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How do you keep you and your family organized?

First, think of organizing as reducing, arranging, and maintaining. You have to lead by example and put your things away and be consistent so your family sees that it is possible in this crazy 24 hour life! If you start to get behind, set a timer if necessary before bed or in the AM for 10 minutes to catch up.

Communicate well, be specific, and tell them your expectations. Don’t just say “clean the playroom.” You have to provide the tools necessary to stay organized like having storage options for everyone to have a place to put things away. Some ideas are to have a bowl/basket or set of hooks by the front door or kitchen for keys, phones, purses, backpacks, lunch boxes, and dog leashes. Have a container in the laundry room for dark, light, and white clothing and cubbies/baskets if possible to distribute the clothes when cleaned or to be cleaned. You will need shelves for books, containers, drawers, and hanging options with more hooks in the bedrooms, the office, and or playroom. I like some sort of label too. If a label maker is too much, just use blue tape (painters tape) and a marker or a sticky pad. If little ones don’t read yet, place a picture of the item that goes in that container on the front of the container so they learn early on to put it back when finished playing. I would sing a song with my daughters that said “clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere clean up, clean up everybody does their share.” Remember it’s all part of the communication. I even put a note in the pantry by the crackers to say eat this first instead of having too many things opened. I also think the family forgets what is in the refrigerator and they need to be reminded to eat something that will perish shortly. Don’t be too serious and keep your sense of humor.

Get everyone together once a week to review what is working and what is not working and make adjustments as necessary. Establish who is doing chores like dinner, clean up, laundry, mail, garbage, or decluttering a high traffic entry area. Life happens so there will be clutter so maybe use the timer again with some motivating music to create dance time neatening. This is especially helpful when storage areas & shelves get crowded as it’s time to pare down again. I have heard people talk about the “clutter jail” too. This is stuff that is left behind and you will have to decide what to do with these things. For example, I couldn’t get my daughters to clean up some of their shoes and I threatened to throw them out and one day I did (good thing they got them out in time). This might be drastic but I am sure you can figure out how to make a point. No matter what, life will never be perfect so be realistic.

Some people are messier than others and especially teenagers. If you have one or two at home then let them keep a “little” messy spot as part of their room. If you want to look more into the cerebral component of family organizing there are many books. Gretchen Rubin has a few like Happier at Home, Better than Before, Outer Order, Inner Calm, and The Happiness Project.

The goal is to live better with less and in harmony.

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