Summer Organizing Guide for Families
With contributions from Professional Organizers from all over the country
School’s out (if it was ever in) and it’s time to embrace the wonders and schedules of summer. With lazy schedules, incessant snacking, and maybe even a road trip on the horizon, Clutter Kicker reached out to fellow Professional Organizers Kiera Malowitz (DFWDecluttered), Brad Wantt (In Flow Organization), Blake Jones (The Organizing Boss), and Sandra Funari (Coastal Organizing Services), and asked them to join me in sharing their favorite summer organizing tips for families.
Lauren: Create some structure, but not too much. Perhaps mornings are spent outdoors, or physical activity is non-negotiable. Regardless of your children’s ages, consider creating a list of something your child needs to accomplish each day (have them help you come up with these tasks, such as take a bike ride, read for 20 minutes, fold the towels, wash the dog, prep a meal, call a grandparent, etc). We don’t want to give them too much structure, but it’s nice to feel productive at the end of the day.
Kiera: Structure is king, but so are lazy days! Have a little bit of both planned. If you are working through the summer, then dictate the kids' busyness around your work schedule and when you need to get things done. Don’t discount that it’s hard to do laundry, clean the floors and reset the house when the kids are running around. Maybe rotate with your partner to take the kids out for a couple of hours each week while the other person gets things done. Set up rewards too for chores accomplished. It does not have to be anything expensive, as even a trip to the park is a reward!
Sandra: Think of your patio or deck as another room in your house. Arrange the furniture to create conversation spaces. Each seat should have a side table or cocktail table in easy reach. Typically your longest seat should be placed facing a focal point (an outdoor fireplace or beautiful view). I like using similar materials and colors in the furniture pieces to create a calm and Zen-like feel. But if bohemian is more your vibe, mix it up. An outdoor rug is great to ground the space and add color. Don’t forget the music!
Kiera: We love to be outside in the summer months. For us it’s pool time and play time! Make sure you have a bin that closes easily for all the pool toys, as well as a separate one for the yard toys. And set aside a family day (or weekend!) of organizing at the beginning of the summer to get the garage cleaned out, dispose of any broken toys, and set up a place for everything summer like pool/water play towels and eating areas.
Brad: Save any gray water you have from outdoor showers or wash buckets or cleaning projects for your outdoor plants. This not only saves water, but also encourages you to use low chemical cleaners to keep the water safe for plants.
Blake: Give the kids their own dedicated space in the pantry for healthy snacks, and keep it stocked. That way kids don’t have to yell “Mom, there’s nothing to eat!” Having their own space and bin helps kids help themselves.
Brad: Keep all of those boxes of snacks under control by continually monitoring how full a box is. Tear the top off to make it easy for family members to see what’s inside and when they start getting low, combine them with other ‘like’ snacks or add them to a see-through container. This saves space and lets you put more onto the shelves. Keep condensing and you will see the chaos doesn’t look so bad when you stay on top of it.
Lauren: The transition to summer is a perfect time to go through closets. Take everything out and remove items that no longer fit or that you know your child will never wear; depending on your space, switch out the warmer clothing and replace it with summer outfits. Remember, your children don’t need so many choices...if you’re overwhelmed when looking at their wardrobe, chances are they are too! Teach them to declutter and make sure they are involved in putting clothes away in the right place.
Blake: If you want to purge clothes but aren’t sure what to let go of, turn all the hangers backwards with the hook facing out. When you wear something and put it back into the closet, place it in correctly with the hanger hook facing in. At the end of the season you’ll have a great visual cue to the things you didn’t wear, and thus the things you should donate.
Kiera: Whether you are doing a staycation, road trip, or jet-setting off to somewhere fun, more people are traveling this summer. Pack up snacks for delayed flights, traffic or day trips nearby. Most importantly, bring plenty of water. I always recommend having an extra water cooler in the car to keep drinks cold on hot summer days so that no matter where you are, everyone stays hydrated.
Brad: Sign up for Facebook Marketplace, Poshmark, Mercari and Ebay accounts. Start regularly posting personal items that you no longer need to each corresponding marketplace. Set aside a corner of your garage to box these items up - sell them for what you can get and collect that money for a ‘Summer Fun Fund.’ Valuable purses, kitchenware, inherited dishes, designer clothing, etc. Who knows? You may get some tickets to Disney out of it!
From Blake, Brad, Kiera, Sandra, and me...happy organizing and enjoy your summer with your kiddies!