I’ve decided to start a series called The Practical Home, which if you know me, may seem like a very odd thing for me to be writing about. I am not one of those people who is naturally gifted with cleaning, organizing, decorating and general homemaking. That would be my mom. So if you’re looking for advice from someone that has an immaculate home, you’re in the wrong place. These days I generally aim to keep our home comfortably clean, meaning that it feels comfortable to us, and I don’t feel humiliated if someone stops by unexpectedly. Of course I realize that there will always be people that think my house should be more this or more that, so I try not to dwell on others’ opinions too much.
Comfortably clean is a relatively new concept for me. In the past I seemed to fluctuate between being messy and cleaning meticulously, emphasis on the messy. With a baby on the way, I wouldn’t be surprised if messiness comes into our lives again. However, since I got laid off, I’ve been trying to focus more not only on caring for my kids and my husband, but also on caring for our house. I look for systems that are practical for a person who desires a clean home but has young kids around that do not always share that desire, and who wants to spend her time doing things other than just cleaning all day. I need systems that are simple and that work, not elaborate cleaning strategies. I figure I might not be the only one who feels this way, so as I find things that are working well for us, I will pass them on in case they are a fit for you too.
Our shoe organization strategy:
First up on the agenda is shoes. My shoe strategy actually started developing when we lived in our condo. We would walk in the door, take off our shoes (we don’t have a no shoe policy in our house, but I guess we like to be barefoot), and end up with shoes scattered all around our entry way. It was a two story home, and none of us seemed motivated to make that long trek upstairs to put away shoes on a regular basis. Nothing says welcome to our home like being attacked by shoes, and it’s always good fun when you trip on them on your way up the stairs (and no, we still wouldn’t take them up; we would just kick them to the side). Then I heard a couple people mention that you should have a place for things where you logically put them, so I went to Target and picked up a small box, which I set next to the door. We didn’t have a lot of space in our entry way, and the box fit perfectly. A shoe rack wouldn’t have worked well for our family because a) we didn’t have the space for it and b) there was no way we were going to go through the extra effort of stacking shoes nicely on a rack (sad but true). The way our new house is laid out, there isn’t room for a shoe box right next to the door, so we put it in our entryway closet instead. We have a one story house now, but for the shoes we use most often, it is still really convenient to have them by the door.
I have always used a box for our boys to keep their shoes in, perhaps because we used to store a lot of our stuff in their closet, and I had a number of collapsable kid-themed boxes. However, I used to have greater expectations for our shoes. At the condo we had a built-in shelving area for shoes, which I would put my shoes on when the shoe box by the door started to overflow. Clint had a shoe rack on the ground, which only housed the shoes he never wore… the other ones ended up in a pile on the ground. When we moved to our new house we no longer had a built-in shelving system, so I tried to nicely arrange the shoes on the ground. Between us being lazy and the kids thinking our closet is a play place, it didn’t take long before we ended up with a shoe disaster. One day I had had enough, so I decided to try applying my shoe box theory to our closet as well, and let me just say, it’s been awesome!
Here’s how it turned out:
If you already have a shoe organization strategy that is working, then please stick with that. However, if you can relate to our shoes everywhere problem, then perhaps the box theory would work for you. Boxes are great because you don’t have to nicely set your shoes on a shelf or rack; you just throw them in the box, and somehow you seem organized.
If you want to give it a try, here are my tips:
- Make sure you have enough boxes to comfortably fit all your shoes (if the shoes are crammed into the boxes, then it’s too hard to find them, and it’s a pain to try to fit them back into the box)
- Never put lids on the boxes (you want them to be as easy to get in and out of as possible)
- Locate the boxes somewhere where they are easy to access (think where you usually take your shoes off at and not obscured by other items such as your clothes)
- Categorize your boxes (I don’t mean fancy labels… I mean something you can remember like boots in one box, dress shoes in another box, athletic shoes in another box)
Bonus tip: Now is a great time to get rid of those shoes that you never wear. You know the ones that you keep thinking you might need someday but haven’t worn in a year or more. (We’ve paired down our shoes a couple times and probably still could do with a little more shoe decluttering.)
Point of clarification: I don’t want you to think that our shoes are always perfectly put away and that no shoe is ever left on the living room floor or that the boys don’t occasionally think that it would be fun to dump out their shoes and play with the boxes. We have simply found that we are more likely to keep our shoes put away with this strategy than anything else we’ve tried, so it’s a winner for us. Even Austin (my two year old) understands what I mean when I tell him to put his shoes in the shoe box, and he can do it himself (even if he’s not always willing).
I hope this was helpful. If you have a shoe organization strategy that is working well for your family, please share. I want this series to be an opportunity not just for me to share what we’re doing, but also for me to learn what is working for others. I’m a newbie to household organization, so I always enjoy hearing about the experience of others. Lastly, if you do try the shoe box strategy, please come back and let us know how it goes if you get a chance.
I’m linking up with Bobbi for her monthly Pinterest Party, even though I’m not on Pinterest yet (gasp). It’s actually not a requirement to be on Pinterest– it’s just a place to share creative ideas. Click on the picture below if you’d like to check it out.