Conquering The Paper Clutter Organizing Challenge

It seems like ever since we bought this house that we have been drowning in paperwork that needs to be saved for reference. We have a pretty good system for keeping mail organized when it arrives (seen in this post), but anything past that point started turning into piles of paperwork throughout the house, driving us nuts. I started out trying to add it in with my little desktop file folder holder (seen behind the stack of binders below), but that quickly filled up and got disorganized. I decided to try harder to get all these papers and manuals organized, put away, and still easy to access when needed.

I divided everything into three binders, leaving my file folder box for it’s original purpose: business contracts, tax documents and business related receipts.

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I started with the binder I will use the most – my Home & Family binder. The first section has all of my printed cleaning checklists printed out and organized. I love the Martha Stewart cleaning checklists…so helpful to keep on hand!
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After that, I made a section of papers that I reference occassionally with gardening information, like instructions for the potato planter and the soil tester.3

The last section in this binder is a bunch of ideas for fun things for us to do as a family on the weekend. I put in clippings from local magazines, lists of ideas we have come up with, and fliers from local attractions. This should help us think of something we would like to do each weekend, and better stick to our plan of one day of working on projects and one day of fun each weekend.4

The next binder has all of the baby related paperwork. The first section has all of the reference paperwork that I got while I was pregnant. There is first aid info, breastfeeding resources, etc.5

Next is a section with all of the receipts from our major baby purchases, such as stroller, car seat, crib, etc. I want to make sure we have all of these together in case we have any problems with anything.6

Last in this binder is a section with all of the baby product manuals.

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The last binder has all of our important records, documents and manuals for all of the other things around the house, such as appliances. The first section has our most important records: marriage certificate, title and insurance paperwork for our house and the one we just sold in Texas, etc.
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Next is a section with important health records. I made sure I kept all of the paperwork from this pregnancy in case we want to reference it with a future pregnancy. I also have another sheet protector with important vet records (our dog Stella was named Skittles by the adoption agency but we renamed her).
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Next is important paperwork and records for things around the house, such as the chimney and care instructions for the kitchen counters.12

Next is a section with important records about our cars.
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Lastly, I have a section with manuals for all of the non-baby related items around the house. I further divided them into categories such as small appliances, kitchen appliances, garden, and misc.14

Hopefully this should help keep things better under control!

What’s In My Bag Part 2: My Diaper Bag

I posted part 1 yesterday (here), with what I keep in my purse. Today I am showing what I keep in my diaper bag, and how I keep it all organized. When we bought all of the stuff we needed for the new baby, things like crib sheets and other items came i these thick plastic pouches with snap closures. I kept all of them figuring I would find a good way to reuse them. Once I started putting everything together in my diaper bag, I realized those clear plastic pouches would work great for keeping the diaper bag organized. I use them to keep together the components for our cloth hybrid diapering system. I also have another pouch for a change of clothes for the baby and some extra little accessories.

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1. The changing pad that came with the diaper bag.
2. Diaper changing wipes.
3. Peepee Teepee.
4. Gdiaper travel dirty diaper bag.

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5. Biodegradable inserts for hybrid diapers.
6. Extra cloth diaper shells and snap in liners.
7. Extra outfit and accessories for baby.

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8. A great Burt’s Bees travel set that a friend gave us as a gift. The little bag contains lotion, diaper cream, baby wash & dusting powder.
9. An extra set of disposable breast pads. I normally use my organic cotton washable ones, and carry an extra set in with the baby clothes, but these are an extra backup in case I forget to replenish the cotton ones in the diaper bag.
10. Nursing nipple cream. Not my favorite cream, but I keep the one I use more on my nightstand. This one is okay and good in a pinch.
11. Organic cotton nursing cover.
12. Pacifier wipes.

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13. I always try to bring my stainless steel water bottle with me everywhere I go. If I go somewhere and forget my water bottle, I get very thirsty very quickly because the little guy nurses so much. Just in case I forget my favorite water bottle, I have this folding water bottle tucked into the diaper bag that can be filled up anywhere.
14. Small nose suction bulb that opens up for cleaning.
15. Dye-free infant acetaminophen.
16. Gripe water.
17. Bottle of ibiprofin for me in case my pelvic bone pain flares up while we are out somewhere.

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18. A couple of reusable shopping bags. I usually toss one in my purse, but I always try to keep extras in the diaper bag.
19. Small stroller hook. The larger one is clipped to the storage compartment on the stroller, but I like to keep this one in the diaper bag in case I need it.
20. Organic cotton swaddle blanket.

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A closer look at the change of clothes and accessories that I keep on hand for the little guy. Everything is organic cotton. A onesie, footed pants, a hat, socks, little mittens, and an extra set of breast pads for me.

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Everything fits in nicely, even leaving extra room in case I want to toss in the Moby Wrap.

Experienced moms: how did I do? Anything I am missing, or am I pretty well-prepared for anything? So far I feel like I have everything I could possibly need for now.

What’s In My Bag Part 1: My Purse

Before our baby was born, I figured that I wouldn’t really need to use a purse anymore, and would just make the diaper bag my go-to bag. After a few trips out running errands, I quickly realized that was not the ideal setup to keep me organized. For quick trips into a store, or somewhere like church, a big diaper bag is just too much to carry in and really not necessary. Plus, there are a few stores that we frequent that have baby changing areas (Nordstrom, Buy Buy Baby, etc.), but most places we go do not have a place to change a baby’s diaper, leaving me to do diaper changes in the car anyway. Plus, when the diaper bag is down in the storage compartment of our stroller, it is a little frustrating and cumbersome to get at anything. When you are trying to quickly get out a burp cloth, pacifier, or wallet, it is just way too much hassle.

To solve my dilemma, we found a purse that matches my diaper bag, and can be worn over the shoulder or cross-body. I wanted something easy to clean, ample room to hold a variety of things without being too big, and be hands-free. I absolutely love my purse and the matching diaper bag, both from Marc by Marc Jacobs. I try to keep my stuff pretty well organized so everything is easy to find. This is my purse organization system. The only part I really want to improve is the loose pile of coupons, mostly for baby stores. I know I bring a lot of things, but I love being prepared for just about anything! Part 2, what’s in my diaper bag will be coming tomorrow.
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1. Organic cotton Winnie the Pooh stroller toy, to keep baby E happy and distracted in a pinch.
2. An individually wrapped cleansing cloth in case of a big cleanup emergency (this one was saved from Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill).
3. Burt’s Bees organic cotton burp cloth.
4. Pacifier, pacifier clip and holder.
5. Hand sanitizer.

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6. Mini manicure set.
7. Pack of tissues. I used to have a Shemergency kit, but somehow seemed to have lost it when we moved. I may order some refills from some of the items, but for now this is all that remains.
8. Mini measuring tape, perfect for planning purchases for the house and organizing.
9. Mirror.
10. Face blotting papers.

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11. Band-aid dispenser.
12. Forehead fever scan. Was part of a great baby care package from my husband’s work.
13. Alcohol swabs.
14. Folding scissors.
15. Mini Swiss Army knife.
16. Cough drops.
17. Benadryl in case I have a food allergy emergency.
18. Dental floss.
19. Burt’s Bees Hand Salve.
20. Safety pis.
21. Bobby pins & hair ties.
22. Double stick fashion tape.

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23. Wallet.
24. Keys with a tiny lip gloss.
25. Tiny hair brush.
26. Small lint roller.
27. Mascara.
28. Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmer.
29. Burt’s Bees lotion.
30. Trial sized moisturizer with SPF since my husband usually forgets to wear sunscreen.
31. Gum.

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32. Rosary prayer booklet.
33. Tiny rosary in little egg container.
34. “Cross in my pocket.” Was my grandma’s.
35. Small notebook and pen.
36. Cell phone.
37. Granola bar for my husband. I usually keep another one for myself as well, but we need to restock my dairy-free/soy-free/egg-free/gluten-free bars.

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A closer view of my tiny rosary and the “cross in my pocket.”

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Everything fits in here pretty well! Most of the tiny items go together in a small zippered pouch. I keep the frequently used small items (like mascara and lip shimmer) in the zippered purse pocket. There is a pouch for my phone and one for my keys as well.

See part 2 with my diaper bag here.

Life Is Not Always Picture Perfect!

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Okay, I am just going to say it. It is physically impossible for anyone to be able to perfectly keep up with everything all the time. In today’s Pinterest/blog filled society, we start to get the impression that in order to be a good mother and wife, that we need to have a perfectly spotlessly clean and organized home at all times. Some bloggers give the impression that every corner of their house is always immaculate and picture ready. I generally try to keep things pretty neat and clean, but sometimes that is just not always possible. Especially with a new baby around, I have quickly learned that this is definitely not always possible. Some days, other things just have to take higher priority than a spotless kitchen and all of the laundry neatly folded and put away. I realized that this is nothing to be ashamed of, and nothing to beat myself up about.

Our house was clean on Saturday. We had visitors who could attest to that. I gave myself a deadline to have all of our baby’s newborn photos that I took edited and processed. I wanted to make sure I had them all processed and blogged by the time I planned to mail out his birth announcements and baptism invitations (I included a link to our photography blog on his birth announcements). Since the deadline I set for myself was the end of the day on Monday, I treated that deadline just as I would treat any deadline that I give myself when working on photos for a client. Things that are urgent and MUST be done take top priority: feeding and taking care of the baby and the pets, and making sure we have clean diapers and towels.

I wasn’t able to quite finish everything up by Monday night, but came pretty close. On Tuesday morning, we went into the pediatrician for his two month appointment. Just like after his one month appointment, he cried pretty much nonstop the entire day after getting his vaccinations. The only thing that soothes him when he gets that upset is putting him in the Moby wrap for some skin-to-skin time all day.

Comforting our baby definitely takes priority over putting away laundry and scrubbing dishes. He is still pretty fussy today, and has a huge welt and rash all over one of his legs where the vaccine was injected. I will get to the house soon enough, but for the moment, soothing our little boy is my top priority. Once he is feeling a little better, I will tackle this to-do list:

1. Put away all the clean laundry.
2. Put away the clean dishes.
3. Clean the dirty dishes that are piling up from the past few days.
4. Sterilize all the breastmilk pumping parts and bottles.
5. Fold the sheets that were stuffed into the linen closet haphazardly.
6. Straighten up the living room and bedrooms since I have been skipping my daily pickup routine.
7. Get back on track with my weekly cleaning routine: dusting, sweeping, mopping, etc.
8. Wash a load or two of laundry.
9. Polish the copper bottoms of my pots and pans.
10. Get some kind of new organization system going for the paperwork explosion in the office.

I am very happy that I was able to get the birth announcements and baptism invitations put in the mail. 🙂 How bad do you let your house get when things get busy?