How to Organize the Family Medicine Cabinet
As sick as we were in December and the first week of January (Mikey is still coughing and feeling tired), it’s no surprise I decided to make the medicine cabinet my first official victim of The William Morris Project. (The picture wall was my unofficial start.) What is surprising is that I let it go for as along as I did. This was a project I wanted to tackle in October. I didn’t because I let my perfectionism get in the way.
Most people use the medicine cabinet in the bathroom, but I grew up in a paranoid physician’s household. Instead of a box of band-aids and aspirin in a dark bathroom, we had an entire cabinet stocked with medicine, vitamins, rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, 4×4 gauze pads, bandages of all sizes, ointments, cold medication, emetics and anti-emetics, over-the-counter pain medication, heating pads, and rubber ice bags. We never did use more than 2% of the contents, but it was organized and waiting like an operating room.
I never got over the habit of checking the kitchen for medical supplies (not for lack of trying) so the kitchen O.R. lives to see another generation in our home.
Our medicine cabinet, and the counter beneath it, was a mess after a month of heavy and continuous use.
It wasn’t terrible, but if the bottles weren’t even upright I can’t claim was very good, either. I found the solution in an unlikely place: photo memory boxes.
I went for plain and simple from Michael’s. They were on sale, so I was able to buy all three for $6.00. I spent an obscene amount of time looking for the right containers for the job and admit to settling, slightly, with these boxes. They aren’t the perfect fit, but after months of searching I had to concede I was hung up on an issue of negligible importance. I bought them. They make the area much more organized and efficient. They are useful.
I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start with step one.
Empty out the medicine cabinet, lay everything out, and check for expiration dates. I disposed of everything that expired or we didn’t need according to federal guidelines. You can visit the FDA website to learn how to dispose of unused or expired medication. I called the pharmacy to see how I could dispose of Nico’s old epi-pens since I don’t have a Sharps container. Turns out, I can drop them off at a fire station!
I don’t know if you can see the tupperware containers in that dogpile of medications a couple of pictures up, but I used to have our medicine organized by symptom, like G.I. Upset, Cold/Flu, Pain, etc. Dumb. Now I have it organized by patient. I have one box for kids and another for adults. The third box is first aid.
Take the children’s box, for example. Inside I have everything I need for cold and flu, tummy bugs, and other childhood illnesses. I have all the medication dispensers in there, and a sheet from their pediatrician on foods to eat during the stomach flu. I also have several thermometers, replacement batteries, and a penny (our thermometer backs unlock with a coin) so if I need to, I can change the batteries on the fly in the middle of the night. It is a universal truth of parenthood that thermometer batteries never run out during the day.
Now, whenever we need something, we pull down the entire box. This works especially well at 1:00am with a sick child. You grab the whole box and head back to their room for the long night ahead. No more back and forth getting supplies. I can’t tell you how many times this December I grabbed the cough medication only to come back to the kitchen an hour later for ibuprofin. Now all I have to worry about is tripping over a box in the middle of the night as I crawl back to my bed.
This is how the medicine cabinet looks now. The bottoms shelf is for daily medications and heating pads. I figured anyone who needs a heating pad doesn’t want to grab a step ladder to reach them. The next shelf holds the kids box. High enough so they can’t reach it, but low enough to be within easy reach. The next shelf is for adults and the top shelf is first aid.
You can see here the fit isn’t perfect. I suppose a few of you will think I’m being persnickety. I am, I admit it. This is how I am. Did you not see my project list broken down by room? Are you new here? I spent far too long searching for the right box (months), and this is as close as I got to finding what I had in mind. The perfect box would be tin (so I could wipe down any medication drips), a tiny bit smaller, and come with hinged lids that open and close easily. Oh well. The boxes extend past the shelf a bit, but not so much that we can’t shut the door firmly. The lids are not impossible to deal with; we’ll see how they hold up to regular use.
Ah, but even with those small nuisances I am happier than a pig in slop with the end result. The only thing that would please me more would be to never again see the inside of this cabinet. Not likely, but fingers crossed its use will go down significantly the rest of this winter season.
Now it’s your turn! We’re going to try a link up today and see how it goes. I’m a little nervous about it! Feel free to share how you have lived according to the William Morris quote, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” Made a plan? Cleaned a drawer? Bought a sofa? Let’s hear it.
A few guidelines:
- Please link to a specific post, not a general blog address.
- No links to giveaways, please.
- A link back to this site is always appreciated. There are buttons to add to your post or sidebar, too, if you like…but not this week. I’m working on it!
- Let’s use this weekly link up as an opportunity to gather inspiration and motivation. Click links. Discover new people. Say hi and good job. I know I will.