A two-story house sometimes means double the duty, unless you’re managing the up and down of space effectively. I can’t say I manage everything well, but here are a few things I’ve learned when it comes to our family’s constant use of a staircase.

1. Simplify socks by keeping them on the lower level. This might sound like an odd tip, but if your family is like ours, we don’t always wear socks (or shoes) around the house. Since socks don’t need to be put on until you’re headed out the door, on the way to that door is the best place to keep them. Packaged socks come in a size range, and you might be able to get away with a kid or two wearing socks from one package (or maybe this is just easier because I have all boys).

We’ve got a handful of white socks and a handful of black socks, and we keep all the socks downstairs with the shoes. When it’s time to load up the car, there is no running upstairs to the bedroom, so we’ve cut out one transition in the Time to Load Up the Car fiasco.

2. Go with a wireless printer. Print much? Yeah, you need one. This advice may soon be out of date, as I suspect all printers will be wireless in a few years. You do still have to go and actually retrieve the documents yourself. Better yet, train  your kids to do that. Works well in our home.

3. Buy two of some things. Staplers, rulers, packages of Band-Aids, mailing envelopes, stamp packages: you’re going to need these upstairs and down. Also, two laundry baskets, unless you’re particularly adept at getting laundry put away, right away. I’m so not.

4. Make spaces on each level for home management. Have a place to tuck dirty laundry downstairs, in addition to hampers in rooms. We use a pull-out container (designed to be a wastebasket) inside of our kitchen island as a hamper. So, if kids come in with muddy clothes, those go in that hamper, which, conveniently, sits right next to the washing machine.

5. What goes up, must come down (and vice versa). Two home offices is a bit much to ask for, and I can’t use a separate daily planner/To Do list, so I’m constantly carrying my planner, plus a couple of notebooks, and whatever book I have a bookmark in up and down stairs. I find it works best if I keep a small bag that hangs on the banister, and I can carry everything from one level to another.

6. Keep a few cleaning supplies on both floors. It’s the same thing you would do with a stash of diapers and wipes when your children are babies. Simple counter sprays, toilet cleaner, cleaning rags, rubber gloves. You’ll be much more motivated to keep things spiffied up if supplies are within reach. (No, not really, it will just save you some steps and frustration). Don’t forget two containers of laundry spray for pre-treating spots.

7. Keep a couple of decorative, functional baskets on the steps as your catch-all. Use these containers for things that need to go up or down, and then make it a habit to clean out items and take them up or down as you go. Each family member should collect their own things to put back in the proper place.

That cool stairway photo, courtesy of 4seasons and sxc.hu, because the stairs in my house aren’t at all this clutter-free.