I was talking to a friend recently who expressed exasperation at the fact that she tries to maintain organized spaces in her home, yet struggles with her family’s lack of cooperation. Maybe you can relate. Do you organize spaces only to find that clutter abounds within a few days, perhaps hours, and you are left feeling defeated once again? Look, mom life is busy enough without having to organize the same area multiple times. If you’re in agreement, read on for my pro tips to get the whole family involved in living a more organized life.
Discuss Your Ideals
Of course, we are grateful for the love our family brings to us, but nobody said living with others is easy especially when we have different levels of what we consider organized. You might be a minimalist and your partner more of a saver. You might want your kids’ rooms to look like a Pinterest picture and they are fine with the current state of affairs. Wherever you lie on the spectrum between neat freak and clutter queen, having an open discussion with your family members can set expectations which equals peace and harmony. If you want the kitchen island decluttered each night, items off the stairs, and shoes tidied upon coming into the home, it’s important that this is communicated and each family member is held accountable.
Give Your Family a Tour
Imagine you’ve spent hours organizing a pantry or a closet, walk away for a moment only to come back and find your neatly organized space torn apart by a family member looking for an item. Oh no, the frustration! Since you can’t stand guard in front of your pantry 24/7, you need a solution pronto! Here’s what I recommend; label every inch of that newly organized space (every bin, every drawer, etc) and then give your family a tour of the newly organized space. Point out where items live and how they can find and return items to their respective homes. Explain that you have invested time, energy, and perhaps money into organizing your space and you expect your family to help maintain it after their friendly tour.
Allow for Transition Time
I think this tip is key for anyone with children. Some days are so busy it feels like our heads will spin right off. We dash around from work, school, activities, and other commitments and as a result don’t take the time to put items away where they should go. As a result clutter builds up. Adults and children can benefit from transition time or what I call “buffer time.” When possible, give yourself an extra 15 minutes to tidy up a room before running out the door. Build in time in the morning to clear off the bathroom sink or time at night to go through the mail. Additionally, give children time to put toys + crafts away before transitioning to a new activity. I always say “start ’em young” because your children are more likely to become organized adults if you teach organizing principals from a young age.
Don’t Wait to Make a Decision
Clutter results from delayed decision making. I’ve found that often times family members don’t know where something goes, so it gets put down on a table or kitchen island, until someone comes by and makes a decision to move it forward. Here’s an example: when I was talking to my friend, she listed for me every item sitting on her kitchen table. One item was a face mask. I asked her why is it there? Face masks are relatively new to us and perhaps my friend didn’t designate a home for clean and used masks and therefore her children didn’t know where they go and thus, they ended up on the table. You can help your family members get and stay organized by encouraging each person to make decisions in the moment versus delaying the decision. Now, my friend has a place for masks to “live” and instead of family members not making a decision and throwing the masks on the table, each family member uses the designated homes created. End result, less clutter on that kitchen table…win, win!
Systems aren’t always perfect. Systems can fail us, but what is key here is to find out why and learn from the circumstances. It’s okay to organize a space only to see some backsliding a few days or months later. Take a moment to ask yourself what worked, what didn’t work, and how you can improve on your system. Maybe your labels fell off, maybe new items came into your home and nobody make a decision on where they should go (so they sat on that darn table again) or maybe life got busy and you didn’t allow for transition time. Whatever it is, don’t get discouraged! Make the necessary changes and get everyone on board with a new system. I promise, families reaps many benefits of living an organize life (check out this post for more on that topic!).
Obviously, organizing is my jam, so if you’re still struggling with getting your family on the organized living train, reach out to me here! I offer local and virtual organizing services and look forward to hearing from you!