I heard this saying the other day: A messy bed makes for a messy head.
It basically sums up my need for order and structure in everything I do. But, I can’t say I’ve always been like this. I blame Frank.
Unlike the stereotypical husband we see on TV, Frank has never – like never ever – left his socks in the middle of the floor. He has never left a dirty dish in the sink before going to bed. I, on the other hand, have been guilty of those two offenses and so many, many more.
Despite my sloppier beginnings, I’ve always been an efficiency junkie. I’m always on the lookout for places where I could shave off a couple of minutes or do something faster or easier.
My need for mental efficiency branched into my physical space when Isabella and her gear came to live with us in our spacious, yet tiny apartment. In addition to the small space, my life as a working mom was so chaotic that I became obsessed with finding ways to organize my space so life was easier.
I started with the nursery, but as she and her sister, Elia, took up more and more of our square footage, I applied these tips to other areas of our home – think entryway, play areas and closets, too.
Before we go any further, this blog is not going to be a 10-step manual on how to turn your nursery into a well-oiled machine after one afternoon of tweaking. Who has one afternoon to spare? Plus, as a recovering slob, I have no right to do so.
Instead, I’m hoping that I can share a bit of my thinking so you can tackle your space at your own pace and in your own way.
As you and I know, working moms are constantly playing catch-up. The to-do list never gets done, it just gets longer. I’ve found that the best way to stay on top of it is with a preemptive strike. Staying organized is much easier than getting organized. Organizing your nursery and getting in the habit of staying organized will make life so much easier.
If you’re a new mama, you’re going to spend a hell of a lot of time in your nursery every day. With a diaper change every couple of hours, you’ll be grabbing a ton of wipes and diapers and clothes.
So, begin by thinking about your changing station and what you really, really need to have in arm’s reach. You can’t leave an un-diapered baby unattended. This isn’t only for fear that they may fall off the table, rather if you don’t get a new diaper on your kid pronto, there’s a great chance you’ll have a new mess (with a larger radius) to clean up. More mess means more time wasted. So, whatever it is you need for each changing, make sure it’s within arm’s reach.
Perhaps it was my years living in tight quarters or maybe it’s Frank’s effect, but I’m very much a minimalist. I don’t like a lot of stuff in my space, but babies are stuff magnets. They constantly need stuff. And, don’t get me started on all those well-intentioned visitors who come bearing new toys when baby would be just as happy playing with a wooden spoon or a box.
As the stuff piles up, even the most organized nursery will start to feel cramped. That’s why I’m always itching to do away with items that no longer serve a purpose.
Keep an eye on which toys aren’t being picked up anymore, which blankets aren’t being used, soothers that are no longer favorites. Did something roll under the crib without being missed for two months? Time to say goodbye!
The greatest offender in this category is baby clothes. Baby is growing so rapidly that clothes start to get snug every 3 months – some sooner. So before bringing in the next size up, be sure to get rid of the smaller ones. And of course, when I say “get rid of them” I mean from the nursery. Gently worn or played with items always get stowed away for hand-me-downs, or donated to friends or a favorite charity.
If you get into the practice of decluttering, it will become a habit. Habits are essential to putting everyday tasks on autopilot instead of expending mental energy (and time) hemming and hawing about whether to do it. Be on the lookout for places to improve your space once it’s in action. Is there a particular corner of the room that is a constant source of frustration? Ask yourself why, and how can you make it better?
There are an astounding number of organizational products on the market to get you started. Yet, my absolute favs are shoe boxes – adult or baby – both are perfectly sized to fit into most drawers. They’re a tiny onesie, washcloth and sock organizational lifesaver (thanks to my clutter clearing guru Marie Kondo for this tip!)
Lastly, in pursuit of efficiency, don’t forget that your nursery is a powerful space for moms and their babies to bond. The rest of the house may feel like it’s been overtaken by high chairs and bottles and toys, but an organized nursery can act as a cozy, quiet place just for you and baby. So, after a busy day at work, you need a calm, relaxed space where you can reconnect. And if it’s disorganized, it’ll make it so much harder to just melt into each other.
Mamas, I hope this helps get you started on creating and maintaining a nursery that works for you and baby. If you know a mama or soon-to-be mama who might be looking to crank up the efficiency in their nursery, please share this post with them. I also want to hear all of your tips and tricks for battling disorganization in your home – just pop them in the comments below.