I’m no Mrs Hinch or Stacey Solomon- I don’t have the energy, the enthusiasm, and quite frankly, I’m not a huge fan of white and grey as a colour scheme. However, I’ve got to give them props for their organisational skills and their commitment to keeping a tidy home. I live in a terraced house with a strange layout, which gives it a cottage feel, and while I loved the quirks when we first moved in, well, a baby has a lot of shit. I spent hours and hours re-organising, re-homing, re-assessing every inch of space and every item. Does it need to be *right* there? Hell, does it need to be out at all? I finally feel like I *might* have just cracked it... and I'm going to let you into my tips and tricks. I've also linked any products I mention too.
Baskets everywhere (and I mean everywhere)
I’m happy to live in a little bit of mess, but even I have a line. Under my sofa is an absolute abomination. It’s quite high off the ground, so there is the potential for loads of space underneath, but that also means it becomes something of a dumping ground. Everything we needed was under there, but never exactly where I needed it- just sort of strewn about and shoved under in bags and piles. So I got a few of these little plastic baskets from Poundstretcher (£1.99 each) and categorised up my life. You can find a set of 6 really similar ones on Amazon here.
I would always prefer to use a natural material over plastic (for sustainability and for appearance) but I’ve made my peace with this one because it does its job so well, and it can be easily repurposed for years to come.
1. Clothes I always had a wicker tray thing for these from the get go, but River was pulling chunks off of it and it was well past its prime. I always keep a couple of vests, sleepsuits, pairs of leggings, socks, bibs, muslins tucked under the sofa. In the event of an accident or spillage, I don’t have to cart River all the way upstairs, I’ve got a small selection of essentials kept nice and handy. Also great for restocking the changing bag.
2. Books Fuck me they’re a bugger to store if they’re not on a shelf. The majority of his books are in his bedroom, but I like to encourage him to leaf through them independently during his playtime, so I keep a few board books downstairs. But his toy basket is a jute thing with no flat edges, so they take up way more space than they need to.
3. Loose small toys Teethers, rattles, instruments, random bits of crap- if it’s small and could drift to the bottom of the toy basket, it’s in this tray. If they’re just going to get forgotten amongst the bigger toys, then what is the point of having them? I use this tray as a sort of busy box. I can whip it out and he can investigate it with no help from me, and encourages him to explore independent play. Handy for keeping him still for a few minutes if I need to reply to an email or something.
Keep things where you’re actually going to need them
Don’t be tempted to keep things where you think they SHOULD go. Put them exactly where it is most handy for you. For example, we kept loads of River’s stuff in our cupboard under the stairs. It’s spacious, it’s got a light, and it keeps stuff tucked away when we’re not using it. But we quickly found it wasn’t practical.
So we repurposed the cupboard in the console that is directly next to his buggy. Blankets, baby carrier (use code MELISSA10% for a discount!) raincovers, snowsuits, changing bag- anything we might need to travel with now lives in there. It makes it so easy to grab it on the go, and gets us out of the door quicker.
We had to do a bit of a rethink for the other items that were in there before, but that was easily done, and if anything, it forced us to streamline the rest of the house too.
Keep things together for BABY- spoons in baby cupboard, not in cutlery drawer
Categorising is a very personal thing. We can go by alphabet, colour, type, size- you name it. The best piece of advice I would have (especially if you’re looking to save time and space) is to categorise by event. For example, I could keep all my bowls in one place, and all my cutlery together too. But really, if every spoon in my house was in the same spot, it would be annoying. River tends to eat dinner at around 4.30, and Robert and I at around 7- so our stuff does not need to be in the same place.
River has his own cupboard in the kitchen, and everything of his is in there- bowls, spoons, bottles, beakers, snacks. It definitely works for us. If I’m making him porridge in the morning say, the oats, bowl and spoon are all in the same place, rather than me bouncing around the kitchen. Time is of the essence with a baby- they’re not exactly the most patient people- so every second counts. This also allows me to keep a good eye on when we’re running low on something for him, and ensures I keep the cupboard well stocked and don’t get caught short.
Remember- the house is for you AND your baby.
I’ve tried to make the house as functional for River AND for me and Robert as I can. I need a side table next to the sofa for pumping purposes and whatnot, but I’ve made sure it’s one that can fit a basket that contains all of River’s nappy changing items. It keeps them tidy, they’re not an eyesore even though they’re technically on display, and more to the point, they’re exactly where I need them.
Our ‘rug’ is a foam playmat, but instead of being those colourful squares that sort of slot together, it’s a stylish area rug looking thing that keeps him safe from bumps without me going crazy.
Now sometimes we just have to suck it up (jumperoo anyone?). We tried tidying every single little thing away every night, but in all honesty it just took more time than it was worth, just to get it all out again the next morning. But, we have made some good swaps- the very best being the travelcot as a playpen.
We can dump as much in there as we want to once he's gone to bed, it’s a great way to keep him safe and entertained while he's awake if we need to be cracking on with something else. More to the point, it goes up and down in about a minute. So if we needed to put it in a different room, or take it on a trip with us- well, it’s super easy. While we're home we just tend to leave it up all the time, and rotate the toys every couple of days or so.
Another is our highchair- we use the table for things we’ll likely need during a meal at the moment. A couple of baskets holding snacks, wipes, muslins, spare spoons, and Sticky Stopper, and the drawstring bag slung over the back has a couple of splat mats for baby-led days, and a selection of bibs. Also as River grows, this particular highchair converts into a small table and chair. Try to find as many uses for an item as you can!
Simply put- if you don’t need it, use it, or like it, absolutely put it the fuck away. Don’t cling on to something that is taking up space in your house, if it isn’t taking up space in your heart or your kids heart. If you can live without it, do.
It’s also a great way to live more sustainably. Even making one small swap is helpful, it’s not an all or nothing approach. We got most of River’s large toy items second hand (jumperoo £20, activity table £5, walker £10 all Facebook Marketplace) and around 95% of his toys are hand me downs from my mum, that my sisters and I all played with over the years. I’ve noticed that the items I bought new or spent a lot of money on, I’m more inclined to keep out well beyond their usefulness. But really, if they’re no longer needed, then they’re being wasted anyway. Either put them away for another child/sentimental purposes, or sell them on! They grow out of stuff so quickly, and another baby will always grow right into them, so make some of your money back.
It's very easy to become overwhelmed by just how much crap a baby can accumulate, and how quickly they can make a mess with it once they're on the move. Don't spend your whole life stressing about it- sometimes you're going to have to lean into it (a bit like my piled up collection of enormous awkwardly shaped toys and objects). But without going full Marie Kondo, just take a little walkthrough of your typical day, and make sure your home fits in as an ally, and not just another challenge. Hope that helps!