organize

From the walk-in closet to the kitchen pantry, catch-all spots make all the difference in daily routines -- but only if they’re kept neat and tidy.

Family organizing expert Jessica Litman, also known as “The Organized Mama,” is on a mission to help families declutter and stay organized.

Clear Away Cabinet Clutter. ‘Tis the season for autumn chili, stew and other comfort foods. That means it’s also time to put your essential slow cookers and pans where you can reach them, so food prep will be hassle-free.

“When the weather starts to cool, I swap out summer cookware for winter bakeware,” says Litman. “I put the grilling items in the back of the cabinet and pull the turkey roaster and baking dishes to the front.”

For added storage, Litman recommends using a shelf rack or vertical organizer to keep cutting boards and pie pans neatly upright and easily accessible.

Prep the Pantry. Create a system that gives grab-and-go snacks and cooking necessities a home. This will help keep the kitchen tidy in the midst of busy work and school schedules.

“Do a pantry cleanout,” Litman says. “Remove everything from the area and wipe down the shelves. Take the canned goods you didn’t eat and donate them to a local food bank.”

Store crackers, cereal, oats and pasta in clear containers with labels, and put spices and seasonings in a slim organizer.

“Set up items similarly to grocery store shelves by placing like items together,” Litman suggests. “When you do this, it's like you are shopping in your pantry instead of hunting for things.”

Out with the Old.  Before pulling out your fall wardrobe, declutter the piles of “stuff” from the closet. This will make your space seem bigger and more organized.

“Remove clothes from this past season,” Litman recommends. “Look through each garment. If you didn’t wear it, donate, toss or sell it.”

Now that there is more room, hang an over-the-door shoe rack for rain boots and work shoes and use a closet organizer to store accessories, such as belts, purses and scarves. Litman also recommends dry cleaning winter jackets now so they’re ready to wear when cold weather comes.

Find Balance in the Bathroom. Whether it’s the primary bath or the kids’ washroom, make the most of your space by organizing everything into different categories, like towels and haircare. Once everything is grouped, you can decide what will be kept where based on the available areas. Use a tray on the counter and bins in pullout drawers.

Litman says to wipe and line surfaces, especially under the sink. She also recommends waiting until after the organizing process to buy bins and caddies, so you know exactly what you need.

Once these organizing projects are complete, your home will be ready for the fun fall festivities and family gatherings.

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