Kate Lockwood of Oceanport does not like feeling out of control.
So when she found herself out of work two years ago, she decided she needed to look beyond the classroom for work.
"I was lost," says the mom of two about being let go from her teaching position due to downsizing. "I mean, what do you do?" she adds, noting that she had worked at the local private school for nine years.
What bothered her the most about the layoff, she says, was that it wasn't her decision.
"It wasn't my call," says Lockwood, whose daughters are 8- and 5-years-old. "Somebody else forced it."
After subbing for two more years and unable to lock in a full-time position, Lockwood — who's lived in Oceanport for seven years — says she started to consider other options.
"I got so tired of waiting for someone else to make the move," she says. "I wanted to be back in control."
So she started to focus on how much she really loved to take control of lots of things. "I'd go to a girlfriend's house and look around and point and say, 'This should go here,' or 'That should go there'."
That's when she decided to launch Make Space Organizing and bring the skills she honed in a classroom filled with 25 children for over a decade to clients' playrooms and offices.
"You teach for 13 years, you learn to be organized," she laughs.
Lockwood designed a website filled with before and after pictures of jobs she's tackled and has a blog where she shares tidbits like "The 4 Golden Rules for Organizing" and an anecdote about clearing out the expired spice jars from her mom's kitchen, freeing up valuable cabinet real estate.
Lockwood also offers clients services like packing, labeling and unpacking for a move or driving around and returning items to stores.
She says that playrooms seem to be the number one unruly area that clients are looking to tame and that creating order doesn't need to be expensive. Lockwood loves the home section of Marshall's and the Dollar Store for cute baskets and drawer liners. "You don't have to spend thousands of dollars to get organized," she says, noting that often, clients already own lots of baskets and bins from earlier attempts at order.
One of her top organizing tips for busy families is to create a "command center" somewhere in the home, usually the kitchen, which includes the family calendar, school directory, bills that need to be paid, stamps and envelopes.
She also advises clients to group similar items together, a trick that can be applied to all areas of the home -- from toys to clothes to toiletries.
While she continues to substitute teach for local school districts, Lockwood says she's busy trying to grow her business by posting tips on her Make Space for Organizing Facebook page and donating gift certificates for her services to be raffled off at fundraisers.
"I'm constantly evolving," Lockwood says.
Do you have a similar story to tell? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and your business could be featured in an upcoming "Next Chapter" column on Patch.