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A 31-Day Organization Boot Camp Just for Military Families

(MovingWiththeMilitary.com)
(MovingWiththeMilitary.com)

Late last year I accepted the mission to get our house in tip-top shape, just in time for the holidays.

But, boy, was I in for a real treat. I mean, we’re talking 31 days here. And, I had to be laser-focused in order to turn my home upside down, giving each room the attention it needed (and deserved). From purging to donating things we no longer needed, simplifying, and even ensuring everything was in its rightful place (that’s tough with two kids!), it certainly was a labor of love.

So, for those of you who missed joining in on the fun, not to worry. We’re recapping everything right here, right now. All you need to do is mark your calendar for when you’re personally going to tackle this mission and get your organization game face on!

You ready? Let’s get to reminiscing on Moving With The Military’s 31-Day Organization Boot Camp, all collected from our YouTube channel.

​Day 1:

  • Location: one drawer, any bedroom.
  • What to do: use our modified military fold (you know, inspired by the Army roll, but it’s less strict!) to get your drawers squared away

Day 2:

  • Location: in the same room where you kicked things off to organize one drawer, it’s time to purge some clothes!
  • What to do: commit to donating clothes, like that old sweater that hasn’t seen much use or kids clothes they’ve outgrown. To simplify things, stick with the 3-5 rule. Other than undergarments or socks, you really don’t need more than 3-5 of one item. Following that, set up three baskets—Trash, Donate, and Keep. And, once you’ve gone through everything, hang it all up nice and neat by type (collared shirts, tshirts, sweaters, etc.) on felt hangers. ​

Day 3:

  • Location: same room, again!
  • What to do: this day is all about clothing and shoe storage solutions. For hats, you can hang them up using hangers with clips, clear storage bins, or removable strips on the walls (for a decorative display!). You can also use those same clear storage bins to organize bowties and other accessories. As for shoes? Keep them out of sight using clear storage containers with a lid. Or, you can even go the command strip route again and hang them on the wall of your closets. Super military-friendly!

Day 4:

  • Location: same room, again!
  • What to do: Drop for a low crawl under the bed and get ready to maximize that space. It’s perfect for additional storage. Get rid of things you forgot about that were tossed under there way back when. Gather seasonal clothing or blankets you don’t use often and put them in containers with lids or zippered pouches to keep the dust and bugs away. If you plan to use it for items you use more frequently (say, toys), you’ll want to use rolling containers, which can be purchased at a relatively low cost at Walmart. Then, disguise it all using a bedskirt!

Day 5:

  • Location: same room, again! Focus on the junk drawer.
  • What to do: Get that drawer squared away! Take everything out and put it all out in front of you. Purge what you don’t need, keep the items you do need, and set up an organization system—grouping similar items together. You can buy inexpensive drawer containers to complete the job. Also, consider a clear over-the-door organizer for items that don’t fit in a drawer so you can see everything you need

Day 6:

  • Location: yup, you guessed it. Same room, again!
  • What to do: Declutter those flat surfaces to keep them clean and organized. Flat surfaces should only have 1-2 essential items (lamp, alarm clock, picture frame, etc.). Then, store everything else away in its “home.”

Day 7:

  • Location: condense all the steps from Days 1-6 and do it for the next bedroom. This time, all in one day.
  • What to do: Purge, streamline, and lighten the load. Hang up the clothes in the closet, fold the shirts using the modified military fold, and clean up that junk drawer. As for those socks? Fold them in your preferred way and store them in a clear container (or even using corrugated ornament separators) in your drawer

Day 8:

  • Location: the play area or toy room.
  • What to do: find solutions for all those toys--stuffed animals, Legos, cars, and trucks. Provide age-appropriate storage in the play area. And, each category of toy should have its own space or shallow storage bin. Trucks, dolls, or stuffed animals can be lined up on a shelf or stored in a toy bin. Or, even on the wall, especially if you’ve got some awesome airplanes, stuffed animals, and more. Remember, avoid overloading children with too many toys! You can rotate them in and out so they don’t get tired of them (and save your wallet!).

Day 9:

  • Location: the play area or toy room.
  • What to do: implement a storage idea for small toys such as Legos, rubber bands, and toy soldiers. For toy soldiers, drop them in a clear Lego case and put it in a closet. No case? Use them as decor in a clear mason jar (or plastic, depending on your child’s age!), paint the lid with black chalk paint, and glue a toy soldier on top. Legos? Create a Lego workstation! Use a Lego baseplate and glue or self-adhese it onto a foot locker. Rainbow Looms? Organize them by color in an egg carton for an easy, inexpensive storage solution.

Day 10:

  • Location: the kitchen!
  • What to do: tackle all that dreaded tupperware, dishware, and even those water bottles. Start purging if you have an unnecessary amount of plastic containers and water bottles (if you’re like me, I know you do!). I like to purchase plastic containers in kits so they’re uniform, and then put it in a cardboard bin, stacking the bottoms and lids together! There are also relatively inexpensive food storage organizers you can purchase at places like Bed Bath & Beyond. Water bottles? Stack them in acrylic wine bottle holders. Creative, right?!

Day 11:

  • Location: the kitchen, again.
  • What to do: handle the fridge fiasco. Keep raw meats and seafoods on the bottom shelf to prevent drips into other foods (contamination is no good!). Look for a bin with a lip to help avoid that dilemma. Keep frequently-used condiments and sauces in the door bins. Stash the ones you don’t use often towards the back. Group similar items together in fridge bins. And, for kids, set up a snack station at eye level so they can grab what they need and not mess with your soon-to-be dreamy looking fridge. Short on vertical space? Use the deli drawer to store drinks. Lastly, prep your meals and salads in mason jars!

Day 12:

  • Location: the pantry!
  • What to do: pick it up. Assess what you’ve got, make a list, shop for what you need, and reassemble, focusing on zones. This helps you find things quickly. Zone 1 = herbs and spices, keeping them in a lazy susan or spice rack. Zone 2 = baking supplies, keeping dry ingredients in airtight containers so you can see when you’re running low on items. Zone 3 = dry ingredients. Again, storing them in airtight containers! Zone 4 = canned goods. Lower is better. Zone 5 = quick meals like grab ‘n go breakfasts or lunch items that are simple and easy. Zone 6 = spur-of-the-moment entertaining zone. Stock it with fast-fix appetizers, a quick meal, dessert, napkins, toothpicks, and the chow hall is open for business! Zone 7 = big utensils and specialty appliances.

Day 13:

  • Location: back to the kitchen.
  • What to do: Address the pots, pans, under-the-sink, and countertop chaos. Utilize cabinet doors to organize the lids of pots and pans using sticky hooks or door organizers. You can even use magazine holders to organize your foil and plastic wrap. For underneath the sink, try using a tension rod to hang spray bottles, and a helper shelf to raise things up and create more space. And, lastly, countertops. Keep one to two essentials items on display.

Day 14:

  • Location: the living room!
  • What to do: store smart and decorate minimally. Try to limit the number of hardcover books to save on weight (for PCS time, of course) and space. You can do this by switching over to digital books. Store blankets in large baskets or on a blanket ladder. And, use a storage ottoman to store toys and offer up another option for additional seating. A double whammy!

Day 15:

  • Location: stay put in the living room.
  • What to do: put those DVDs and various media items in their place. If you have an open shelf media center, use baskets to break up the look and add more storage space. For DVDs, take them out of their case and put them in a zippered binder in alphabetical order. Then, label the alphabet range on the spine if all of your favorite movies or series collections fit into one. And, don’t leave your cables a spaghetti mess! Use velcro ties to put them together, and use a removeable cable holder to lock them in place on the wall or media center.

Day 16:

  • Location: the bathroom.
  • What to do: go through your medicines, cosmetics, and other products. Check for any expired medications and take advantage of programs in your area that allow you to take unused drugs to a central location for proper disposal. And, do the same for your cosmetics to toss outdated products! Then, use plastic bins and shelf risers for under-the-sink organization. For countertops, if you have the space, put essentials on display in mason jars (cotton balls, q-tips, and more). If you have bath toys, try a laundry lingerie bag to store them in a unique way!

Day 17:

  • Location: the shower.
  • What to do: get your shower cleanup on! Avoid putting your shampoos, conditioners, body washes, etc. on full display. Keep your essentials on a classic over-the-shower head caddy and put the rest away. And, if your kids are a bit older, provide them with a cleaning caddy so they can clean their own bathrooms!

Day 18:

  • Location: the laundry room.
  • What to do: get a handle on the laundry situation. If you have loads to do, do laundry a little bit everyday during the week so you don’t have a big, giant laundry day to deal with. Washing uniforms? Don’t use detergents that have an optical brightener. This can cause working or combat uniforms to be more visible at night. And, don’t forget to wash them separately from the rest of the clothes!

Day 19:

  • Location: stick it out in the laundry room!
  • What to do: start by setting up zones and decorate it up so you won’t despise doing laundry as much. Consider a pre-sort dirty laundry area, cleaning supply area, lost and found area, and a command center. These areas don’t need to be big. They just need to be defined. Arrange supplies by the ones you use most often and place those you don’t on higher shelves. Take your detergents out of the packaging and pour them into decorative containers. And, add a tension rod to hang clothes if you don’t have one already!

Day 20:

  • Location: the home office.
  • What to do: declutter time! Take everything off the desk and out of the drawers and put it into bins—Donate, Trash, Shred, or Keep. Get drawer and desk organizers. And, avoid turning your home office into the catch-all room! It can be a multi-purpose room, like a home office and a guest room. But, it still needs to be organized. Lastly, organize your desk by importance (a great tip by LifeHacker.com). It’s the P.L.A.C.E. system. Purge unnecessary items, group like items, place groupings according to access needs, contain loose items, and evaluate how it’s working for you.

Day 21:

  • Location: still working in the home office!
  • What to do: organize the digital files. Delete duplicate files. Name files and file folders short and sweet. Create a large main folder with subfolders (ex. School work = main folder, Coursework = subfolders). Use cloud-based apps like Google Drive or Evernote to save space. And, back it up, back it up (to multiple drives)!

Day 22:

  • Location: yup, still in that home office!
  • What to do: get in the know of the dos and don’ts of home office organization. Use whiteboards, keeping project information organized. Avoid dragging your work to the dining room table. And, have your designated space set up--away from the chaos.

Day 23:

  • Location: last day in the home office.
  • What to do: make a digital copy of your documents on the cloud before you shred them up.

Day 24:

  • Location: toy areas (because why not go for round 2?!).
  • What to do: storage bins to swoop up the toys and hide them away in strategic locations, while keeping them easily accessible. And, resist the urge to keep each and every toy. Get the kids onboard and whatever can fit into specific storage bins, they get to keep.

Day 25:

  • Location: the linen closet.
  • What to do: sorting time! Bring out those bins again—Donate, Trash, or Keep. Get rid of old school towels and map out the closet, figuring out what will go on each shelf (First-aid supplies, towels, sheets). Store bulkier items you don’t use very often on a higher shelf. Use clear containers for storage, and break up the look using baskets for other items. Store folded sheets inside one of the pillow cases, making it easier to keep bedding pieces together, nice and nea

Day 26:

  • Location: out in the garage.
  • What to do: clear it out, getting rid of the junk you don’t need! And, think of it like any other room in the house. Group things you use often, keeping them in easy-to-reach spots in storage containers if possible. Then, group similar items like sports gear and military gear together. Lastly, be sure to secure ladders, shovels, rakes, and even bikes onto the wall to save space.

Day 27:

  • Location: the garage, yet again!
  • What to do: again, make use of tough boxes, label them, and store things away nice and neat inside.

Day 28:

  • Location: continue sticking it out in the garage.
  • What to do: wrap up the garage organization process. You’re almost there!

Day 29:

  • Location: the attic.
  • What to do: organize seasonal decor! Get your holiday decorations into totes and labeled so they’re easy to find, and continue working on the organization process. Use wreath storage boxes, totes, and wrap holiday lights around cardboard to prevent tangling.

Day 30:

  • Location: anywhere in the house to tie up loose ends.
  • What to do: finish up the bedrooms, kitchen, bathroom; you name it. Wherever you still need to go to give your home a little organizational love, go there. And, just like that, you’re home is all organized.

Day 31:

  • Location: outside.
  • What to do: If you’re tackling this boot camp during the holiday season, take down your seasonal holiday decorations and gear up for the next! Use bubble wrap to protect any fragile decor, and get everything stored away in plastic tote bins in two days or less.

And, there you have it. Thirty-one day of organization goodness all laid out for you. All you have to do is decide whether or not you’ll accept the challenge and work your way to a clutter-free, perfectly peaceful humble abode. Hey, maybe this can even help you get a head start on that ambitious New Year's resolution of yours!

Remember, however, getting organized is not a one-time thing. It’s an ongoing process and it changes with every PCS move. Cut yourself some slack, give yourself some grace, and pat yourself on the back for any progress made.

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