Growing-Up Organized Review Plus Q&A

I love to organize and rearrange. My husband always says “Emi’s in a mood” every time I find my next thing to organize, but I am more commonly re-organizing. What I didn’t fully realize (okay, I was in denial) until reading this book was that I was constantly organizing clutter. With all the moving I have done in my life I have had to periodically clean out unneeded things, but there have been numerous things and boxes that have somehow followed me across the world. Then you add a husband and toddler to the equation and you keep acquiring new stuff and new clutter, without any more closet or storage space to accommodate.

Organizing is not just about making things neat and finding the perfect spaces for things as this is something that constantly needs to be re-organized and re-arranged as new things are accumulated or circumstances change. Growing-Up Organized outlines the necessary steps in organization, teaching organization and maintaining organization in our busy lives (this includes teaching organization and assigning age-appropriate chores to your kids, moms!). Rest assured, organizing your home, the kid’s homework and chores does not have to be a project you dedicate your whole week of precious vacation to or that you procrastinate, because the task is too time-consuming or intimidating. Lea counsels to set aside 30-minutes at a time to work on small organization projects.

One thing I have struggled with is parting with certain things that have sentimental or monetary value that I know I should part with, because they are not being used, but I hold onto it “just in case”. Lea boldly and blunted states in her book that if you don’t LOVE IT, NEED IT or USE IT, it needs to be given away, donated, consigned, swapped, gone. I joined an online consignment network a couple months before reading this book that has helped me find homes for many of the items I have been holding onto and this has helped me to finally be okay with parting with certain items. I plan on holding a garage sale this summer to finish saying good bye to the rest of the things I am setting aside that don’t fit my love it, need it, use it categories.

This book is packed with ideas, reminders, counsel and resources to get your house, kids and life to the level of organization that you need. The more organized we are the less time we waste looking for things, cleaning up after our kids rather than with them and the less money we spend on purchasing additional dressers, closets, or even buying a larger home, because you just don’t have enough space for all your clutter. And although clutter can be literal clutter comprised of piles of papers or mounds of things strewn across the floor, it is also all of those things you don’t need that need to be purged so you can effectively organize the things you love, need and use.

I almost purchased a cabinet this past month to put inside my master bathroom to have additional storage space, but this book reminded me to stop and re-assess if it was a need or another place to store clutter. I am currently sifting through the cabinets to see if I can cut down on the quantity of items currently stored there before making a purchase. I think I may be able to find homes for a lot of the things in other places in the home or garage, after all. This book has definitely gotten me “in a mood” and I am tackling one closet, dresser, box and room at a time. As busy moms we may also think we don’t have time to read a book, but this book is organized in chapters that can be read as needed for the space or topic you are tackling at a particular time.

I had the opportunity to do a Q&A with Lea about one of the spaces the book only briefly touched on: the garage. You can also check out sample pages of the book on her website, before and after photos of spaces she has tackled and  purchase a hard copy on or an eBook on her website.

Q & A

1. I know that we can all use the basic formulas from your book to tackle other spaces like the garage. Assuming the first step is getting rid of everything that doesn’t fit into a LOVE IT, USE IT, NEED IT pile, what is the first step you recommend taking after that to tackle garage organization?

Turn it into a game with the kids. Play “Which of These Things Belong Together?” Of course, you’ll need to handle anything that is not safe, but they can help sort much of it. Group items together by use such as gardening supplies, tools, chemicals/paints, riding toys, outgrown clothing, holiday decorations and so on.

2. We currently have 2 large metal shelving units and I am considering getting 1 more to fit additional bins and get more things on the floor or leaning on the walls in a designated space. Would you recommend getting an additional unit so I can implement your advice on LABELS by labeling the shelves and/or tubs? What would other options be on a tighter budget? Up until recently we have stacked plastic tubs on top of each other, but some have cracked when too much weight has been placed on them for too long. 

Remember, only keep what you love, use and need. Clearly you are not going to store something you love in a tub on a shelf in the garage. If you love it, it should be out where you can love it. Let’s assume you have made good decisions and the remaining items are toys and clothes that will be hand-me downs to younger siblings as well as seasonal buying zovirax tablets online items, such as holiday decorations.

In this case, plastic is much better storage in many parts of the country as cardboard and box glue attract pests we’d rather not have in our homes. The other issue is safety. If your children are going to be in the garage, a tower of heavy tubs can indeed collapse on them- or you- and really hurt someone. Tubs or boxes are more stable on shelving and the shelving can and should be bolted to the wall. In addition, stacking heavy tubs means more lifting to get to the bottom tubs, which is inconvenient and is another opportunity to hurt yourself. Be good to your budget by using discount stores, Craigslist and even Freecycle.

Finally- absolutely label everything! Then it has a chance to go back where it belongs!

3. We are a military family and anticipate frequent moves every few years so I would love advice (for both the garage and closets) in combining organization with easy “movability”. I would imagine some of this would have to do with the storage and organizing containers or gear chosen and would prefer to invest in ONE type of item to achieve both. 

Choosing tubs for the garage makes a lot of sense when you move around. The items are already packed – just tape the lids shut. Since you anticipate moving, make sure to make labels which read “GARAGE- Baby Clothes.” This way, if and when you move, you’ll already have the tubs labeled for where they will go when unpacking.

For closets, you’ll find there are lots of closet organizers that don’t break the bank. These are the types of shoe keepers or sweater holders that hang from the closet rod. These are really useful and move with you. These kinds of products are good investments with children because frankly, your kid is always going to have sweaters or shoes! Although a child grows in size and their tastes change quickly, their need for storage stays with them into adulthood.  Often, I find closet organizers for as little as $6 or $8 at discount stores such as Big Lots or Ross Dress for less.

4. What do you recommend for storing larger baby gear like swings and bouncers so they don’t get worn by the elements and soiled by the hustle and bustle of the garage?

While we might be tempted to save the box, if you’ve ever tried to make a product go back into a box, you’ll know this is pointless! Bungee cords are my friend. You can use them to keep an item, like a swing, tightly compressed. Zip-Lock Brand Big Bags can hold things as large as a sleeping bag. In the bedding area of most stores, you can buy a zippered plastic case for mattresses. Imagine how many large things you can fit in a double-bed size zippered bag! Get one and fill it with baby equipment. It would even hold a collapsed crib. Of course, you can always buy the queen size bag!

5. Any advice for how to store additional pantry items when storage is limited? I always toy around with the idea of finding a way to store canned goods in the garage, but am concerned about temperature changes and such. Would you have advice for how to expand pantry space IN the home or ideas for using a small area in the garage for certain items? 

You are correct that storing canned goods and beverages in areas that freeze isn’t a good plan. You could store bulk items such as paper towels, toilet paper, pet food, and dry goods in the cold. I’d suggest thinking about areas inside the house you may not have considered. A linen closet makes a good bulk-storage area. Place blankets and sheets on the closet shelf of each bedroom. Besides, it is easier to change the bed if you don’t need to leave the room to get the goodies!  A laundry room is also a possible spot. Often, shelves or cupboards over the washer and dryer end up with a collection of junk –sort of a giant junk drawer. Clear those out and make use of them for bulk storage. If you find those cupboards are full of sewing supplies, light bulbs and fix-it items, then those are perfect for the garage.

6. I have contemplated purchasing a deep freezer for the garage to store things bought or prepared in bulk, but I am concerned about items getting lost or forgotten (haven’t we all found that frozen beef in the back of the freezer from last summer?). I know to label the Ziplocs or containers, but any advice on how to organize the contents by expiration and food type so things don’t get swallowed up and forgotten? 

Purchase some inexpensive plastic baskets at a dollar-type store. Label the baskets beef, chicken, fish, vegetables and so on. You can create some tie-on labels by using plastic lids, such as on a coffee or Pringles can and a permanent marker. Poke a hole in the plastic and tie it on the basket. It will be impervious to moisture.

Using the baskets will allow you to lift out, for example, the chicken basket and find what you want. When you store away items, you’ll put them in the appropriate basket and put the newest purchase to the back. 

When you prepare dishes to be frozen, you can place them in the top of the freezer flat. The next time you are in the freezer, and the dish is frozen, turn it up on end, like books on a bookshelf. This way, you see the end of all the dishes instead of stacking one on top of the other and losing the bottom ones.

About Lea Schneider:

Buy it!

Growing-Up Organized is available to purchase on or eBooks are available at
A copy of the book was provided by Lea Schneider for this review. 
{If you enjoyed reading Growing-Up Organized Review Plus Q&A I would be tickled pink if you left a comment. To read more about my green(er) parenting aspirations, advice and adventures be sure to subscribe to my RSS feed or get updates via email.}


By Emi Stapler. I am a cloth diaper advocate, green parenting blogger, mother of three and a military wife who enjoys sharing my motherhood adventures and advice. Follow me at The Cloth Diaper Report on Facebook, Twitter @TheCDReport , Google +, Pinterest and Instagram.

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  1. HomebirthinMomma says:

    Don't do "pinball" organizing. I do this all the time and she is so right! I do just feel exhausted and nothing ever seems to get accomplished! I plan to focus on this one hallway closet this week! I plan to devote 30 mins at a time until it is done! Thanks for sharing and for the chance to win!!

    tnrutger at gmail dot com

  2. HomebirthinMomma says:

    i follow your blog!

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    I added ur button 1

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    i added ur button 2

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    i entered the pillow pets giveaway

  6. Stacy Whalen says:

    One tip I read is to think in terms of "how can I make this space pretty?" rather than "I've got to clean!!!"
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  7. Stacy Whalen says:

    I publicly follow
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    I follow you on twitter @stacywhalen
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    I get your emails!
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  10. Heidi Jane Blankets says:

    I learned that more organizing products are NOT the answer!!

  11. Heidi Jane Blankets says:

    I follow your blog!

  12. Heidi Jane Blankets says:

    I entered to win the R&B cd

  13. The thing that really sticks with me from her entry here as well as from her blog is: if you love it, it doesn't belong in a box in the garage.

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  14. I'm a public follower!

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  15. I am a Twitter follower!

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  19. Kofimonster says:

    yes i am crazed by clutter! can't wait to learn more!

  20. I love the page about Organizing Essentials for Every Child's Room, it has so many great ideas!

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  27. I learned that you can't organize clutter — you have to decide what you're going to keep and what you're going to get rid of. I also learned you shouldn't buy organizing products until you're at the end of a project.

  28. I follow your blog publicly

  29. I follow you on twitter (@skgaff)

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  36. Elijah, Amy and Baby T says:

    Using pictures for non-readers is such a great idea!

  37. I liked the tips on Essentials for a Child's Room. My mom commented the other day that my son has too much stuff in his room. Some of her quick and easy tips will do a lot of good!
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  38. I publicly follow TCDR!
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  50. All of the tips for organizing a child's room are great, especially the ideas about lowering things to kid level so they are physically able to start learning how to put things away!

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  51. I follow TCDR :)

  52. Your button is on my blog:

  53. Strawberry Kids says:

    I like the info on Organizing Essentials for Every Child's Room.
    It makes me realize how much I really want this book. I am an organized freak if you may. I like everything in its place and this book looks like a must have for me…

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    Email Subscription Confirmed!
    A message will be delivered to if the publisher has produced new content on that day. No new content, no email for you.

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    We entered the Soda Stream giveaway

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  66. lifewithsweetpeaches says:

    I loved her tip about when things are organized, they look pretty and calm. I think about my lovely dining room and all the STUFF that's on the table. It would be so much prettier if we would put it all where it belongs and not see it right when we walk in the door!

  67. lifewithsweetpeaches says:

    I follow you on Twitter!


  68. lifewithsweetpeaches says:
  69. For a kid's room, label the drawers with pictures of what goes in them. Very good idea and I may use it in my classroom, too.

  70. Strawberry Kids says:
  71. I learned that you can't organize clutter. Seems so simple but it is SO true! I need this book! I have been trying to organize my house for the past few weeks now.

  72. Follow @TheCDReport

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  74. Voted for TCDR #1

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  77. Entered ThermaPak giveaway

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  81. Strawberry Kids says:
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  84. I should add a low closet rod for my toddler to hang up his own clothes.

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  85. Strawberry Kids says:
  86. Melanie says:

    If you decide to buy a deep freeze I highly recommend a upright versus a chest freezer. I find it much easier to see what is in our upright freezer. If you can see everything you are more likely to use everything.

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