Do you want to finally get organized? Have a more orderly life? A system for all the stuff?
Of course you do. We all do. We think about it. We plan for it. We make lists. We read inspiring blog posts. We pin dozens of beautiful images of neatly ordered toy bins and customized pantry labels.
The trouble is, despite all our dreaming and planning, who has the time to actually GET organized?
When you can’t find your car keys, your kids are begging for dinner, and the dog has just spilled an entire bowl of water on the kitchen floor (that you actually managed to mop just 30 minutes earlier), all those lovely pins and plans fly right out the window.
Real life has reared its ugly head, and you know that the odds of getting the entire Saturday alone in the house to finally clean out those closets are getting slimmer by the moment.
I know how you feel. I’ve been there…recently. A few months ago we moved into a new house. Just days before the move, I started a new part-time job outside the home (after spending six years as a stay-at-home/work-from-home mom). Oh, and we also started homeschooling my first grader.
To say I was overwhelmed would be an understatement. I was frazzled, short-tempered, and feeling like a complete failure.
I was painting kitchen cabinets while the baby napped and the older boys played “educational” games on the iPad. I would get half-way through organizing the playroom when I would remember something I needed to get done for work the next day.
I’d get home from work and have just enough energy to think of something to make for dinner (hoping I’d unpacked the right pots and pans the day before). I might say hello to my husband before falling into bed, fighting off the ever-present sense of guilt that I was somehow not doing enough.
Your life might not look exactly like mine (if it does, I’m praying for you sister!). But I know you face your own daily stresses and sometimes (or often) feel overwhelmed by all that life is asking of you.
Or maybe it’s not life overwhelming you, but the sheer hugeness of the idea of getting everything in your life organized.
If that’s you, then you’re in the right place. There is hope.
There are things you can do today…really simple, quick things…that will help you get organized and feel more peaceful right now.
Without a master task list.
Without an entire weekend to yourself.
And my favorite – without spending much (or anything if you have a few supplies laying around).
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#1: Make Your Bed
I know, I know, you’re having flashbacks to high school and imagining your mom yelling up the stairs about how your room is always a pigsty. But stay with me. This is one of those small changes that can have a huge impact on your daily life.
There’s something very ordered and neat about a clean, made-up bed. Don’t underestimate the powerful visual impact that the sight of your bed has on your overall peace of mind.
Taking just 3 minutes to pull up the sheets and arrange the pillows each morning will ensure that when you finish your exhausting day, and you’re ready to close your eyes for a few hours, you won’t walk into your room and sigh, seeing that unmade bed and think, “Ugh…one more thing in my life that’s a mess.”
Get this done. Every day. Except maybe Saturdays, because we all deserve a break, right? You’ll be surprised at how much more organized, capable, and ready you feel for your day.
#2: Do the Dishes
I know, another shocker. But, much like making the bed, waking up in the morning to a clean kitchen does wonders for your peace of mind. In our house we set the dishwasher to run every night after we’ve gone to bed. So, every morning I know that we have clean bowls, plates, cups, skillets, utensils, whatever.
It makes sense doesn’t it? Frantic mornings getting ready for work and school are a bit smoother when you aren’t scrounging for a clean coffee mug.
And don’t stop with the dishes. I know you’re tired at the end of the night, but trust me and go ahead and clean the whole kitchen before you go to bed. You’ve already put the dishes in the dishwasher. Now wipe down the counters and the table. Stow the crock pot and the mixer. Do a quick sweep of the crumbs under the high chair. It’s a mental game to make yourself do these things, but one you definitely want to win.
Because the last thing anyone wants to see first thing in the morning is a grimy sink overflowing with crusty dishes. It makes you feel like you’ve failed before you even get started. And stepping on last night’s mac & cheese in your bare feet is enough to ruin even the best night’s sleep.
Even if the rest of your house is a wreck, having a clean kitchen each morning will give you a little boost of energy to face your day. The kitchen is the one room we all use every morning (well probably the bathroom too, unless you’re into outhouses, but bathrooms are easier to keep tidy).
You might be able to avoid the messy office or the cluttered playroom, but that kitchen will confront you. Every. Single. Day. You HAVE to use it. You can’t just shut the door to it. And if it’s a clean, organized space, you’ll instantly feel like your mind is uncluttered and tidy as well.
Plus, if you do it the night before, you wake up each morning feeling like you’ve already accomplished something!
#3: Make a Go-To Meal Plan
Now this step might take a little longer, but you only have to do it once. It’s a set-it-and-forget-it organizing tip – my favorite kind!
All you need to do is get a piece of paper and write down 12 homemade meals that your family enjoys. That’s it! You now have an Emergency 2-week Meal Plan (assuming you will go out to eat or have leftovers once a week).
To take it a step further, you can write down all the ingredients for each recipe as a quick-reference grocery list.
Now, you might be thinking, I already plan my meals, so WHY do I need to do this?
Because we all have those weeks or months or entire seasons of life that are just too much. When you’re struggling to keep your head above water and and meal planning takes a backseat to more pressing matters.
Those days when you look up and it’s suddenly 5pm and you have no idea what you’re going to feed your family. Looks like another night at the drive-thru, right?
Now, there are times when a trip to Chic-Fil-A is just what everyone needs, including you. Believe me, I love me some waffle fries. But, if you’re trying to save money or calories or know that this is more than just a one-night thing, then you might need a different strategy.
If you have an Emergency 2-week Meal Plan ready to go, then life just got so much easier. No need to plan meals or even grocery lists. You’ve already got everything you need!
#4: Put Things Back Where They Belong
Hearing your mom’s voice in your head again? Or maybe your own voice yelling this at the kids for the 10th time today? Yep. Me too. But the truth is, this simple idea is THE KEY to helping you get organized and maintaining a clean home.
And it’s one we routinely fail to do.
As moms, we get distracted from what we’re doing on a regular basis. Children are experts at asking questions, getting hurt, becoming “too” quiet, and making messes just as we get to work on our to-do lists. We become so accustomed to it, that we actually expect to be interrupted mid-task.
Which means, whether we intend to or not, we can fall into the habit of leaving stuff out, knowing we’ll come back to it later. Cereal boxes, dishes, shoes, makeup, books, laundry, mail, cleaning supplies. You name it.
I freely admit that over the last several years, I developed a terrible habit of not cleaning up after myself. Not intentionally, of course. I was just so busy putting out fires with my kids that I couldn’t be bothered. This meant that at the end of every day, I had a mountain of stuff to put away.
I used to think I spent all my time tidying up toys (and there were/are certainly a TON of those), but one day I had an epiphany. A lot of my efforts were actually spent putting my OWN things away.
If you feel like you’re eternally picking up your house, take a good hard look at your own habits and see if this is an area you could improve on too. We owe it, not only to ourselves, to have a cleaner, more organized home, but to our kids as well.
How can we possibly expect our kids to pick up after themselves, if they hardly ever see mom doing it? Especially if you tend to tidy up after they are in bed?
I’m not going to lie. This is a tough habit to break. But I’ve noticed that when I’m intentional about it, my entire home seems neater and MUCH easier to actually clean. And my mind is less cluttered by the constant visual reminders of how much work I have to do to get things in order.
#5: Designate a Place for All the Stuff
This is crucial. If you’ve ever wasted time searching for your keys, waiting on the kids to find their shoes, or homework, or jackets (or pretty much anything that belongs to them), you already know how important this step is. But getting it done is often another matter.
In our house we have the following:
- Key hooks mounted by the garage door – I honestly never lose my keys because the moment I walk in the door, this is where they go.
- A large “shoe bucket” tucked away in the coat closet (ours is actually a large bronze ice bucket. I love that it’s so sturdy). The kids toss all their shoes in here and it saves a boatload of time when we need to leave the house. Plus, I don’t have to see shoes strewn all around the house.
- A wall mounted coat rack with hooks (also near the garage door) – one for each child’s backpack. Mounted at kid level, so they can hang up their backpacks themselves. This also helps me make sure lunches are packed (or diapers, sippy cups, homework, etc.). We tried storing them in a closet for a while, but I prefer to have easy access – plus, the visual reminder means no one forgets a backpack on the way to school.
- Command hooks in the laundry room (which is where our garage door lives) – one hook for each member of the family to hang a coat – and several for purses and the diaper bag. Since we don’t use the front door that often, storing all our “going out” stuff near the garage door makes a lot more sense than the coat closets in our entryway. But do what works for you!
- A designated drawer in the kitchen desk area for all the tablets and phones, plus a multi-unit charging station. This is a great way to keep track of all our electronics and make sure the boys aren’t tempted to play on them all day.
I’m convinced that giving these everyday things a home saves our entire family from wasted time, frustration, and yelling matches. It also helps teach my kids to be responsible for their things because they know where they belong, and it’s not mom’s job to keep up with their stuff.
What are You Waiting For? Get Organized With These Simple Steps
Are you convinced yet? With these ideas, you can get organized without trying too hard. These tips are not rocket science. They are the things our grandmothers probably did without thinking. They’re simple. They’re easy. They’re inexpensive (or free!). We just have to decide to do them. Consistently.
These ideas are all about creating new habits. And once you make them habits in your own life, you’ll see that your home is much more organized without anyone having to devote hours or weekends to “getting organized.”
I’d love to know if you have any other simple tips for organizing your home!