35 WEEKS PREGNANT
Beautify Your Bathrooms
This week, you can
• Create order in all the bathrooms in the home
• Purchase a few organizing tools
• Become conscious of the simple chores that keep these rooms in tip-top shape
• Clean out and organize the linen closet
THE POOR BATHROOM. It helps you get clean but in most homes it’s left
in habitual disarray. Towels start life on a bar and end up in a damp
heap on the floor. Cabinets and drawers are stuffed with products that
are used and those that serve as monuments to past beauty and
cleanliness experiments. The trash can is usually decorative but
woefully inadequate. The medicine chest houses prescriptions from years
ago. And multiple bathrobes are piled on top of one hook on the back of
In taking care of the general
debris, you’ll need to consider the size and function of your bathroom.
I’ve been in postage stamp-sized bathrooms and one so large the couple
had a small refrigerator for late-night snacks. No matter the size or
the number of bathrooms in your home, you don’t want to scatter your
energy and run from one to another in a wild organizing frenzy that
yields poor results. I’ll divide the process into steps over the course
of three days.
You most likely have one
bathroom in your bedroom and with any luck, Baby has his own as well.
Very often the guest room has a bathroom nearby, although it’s likely
your guests and Baby may have to share. Many homes and some apartments
also have a guest powder room near the entry. This is a lifesaver on
many levels. You’ll want to tackle them all, but one at a time. I would
work in the order I mention them here so the most difficult is taken
care of first.
While organizing the
bathroom, we’re also going to take a look at your linen closet. The
linen closet is meant to serve the bathroom and the bedrooms. If yours
is large and the bathroom is small, we might be able to sneak in some
organizing totes and make the linen closet more useful. Are you ready
to begin? Depending on your physical size and energy level, you may
want to call in the organizing sidekick you’ve been using throughout
the past few months. Don’t forget about the possibility of hiring a
professional organizer. A week of physical activity is a nice balance
to the weeks of research, phone calls, and e-mails you’ve been handling.
DAY ONE: DEBRIS, BE GONE!
true. You knew in your heart it was coming. I want you to grab a few
sturdy trash bags. We’re going to fearlessly whittle down the debris
that collects in this room. There is nothing as useful as a speed
elimination in a situation like this. Let’s go into the master bath
with your trusty timer. Set it for twenty minutes.
a word to the wise: Moving quickly is essential. Women get stopped in
their organizing tracks by two things: emotional items, like photos and
old love letters (think boyfriends prior to your hubby), and purchases
they made for the bathroom. There is something in our estrogen that
makes us feel tremendously guilty if we use a mascara, shampoo, or
moisturizer once or twice and decide we don’t like it. We want to toss
it but we hear a voice in our head saying something along these lines:
“You are so wasteful!” “Keep it. You never know when you’ll need it.”
“Maybe you’ll feel differently later on.” You know the drill. There is
a certain reality you have to face. There is a shelf life to beauty
products. They don’t sit there for years hoping you’ll give them a
second chance. Check every product for an expiration date. If you’re
past it, toss it. If it’s still viable but you know you don’t like it,
set it aside for a friend who might like to try it. You can ask your
girlfriends to do the same and have a swap party. One final caveat: If
you used a product one or twice and the container looks clean and
inviting, put it in a bag or small box for a swap party or to give it
to a friend. Maybe your helper today would like these lotions ’n’
potions? But if you used half and the item looks extremely uninviting,
please toss it. Not even your best friend wants your sloppy seconds!
Here is a list of items you might want to eject from your bathroom:
• Get rid of threadbare towels and washcloths. (Donate them to your local animal shelter or vet.)
• Toss expired cosmetics, lotions, oils, etc.
• Remove items you know you won’t use; give them away as discussed above.
• Toss brushes, combs, hair clips, etc. that are no longer used.
Do you have any broken small electronics like hair dryers, curling
irons, or electric toothbrushes? Toss ’em. You need the space.
• Eighty-six the shower curtain if it’s old and coated in mildew.
Go through the drawers looking for worn-out toothbrushes (I’ve seen
spare change in the same drawer as a toothbrush: Toss it!) and other
small items you no longer use.
SHOULD YOU TOSS IT?
Women tend to think of their beauty products as
“evergreen,” when in fact most have a short shelf life. Keep that in
mind the next time you want to pick up some makeup items you really
don’t need in your kit. They will probably expire before you have a
chance to get your money’s worth! Here are some guidelines direct from
my client Sarah Garcia, the director of Product Development at Jouer
Cosmetics. These first appeared in One Year to an Organized Life.
How to find out how old it is:
It is FDA law that all manufactured makeup has a “batch code” or “lot
code” on or under the label; for tubes this is crimped into the tube
crimp. This code is usually three to five digits or letters and is a
record of when the makeup was produced. Each brand and lab has a
different system, but this code can easily be used to call up customer
service of any brand and ask the age of the makeup. For example: F61 in
Jouer language would stand for June 2006, first batch that month.
Anything SPF (powders,
gloss, lipstick, foundation, etc.): Toss after two years! Most SPF
chemicals are only good for two to three years in cosmetics and you
don’t want to use anything that is expired. Most SPF-containing
products in bottles or tubes have expiration dates; tubes usually have
this date crimped into the end of the tube.
Powders—eye shadow, blush, etc.:
These last much longer then we’d think. Most are good for up to five
years, but pigments can change over time or oils used in the powder can
dry out, making them chalky and dry. They are not harmful if old. I
say, test it on your skin. If it applies nicely, keep it; if not, toss
Wax-based products like lipstick and cream blushes:
These tend to have a nice long shelf life, I’d say often up to three to
five years. Same advice. Test it out . . . some formulas dry out and
Wet lip gloss and liquid foundations:
These should be tossed after one to two years! The ingredients often
start to separate. You don’t want to consume or allow your skin to
absorb old ingredients.
Mascara: Older than six
months—toss it. Unless it’s new and has never been opened. If it is
still sealed, it can last a few years on the shelf.
• Toss the threadbare throw rugs.
What about the walls? Are they bare and in need of some decoration? Or
does it look like a crowded wing of a museum? Less is more.
Are there too many items on the counter? Perhaps you have a decorative
bottle perfume collection or you like every lotion and potion you use
throughout the day to be on display. If your items are decorative,
whittle them down to a precious few and then rotate them rather than
recreating a cosmetics counter in your home. The items you use daily
will be dealt with on day two.
• Do you
like to stay well stocked on some items? It’s wonderful to have backup
supplies but it’s cumbersome to have them all in your environment at
once. Let’s set aside the extras and see if we can’t find a better
storage solution for them.
• Did you buy
two large economy-sized bottles of shampoo and put one in the shower
while the other was left in the original packaging taking up space
under the sink? Just as you did in the kitchen and pantry, eighty-six
the packaging. Cardboard and plastic eat up space you need.
• Call your pharmacy and see if they have a drug-recycling program. If they don’t, try other pharmacies in your area.
Expired prescription drugs are classified as hazardous waste. Call your
local hazardous waste facility and follow their instructions. They may
ask you to deliver the meds to them, do a pickup, or simply give you
instructions for the safest at-home disposal.
You can contact the drug manufacturer to see if they can connect you
with an organization that donates expired medications to third-world
countries. Each medication is different and you’ll have to rely on the
experts if you select this option.
your assistant is hauling the trash bags and the donation box to the
next bathroom, take a look around and see if you need to do any of the
following before the birth:
Paint the bathroom. Can this be done before the baby’s arrival? Will
you be able to leave the apartment or home until the paint is dry and
the smell has vanished? If so, schedule a shopping trip for paint
samples. Call a painter and put a date on your calendar. (Be sure you
tell your spouse!)
• Purchase new throw rugs, shower curtains, towels, and/or washcloths.
Do you have any grid totes, drawer liners, or small containers for the
drawers left over from your kitchen-organizing project? Could you use
some in this room? Add them to your list.
Do you need any additional towel bars or hooks? There is a sturdy,
plastic hook that goes over the door and offers several inches of
hanging space. If you keep your bathrobes on hangers, several will hang
here nicely. This hook is available in the closet or bathroom section
of any home store.
• Did you install any items like an over-the-toilet tank organizer that actually eat more room than they supply? Remove them.
• Conversely, do you need any organizing tools of this nature? What about shelves on the wall for towels?
• What about the size of your trash can? Is it too big for the space or much too small?
• Is lighting in the room adequate? Did any overhead or vanity lights burn out months ago? Replace them today.
move to the baby’s bathroom. I realize that in many homes this will
also be the guest bath, so we have our work cut out for us. Today our
task is merely to eliminate. Follow the exact same guidelines you used
for the master bathroom. If this is going to be your baby’s bathroom,
you may want to paint or put up some decorative wallpaper. Just be sure
it’s done well in advance of his arrival. You don’t want your baby
wearing a HAZMAT onesie!
If you have a
separate guest room with its own bath, you’re in the catbird seat
because you have an area that’s ripe for storing the backup supplies
everyone needs. You may also find that Dad decides to use this bathroom
so he’s got a bit more room for his grooming items. Some couples do
everything together, while others need a bit of breathing space. There
is no right or wrong and I would bet the need for sharing or for space
grows out of your individual childhood experiences. Meagan has five
children. When they grow up, the rough-and-tumble sharing that goes on
in a big household will be the norm for them. It will probably feel
comfortable and familiar. I, on the other hand, am an only child; space
and privacy are the norm for me. In other words, if Dad migrates down
the hall to a different bathroom, don’t push the panic button. Rather,
make this room as organized as possible. Use storage tools made of wood
or dark colors so it feels more masculine. Get him some towels in his
favorite color. Here is another example of the need for communication
and an opportunity to nurture and love through the space itself and not
just with words. You know the old saw: “actions speak louder than
words.” And you thought the bathroom was a big bore, didn’t you?
If the good folks in your home can’t seem to
keep the linens separated, try this trick: Put the sheets and the extra
pillowcases inside one of the pillowcases. You’ll keep the entire set
together. This is a great way to help toddlers. Try to purchase colors
or patterns that identify the set for a specific bed size or room.
All-white linens in every room will drive the best of us crazy.
Finally, it’s time to look at the linen
closet. Your old, frayed, faded, torn, and stained sheets and towels
will be welcome at the local animal hospital. If your linen closet is
stuffed, remember that you need to make room for the baby’s linens. If
you have an area with shelves, you can use shelf dividers to set apart
the areas for different rooms. You can also label the shelves. Keep in
mind that your home may be flooded with relatives and friends all eager
to help after the baby arrives. You don’t want them trashing the order
you create this week. It really saves time if the linens for a specific
room reside next to each other on a designated shelf. It also saves you
from opening folded sheets and asking yourself: “Is this for the king
in the master or the queen in the guest room?”
If You Don’t Use a Linen Closet
people don’t have a separate area for linens and clear off space on a
closet shelf in the room where those linens are used. Usually it’s one
set on the bed and a spare in the closet. This works well and it
certainly prevents any mix-ups. In the absence of a linen closet, some
of my clients store all of the towels for a particular bathroom in that
room. This only works well if you have cupboard space or if the room is
large enough to put shelves up or perhaps bring in a small storage unit
to house linens. In today’s world there are myriad tools in all manner
of designs and materials. You can find wicker, rattan, and wood, just
to name a few. There isn’t any reason the bathroom can’t have a touch