You have a toddler–or three. You work from home. You work outside the home. You’re a stay-at-home-mom or dad. You volunteer. You have hobbies.
Whatever the specifics of your situation, spending a lot of time organizing and tidying up just isn’t a reality for you. You don’t have whole weekends to devote to decluttering, or even a whole day.
And you probably don’t want to. Understandably, with your limited time, you want to do something else: hang out with your family, be outside, have a date night with your spouse, read a novel, write your novel.
Still, it’d be nice to find your stuff, and keep a relatively tidy home. You’re certainly not aiming for perfection. You merely don’t want your space to look like a tornado swept through it. And you’d like to feel good when you’re at home, instead of wanting to get out because it’s such a mess–or not wanting someone to stop by because you need to pick up first( i.e ., throw everything in the closets ).
Below, you’ll find a variety of helpful tips-off from coordinating experts on how to get organized and stay organized when you’ve got young kids afoot, and you don’t want to spend too much time tidying up.
Realize the real problem. Paige Trevor’s clients regularly assume they have a time and organizing problem. That is, they think they don’t have enough time, and they think they need help with organizing their homes.
However, when Trevor, a certified parent educator who pens the popular blog Nifty Tips, sees that these households literally have thousands of objects, such as toys, trinkets, puzzles, stuffed animals, crafts, and volumes, she tells them what the real issue is: “volume.” In other terms, they–and likely most of us–have too much stuff.
Similarly, as Tracy McCubbin, said, “the less we have, the easier it is to organize.” McCubbin is the owner of the organizing and decluttering company dClutterfly.
Divide items by two. “As the mother, we are the gate keepers of the house and so have the authority, life experience, and judgment to decide the appropriate number of stuffed animals, volumes, toys, crafts, clothes can enter in our house, ” said Trevor, who’s helped thousands of mothers deal with common, everyday familial annoyances and overwhelm, and foster healthy and mutually respectful relationships with their kids.
Whatever number you come up with, divide it by two, she said. “You’ll hate me now and love me later.”
Take out the same number that you take up. In other terms, if you get one book, give away one book. If you get two shirts, give away two shirts. Trevor noted that your children might cry or balk at this idea. She indicated having them help you choose which items to let go of. “[ T] hey can help with the select, but not choosing is choosing that you choose.”
Purge before big holidays. Do a major doll decluttering before big gift-giving holidays, said McCubbin, author of the forthcoming book Making Space, Clutter Free: The Last Book on Decluttering You’ll Ever Need( June 4th, 2019 ). She suggested looking for toys your kids haven’t played with in months, toys that are broken or missing pieces, or playthings that your kids have outgrown.
Give them to your neighbors who have younger kids, or donate them to an organization that works with foster children, McCubbin said. “Involve your children in the donation process. They are never too young to learn that there is always someone in need.”
Go slow. “If spring cleaning is on your to-do list, do it slowly, ” said Ronni Eisenberg, a professional organizer and author of 10 volumes on organizing, including Organize Yourself ! One of the most important one reasons we don’t start coordinating projects is because they’re overwhelming. We think about the time and energy that we don’t have.
Instead, Eisenberg suggested giving yourself a week to tackle two projects: For instance, the first week coordinate two closets; the next week focus on the mudroom and pantry. Or if that feels like too much, complete one project per week. Which means you could have your entire house organized in a few months, or less.
Organize like with like. McCubbin said that this is the best tip for coordinating kids’ spaces. In other terms, set volumes with volumes, and dolls with dolls. “Using this simple method builds for easy clean-up and even better, stops the’ Mom, where is my _______? ’”
“If things are always put in the same place, then kids know exactly where to go to find the toy or volume they’re looking for. Or even better, they know exactly where to put it away, so they can help with clean-up time.”
Tidy up for 10 minutes. Trevor indicated tidying up the common areas of the house six days a week. “Expect kids to dawdle, and do a less-than efficient and perfect job. If you keep it light and fun, without lectures or letdown, you will build the habit of working together, and after a few months you will have kids that willingly–for the most part–pitch in.”
Have a positive position. Similarly, our perspective “will seep into our kids’ thoughts and notions about tidying and organizing, ” Trevor said. So, if you’re hesitant, grumpy, and frustrated, your children will likely be all of that, too–and nothing will get done.
Of course, keeping a positive position about organizing isn’t inevitably easy. Try to incorporate fun ways to declutter and tide up. Put on your favorite music. Set a timer, and build decluttering into a game: How many things can we get rid of in 10 minutes? Remind yourself and your kids that the nice things you’re donating will be enjoyed by other people.
Set regulations that attain your life easier. Eisenberg shared these examples of rules you might set in your household: Leave shoes by the front door, so you’re not tracking in dirt, “which creates more run and clean-up.” Keep toys in one area, and have your children clean up at the end of the day. What other rules can you establish that simplify your days?
Keep the entryway clutter-free. “The front hallway, or your entrance, is the window to your house’s soul, ” said Trevor. “Keep it decluttered with only seasonal items that are being used multiple times a week.”
Keeping this area neat also “greets you with the message of,’ All well and good, you got this! ’” which means you’ll “enter your home life with more sanity and love, ” Trevor added.
Create routines around problem areas. According to Trevor, “once established,[ routines] generate so much freedom.”
Think about your current challenges–grocery shopping, getting dinner on the table, piles and heaps of laundry–and how you can create a strategic routine, or incorporate those tasks into a current routine.
For example, Eisenberg noted you might run the dishwasher every night and unload it in the morning, even if it’s a small loading. You also might have defined days for certain tasks, such as laundry on Mondays, she said.
Trevor said you could plan your snacks on Wednesdays, shop on Thursdays, and cook a few meals for the week on Saturday. “Double up recipes and freeze half,[ so you get] two dinners for the effort of one.”
Go digital with bills( or actually any kind of paperwork ). “And to make sure digital bills don’t get lost in the email jumble, download your bank’s app and set up reminders when your bill is due, ” McCubbin said. “That way you never miss a payment.” In addition to bills, what else can you do electronically?
Take care of things right then and there. This way you avoid an inevitable pile-up of chores and stuff that’s out of place. Eisenberg shared these examples: Keep rags under the sink so you can quickly clean up your kitchen and bathroom; teach your kids to make their beds as soon as they get up; teach your kids to hang up their coats and backpacks( employ hooks ); and have laundry bins in the bathroom and bedroom, so clothes immediately go into the hamper.
Live by this motto. McCubbin suggested following this motto for the entryway, but it actually works for anything in your home: “Don’t set it down, put it away.”
Decluttering, organizing, and maintaining a tidy home with kids isn’t easy. But it’s also no longer possible. Maybe you can outsource some of the cleaning( after reworking your budget ). Maybe you can start small, and do a little bit every day. Maybe you’ll discover that after decluttering your cabinets and closets, you actually don’t need to do much organizing.
Just remember to do what works best for you. It’s your home, after all.
Read more: psychcentral.com