And Save Time, Money, and Sanity
Is the clutter in your home overwhelming your ability as a family to lead effective, less stressful lives? As busy parents we work to care for our partners and our kids, work as business owners or employees, and manage our homes.
Why Does Home Organization Matter?
Let’s face it – it simply is not fun to chase our children through the house looking for lost assignments, mittens, toys, or sanity because we failed to make home organization a priority. We don’t have to have commercial ready closets and pristine shelves of labeled everything in order to qualify as organized, but taming down the chaotic messes helps our families in several ways:
Saves time – less searching for AWOL items or spending extra time cleaning on the weekends because the mess mounted all week.
Saves money – less buying extras because you lost the first 2, and when you have a more organized approach to your home you truly understand whether or not you even need the first one.
Saves sanity – less stress from wasted time. While it might seem like an overwhelming task to organize a home, begin with a room, or a desk, and you can see that keeping it organized really does help in the long run to reduce family stress.
Tammy Schotzko, owner of We Love Messes, a professional organizing and eco-friendly cleaning service, recently shared with me in an interview some of the obstacles she sees in her profession that keep parents from easier home management. She spoke of the modern dual income families who are becoming more and more popular in numbers, and requiring a different approach to family organization because no longer is one parent the primary source at home for managing a family’s life. Parents have busy lives and busier children’s schedules to manage, and being organized is simply a saner way to live.
Not only will your days be less stressful if your home is more organized, but your children will learn to emulate these behaviors and have the same benefits in their lives. Tammy says that in her professional experiences one of the saddest things she has encountered is walking into a home and seeing the clutter and chaos and realizing that the children just aren’t learning to do anything better because the behaviors are modeled by the parents. When children live with positive routines they are more likely to model those positive behaviors and in turn behave more positively because they know what to expect.
How Can Families Become More Organized?
- Start young – even toddlers can learn to pick up their toys, put their dirty laundry in the hamper, and participate in the home’s care.
- Be consistent – develop routines that are easy for the kids to remember. If organizing does not come naturally to you, start small and build from there so you and your family members don’t feel overwhelmed.
- Share the load – as Tammy spoke about it with me, kids will be very comfortable letting you do the work if that is what you teach them to expect. If we enable them to create messes (and messes are more than tangible disasters in toy boxes) because we don’t enforce the routines and plans, they won’t learn to do anything else.
Tammy also shared these 3 top tips for parents who are working to create more organization in their homes, and lives. (these are right from Tammy, the organizing horse’s mouth)
- Make your bed every morning. Crazy, right? Hear me out – it starts your morning with a positive note of accomplishment, it instantly de-clutters the space, AND it’s a great habit to model for your kids. It’s such a small, simple thing, but it has far reaching impact.
- A place for everything, and everything in its place. Yes, putting things away takes more effort than setting it down with the intention to come back to it, but setting it down “to put away later” is how piles and clutter begins. If you don’t have a place for everything, maybe you have too many things…our space defines what we can have, not the other way around. There isn’t a closet system around that can fit 50 pairs of shoes in a closet that only has space for 25, I don’t care how creative you are!
- Routines. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they are essential – kids are less demanding if they know what is expected of them.
What Challenges Do Families Face When Getting Organized?
In her profession, Tammy sees what most of us can probably relate to on some level – “family buy in” – where the brunt of the family responsibilities fall on one parent’s shoulders – often the mom’s. The family buys into the idea that Mom can do it all, often because Mom tries to fit that unrealistic mold. Both Mom and Dad need to be in agreement on the expectations of the children’s contributions to maintaining the household, and both parents need to follow through on making sure those expectations are upheld.
Tammy also shared with me other obstacles she sees keeping parents from getting and staying organized.
We just can’t get more than 24 hours in a given day. We need to make more efficient use of the time we have, and even though getting organized might feel too time consuming, being organized really does save us time.
For new parents it might be the gadgets that they think babies need, which ends up being stuff that floats around the house unused, and worse yet, maybe saved for the next baby to not really need.
It might sound like a science experiment, but growing stuff is what happens when our kids continually accumulate more toys, art supplies, video games, and whatever tiny, plastic thing you will step on in the middle of the night, without us helping them purge those unused items.
If you’re still feeling overwhelmed about a chaotic and unorganized home, take a deep breath and start small. Tammy shared with me these two specific tips for organizing with your kids (and they don’t require a ton of time or resources).
- Organize school papers – and start in preschool! Tammy recommends using a durable bin or storage container that kids can use to put their saved schoolwork in throughout the year. At the end of each year, have the kids go through the bins and save what they want – give them ownership.
- Use a family calendar. In Tammy’s home this is a dry erase board where every Sunday each member of the family (her kids are 13 & 17) is responsible for writing down their weekly schedule, all color coded. In my family it is a monthly wall calendar where each member of the family has his or her own column, and family members add their activities. As my husband says – if it’s not on the calendar, it isn’t happening! There is no efficient way our family of 6 could operate without a clear and consistent way to organize and appreciate everyone’s schedules. You can use a dry erase board, a formal calendar, or print your own – but creating a family calendar is an easy way to help everyone in the home stay on track.
On those days when I feel overwhelmed, I might want to stick my head in the proverbial sand, but I usually start by cleaning my kitchen. I am far from a neat freak (wink to Tammy!), but I have learned that ownership and responsibility start in my own home, with me, if I ever hope to pass those lessons along to my children. Special thanks to Tammy Schotzko for taking the time to answer some questions about home and family organization!