to see what I have to choose from.

I have some eyeshadow palettes in one spot (flat), eyeshadow creams in another (pots) and mascara in another (tubes).

Step 3 – Get a Makeup Organizer

This can be as simple as a zippered cloth pouch or as elaborate as a rolling cart (I’ve seen both done well), and that will depend largely on the amount of makeup you have.  The organizer should be proportional in size to the amount of makeup you regularly use.

There are a bazillion options out there, but there are a couple things to consider when trying to decide which option to choose:

  1. Space it goes in – Will this be stored on a closet shelf? In a drawer?  On your bathroom counter?  If it goes in the closet, think about how easily it moves from the shelf to where you apply your makeup.  If it goes in a drawer, consider your height clearance.  If it stays on your bathroom counter, measure how much space you have.
  2. What it’s made to store – Some containers have designated spots for certain kinds of items, such as lipsticks.  This can be a great asset as it makes those items easy to grab quickly, but it also limits what can be stored in those spots.  Big opens spaces can be good if you have big brushes or large compacts, but aren’t good for containing lots of small items.

I have this organizer from The Container Store and I chose it because 1) All of my makeup will fit in it and 2) The large compartments give me a lot of versatility.

4 Steps to Organizing Your Makeup - Find an organizer that is proportionate to the amount of make up you use every day ::

Step 4 – Fill the Organizer

Fill, like the put the stuff in it.  Not fill, like shove it full of so much stuff that you have to pry each item out when you want to use it.

As much as you can, utilize the compartments of the organizer to keep your categories separate.  This isn’t always possible, but start with that as the goal and go from there.

4 Steps to Organizing Your Makeup - Put each category in a compartment in your organizer ::

Consider accessibility when you are choosing where to store items.  Something might fit great in a spot, but if you can’t easily grab it, then you’re defeating your purpose.

4 Steps to Organizing Your Makeup - Keep what you use & put it where you can easily access it all ::

Just think of how much better you’ll look now that you’re that much more well-rested.  And maybe you can get rid of that under eye concealer because of all that extra sleep you’re getting now that you aren’t wasting time trying to find it in the morning.

The benefits of living a more organized life are a domino effect.


4 Steps to Organizing Your Makeup ::