As a mother, I am always on a quest to simplify the time and effort it takes to maintain a house of order so that I can spend more quality time with my family. Here are six things that have helped me:
1. Cut the Clutter. Everything you own really does take some of your time. It either needs to be dusted, put away, cleaned, arranged, or picked up. The less you own, the less time you have to spend taking care of things. So, cut the clutter.
This includes clothes. We have found that having fewer clothes is so much easier. We try to buy items that mix and match. It is much easier for children to help put clothing away when the drawer isn’t bulging with items that don’t fit or are rarely worn.
We declutter as much as we can and have found that by cutting back on the amount of stuff in our home, it makes it easier for kids to see where items go. This also makes putting things away seem less overwhelming.
2. Coming and Going. Let’s face it, life is constantly in motion and we are running from one thing to the next. I read in the book Project Organization, Quick and Easy Ways to Organize Your Life that you should have a “launching and landing” place in your home, an organized spot near the door where people come and go.
Here are some important ideas for “launching and landing”:
- Have an assigned place for your keys.
- Have a specific place for your coat and purse.
- Make a hook for each person where they can hang their backpacks, coats, etc. This makes it easy to grab what is needed on the way out the door and to put everything away when arriving home.
- Create a spot for all the little things you and your children tend to drop when coming in the door or need on the way out. Some of these things include gloves, hats, library books that need to be returned, etc.
3. Personal Treasure Boxes. When my children were younger, their rooms were beautifully arranged just how I wanted them to be. I quickly learned that as children grow, they have opinions too. They have special papers, special toys, and many things that I may not want to save. Our solution was to give each child their own personal treasure box.
They can keep anything they want in their treasure box. There is only one rule: the lid must fit on. If the lid doesn’t fit, they need to clean it out so that it will. If they choose not to clean it out, then mom has the right to “help” clean it out.
4. Place for Papers. It seems that papers come in by the armful and can easily cover the kitchen counters. I’ve used Power of Moms’ Mind Organization for Moms system to manage this chaos. Each day when my kids come home from school, I grab my “inbox” and quickly put papers I receive into one of four folders:
1. Today (things that need to be done today)
2. Weekly Review (things that need to be looked at this week)
3. To File (papers to file or art projects to take a photo of)
4. Read and Review (items that I would like to read over, but that don’t have a deadline)
I also have an accordion folder with a slot for each child to put papers that we need to keep and study from (e.g., Spanish or spelling words). I also keep a few favorite projects in their file.
5. Consistency is Key. I really believe that being consistent is one key to a successfully organized home. Yes, there are busy weeks when it feels like everything is falling apart, but when we just keep trying it makes a difference. Success comes from not giving up!
6. Don’t Do It Alone. At times my husband will open a cupboard and say, “Why is this in here?” My response is, “The kids unloaded the dishwasher.” While it may at times seem easier to do everything by myself, I know that it would be a disservice to my children if I didn’t give them the opportunity to learn.
The only way our children will learn is if we teach them and allow them to practice. I know my children feel satisfied when they have worked hard and can see results. They feel ownership in keeping our house clean because they are a part of the process.
Getting organized is an endless process, but for our family it is worth the effort, and I think you will find it is, too!
QUESTION: What is one area in your home that could be better organized? What steps do you need to take to make that happen?
CHALLENGE: Don’t let stuff stop you from living the way you dream of living. Think about 10 things you can get rid of today so that your home will be less cluttered.
Images provided by Tasha Bradshaw.
Originally published on September 19. 2013.