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I think every mother can share the feeling of finally getting your little one(s) to sleep and walking out of their room to see the rest of her home must’ve been hit by a tornado that just blasted through. It happens to every single one of us. I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand
a mess of numerous messes.
I understand there are times and places to get messy or to make a mess, but feeling overwhelmed because your entire home is a mess and you’re going to spend a large chunk of time cleaning it is completely different. So, to (almost) completely eliminate this frustration from my life, I’ve come up with a few tips for staying organized throughout the day and hopefully avoiding binge cleaning three hours before someone comes over.
My first two tips are adapted from a wonderful book recommended to me by my sister-in-law called The Happiness Project.
1. If you can do it in a minute or less, do it right then! There are little messes and to-dos we pass by throughout the day and think, “Oh, I’ll just do it later.” If each of those things takes a minute to do and you find 10 oh-I’ll-just-do-it-later, you just made a 10-minute chunk of things you’ll have to do later. On top of that, you’ll be less likely to do it, because there will be way more to do. If you see a pan sitting on your stove, a group of toys on the floor, or walk by the laundry room knowing there’s a load sitting in the washer, take literally ONE minute and do it. It will stop you from accumulating things to do later, and it’ll be one less thing you have to worry about.
2. Have a tidy-up session before you go to bed. If you’re like me, you have a hard time telling your body it’s time to shut down and go to bed. If you’re not like me, you might fall asleep on the sofa before you even make it to bed. Either way, if you implement this time into your routine before bed, it will do two things:
Get the remainder of your to-dos out of the way, leaving you to wake up in a refreshed and clean home, AND possibly get your body into a routine that will start to tell your mind when it’s time for bed.
3. Create decor out of toys or items that would normally just cause a mess. Take the toys and things you normally would hide or store away day after day and display them. It’s fun for the kids to have their toys on display and available whenever they want to play with them, but it also creates less work and easier access for you.
4. Create an organization center to make communication better and to cut back on forgetfulness. Before children are thrown in the mix, having everything under control and remembering dates/to-dos is a breeze. However, once you have a family, the part of your brain that had control over everything is now just trying to control day-to-day with the little one(s). Create a board or calendar next to the refrigerator or front door where you’ll constantly see it and keep every little thing you can think of on it.
This way you, and anyone else in the house for that matter, can remember important dates and events, have a physical list of things that need to get done, see the mail, and so on. It’s one of those things that, once it’s set up, take a minute or less. If you think of something or make plans, go write it on the board.
5. Don’t let the time-consuming chores get backed up. This one is the hardest for me because the most time-consuming chore and the chore I hate the most are one and the same: Laundry. One time after getting caught up on all my laundry, probably at 2 in the morning, I decided I never wanted to do binge laundry (or any time-consuming chore) again. So, when there’s one (yes, ONE) load of laundry that’s accumulated, I do it––no waiting, no putting it off, do it.
I can throw it in the wash in a minute or less and the same with changing it over, then I can sort and put the clothes up during my tidy-up session before bed. This way, I don’t end up doing more than one load of laundry in a day, it takes me maybe 10 minutes altogether, there’s no frustration trying to find or sort through anything, and I can honestly say I don’t feel like I have to do laundry that often anymore.
Laundry is my best example, but this rule should apply to anything that’s time-consuming or can easily be put off and get backed up. It’s better to take a few minutes on separate occasions throughout the week than having to take hours at one time.
6. Declutter your home. Studies show when you live in a clean, organized environment, you feel better and you’re inclined to get more done. Take a day, weekend, or even a day each week until it’s done to tackle decluttering your home.
This one is time-consuming, and a lot of you won’t do it, I understand. I always wanted to declutter and simplify my surroundings but just never made the time for it … until I had to move. And I don’t mean move a room full of stuff from your dorm to a one-bedroom apartment, I mean move an entire family and household FULL of clothes, furniture, appliances, electronics, decorations, pictures, and on and on and on. Something like that can really make you reconsider what you need and what you don’t.
After a couple of months of living in our new house, it was time to get organized for good. I started by sorting through everyone’s clothes and getting rid of every single item that wasn’t being worn. I then organized all the cabinets, storage, under-the-sinks, and junk drawers with either labeled containers, tiny corner shelves, or small storage boxes and threw out all the things we never used.
Any paperwork or mail sitting around was filed into folders and for any toys or items that float through the house, there is a designated spot for them when they’re not in use. There are tons of helpful tips and ideas for decluttering, but that’s a whole different blog. In a nutshell, downsize, get rid of anything if you haven’t used it in the past year, and organize the items you have left.