Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Top Tips Tuesday - Storage

Today, I thought I would focus on storage.  I had been chatting to some FB friends (again!) about how to keep things tidy, and storage of toys in particular.  So, as promised, I will share what I do.

Now, I used to have a hard time keeping on top of tidying.  I used to say to Robert "but I don't have places to put things - if i had more storage it would be tidier!".  He didn't believe me....well, he didn't seem to believe me!

But, as it happens, not very often, of course, (especially between ladies and gents who happen to be married.....*whistles*) I was right....aherm....

I invested some time looking for decent storage boxes, and for places to keep them.  A lot of reshuffling and reorganising to find places to put them, resulting in a much more easily tidied house.  

Now, if someone could just get me a brand of small person who put the things back in the boxes quickly, and without complaint?....

Moving swiftly on.  

So, what do I use?  I primarily use "Really Useful Boxes".  I usually buy them here as they are one of the most competitive prices.  They are NOT cheap, but I have found, especially with storage boxes, you get what you pay for.  Cheap ones break VERY easily.  These ones are sturdy and have got great lids with a clip fastening.  I am NOT claiming they are unbreakable.  My children use them, and not always for their intended purpose.  You are not really meant to STAND on the handles to push yourself up to reach things that aren't meant to be reached by a small person.  Hmmmmm.

I have managed to get them in Tesco once or twice, for a very good price.  But, only one size.  they also stack brilliantly, as you will see shortly.

I have to acknowledge my good friends, the Brooks.  They introduced me to this addiction useful tool.  

I have these boxes in virtually EVERY room of my house.  They contain nearly everything imaginable.  They look so neat and tidy, and lovely, and wonderful, and beautiful, and did I mention neat and tidy?

And, no, I am not getting any commission from Really Useful Box manufacturers!  

So, where do I use them?....

 In the odds and ends cupboard - batteries, husband-related-odd-tool-thingys, candles for emergencys, medicines, odd socks.....

 For our math-u-see manipulatives (the counting blocks we use for maths.....)

 In my wardrobe, for out of season clothes and not-so-used shoes

under the girls bed for Playmobil and dressing up shoes (don't you wish you had small feet still?....)

in the girls cupboard for dolls house furniture and Sylvanian families bits and bobs

THIS is the motherload.....about 30 of these 50 litre babies stacked in the back of the garage (bit hard to get too close at the moment......) with all of the clothes currently not being worn by some small person in my home, ready for the next small person to wear them - ordered by age and gender.  Well, ordered sounds too organised - they are in boxes according to age and gender....quite different....

in my kitchen cupboards with my spices and condimenty things ( I KNOW that's not a word, ok?.....)

bird food, right by my weights...because I do a lot of weight lifting....really, I do....you don't believe me?....nice.....(although, if you look closely, the lightest set is missing - I DO use those with my exercise DVD on occasion...the LIGHTEST one mind...)

So, now you know.... my name is Caroline and I am addicted to Really Useful Boxes.....(and I haven't taken pictures of them all.......!!)

I also have another storage unit that is VERY useful.  Courtesy of that wonderful storage giant.....yep, Ikea.

It's tall, so stores a lot in a small amount of floor space.  You can get different sized drawers, but we have a shallow one (one for each school day...) and 4 deep ones.

the shallow ones have games, puzzles, activities for the younger children.  I am also a BIG fan of taking puzzles and games out of their space-consuming boxes, and putting them in zip-lock bags.  I eagerly remove the contents from boxes, put them in the bags and tear up the boxes for the recycling, with great gusto!!   I then rotate which trays they have out each day, and periodically jumble around the contents as well.

The big ones have....play food for the play kitchen, in the one lowest down, for the little children to access....

....then play cars in the next one up.....

....and Lego bricks in the 3rd from the bottom - Elijah can't reach into this to get anything out, but Joshua can take it out to play with.

So, there you have it - storage in my house.  We also have some crates from my father-in-law, that have no lid, and are collapsible, that the boys use for under the bed storage.  

I would really love to hear what methods you use for storage.  I haven't really covered organisation of the items that are IN the boxes.   Another post, perhaps?

PLEASE link up, or share your ideas in the comments below.  Also, if you are put off by thinking you need a google ID, you just post as anonymous, and then it will work! :-)

Also, find some GREAT storage ideas from these ladies who call themselves 4 moms.  

Follow the link to see their posts on storage.  They regularly get together on their blogs to share ideas - they have 35 children between them, and so have plenty parenting experience! Find more from them all here.

They are also going to be blogging through a book I recently purchased, during the month of August, called "Large Family Logistics", which is filled with great tips and ideas for ANYONE, large family, or not! I hope to be joining with them as they blog, and others share in the journey. Keep your eye out for it!

Anyway, link up and share your great tips!


  1. That was interesting thanks, which size of box do you use for storing your clothes in? Also what size is decent for toys?
    Dawn x

  2. 50 litre, I think - some are 64 litre. (for the clothes) Depends what toys you want to store, really! I use the 9 litre for quite a lot of different things. I have the 21 litre for some Happyland toys, and for some of the 9 litre I got the taller lids, which adds some extra space. I also have some of the 50 litre ones for dressing up and dolls things. They fit nicely under the bunk beds. I have quite a lot of the 19 litre ones, which are the same dimensions as the 9 litre, but taller.

  3. *chokes* on tea at the £35 postage to us!!!!!!!! when you think next can deliver for free in a day....don't get me started!

    I do have some really useful boxes already (bring back woolies!), from mackro, but none of a really useful size, and it would be useful to have more...

    Dawn x

  4. A smallish package from next, is quite a different story from lots of rather large boxes with hefty boxes in them, to be fair! My children love playing in the cardboard boxes they come in, due to their size! One of the downsides of living in the Isles, I suppose? x

  5. You clearly haven't seen a typical isles next order heehee!! I do realise a small company can't be so competitive in postal/courier costs, but £35 is a joke, or at least should be. We do refuse to pay that, even inverness gets whacked with that cost. Amazon are faithful to is to. I've found some on eBay for more reasonable postal rates though :-D

  6. oh good! It's strange how some can make it cheaper, but as you say, could be because it's a small company.

  7. If only they realised the multi million pound mail order industry from the isles, their loss. Can't believe I never thought of under bed toy storage, fantastic!

  8. I'm sure! you should get them onto it! ;-) Under bed for toys is great - they can get it in and out easily, but it's out of sight! The boys put their lego creations in a tray and they sit nicely without getting harmed, but out of sight! :-)

  9. That is sooooo impressive, Caroline. Oh how I wish I could show similar photos of *my* storage. Ahem... sadly, I cannot.
    Now, if the postage were cheaper.... maybe my home would be transformed. Oh well, P&P is to blame - not me :)

  10. We love plastic boxes too! :) Our closet has a metal shelving unit with clear plastic boxes for children's current clothes (and some "about to grow into" ones too). and toys are in plastic boxes in children's bedroom, by the stairs, sitting room, etc. Yep, just about every room! I love the look of yours, but guessing postage is probably bad to the Highlands too! If only companies would use Parcel Force, they send across the UK for a flat rate. But a lot of businesses seem to pick couriers that boycott our rural places in Scotland.

    Oh, and I'm *just* the same about jigsaws & games! :) We pack them in zipper bags and they're kept in plastic boxes (of course!). My children often like the front of the box for jigsaws, so they can know where pieces go for more difficult ones, so I cut that out and fold it into the bag so they can see the picture still.

  11. Rachel, instead of having to keep the front of the box, what about taking a digital photo of the jigsaw and printing out on a regular size piece of paper (A4), or even photo size, to pop into the zip lock bag :)
    bw's karen