SummaryAre your kids intent on making a mess every day? Are you frustrated by all the clutter? Read how Amy Pawlusiak puts it all away neatly, despite the chaos.
I feel the need to get rid of it or to put it away, so at least, I can’t see it.
Consequently, I have decorated my house in a way that has some style, but also hides a lot of STUFF! Those who visit my home are amazed that I can keep it neat, despite being home all day with five kids!
So, I’ve often been asked for some tips. So, here are a few things that have helped me keep my house orderly, even with five kids, intent on making a mess every day!
1. Get Rid of It.
It may seem odd to start with this, but the first part of organization is deciding daily what to keep and what to get rid of. Think of all the things you bring into your home. You stop at the store and come home with a knick-knack, shirt, or some small item, like a book. You bring it home and put it somewhere.
We never seem to put out in the garbage, recycle, or donation box the same number of items we bring in. So, after a while, our house gets more cluttered! To help stop some of the influx, I look at each item that comes in as: a) something I need to use right now, b) something I need soon, or c) something we can get rid of.
Sometimes, we get kids’ meals at a local fast food restaurant. They usually include a small toy or book with each meal. At first, the kids have fun playing with whatever item is in there, but it’s usually something inexpensive or breakable the kids will tire of quickly.
As soon as the kids are done with that toy, throw it out. Don’t worry about the kids wanting it later. They will get another new toy to replace that cheap toy soon enough.
This also goes for mail. We get a ton of junk mail every day. I stand outside by my recycle bin before coming in the house with the mail. I immediately throw in all the advertisements and empty the envelopes, then only take in what I need.
For instance, I will bring in a bill or letter or something I might use later (like a coupon), but the envelope it came in, the advertisement for the local dentist, etc. all goes in the recycle bin.
Despite your best efforts, you will still get a lot of things in your home you will need to get rid of, so you only organize the things you truly need or want. Learn periodically to go through stray pieces of paper, magazines, old book reports, etc. and recycle them! The broken toys can go in the trash.
The gift someone gave you that you don’t use can be donated and will bless someone else. It is so important to give yourself permission to let go and to tell yourself constantly, “GET RID OF IT!”
Over time, you will get into a routine of getting rid of as much as you can, whenever you can.
2. Store It.
Once you have gone through the clothes, the toys, and the cabinets to get rid of as much as you can, you need to ask yourself, “What can I store?” There are lots of items you may only need once a year for a holiday or special event that can go in the attic or garage.
If you have a basement, you are even luckier to have a place to store those special items! I recommend getting large, clear plastic totes with a top to prevent bugs and water from getting into your items. Also, if it’s clear, you can see what’s in there and are more likely to remember what you stored to use each year (labeling the totes is helpful too!).
Be careful though; just because you are storing it doesn’t mean you should go buy a lot more of something! It’s tempting to go the day after Christmas and buy a bunch of new Christmas ornaments, wrapping, or other items for the following year.
If you do this, go with a plan of what you need and don’t buy things if you have a good amount of something. I don’t know about you, but I have been given or inherited many decorations for holidays over the years, and I can’t even take out some items because there’s no room to display them, or they’re too breakable!
3. Where Does It Live?
This is a question I ask my friends when they want me to help organize. I’ll pick up a stray item, walk around with it, and ask them where something “lives,” or “where does this go?” If it doesn’t have a home, then I help them find one.
Try to put like items together, like put all your craft supplies in one drawer or put all your cleaning supplies under the sink. If you know you have a lot of stray items, decide where they can go, where they can be easily put away and out of eyesight.
It helps if you know that all the pencils go in a certain drawer, or if all the books for one child go in a certain bin, or if all electronic devices go in a closet or charging location. When everyone knows where things go, it will keep the room easy to clean for the family and easy to pull out items when needed. When it’s time to have adult time, if the toys and detritus are out of sight, you will feel more peaceful.
Wherever it makes sense for you, put them all together and put them away. And if something doesn’t have a home, then you will need to…
4. Buy Organizational Tools
If you find you really need storage for the kids’ toys, go get some. You can find inexpensive storage at Target, Walmart, or even at a thrift store. Baskets in a tv console table under a coffee table or a bin in a closet are the cheapest ways to keep toys put away, while adding some decorative flair.
You can find inexpensive baskets anywhere, and they can be wicker, canvas, or anything that is easy and matches your decor.
To organize kitchen cabinets, buy wire racks that double the space for mugs or plates. I’ve even used old boxes in the kids’ drawers to separate socks from underwear, so they don’t get mixed up when looking for these items in a rush. For the kids’ homeschool items, I bought a TV console table with eight cubby holes.
The top four were small, and the bottom four were large. It helps to use the top smaller cubbies for lesson plans (in binders), while putting canvas baskets in the much larger bottom cubbies for books. On top of the console table, I put all my answer books, my printer, a pencil sharpener, and a paper sorter.
This sits in my dining room, where we homeschool, and whenever I need a book, a lesson plan, or a pen, I just turn around and grab it. The kids can take out the whole basket and look through the books they need, and when they’re done, they just put them back in.
Whatever tools you use, remember it will give you peace of mind to have your life more organized. You can organize your home, and your space, no matter how small!
Finally, remember it’s okay to donate or throw away something you no longer use! Most of my friends with clutter worry they “might” need something in the future, so they keep everything!
Instead, think of the blessings your items might be for someone else, and if you need them once again, they will come back to you! God ALWAYS provides!