Organizing for small spaces 101

How, may you ask, do you organize your stuff living in an RV? Well dear, I don’t know.

If they had a class for organizing for small spaces I’d Fail that class. With a Big Fat F. Ha! No but really.

I’m not gonna lie. It’s Hard. Some things we’re still working on but for 99% of our things we have it down. We’ve been living in our RV for almost four months now; on September 1st we will celebrate four months of full-timing. Oh wow that goes by fast.

We haven’t done a full on grand tour of our place yet – still working on that… someday. So for now I’ll take you on a nitty-gritty tour, of all the things I wish I had looked into deeper but didn’t really know what to search for. I am aware of all the websites/blogs/books/public speakers/gurus/etc who live and breathe organization. Yes I’ve looked into a lot of them. For the most part it goes in one ear and out the other. Why? Because they’ve never lived in an RV with two kids. For those who have lived in an RV with kids most of the help I received was, “You’ll find out when you’re on the road.” Ugh.

So here I am. On the road. Living in an RV with my family, a dog, a tortoise, and more books than I probably should have. I’d love to share things that have worked for us, some we’ve learned from others, mostly things that worked for us and our particular RV.

A little side note however: I find it interesting that as Steve and I look forward to the future we don’t see ourselves having that much “stuff” again. Can I tell you how much I love our only drawer of plates, bowls, and cups? Ahhh, heavenly! Who needs a cupboard, or realistically 4 cupboards, full?!  You know what that turns into? The Himalayas on the counter top and each kid having 20 cups that day. Exactly.

Forward we go.

***  It is now September 1st.  Four months of living in the RV.  We still love it as much as we did the first week.  Probably even more so.  We Finally have everything organized!  There should be a celebration for that feat!  Our Grand Tour video will be on YouTube shortly, and I can now happily share our organized small space with you.

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For us the hardest part to organize is our kitchen/pantry area.  Because we have no pantry we had to get a little creative.  The dishes were pretty easy to organize and the supplements and spices but everything else we had to just fit.  It works for us.  No it’s not as pleasing to the eye as others RV’s but who cares really?  So what if I have food all over the counter top.  I like it there!

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I can’t tell you how anguishing it was to pare down our homeschooling things.  We have close to or just over 1,000 books and obviously they did not all come with us.  Trust me, if I could have had them all in here I would have!  Ha!  Because we don’t have much space and I can’t store things in our home that “we’ll use next year,” my plan is to sell the things that we use when we no longer need them and then purchase our next items needed.  In our home we had 8 bookshelves, most were double stacked, and at least two huge armories filled with curriculum, toys, games, and all the educational supplies you could think of.  It was perfect for us.  Having the space we now have feels normal to us and it really works nicely.  Now that I know what our girls play with and use consistently I would have packed a little differently.  I’m still hitting myself for storing the Legos and MagnaTiles in our storage unit.  Ugh.

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Our closet is an evolving masterpiece.  It took us three tries, meaning every article of clothing we have was dumped on the bed three separate times, to get the dresser that would work for us.  Every clothing item our daughters own, except Sunday dresses, fit in their own individual drawer.  This is not a huge dresser either.  I’m surprised at how much we think we need to survive.  If we ever move back into an S&B I will not go back to the each person gets their own dresser stuffed with clothes mindset.  It is so freeing to not have the Himalayas to tackle in the kitchen and the laundry areas!  As for Steve and I all of our clothes except our underwear, socks, dresses, dress pants and dress shirts fit in the dresser.  The amount of space we have to hang up our dresses and work clothes is about a foot and a half.  I really don’t know how we live with that but we do.  I would change that to two feet if I could.  That six inches makes a world of difference!

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Cleaning items I store in one drawer and one drawer only.  Norwex has revolutionized my life.  I don’t know how I would have fit everything into that one drawer with bottles and bottles of cleaning supplies.  Same thing goes for towels.  The towels we have out, hanging up on our shower all the time, are the only towels we own.  We each get one, we have two swimming towels, and two hand drying towels by the sinks.  This simplifying has been my favorite.  I have one load of towels and that’s it!

Toys have been a little bit difficult too.  Instead of having rooms upon room of toys our daughters each have a small wooden box, a small bag of stuffed animals, 2 dolls, a small bin of play dishes, a basket of books, and one tiny box {about the size of a small shoe box} that they share of Squinkies and ponies.  It took us a gazillion trips to the storage unit to get it slimmed down to that much.  Yes occasionally they miss things, like a doll stroller, but they do amazingly well creating things with their imaginations.  I love seeing their creativity and having them think outside the box.

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Because homeschooling is more of a way of life to us, just as living in the RV is, many of our cupboards are filled with curriculum, books, and educational supplies.  I’ll go more into how we homeschool, what we use, and our routine in a separate post under the Homeschooling tab at the top later this week.  With the two cupboards above our table I separated our supplies into things we use daily on one side and things we use often but not daily on the other side.  The slot in the middle is our pen pal supplies.  The girls and I have pen pals and write frequently to friends all over the country and world.

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If I didn’t mention some big item thing it’s most likely because we don’t have it.  Ha!  Some items that you might find interesting that we do have are – a sewing machine, one bin of holiday decorations {I grew up in a home where my mother Loved to decorate for each holiday, it’s one of my favorite things ever!}, tablecloths {they match my holiday decorations, my grandma made them and I love them}, a full length keyboard and four other instruments {Steve’s a one man band}, and bark for our tortoises cage.

Items that you might find surprising that we do not have are – an extra set of sheets and pillowcases, an iron {we use a portable steamer instead}, a jar opener {we somehow left that somewhere in between all the moves, we now use a pocket knife to open jars}, a broom {I use a Norwex mop and broom set}, a crock pot {the Instant Pot, found on Amazon, is the Best thing in the world!}, a cookie sheet {our oven isn’t big enough for one and I haven’t bought a small one yet}, muffin pans {sniff}, and a laundry hamper {the most room I have for anything laundry related is an area about the size of a large grocery bag; our clothes are put into the bag and when it over fills that space it’s time to do that wash!}.

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Sometimes this life in the RV feels so normal it’s hard to write about what’s different about it verses living in an S&B.  When I talk with others I am reminded of the things we just do without, like talking with my aunt about not having extra sheets – there’s no where to put them and it’s not a priority for us!  If it is one of your dreams to live in an RV I would recommend it to anyone.  Honestly I would.  It can be a little difficult to transition but I feel like it has been totally worth everything we gave up and then some.  I don’t feel like we gave anything up, only gained.  We have gained so much more freedom with our time because we don’t have a million places to run the girls too.  Our life is our own and we have fallen in love with being with each other.  This lifestyle has been a huge family bonder for us.  Just like it is in the movie RV with Robin Williams.  Ha!  It’s a pretty accurate account of RV life!

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