I can honestly say that my home stays organized most of the time. My children are all now in school full time, but they are with me after school. I manage their school/sports schedules and communications, volunteer for school functions and field trips, assist with and check over homework, along with all the other stuff that comes with being a mom. I support my husband in his career and endeavors. I manage my business and work with clients (organizing and home staging). And I’m training for an Ironman triathlon. Did I mention I have 3 BOYS?! I wear a lot of hats. A lot of big hats.
I recently had the privilege to speak to a local Mothers of Preschoolers group where I started my talk with sharing this about myself. I quickly heard the gasps in the room and “But how do you have time…”, to which I responded, “Oh, but it’s not perfect.” Its far from perfect. And that’s okay with me. Organized does not mean perfect. Organized DOES mean time saved. Organized does mean I can do all of these things and still have quality time with my family.
Below are a few tips I’ve specifically written for you mothers with young children, and sparse time.
1. Make your spaces serve YOU. Not the other way around. Too many of us spend copious amounts of time trying to make things work with a faulty system. It does take work to change the set up of a space, but in the long run time will be saved, and a lot of it! Evaluate the function of each room. Ask the question: “What do I want this space to do for me and my family?” Take note of the furniture and storage availability. Are the right pieces in place? Remember that items are best stored within the space that they will be used. This helps you avoid the syndrome of “not putting things back where they belong.” If you change diapers on the living room floor, you need storage for diaper change items (and not necessarily a changing table) in that space.
2. Less really is more. I know its cliche, but it is the absolute truth! The less we have, the more we appreciate what we have. And the less we have, the less we have to manage. I want to address the most common thought processes that prevent people from letting go.
Someone gave this to me as a gift so I can’t get rid of it. First of all, your heart is right in wanting to honor those who give you gifts. So be proud of that. However, I see too many people who are stressed out living under all this “stuff” that has been given to them that they don’t use, let alone like. That’s a lot of pressure. Remember that you were the one who was granted the gift. I won’t go too deep into this, but a true gift has no expectations attached. Verbalize your appreciation to the giver, and treasure them in your heart. Give yourself permission to not keep what you do not use.
If I get rid of these toys, my kids will miss them. The majority of our children have too many toys. Period. And if yours are like mine, they barely play with toys anyway. We think that the more toys are kids have, the better play experience they will have. The opposite is actually true. The less options children have, the more focused, creative, and in control of their environment they will feel. If you think you feel shut down in the midst of chaos and too much stuff, imagine how a child feels!
I don’t want to get rid of it because I might need it “one day.” We live in a society that is infiltrated with stuff. Do not spend years or even months carving out valuable space in your home for items that you may or may not ever use. If you need it “one day,” then you can go get it off of Facebook, Craigslist, or at one of the many stores in your area.
3. Think outside the box with storage. Choose furniture that doubles as storage. No one wants storage cabinets to cover their living spaces. Choose tables, bookshelves, benches, and ottomans that can conceal and store items in the space. Repurpose things you would otherwise toss like egg cartons and pasta jars for sorting and storing small things. Pinterest is full of great ideas and storage hacks that are free or inexpensive.
4. Personalize your closet. Your clothes should make you feel good. As should your closet. Organize your closet according to what makes sense in your brain. Divide the seasons and color code. Or intermix the seasons and color code. Divide according to purpose (causal vs. professional). There’s no wrong way to do it. The right way to do it is the one that makes the most sense to you.
5. Clean in your own style. And no I’m not talking about your choice of clothing while you’re cleaning, although you definitely don’t want to see mine! All of us have different styles when it comes to cleaning. None of them are wrong. I have found my style changes according to my season of life. With 3 boys around, my biggest focus is keeping my house organized and clutter free. I also clean regularly, though I don’t enjoy it as much. Right now I typically choose 1-2 days per week to do the cleaning tasks such as vacuuming/mopping floors, cleaning bathrooms, dusting, etc. I can get that done within a few hours while my children are away at school. At one point as a stay-at-home mom, I had a spontaneous schedule. Schedule, as in I made myself clean a space every day. Spontaneous, as in I didn’t decide what I was going to clean until the morning of, and chose according to what needed it the most. I also took advantage of bath time to clean the sinks and toilets while my little ones played in the bath. Last summer, my boys were old enough that they could actually “help” clean without me going behind them, and I paid them. We got everything clean top to bottom in a few hours. I will do that again this summer!
I hope you’ve enjoyed my tips for getting and staying organized in this crazy, amazing season of mothering little ones. If you don’t remember anything else, remember this: You do not have to be perfect to be organized. These are two entirely different things. Being organized means taking charge of your home and your stuff instead of letting it control you. And if I can do this as a far-from-perfect mom with a crazy schedule, then you can too!
Love to the Mamas,
Get Organized. Simply Live.