Now we come to the (R)estore segment, where we begin to restore order to a chaotic environment. I guess I should include a spoiler warning of sorts here, YOU WILL PROBABLY FACE WHAT LOOKS LIKE A HURRICANE DAMAGE BEFORE IT GETS BETTER. That is part of the process. It takes patience and time to get through any organizational project. We must disassemble, in many cases, what is contributing to the disorganized environment in order to rebuild and restore. DO NOT GIVE UP. Keep at it and  you WILL conquer  it!

The first step to restoration is to come equipped to your space or backpack with the following items: a permanent marker, three white garbage bags, bank boxes OR apple boxes (the latter you can grab from the local grocer, in most cases, for free), post-it notes, a bottle of multi-purpose Pledge, and a lint-free cleaning cloth. **Obviously, if you are dealing with cleaning out a backpack from last year, you won’t need three boxes or bags, but you will need one of them to empty the items into while you toss the pack into the wash.

The second step is to remove and sort ALL items that are in the area you want to organize. Place like items together and when you are finished sorting in this manner you will be able to see what type of containers you will need and will be able to measure the containers properly for the spaces they will be used in.

One thing that I really like to do while I am sorting is to use my apple or bank boxes (I prefer these over bags for the reason of sturdiness and also because if I have to leave the project overnight, I am able to cover the box and it appears neater…rather than appearing unkept) to sort according to rooms. If there are items that do not belong I will start a box for the living room, for example. In this way, when I am finished sorting, I can simply remove the appropriate boxes to the appropriate rooms and store the items contained in the boxes where they go. This is the primary reason I use sticky notes, by the way. I can label the box multiple times without having to scratch out what I wrote before, which I like because it doesn’t mar my boxes. Crazy, I know…but that’s me!

At any rate, I find that sorting in this way helps me to maintain control over the space in which I am working and it allows me more peace of mind because it is more tidy, and the hurricane effect can be kept at a minimum.

At this point, we have sorted the items in like bags, boxes or piles. The next step is to decide which containers you will need in order to organize the area you are working in the best way possible. This is one of the more fun parts of organizing because you get to choose containers that can really reflect who you are as an individual. You will also have more room in regards to creativity.

Many people, particularly in our American culture, believe that you have to rush out and purchase everything tiny thing and that it must match, etc. This could not be furthest from the truth. In fact, it can be downright counterproductive. That isn’t to say that we will not need to purchase anything; rather, we need to make sure that what we purchase is actually needed and that it will be used. We also, as a culture, seem to overlook items which can be recycled and repurposed. Look around your home, are there shallow boxes that could actually be used as dividers inside drawers? Are there other containers which can be repurposed for something other than what they were originally intended? An example of this is the container which is holding the pencils in the first part of this organizing series. You know, the little grey one which has the floral flourish on the exterior. It originally housed a soy based candle. I loved it so much that I repurposed it as my pen well! Be creative and use what you are able and don’t be afraid to creative a container that reflects you. I have had students who have gifted wrapped shoe boxes with drawings they created or gift wrap they liked. They then covered the paper with Modge Podge or clear shipping tape. It was a store-bought container from “Containers and Such”, but it was a container which worked for the purpose they needed and it reflected them as individuals.  I applaud that kind of ingenuity, creativity and craftsmanship.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely ADORE container stores, I just don’t think we need to be wasteful with our resources, if we already have usable items available. Plus,in my way of thinking, it gives us an opportunity to be young and creative again (if we are not still! :P) instead of being all stuffy. Okay, so in terms of organizational stores out there, if you do need to buy something… there is “The Container Store”, “Bed, Bath and Beyond”, and believe it or not, Wal-mart, Target and your local Lowe’s. They have great items available without having to order online, if you can avoid it. I have found in recent years that my local Target has some great items available in their ‘dollar section’. I just purchased some file folders for my girls yesterday for two dollars and the girls thought they were cute!  IKEA is another store I recently discovered to have a vast amount of organizational items. The excitement I felt over this little discovery was great, I can assure you! I can’t wait to plan a field trip. (And, yes, I do have field trips for myself…we have to stay young some how, right?!) The items that IKEA offers are inexpensive and yet, get the job done. SO excited!

Okay, I digress.

Once you have measured for and obtained your containers, it is time to finish up the (R)estore segment.  You will now begin to place like items in containers. We want to place things together where they make sense, according to where they are going to be used. So, if you are working in your child’s bedroom and you are creating a study station, you will want to keep all things which pertain to studying there at or nearby that station. The same idea applies no matter where you are working.

Commit to assigning items to specific “homes”. This is uber-handy when trying to establish the habit of putting things away. You won’t have to look or search for things, they already have an assigned home and maintenance will be so much easier. In other words, you won’t have to start the whole D.A.R.E. process from the beginning, you will simply have to (R)estore and (E)valuate on a much smaller scale.

A note on stations…stations are fantastic ways of creating small geo-centers within a given room. When it has come to my own children (all four of them) and to the students I teach, they all seem to respond really well to structure. So, having these smaller stations that break up their rooms into task specific areas, really helps them identify where individual items go. And clean up and maintenance is so much easier. It also helps in reducing excuse making as to why things cannot be carried. “I didn’t know where it went”, flies right out the window when an organized station is created and, often, peace is restored, because they are confidently able to carry the task of putting things away through to completion. They receive the opportunity to grow into a person who is confident about how to handle things and we, parents, are able to have a few more moments free from “Hey,  MOMMMM (or DADDD)! Where does this go?” And how sweet is it to see them walk something out confidently, knowing that they can, indeed, complete it and complete it well?

Well, I have prattled on today…(R)estoring life to an organized state takes time and patience, but you if you are willing to put in the effort and time, you will seem reformation very quickly. Just remember to be methodic about it and follow the simple instructions here.

Tomorrow, we will cover the last part of D.A.R.E. and from there we will look at a  whole slew of other organizing tasks.

Until then…scale your Everests and enjoy the fresh air of freedom from disorder!

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