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Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Medicine Cabinet

The thing about the standard medicine cabinet is this: When you have children, the cabinet isn't nearly big enough to contain all the necessary medical paraphernalia that you need to have on hand for those "just in case" moments. I'm sure I'm not the only mother in the world that has noticed this problem. My solution came about two years ago when I decided that organization was the only way I would ever be able to deal with a household that was inhabited by a new baby, a toddler, a preteen, and a teenager. I absolutely had to be able to find whatever I needed without having to think about it. After all, sleep was not something that I was accustomed to so thinking was hard.

I started by making a list of categories. My list went as follows:

Pain and Fever
Cold and Cough
Tummy and Vitamins
Spoons and Temps

(Yes, I had to go look in the closet to refresh my memory. I could not remember what categories I had settled on way back when. Remember that sleep thing? Yeah - still not happening very often around here.)

After I made my list, I went to the Dollar Tree (love that store) and bought the appropriate number of plastic shoe boxes. I decided that the plastic shoe boxes were perfect because they were large enough to hold whatever I needed, and they stacked neatly on top of each other.

I brought my boxes home and labeled them according to my list. Then I sorted out all my medication. The medication for pain and fever went in one box. The medicine for tummy issues and the vitamins went in one box. All the cold and cough medicine, including allergy medications, went in one box. All the diaper creams and antibiotic ointments went in a box. Then there was the box that held all the measuring spoons and the thermometers - of which I have several. (NOTE: The thermometer that was used for rectal temperatures was kept in the bathroom drawer so that it would never accidentally be used for oral temperatures.) In my Band-Aids box I put the standard selection of Band-Aids, a selection of gauze, bandage tape, and a tube of Neosporin Ointment. Having the Neosporin in the Band-Aids box just made my life a bit easier even though it would normally be categorized as a cream and go in the box marked for that product.

This method has lasted for over two years now and is still working for me. In fact, I have expanded my shoe box organization to include several other areas of the household. My husband thinks I have an unnatural attachment to plastic containers because I keep buying more in order to continue the process of organizing my life.

I digress, though. After I finished the organizing process, I found a shelf that was high enough to prevent little people from ransacking my stocks. I placed all the boxes safely out of a certain mischievous little girl's reach and then explained this new system to all the people in the household that were old enough to medicate themselves. After some training in the ways of returning said medications to their proper place, the system basically maintained itself.

Every six months or so - around the time we change the batteries in the smoke detectors - I sift through the medication to check expiration dates. Anything that's expired gets tossed and the remaining contents of the box get reorganized.

I also check the contents of each box periodically to see what might need replenishing. It's amazing how many Band-Aids and how much cold medicine the people in this house go through.

Of course, my prescription medications are kept seperate (ahem - left on the table by the computer so I'll remember to take them) from all the medication that is intended for family use.

If you think you might start organizing your home in this manner then you should consider one issue before you begin. Once you start, you'll quickly become addicted to the shoe box organization method. You'll find that this method works for all types of organization. (household necessities, scrapbooking supplies, inside the freezer, in the fridge, etc. etc. etc.) So when you start buying your shoe boxes for the medicine organization product, go ahead and buy a few extra - say, about 50 or so - to be sure that all your boxes are of the same style. Buying your boxes at different times makes it difficult to match them up. If they don't match, they won't stack nearly as well...


Syn said...

I need these boxes! I have organized and reorganized the medicine cabinet countless times and yet, still things end up falling out on my head when I open the cabinet. Certain people move things out of place when they're looking for something (and don't put them back). I definitely need to do something like this!