Getting Out the Door

Moms often say to me, “It’s so hard to get out the door with my kids.”  Seven months into motherhood, and I’m experiencing this first hand.  As I’m trying to get out the door with X-man, I always find myself running around or digging through piles of stuff in the entryway trying to get everything together.  While X-man is a good baby, he only has so much patience for this.

As I looked at what was causing me stress in this area, I found two main sources:

  1. The items I need when leaving are spread throughout the house – X-man’s coats, blankets, and hats are upstairs, toys are in the living room, strollers and diaper bags are in the lounge, snacks and water are in the kitchen, and who knows where my cell phone is.
  2. There isn’t a place to easily drop of items that I bring home; items just end up in piles, which makes our small entryway seem even smaller.

Our entryway is typically my staging area when leaving, so I decided to attack its organization.  The space was organized for our pre-baby life, but now we have another person in the house; his stuff needs to have a home in the entryway as well.  The first step in this process was to define the goals for the space:

  • Keep most items I need when leaving the house in this area.
  • Designate spaces for items that come into our home until we have time to deal with them.

Here’s what the entryway looks like on a typical day:

I pulled everything out and grouped like items together so I could see what was being stored in the area.  I was a little surprised at everything we fit in the entryway.

The sorting process - organizing can be messy!
The sorting process – organizing can be messy!

I didn’t have much purging to do (most of the items needed to stay in the house), so my focus was on assigning homes.  I often get stuck on this step because things can be stored in multiple places; I try to focus on just picking a spot and seeing how it works out.  There is rarely “one perfect home” to store something.

J and I discussed what needed to be stored in the entryway and what could be moved to the basement.  He wanted to keep his soccer refereeing bag in the closet to keep the dirt he brings into the house with it contained to the entryway (I can’t argue with that!).  I moved several coats that still aren’t fitting into the basement (they will be up for purging once I get back into pre-pregnancy shape).

While I usually suggest not purchasing any organizing containers until later in the process, I knew the front table we had did not give us the storage we needed.  I purchased a table at Target with two drawers and a shelf to increase our storage capacity.

I went back to my goals to help me determine where to store items.  My over-riding goal was to make it easier to get out of the house, so I tried to find the best place to put X-man’s gear:

  • Strollers – I would have loved for X-man’s two strollers to live in the front closet, but it just didn’t make sense when I tried to put the coats in the closet.  Back to the lounge they go.
  • Diaper bag – I wanted a designated space for the diaper bag, so I put it on the shelf in the table.  It is right by the front door, so it’s easy to pick-up and drop-off.
  • X-man’s blankets, hats, gloves – I’ve consolidated those items to a basket next to the diaper bag.  Now most of X-man’s gear is in one location.
  • X-man’s coats and sweatshirt – Most of them are now hung in the front closet instead of upstairs in his room.  We were rarely putting coats on him in his room, so why should they be stored there?

Once my “have to haves” were taken care of, I went to my “really wants”:

  • Purses – I like having all my purses and clutches by the front door, but they were taking up a lot of room.  I consolidated them into two baskets and now they only take up 2/3 of a shelf.
  • Random item containment – I used the drawers in the new table to store the random items that I want to keep by the front door: sunglasses, stamps, tire gauge, flashlights.
  • Reusable bags and extra diaper bags – Having these items by the front door helps me use them, so I moved them into a bin on the bottom of the closet.

Here’s where the entryway stands now:

The newly organized entryway.
The newly organized entryway.
Our information processing center – new table with extra storage, mail storage, trash and recycling bins.
Storage for our regular diaper bags and X-man's blankets, hats, and gloves.
Storage for our regular diaper bags and X-man’s blankets, hats, and gloves.
Trash and recycling are right by the door so junk mail can easily be purged.
Room for bag storage. The left bin is empty (yea!) and the other two are for my purses and clutches.
Bag storage. The top shelf stores larger bags and J’s soccer bag. The left bin on the bottom shelf is empty (yea!) and the other two are for my purses and clutches.
Now we can see what is in the bottom of the closet – a new home for reusable bags, plastic drawers for hats and gloves, a couple pairs of shoes for running outside, my awesome rain-boots.

I wanted to provide flexibility because as the seasons change and X-man grows we will need to store different items in this area.  It will be easy to change what I store in the bins and to move them around.  The bags on the top shelf in the closet can be moved to the basement if necessary – plus I still have an empty bin on the bottom shelf!

I still have some fine-tuning to do:

  • Add bins and folders to store items that need to go upstairs or to the basement.
  • Add baskets to divide drawers.  I find this is key to keeping a drawer from becoming a junk drawer.
  • Label bins to make it easy for J and our nanny to find items.

To help keep papers from piling up in the entryway, J and I also need to work on the information management in the house.  How do papers we need end up in our filing cabinet in a reasonable time?  Where do the papers get stored until they make it into the file cabinet?  This is a bigger project and will be tackled at a later date.

I’ve been living with the new entryway organization for a couple weeks, and it’s working great.  Consolidating most of the items we need to get out the door and assigning homes has made it so much easier to get out of the house.  It’s not perfect, and X-man still runs out of patience with me, but I’m so much happier now that I always know where the diaper bag is!

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