My Tidy Mite: A Few Organizing Ideas from a Naturally Messy Person


This is the widow’s mite of blog posts on organization. I am not, by nature, a tidy person. If you listen closely you can hear my parents snickering.

My room was often what my mother called “a fire hazard.” One could be forgiven for thinking that a fully packed suitcase had exploded in there. Daily. For thirteen years.

College was no different. The lines of demarcation between halves of the dorm rooms was made with clothing. The floors on my roommates’ sides were visible. Mine were not. I met my husband during this time, and after we were engaged, he looked nervously around my apartment. I’d asked him what was wrong. He shook his head and said, “I just want our house to be clean.”

And so it began, my nine-year odyssey in housekeeping. Met mostly with failures, I have had a few successes, and it’s those that I’d like to share with you today.

My tidy mites:


Monday at the Matenaers’. Photo courtesy of Meg Matenaer


The most ground-breaking discovery that I have made in the realm of laundry has been the advice to relegate its washing to one day a week. Impossible, I thought, when I read it in Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Home book. But Mrs. Meyers is a mom of nine and probably knows a thing or two about it, so I took her at her word. She suggested I do it on Monday so that the family has clean clothes for the week. And so I did. The result: total success. I spend all day Monday washing and drying our clothes and fold them Monday night and Tuesday during the day. Since there are few household tasks more dreadful than putting away laundry (perhaps changing the sheets on the bunk beds), I have the older children put away their own clothes. The rest of the week, the kiddos put their dirty laundry in a laundry bin in their rooms, and I don’t have to think about it for the rest of the week.


God in His infinite mercy gave me a very organized husband, so one day after coming home to a heap of broken, unused toys in our basement, he flew out the door and bought a bunch of plastic bins. He sorted the toys, each category going in its own bin. And then he bought plastic shelving to put in our basement on which the bins fit easily. This has truly revolutionized how our kids play with and take care of their toys and gives us an objective measure for how many toys we have in our house: if there are no more bins, something’s got to get tossed or donated before we can take another thing in.

A very tidy baby. Now, where to keep the grade schoolers? Photo courtesy of Meg Matenaer

A very tidy baby. Now, where to keep the grade schoolers? Photo courtesy of Meg Matenaer

I could go on…oh, wait, nope, I can’t. The rest of the house is still a problem area. I have nine more years to come up with two more great ideas. Lately I’ve considered getting bins for the kids. But, alas, they don’t fit.

January is National Get Organized Month. Have you had any success in organizing your house? Please share your organizing ideas in the comments below!


Copyright 2016 Meg Matenaer
All photos courtesy of Meg Matenaer (2016)


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  1. So glad you found solutions that work for you! From one “I don’t always look organized but I really am” person to another, that’s the key to getting organized! Check out my STYLE Savvy posts here and let me know what you think. I think we’re kindred spirits!

    Happy Laundry Day!

    • Lisa, yes! I think we’re kindred spirits, too! Your STYLE Savvy posts are so great. I laughed when I saw that I was indeed an I Need to See It/Drop and Run person! (And I think my daughter is, too–I’m always chasing her with things she’s left behind 🙂 These are great ideas for getting organized. I like your point that not all organizational systems work for everyone.

  2. Great post, Meg!

    Monday is laundry day here, too. It’s so nice not having to worry about that task the rest of the week (unless, of course, you’re in the middle of potty training!)

    A weekly family sit down with my husband and older children is great for organizing calendars and such. Sunday evening seems to work well.

    Finally, a strategy I recently learned for decluttering is to set aside time to systemically and periodically go through my belongings. I must pick up each object. Touch it. Handle it. Does it speak to my heart? Does it spark joy? If yes, then I keep it. If no, I recycle/dispose/donate it. My goal is to get my children to begin doing this with all their possessions as well. Wish me well, please … 🙂

    • Yes, I love my laundry Mondays (also, my parents live near a big Amish community, and Monday is laundry day for them, too. I always think of those ladies doing everything by hand when I get overwhelmed with the piles!).

      I love the idea of a weekly sit-down with everyone. My husband and I just started doing that and it’s helped so much. Our kiddos are still little, but that’s a great idea to have them join, too, when they’re bigger. I can only imagine how intricate your schedules must get during the week!

      I wish you the best of luck in your cleaning–what a great example you are to your kids!

  3. I cannot even fathom the idea of once-a-week laundry. There are certain items of clothing (school uniforms come to mind) that we don’t have enough of to make that work. I do laundry daily, except Sundays, so I’ve got a double batch on Mondays.

    • Barb, I understand. I didn’t think it would work for us, either. I thought that the laundry would pile up and smother us before we got to Monday. Miraculously, each bedroom laundry hamper can hold all the laundry for those occupants for the week. Our kids are still small, though, and maybe when their clothes are bigger we’ll need to do something different. And, yes, uniforms would be tricky–you’d need to have enough for the week. (Oh, but uniforms! I wish our school had them!) You are a champ to do it every day!

      • I’m down to only one kid at home (one in college and the oldest is out on his own) so it’s only about two loads a day. I love uniforms because they’re easy, BUT the price tag–I don’t have enough of all the pieces to get through a week.

        Also, you’ll find that when your kids are bigger their laundry will smell worse and you won’t want to keep it hanging around for a week! 😉

        The key, though, is finding a system that works for you. Since I work from home, a little daily laundry is no big deal. I can toss it into the wash, work for the 45 minutes the cycle takes, then put it into the dryer and get back to work while the laundry dries.

        I think having conversations with other moms about what works for them can give us some great ideas for tweaking our own systems. Everyone’s family has unique needs, but sharing ideas helps us think outside our own box (or laundry room) and that’s a GOOD thing!

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