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With every autumn, thoughts turn to getting organized. After all, as each day gets shorter and the weather colder, you’ll probably find yourself spending more time indoors than out. Getting the house organized to manage the influx of “stuff” in the new winter season requires a little planning. 

Come the first flakes of winter, you want to be sure to have everything in place, so now is a good time to start:

Make mudrooms and foyers functional 

In spring and summer, there are a lot less accessories that come in and go out, with every trip out of the house. Perhaps a cap, or maybe a lightweight scarf? With fall, there’s a whole new set of items that come out: coats of various types for different weather (rain, cold, really cold!) and scarves, boots, hats and mittens, to name a few. 

If you don’t want to face a pile of items that don’t have a designated home in the mudroom or entrance hall closet, you need to get ahead of the game:

  • For each person in the household, there should be a basket to keep sundries: hats, gloves, scarves and so on. Everyone knows where to put these smaller items and where to find them again. 
  • Hanging hooks for jackets, caps, backpacks and more ensures that these things are up and off the floor.
  • Plan for wet umbrellas too, whether that’s an umbrella stand or hooks meant just for these.
  • As winter brings wet, mud and eventually snow, putting absorbing mats down for boots is a must.

Garage space is useful when the weather is frightful

A lot of people use their garage for storage of all sorts of things, from lawnmowers to tires on rims, from shovels and rakes to an extra freezer. It’s the perfect space to keep all the things that you just don’t have room for in the house, and that frankly don’t really belong inside anyway. 

Of course, once the weather turns, it’s also nice to be able to bring the car(s) into the garage, rather than it getting covered in snow and ice. The key becomes where to put some of the items that currently reside in the space and the solution is right there: the walls.

Industrial hooks can help you to get a lot of stuff off the floor, leaving space for a vehicle (or two). Like what? Shovels, rakes, other lawn and garden tools, bikes, lawn chairs and more  are up and out of the way. For smaller items, hanging shelves (wire or otherwise) keep your space organized, with everything and anything you might need in easy reach.

A change in season means a change in clothing

Create a space somewhere in your home—the basement is a good option—and make it the place you store clothes and footwear for the alternate season. After all, you probably won’t need your flip flops in February unless you live in Florida, so having a place to put all the out of season attire makes a whole lot of sense. Pick a weekend, as the weather cools, and start shifting everything the family wore in spring and summer into that space. Then what you have left is the fall and winter attire, shoes and accessories, which you can now organize and to which the three essential steps to decluttering can be applied: decide what needs to be kept, donated, or tossed out. Next spring, you’ll do the reverse and wonder why you hadn't been doing this all along!

Beyond clothes, there is sporting equipment (skis in winter, baseball bats in summer) that are seasonal and should also have designated storage places for their off season placement. As soccer winds down and hockey gears up, kids of all ages need to know where to put their equipment for easy retrieval.

Another area that gets messy is holiday decor. Get some plastic bins and mark them for the different decor (Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Halloween… whatever you celebrate!) and make sure that everything is properly put away after each holiday. It will make it much easier to find all the bits and bobs, come the next holiday. This is also a good place to store seasonal wrapping. After all, who wants Santa paper for their June birthday?

Outdoor tools, toys and extras should be cleaned and stored 

If you clean, sharpen and store everything nicely, it will be in good shape when you get it out next spring. 

  • Hand tools will benefit from a wipe down and sharpening (pruners, for example) before being stored. It’s also important to put away plastic water hoses and watering cans. Don’t forget to shut off the valve to the outdoor faucet, after you’ve drained it, so there isn’t leftover water in the pipes that will freeze.

  • A lot of people swear by their winter BBQ habits but if that’s not your thing, clean your grill and the tools that go with it to avoid unwanted bugs or other critters discovering it. Ideally, you’ll be able to put a cover over it to keep it clean and tidy. 
  • Garden furniture is hardy but it doesn’t do well with snow and ice so cover and protect or store your garden furniture and accessories, including umbrellas, hammocks and seating cushions.
  • Kids outdoor toys should be stored or protected, to prevent weather damage and cracking.  

Emergency readiness should be a part of the plan

If you have an emergency readiness kit, the changeover from summer to fall / winter is the perfect time to check it and make sure everything is still good (batteries, etc…) 

If you don’t have a kit, this is the year to start. After all, the climate is getting more and more interesting and depending on where you live, storms can be very powerful. Power outages during extreme weather can last for several days, so it’s worth being prepared. 

Here’s a basic kit:

  • Flashlights
  • Extra batteries for same
  • Charging pack for phones
  • A hand crank radio
  • Canned and other non-perishable food; a can opener
  • Water
  • Paper towels and toilet paper

Candles aren’t advised, as they need to be monitored to avoid creating a hazardous situation, but there are plenty of lamps that have the same effect, without the risk.

Have a map of where your water shut off is, as well as the power for the furnace or other large appliances. If you have a flood, you’ll need to know where those are located for emergency services.

Kitchen and freezer reorganization

Heading into the cooler months, it’s a great idea to spend a little time doing some batch cooking of all those delicious stews and soups you’ll be wanting. It’s also, like with the emergency kit, a great time to check your freezer and pantry to make sure you have what you need and that nothing is taking up space that is past its due date. There’s no point freezing supplies if you can’t find them later!

  • Baskets in the freezer make it easier to store by type, so you know where to look for what you need.  
  • Put a list on the outside of the freezer to show what you have and how much of it you have. That way, when you go shopping, you’ll know what you’re low on at a glance.
  • Your pantry needs a good going over, to make sure you’re well supplied in hot cocoa and tea, and perhaps less in pina colada mix! It’s the perfect time to make sure that everything isn’t past it’s prime and needs to be thrown out.

Once these actions become a habit, you will find the transition from the lazy days of summer to the cooler weather of fall to be easier and more pleasant for everyone in the family!

About the author

Marty Basher is the design and organization expert with Modular Closets, https://www.modularclosets.com. Marty regularly contributes on topics of DIY renovations, home design, organization, improvement and more, helping home owners get the most of the spaces in their home. Modular Closets are high-quality and easy-to-design closet systems made in the USA that you can order, assemble and install yourself, in no time at all. Using closet modules (closet pieces you can mix & match to design your own modular closet), homeowners everywhere are empowered to achieve a true custom look- for nearly 40% less than standard custom closets.

How to talk about transgender issues

So how do we talk about transgender issues (even if you're not transgender)? There are three main things to remember when discussing transgender issues today, so before getting into the meat and potatoes of it all, let's keep these things in mind:

  1. It is not a political discussion, it is a human rights discussion.
  2. There is a rich history rooted in transgender rights that must be considered when discussing these issues.
  3. Humanization should always be at the forefront of the conversation.

Before going into any conversation, no matter who it's with, try to keep these things in mind before you say something that may be inappropriate, misguided, or just plain wrong. Even those with the best intentions can mess up; remember that it is always ok to admit when you do not know something or when you are wrong. That being said, let's get into it.

sign with a 'friendly for all genders' image showing a person in a wheelchair, and a person with half a dress and pants on.

Transgender bathroom bills


So whether you choose to become a transgender activist or if you just want to be a better ally, this easy talking point will generally keep you in line and on the safe side of conversations while still putting forth the effort to encourage and better represent transgender rights.

Easy, all-around approach: This will work for almost all transgender issues and expand on the previous three rules; firstly, trans issues are not a debate. When discussing with someone, do not indulge in hypotheticals and always remember that transgender people are the exact same as anyone else, with the exact same feelings. Keeping this in mind, let's use the bathroom bill as an example. When discussing this issue, one should humanize, de-politicize, and normalize the conversation. How does one employ this, though? Here is an example of how the conversation may go.

Person 1: I don't want men in the women's restroom, they will rape my daughters.

So this statement is clearly based on reactionary conversation perpetuated by anti-transgender ideals. This means that the person probably has a misconception of the history and oppression of transgender people. They also show concern for their family, which is a step towards humanization, despite the misconception. Here would be an appropriate response that helps to humanize, de-politicize, and normalize the conversation.

Person 2: I don't want men in the women's restroom, either, which is why we need to make sure people who identify as women are using the women's restroom. There has never been a documented case where a transgender person has raped either a man or woman in a public restroom. And by forcing people to use a restroom that does not match their gender identity, it is promoting violence, as there is a strong history of physical violence against transgender people.

By only saying about three sentences, you are able to do the previous steps while discussing the issue in a civil manner without opening it up to debate. The key to this is to keep it short and sweet, stating both the truth and an ally's stance to support the transgender community. It's critical to make sure that what you say is backed with confidence, though, which is why this second approach is more encouraged as it gives the person speaking more confidence in their opinion.

gif of a man in a suit talking about number 1. Number 1 GIF by PragerU Giphy

The second approach: backed by facts and history, is the exact same as before, but this approach leaves the other person with more questions about their stance and gives them something to consider. Before going into this approach, however, it is important to keep in mind that you are not debating the existence of trans people, nor are you trying to change someone's mind. That is not the goal; the goal is simply to get your opinion across in a way that honors both the trans community and their ideas. Let's take the same example as before but add the new sentiments.

Person 1: I don't want men in the women's restrooms, they will rape my daughters.

Person 2: There has never been a documented case of a transgender person raping anyone in a public restroom, and the only published cases of such were proven to be false. Further, when people say things like this, they are perpetuating violence against transgender people, which has historically (and still does) oppressed and insight further physical violence against them. And honestly, the most common reason there is this stance is because the person typically does not know a trans person and may not even know a person who does know a trans person. But the truth is, they probably do. The probability is more likely that the transgender people around them are just not comfortable enough in the environment to come out and speak up about their gender identity. And yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but it is quite sad that some people's opinion does not invite civil discussion but instead incites violence.

This approach is more confrontational, which requires more confidence when using it in a conversation, but it still holds true to all of the previous rules and sentiments. It adds truth based on history, which is an important aspect of trans rights as it reminds people of where we were/ where we are currently with human rights. These ideas can be transferred to most all trans issues and will honor the transgender movement and your allyship. The last thing to keep in mind is the person or reason you are standing up for/with trans rights. The passion -the compassion will shine through in conversation if you keep your reasoning close to heart. Whether it is because of a transgender friend, family member, or just because of your moral values, if you put your emotions into your reasoning, it will create more compelling statements, especially if the statement is well versed with the facts.

Tips to Remember When Discussing Transgender Issues

  1. Transgender issues are not political, they are human rights issues
  2. There is a rich history behind transgender issues
  3. Humanize transgender people through our words and ideas and don't forget to include:
    • 3(b). The facts
    • 3(c).The confidence
    • 3(d). The inspiration behind the support for transgender rights

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Photo courtesy of Amazon Prime

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