Are you like most of us who have trouble keeping things organized? Here are some tips that have worked for me.
1. Identify problem areas.
2. Break problem areas down in to 2 categories: things where how it is organized matters and things where how it is organized does not matter (Like your bedroom where no one is likely to regularly be in your room except you).
3. In my house, these are the things where how it is organized matters:
-In my house, clutter on counters sneaks up and somehow overnight, it takes over. Each week, find a time to go through everything on the counter. Are there major categories? Mail, newspapers, magazines, junk?
--Mail- we sort junk out immediately in to the recycle bin. My mail goes in to a decorative box that I look at each weekend. My husband takes his mail to our office daily. If he cannot grab his mail, we stack it neatly in to one pile for him. The kids know to take their mail to the room.
--Magazines and Newspapers- we sort these in to a pile. Most of them are mine, so I read them every weekend and recycle if I cannot do it the day they come.
-Dishes are a constant problem. I assign the 4 kids a night, and they then help out on the remaining days on a rotating basis. The weekends are the easiest for me to help out, so my kids are assigned a day M-Th.
-Kids' clothes and misc items all over the house. It has taken me nearly 20 years to figure out this system. Now, I usually place their items on the stairwell to upstairs, and they grab it as they go to their room. If they tend to ignore it, I place their items outside their bedroom door- they must step on it to get in to their room.
-Shoe organizer- I have a place where each kid can leave about 3 pairs of shoes in the entryway without it getting cluttered. They are not always good about putting them on the organizer, but it takes them 60 seconds to clean the area.
-Bench by doorway- I have a bench by the front door since it seems it is too challenging to hang a coat. (A helpful friend once said- "Just have them hang them up when they come in the house. Hmm... if it were that easy, none of us would be dealing with this everyday.) There is no great space for bookbags, so the kids over the years have gotten better about leaving the bookbags there and only 1 coat or sweatshirt. My kids know there is a limit to what can stay there. Again, it is easy to clean the area when guests come over. I also leave a basket on the bench that holds the leashes and doggie bags.
-Dirty clothes/kitchen towels on main floor- my kids leave dirty socks all over the place. I have a small laundry basket in a corner that is easy to throw dirty stuff in to it. Then I grab it when I do laundry or place it in the laundry room when guests come over.
4. In my house, convenience can reign where how it is organized does not matter:
-I will admit it- I have struggled to find a great place to put my pajamas other than the floor. Sometimes the temperature can swing substantially in a week. So I may have more than one set of pajamas being worn. I use a nice wicker basket to throw them in to. Since I started this, I have had always taken care of them. My dog loves it too- she thinks it is a great place to lie down while I get ready.
-Closet- closet systems seem really expensive, and some use cheap particle board that does not hold up. My husband and I have a walk in closet. We bought two hickory pantry cabinets and added shelves to store our folded clothes. Some items- like work out clothes and tank tops do not store well on a shelf. We place these items in to a basked that is placed on the shelf. We bought two 3 drawer hickory cabinets for undergarments and socks. This system has worked well for us.
-Office and craft room- the plastic 3 drawer systems have worked well to store a number of items. Plus, if the original purpose is no longer needed, we can then easily re-use it for something else.
-Dirty laundry- hampers seem to add steps and have only one purpose. Each kid gets a laundry basket (a couple kids have kidnapped two or more baskets) for dirty clothes. Then it is again used for clean clothes. Ideally, they put the clothes away. But, they do not all do that. At least the clothes end up in a basket and not the floor.
-Cleaning caddy- I have at least one of all of the cleaning supplies in a cleaning caddy. Each kid is assigned a bathroom on a rotating basis. They can then grab the caddy, and they have everything they need. We keep it in the basement utility room, and it has been an easy way to get the kids to clean. Now, I just remind them weekly where they are assigned. And as of writing this, they all cleaned their areas promptly Saturday morning.
5. Get in to the habit and find solutions that work for you- it will not always be easy. But keep trying until you find a system that works for you. Cleaning my house everyday is not an option. I do not want to be the mom who always yells at her kids to clean up. So it is important you find unique strategies that work for you and are easy to incorporate in to your lifestyle.