I am a creative kind of person. I can handle a decent amount of chaos. I juggle several balls with work, six children of various ages, home, and more, and I expect to drop at least one regularly. I am not a perfectionist, by a long shot, but I try to do a good job when I undertake a task. In my mid-forties, with kids spanning diapers to voter registration, I’ve been around the block a bit on the mom-front.
So now that you know a little about me, I feel I can share this bit of advice: Organize.
I’m not a naturally organized person and I have the home and car and life to prove it. But organization is important for progress, success, peace. It saves money, time, worry, and stress. It provides needed structure for children. It doesn’t need to be perfect; it just needs to work in the real world. Take a look at these pictures and you’ll see what I mean.
Throughout the Bible, we see God organizing His people, and reorganizing. We see leaders setting up systems, laws, plans, jobs. Acts of the Apostles is filled with it as the new Church continuously organizes itself under the guiding hand of the Holy Spirit.
“…but everything must be done properly and in order” (1 Cor 14:40)
So here are some tips from a not-so-naturally organized been-there-done-that mom:
Keep a master calendar. Do it electronically so you can access it from your computer or phone. Keep everything for everyone in one calendar so you are aren’t going continually trying to cross reference everything. Dance class, airport pick-ups, altar serving, feast days, vacations, work deadlines, basketball games: it’s all in there in one place. If a teen wants to know if she can … , she first checks the calendar online to see if it is even feasible.
I also always use a shopping list app. (I use OutofMilk, but there are lots of choices out there.) I usually have my smartphone around so I update it right when I think of something. This way, I can’t forget my list as long as I have my phone. I keep a list for needed clothing items with sizes, one for the club store, a to-do list, meal planning lists, etc. So much less paper — and put together by people who are way more into staying organized than I.
Let go of stuff. Your kids don’t need nearly as many toys or clothes or shoes as the Jones’. We have a warped view of normal in the USA as far as possessions go. Extra items can be simply donated or sold online. Kids will get excited about purging if they see an impact on the piggy bank. Have them give some of it to charity and enjoy some too. You’ll teach them not to get attached to the things of this world.
There are some things you just need paper copies of. Every home should have a personal filing cabinet for birth certificates, passports, tax returns, sacrament certificates, vital school records, copies of your will, financial records, etc. When you need to find these, you really need to find them and a lack of organization can cost you days of work and expenses in replacing things. Additionally, keep a big plastic box for each of your children to store more sentimental items you want to save. This can go in a long-term storage area like an attic or garage.
- What doesn’t have a home in your life? What has a home that isn’t working? What is really in each of those closets? Snoop like you are a hired professional organizer on a reality show who was hired to judge you. What room should these things be in? What would work? Where should these things go?
- Where is the wasted space? Is there a strange little nook in the hall closet? Is there floating space above items under the sink in the kitchen or bath? Are there unused spaces in bookshelves, dressers, garages, attics or basement?
- Dream with question marks. Even if it isn’t your usual cup of tea, scroll through the Pinterest, YouTube Channels, and blogs of the uber-organized and ask, “Would that really work for me?”
- What do you need to make this work? Storage carts, drawers, labels, racks, shelves, etc? Do you need to build something? Jerry-rig something? Buy something? I highly recommend investing in this area of your life. I’m not talking about a new dresser from an antique store, but some plastic organizers can transform a closet or the inside of a desk. You can definitely go crazy and overspend on this, but for less than $100 you can transform your life. Don’t forget that a sturdy cardboard box with a legible label is just as effective as a purchased storage tub.
Make it Happen
Take one area, one category of your life to attack each week or each month. I find it’s best to commit to a day (usually on a weekend) and just go! If cleaning products are displaced when toiletries are organized, just throw them in a labeled box and deal with them next time. You are in charge of this. You’re shoveling the snow bit by bit. Don’t let it become an avalanche ready to bury you.
This is not a one-time thing. Life happens and life changes. You’ll need to reorganize your stuff regularly. At least every 2-3 months some level of reorganization needs to happen in our lives. It takes time, energy and maybe even money. Some of us love it and some hate it, but it pays for itself on all fronts, quickly.
Whether you are a free spirit, like me, or an organizational guru or somewhere in between, I hope you find some worthwhile advice here. The start of the new school year is a great time to undertake an organizing project. And please, please share your own tips with us in the comments!
Copyright 2017 Kate Daneluk