Organised Mum

SW London professional organiser, certified KonMari™ consultant and Local Mum Victoria Nicholson blogs for us on everything to do with home organisation

webpage kitchen shot


Storage boxes – boxing clever


Marie Kondo once said “storage experts are hoarders.”  While it wouldn’t be fair to say that everyone who has a collection of ‘storage solutions’ has a hoarding disorder it’s a good idea to consider what you’re storing away, why you’re storing it and how accessible it is.    

Tempting as it may be, buying lots of storage boxes won’t instantly transform your home into a beautifully organised sanctuary of calm any more than new fitness gear won’t transform you into an athlete. 

Before I visit local mums' homes or book a  Zoom session with them they invariably ask me “What storage do I need to buy before I start?” The answer is always nothing, the reason being...

- You don’t know what storage you need until you finish discarding (you will have less stuff and more space).

- Usually will already have lots of storage solutions in your home 

I always suggest reusing and repurposing storage that you have, it costs nothing and is a greener solution.  Here are some of my favourites:

Shoe boxes – for bras, small tops, scarves

Iphone cases – for stationary , electronic accessories

Small Ferrero Rocher plastic boxes (the perfect excuse!) – to separate little things in your kitchen junk drawer or as a bathroom drawer separator.

Old Tupperware boxes with missing lids – kitchen and bathroom storage

Cereal boxes cut down – separate packets in kitchen, DIY magazine rack for paper storage

You can be really creative with this if you want.

When everything is sorted, discarded and you know exactly what you have left and the amount of space available you can then buy some lovely storage boxes. With temporary storage in place you can afford to take your time and wait until you find something you really love and will be a good fit with your home décor. 

Cosmetics drawer overhaul

cosmetic drawer

I don’t know about you but I’ve been fairly bare-faced during lockdown, apart from a bit of lippy where Zoom meetings require.  Now we’re out and about a bit more it’s a perfect time to take a look at our cosmetic drawers and bags and take stock of what you have. Think of all the time you’ll save by not having to root around for your lipstick!     

First of all remove everything from your drawer or bag and lay the contents out where you have space on a sheet of newspaper and put similar products together.  If there’s anything that isn’t in the cosmetic category put it to one side (hair bands, face creams etc).  Today you’re just dealing with your colour cosmetics...

Pick out your favourites, your go-tos, the make up you use every day. If they’re still in good condition and in date you can put aside to keep.

Next, go though everything else, looking at each item:

- Do you use it?

- Have you ever used it?  

- Does it merit space if you only use it once a year?

- Has it expired? This is really important as like food cosmetics harbour bacteria.  Sometimes you can see this when foundation separates or changes smell but sometimes it’s not so obvious. The  average expirary date for foundation, powder, and other facial makeup is 12 months.

Some cosmetics have a little sticker (open jar icon) to say how long the product will last once opened but as a rule you should replace your mascara about every three months, eyeliner and eye shadow every six to 12 months and lipstick every 18 months.

Where possible, when you buy cosmetics you can put a sticker on it with the expiry date to remind you. 

Once you’ve chosen your ‘keeps’ 

 - Sharpen pencils

- Clean brushes

- Wash bag/or drawer

If you have a drawer put all the same things together – you can either separate with small boxes (packaging from phones, perfume, food boxes cut down to size) or I like to use a cutlery tray to separate my cosmetics in a drawer (mine came from Really Useful Products).  As my tray is transparent I lined the drawer with some gift wrap that I fell in love with – it makes me smile every time I open the drawer. 

Might just be me but I find there is something really satisfying about a well-organised cosmetics drawer! How about you Local Mums?

June 5
What to do with your declutterings ….

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With more time spent at home we’re all becoming more aware of our immediate environment and some have decided it’s time for a good clear out. Only one small problem, what to do with all those items that no longer ‘spark joy’ while the charity shops are closed?  

When I do a house declutter I always tell my clients that they need a solid exit plan for these items otherwise they do have an uncanny knack of making their way back into your life!  I’m hoping the charity shops will be open soon to take donations but until then you may want to consider the following;

-        If you’re lucky enough to have a loft, cellar or eves storage you can temporarily store your donations there  - but box them and tape them up!

-        Some recycling centres are now open to take recyclables but not re-usables (check ahead on website, Wandsworth for eg, is operating different opening days depending if your car has an odd/even reg no.)

-      The YoungPlanet app lets you list your items for free, save things from landfill and do your bit to save the planet by passing on used kids items

-        If you have jewellery to donate, the alzheimers society will send you a jiffy back to pop items into

-        If you have vintage items (toys, silverware, watches) vintage cash cow will collect from you

-        Designer clothes?  You can sell them with a consignment company like Cudoni HEWI

-        Other clothes?  Try or  the depop app if you have a teen in the house

-        Well loved teddy bears?  Send to where they will be lovingly restored for adoption

-        Use local websites like Facebook Marketplace

-        Ziffit are good for books – you can have fun scanning the barcodes too. 

-        Certainly around my neighbourhood, I’ve seen lots of books and childrens toys put in the front porch with a ‘Help yourself’ sign

This is not an exhaustive list but will give you some ideas until the charity shops open their doors to donations (hopefully soon).  

Happy decluttering local mums!


Tips for organising your home office

Do any other local mums feel like you’re busier than ever since lockdown?  Never mind making time to learn a language or a new craft, sometimes it seems like we’re fighting a losing battle juggling between home schooling, home working, preparing up to three meals a day and having no time to ourselves at all…   

I’m a professional organiser and even in my household things can get a bit busy but I’ve got some great tools to help escape the overwhelm but for now, I’m going to keep the focus on those of us working from home.   Whether you’ve suddenly found yourself WFH or you’ve always remote worked but now with a full house it’s more of a struggle here are a few tips to get local mums started.

·      Visualise your day – how much time can you allocate to work?  What would you like to have more time for, spend less time on?  When are you most productive?  How would you like your office space to look?  How will you be using it e.g., if you’re making lots of zoom calls, you’ll need somewhere relatively quiet with a good light source).

·      Set up your workspace. Not everyone has the luxury of a ‘home office’ but have a look around and see where you can carve yourself out a little space.  Some of you may have read about Sarah Ward, the mum from Cheshire who transformed her airing cupboard into an office for £6 – and I’m not suggesting everyone try that but think about being more creative with the space that you do have.   Where could you fit a desk or a shelf?

·      Be clear about your working hours and make sure everyone in the house knows the times when you’ll be unavailable – stick police tape across your door if you have to!! 

·      If you already have a desk/office start with a tidy desk.   Remove everything from it and put back only the items you need.

·      It’s a good idea to store pending paperwork vertically (you can use a magazine rack) so you can see and access it more easily.

·      Signal the end of your working hours by wiping down the desk.

·      If the desk is used at different times by different family members, keep a box to put all the things you will need for your work (eg, laptop, charger, stationery, pending file) and make sure everything is stored in your ‘portable office’ when you have finished.

Hopefully, these few tips will help local mums get started.

About Victoria
A background in hotel management and over 15 years as an office manager/PA in the City has honed my organisational skills . However, when it came to my personal belongings I have always been naturally untidy so when I discovered a system that worked for me I knew it would work for anyone.

I've been helping local mums in their homes for the past four years to achieve the peace of mind that comes with living in a calm, uncluttered environment.  In order to continue to support my clients while maintaining social distancing I'm now offering virtual sessions via Zoom


Victoria with Marie Kondo

Victoria Nicholson
My Wardrobe Zen
Tel: 07941 375304

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