It’s 6 am Friday and the kids cannot find their hairbrushes. The toothpaste has less than a squeeze left, and there are napkins on top of the empty toilet paper roll. A few of us are hovering over the sock bin in hopes of finding a matching pair. My youngest finds mismatched socks and swings her arm back, as she strikes her brother in the eye with one.
There were few groceries in the house, so the breakfast and snack options were bleak.
Boom! I suddenly realized spring is the busiest season of the year and an extreme level of chaos is normal. I have three children in five activities, and the only way to survive is to get organized. I called my husband on my way to work and we agreed to spend all day Sunday cleaning and organizing.
Sunday arrived and we cleaned and organized every inch of our house in 11 hours. We discarded eight extra-large hefty bags of things we didn’t need and donated two bags to Goodwill. I ordered everyone new socks on Amazon to start fresh and all of the hairbrushes were found and put in their places. Winter clothes were packed and summer clothes unpacked. The Amazon Fresh grocery delivery arrived promptly at 7am.
Today is Monday, and what a great morning. I started with my daily run, and when I returned home my youngest had already eaten breakfast, showered, dressed, and brushed her hair. The kids had socks (no hovering required) and a large volume of toilet paper was neatly stacked in the newly organized linen closet.
I anticipate it taking 15 minutes per day, per family member to keep the house neat and organized. Wish me luck.
Here are tips to help organize in one day:
- Work in small sections at a time. My family of five worked in each room together.
- Keep a large bag for garbage, a bin for storage, and a large bag for donation with you as you travel from room to room.
- Store seasonal items neatly in garage or basement and label the bins. It drives me nuts to find Halloween costumes or snow pants in the dirty laundry basket in July.
- Ditch the clutter. Stuff = stress.
- After you clean and de-clutter, prevent future clutter by changing your buying habits. Wait a few days before purchasing that item you think you need. You’ll be surprised how often you decide not to purchase if you wait.
To stay organized (so far these have been my best practices):
- Keep the home stocked with necessities. This is extremely helpful organizing technique. This saves time and money because it eliminates special trips to the convenience or grocery store. I have a whiteboard in the kitchen to keep a running list of needed supplies. When we run low, I often order from Amazon to replenish items within two days. Amazon frequently has competitive prices and when they don’t, I add supplies to my grocery order.
- If it’s possible to have your groceries delivered, do it! Stop wasting your time driving to the store, dealing with crowds, waiting in long lines, and loading your groceries into the car. Time is money, right? Who enjoys waiting for the persnickety shopper in front of you to choose that perfect dozen eggs? There are many delivery services but my most recent favorite is Amazon Fresh. They deliver your groceries in nice little coolers to your front doorstep and you don’t even have to be home! The minimum order is $40 and the delivery fee is $14.99/mo for unlimited deliveries. Lately I’ve been ordering daily deliveries that arrive on my doorstep before 7am ($280 per week for a family of five is not too shabby). You’ll never run out of anything because your next delivery is only 24 hours away. Stay tuned for an article on how grocery delivery has helped create balance for my family.
- Involve your kids in the organizing. My kids are required to make their bed, open the shades, put their clothes in the hamper, and put away their toys every morning. This takes them 5 minutes because it’s done daily. They also do daily chores, which takes another 10 minutes.
- Do one load of laundry per night, assuming you have a large enough family to warrant it. Keeping up on laundry has relieved morning stress for my family. Check out our article How to Tame the Laundry Monster.
So now that your house is organized, you have to maintain (see above tips). Each person in the household is responsible for their own space. The common areas are everyone’s responsibility. I make this a game in my home. Anytime I see something of theirs in the wrong place (clothes on bathroom floor, toys in living room etc), I give them a mark. Whoever has the least amount of marks at the end of the week gets a reward. They became competitive with each other which worked out great because it meant they weren’t leaving their belongings everywhere. This takes some parental effort to enforce but after some time they become accustomed to cleaning up after themselves. Bonus is you won’t have to spend a whole day organizing again if you can keep everyone on track. Have fun!