Raise your hand if you are the mom or dad of a busy family. If you raised your hand, then I’m talking to you and you should keep reading. Almost every family I know is busy with work, school, activities, celebrations, and well just general life. When life goes whizzing by, it can be difficult to stay on top of things at home. As a result, clutter builds up, papers don’t get filed, an event can get missed, and chaos thrives. But, it doesn’t have to be that way! I’m giving you simple ideas in this post that can help you reign in the chaos and give you the power to organize your household and your life.
Routines make life run more smoothly and most people thrive when they know what to expect. Try creating a system in your household for activities that happen on a regular basis. For example, establish a set day for laundry and other household tasks. Maybe every Friday could be laundry day for sheets and towels and then each family member is assigned a laundry day for their personal items. Additionally, establish a day of the week for putting a grocery list together, a day for grocery shopping, and a day for weekly meal prep. Although most families prefer Sunday for a weekly meal prep, when picking the days of the week for these routines, consider your family’s unique work/school schedule and what will work best for your household.
Pro Tip: Think about what tasks/chores need to be done on a daily, weekly, monthly, and seasonal time frame, assign a date, and a family member that is responsible for the task/chore. A few examples include: sorting mail, putting toys away, filing papers, paying bills, cleaning the refrigerator/pantry, restocking cleaning supplies, and updating the family calendar.
Does your family have a central location to look for passwords, policy numbers, phone numbers, and a calendar? If not, create a command center in a high traffic area that is convenient for your family. Some families use electronic, shared calendars, but some families prefer a large paper calendar or dry erase board. Whatever you prefer, keep it up to date with each family members activities and events. Along with your calendar, create a binder with important household information that everyone can access. This binder can include medical information, account information, phone numbers, and passwords. Consider the peace of mind you’ll have if your family has an emergency and can easily access needed information.
Pro Tip: Have this binder near–by when scheduling appointments and when filling out medical and school documents.
When a family member brings in the mail, do they know where it goes or does it end up tossed on the kitchen island? In addition to creating a central hub or command center, establish specific zones for incoming and outgoing items, such as mail, greeting cards, signed permission slips, cell phones, and keys. Having a specific place for these items to “land,” reduces lost items, clutter, and confusion.
A Home for Everything
This is basically the hallmark of good organization…a home for everything and everything in its place. Clutter is the result of items not having a “home” to go to or and postponing the decision on where the home should be. Get the whole family involved and walk around your house identifying “homes” for everything in your house. Encourage family members to return items to their home. It’s also a good idea to consolidate items into categories. For example, you should have one location for light bulbs, cleaning supplies, and electronics. If your home is on the larger side, it’s okay to have a designated home on each floor.
Pro Tip: If you have small children in your house, create systems that they can maintain. Keep items, such as toys or snacks, lower to the ground for easy access and label every container.
Bins and Baskets Are Your Friend
Another trick to staying organized is to corral similar items into a container such as a bin or basket. Here are three ideas when a bin/basket will come in handy:
On the Stairs – place a container for each family member on the stairs. Encourage family members to bring their basket up to their room every time they go upstairs.
Lost Items – use one large container to temporarily store “lost” items and tell family members that the container will get emptied and items donated once a week unless family members “claim” their stuff and put the item where it belongs.
Donation – place a container in each bedroom and on the main floor that can be used to purge items that are no longer used and loved. Establish a routine for how often the container will be emptied and who is responsible for the donation drop off.
Paper, Schoolwork, and Memorabilia
I can’t tell you the number of households I’ve encountered that have struggled with paper. I understand because paper entering the home never stops. Bills, catalogues, magazines, school-work, and school notices are endless. The key is having a system to process paper and processing on a regular basis. Similar to objects, paper needs to be assigned incoming, sorting, and outgoing homes. Put the rule “only handle it once” in place and decide if the paper requires you to “do it, delete it, delegate it, or defer it.” Additionally, as a family, determine what school-work will be saved, for how long, and where it will go.
Pro Tip: Assign each family member ONE bin for memorabilia. This will essentially force each person to only keep the items that are the most special and loved. It also sets your children up for future organizing success.
Does this scenario sound familiar? You’re running out the door, late for an event, and your children can’t find what they need. Or, you are heading out for a family fun day and you’re running around looking for all the items you need to leave your house for the day. This is not only frustrating, but it’s also a waste of your precious time. To remedy these situations, keep pre-packed bags for different outings near your garage door. This will allow you to easily grab the bag you need and head out the door on time for family fun!
Pro Tip: Using pouches inside a bigger bag helps corral and group smaller item together.
Which of these tricks will you try in your household? What tricks help your household get and stay organized? I’d love to hear them…drop me an email and share your ideas! And, if you’re new around here, check out these helpful posts “How to Avoid Paper Piles Once and For All” and “A Step by Step Guide to Organizing Your Pantry.”