How to keep bathroom organized for family of 4??!!

DeeV78July 16, 2014

We are moving from a condo with 2 full baths to a house with 1 full bath. I have a 5 yr old and another baby on the way. In our condo, DH and I share one bathroom and my 5 yr old has his own. Since he's the only one that uses the second bath, I keep all his bath toys in the tub scattered around; no clean up needed other than to clean the tub.

Looking for tips on how to better organize a small bathroom to make it work for a family of 4. Thanks.

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Maybe you could store the toys in a milk-crate sort of container (lots of holes all the way around) and after the toys are "dry enough" you can move the milk crate out of the tub to use the shower. I've never had luck with suction cup or mesh holders.

Please be careful in the shared bath, it would be better to put the toys away for a few months than risk a tripping situation in the last weeks of pregnancy or while you're carrying your newborn.

What a great time of life!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 1:11PM
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1. Less is best.... Clutter is a huge negative.
Only store what you actually need in the bathroom, but get creative with storage possibilities as space allows, and at all levels (high and low storage). Keep in mind, bathrooms are damp, so everything you store in there will also be subject to damp conditions and metal can rust.

My in-laws raised 8 children in a tiny house with one VERY tiny bathroom and it was always neat and tidy because everything had a place and was in it, and everyone cleaned up their own mess after using the space.

Each child had a "bath basket" they kept in their rooms. It was used to store and transport needed items to the bathroom and back again. It would have been impossible to store everything for 10-people in the room. Tub toys (for the youngest), toiletries and other things for each child was kept in the basket. They filled it with their clean clothes/pjs, etc. for bath time, and transported the dirty clothes to the laundry room hamper when done, and put the basket back in their room. If the teenagers purchased their own toiletries they were kept in their basket for their personal use, otherwise one bottle of shampoo was used for the whole family, one can of spray deodorant, one tube of toothpaste, etc..... Do a reality check periodically as you get overwhelmed with "stuff".

Remember, you will be sharing your single bathroom with guests as well as the family. It's easier to get into the habit to always keep it clean (when it only requires a few minutes a day) than to waste time and negative energy always wishing it WAS clean.

2. Make cleaning as easy as possible....
We have friends (family of 4) who line the outside of their bathtub like a racetrack with 10-15 bottles of shampoo, conditioner, shave cream, razors, etc., and dozens of jars, cans, bottles all over the vanity - which is NOT guest friendly. Not only will these items destroy the tub/vanity surface -- hard water collected under them will etch the surface and leave a permanent ring -- but it also makes cleaning inconvenient. It's a major effort to move all those items and then to put them back. Do they really need 8 bottles of shampoo in use at one time? If each person would store their items in a plastic tote, it would have cleared the tub and vanity.

I can clean a shower, tub, toilet and double-sink vanity in less than 10-minutes and in 15-minutes when I steam the floor. How is that possible? We never leave it dirty to begin with, and only a few items on the vanity need moved in order to clean. I use a small steam cleaner, so I've eliminated dangerous chemicals for cleaning. All I need is a small cotton or microfiber towel for drips or to wipe the mirror. I use a steam cleaner for the floor - so no mops and buckets.

At our home, the last one to use the bathroom in the morning has the 3-5-minute task of wiping down all the flat surfaces with a 50/50 mixture of alcohol and water (in a small spritz bottle using a small cotton or microfiber towel which gets reused for several days unless it gets soiled from cleaning), changing hand towels, and general tidying up. Hubby takes the kitchen trash basket around to all rooms and puts all the trash in the kitchen basket, and tosses it after dinner. So all trash is removed from our home once a day.

Wet items are hung on a drying rack in the laundry room to dry before they get tossed in the hamper (prevents mold from developing). We have 4 hampers on a wire shelf for dirty clothes over the washer and dryer, which automatically separates the clothes into whites, lights, darks, kitchen towels (which are always washed separately). Use as many hampers as necessary for your needs, and keep them where it's most convenient.

3. Make the bathroom user-friendly for your family, but guest-ready for visitors. Hooks on the back of the door are great when you are using the room, but they shouldn't be considered "storage" or serve as a secondary closet. Hang your robes/gowns/pjs in your closet.

Good habits for the entire family will pay a lot of dividends. Hubby was well-trained as a child, and in 43-years of marriage I've never had to pick up his dirty clothes or had him leave the bathroom messy. It's just common courtesy.

Even your 5-year old can take responsibility for cleaning tasks and care for his own things whether it's in the bathroom or elsewhere in the home, especially if he's not overwhelmed with lots of "stuff". He can dry his tub toys he uses with a small microfiber towel and put them in a container that is stored in his bedroom if there isn't space for them in the new bathroom. He can put his dirty clothes away in a hamper in his closet. If he reuses his towel, place a towel bar or hook where he can reach it to hang his towel after use.


    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 4:46PM
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Wow! What great advice! And a valuable example of personal responsibility. Thank you, Grainlady!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 7:12PM
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grainlady - thank you so much. such practical but valuable advice. I wish there was a way to search posts by users by username so that I can pour over all your posts. I've seen a couple of your posts and you always provide such amazing advice!!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 8:16PM
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Cupofkindness, thank you for the words of optimism.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 9:24PM
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Re: the 5yo's bath toys: I would lay down cash money on a bet that he has way more than he needs. (And at 5yo, it's time to segue out of bathtime as funtime and instead make it cleantime. Believe me, this will pay off as his/your schedule gets tighter.)

So store bath toys elsewhere, and only allow him to bring in one or two (or none).

Better yet, tell him he's a big boy, and now he gets to shower like Mom and Dad. And there aren't shower toys, of course.

And for the little one, it would probably be a nice habit to have him choose one toy to have for each bath (or you choose, if he's too young). And teach him to put them away later. (If you have a place to store them that isn't too airtight, you can blot the worst of the water off and put it away damp (have him do it as he gets older good fine-motor skills practice).
I also find that I end up w/ way too many items to store in the bathroom. I should just throw them away.

And some stuff that's stored in the bathroom doesn't need to be; I use the hairdryer so infrequently, and I also don't look in the mirror when I do. I have to go -back- into the bathroom to use it, actually--because I almost always let my hair mostly dry before I use it; I get dressed, then I say, "Oh, it's not drying fast enough, I'll use the hairdryer."
So I could totally store that somewhere else.

I keep the first-aid stuff in the bathroom because that room has the most powerful light, plus the sink is useful.
But I could also probably store it in the kitchen (except for the lighting).

So, look at what's in there, and decide what you *really* need.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 3:44PM
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Tally_sue, great suggestion. Moving to a new house is the perfect time to start some new routines that are minor but helping to transition him from some toddler-like behavior to big boy behavior. I hadn't thought of bath time as one of them, but you are so right.

I love this forum!!

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 9:27PM
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Re: the multiple bottles, etc.

This might be a great time to get one or more of these:

Wall mounted shampoo dispensers.

I even got a single and mounted it by the sink, so there's no hand-soap bottle or bar to pick up and clean around.

I prefer the Clear Choice line, but they've stopped making it in the 4-compartment model (which is the one I have).

A dispenser doesn't work particularly well for conditioner, and the Clear Choice is nice because its flat top can serve as a shelf, so I can put the conditioner there.

I also like the Clear Choice because there aren't as many surfaces or curves or crannies to clean.

They stick up with silicone, so you can put them anywhere.

(Just mount it low enough that your 5yo can reach it.)

Here is a link that might be useful: my favorite style of wall-mounted shower dispensers.

This post was edited by talley_sue_nyc on Sun, Jul 20, 14 at 17:40

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 1:17PM
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One of the ideas I've seen floating around on Pinterest and other similar places is to put a tension shower-curtain rod across the back wall of the tub, way up high.

Then hang plastic buckets or baskets along it to create cubbies. You might have to drill a hole or two depending on whether the water drains out easily.

Here is a link that might be useful: baskets across the back of the shower.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 5:47PM
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I think GrainLady's advice is spot on. I grew up in a family of nine, and several of the houses we lived in had only one bathroom, or only one and a half baths (thank you, military housing!).

We had one bottle of shampoo. When we hit teenagerhood, we added a bottle of conditioner. One tube of toothpaste, one thing of dental floss, one bar of soap by the sink, one bar of soap in the tub.

We didn't have bath toys, so that wasn't an issue. Finding space to store nine toothbrushes was.

But basically, there were the minimum supplies needed in the bathroom, and everything fit.

Mom kept her makeup in her bedroom. I did my hair in my bedroom.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 6:11PM
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Do you have wall space in your bathroom that backs up to a closet? I have seen people make a cupboard on the bathroom side......cut a square hole in the drywall and frame it out and put doors on it. The back of the cupboard goes between the studs and the back part of the cupboard is framed out in the closet....or just use the studs as the depth. Put shelves in your little closet and use it for TP, shampoo, makeup and even small toys.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 1:53PM
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