Updated: Apr 27, 2020
I see you Friend!
You are suddenly working from home while simultaneously doing your creative best to homeschool, entertain and feed your frustrated and ravenous offspring.
Your home, which may have already felt a bit cluttered, is now also expected to accommodate your work-related items, the kids' homeschool and crafting supplies and an assortment of paper products that you (and I, in the spirit of full disclosure) bought “just in case.”
Social-distancing has left you feeling isolated, your “new normal” feels a bit out of control and your cramped quarters are not helping.
Never fear! I am here to bring you glad tidings of great joy!
There IS something that you can establish some control of, and that something is your home. All of that “stuff” that you have been avoiding sorting through and organizing? The time has come to confront it and get set free from it. And I am here to help!
So get ready. It's time to get homeschooled in the art of organizing.
1. Start with the end in mind.
Why do you want to get organized? Include your kiddos in this conversation. As a family, write down your reasons or find/draw pictures that show what you want your home and life to look like after you are done. Get out the Modge Podge and go full collage if you like.
Just remember to be incredibly specific and refer to your reasons and pictures often during your organizational journey. They will put fresh wind in your sails when you most need it. Here are mine if you need some inspiration.
2. Lead by example.
Your kids are smart cookies. They can smell hypocrisy with the same level of bloodhound accuracy as when they smelled your secret stash of nom-noms on your chocolate-laden breath. If you want your offspring to get organized, you've got to go first.
3. Organize in order, by category.
Y'all I have drunk the Marie Kondo Kool Aid and declare it to be good! The KonMari™ Method is the best way to get your home organized once and for all.
The 5 categories in order are:
For kiddos, substitute as follows:
Paper = Greeting cards and good-grief-entirely-too-many-arts-and-crafts-projects
Miscellaneous = Toys, toys and more toys
Start with clothing. Go in order. No cheating and no cutsies.
4. Sort, evaluate and store. Repeat as necessary.
Let me level with you. This process is not for the faint of heart. Not all of your kids will have the same level of enthusiasm or capacity for this kind of endeavor, especially in the beginning.
Two words of advice: Go. Slow.
Seriously. Start with one subcategory of clothing.
Day 1: Socks.
Day 2: Undies.
Day 3: Jammies.
You get the picture. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
And because kids are constantly growing and changing in both body size and interests, their belongings need periodic re-evaluation. We generally do this every quarter or so, roughly corresponding with the change in seasons. The last time I did it was on Christmas-Eve because I'm a crazy person.
5. Thou Shalt Not Finalize Storage Until The End.
This part is hard, but don't order a bunch o' bins. Storage is not the genie-in-a-bottle answer to your organization dilemma. And chances are good that you already own most of what you will need anyway. So slow your roll.
6. Keep it simple.
When the time does finally come for storage, nobody is going to sort subcategories into little baskets and bins. Give them big boxes/drawers with broad general categories.
If your kid wants to sub-categorize further, congratulations!
They are probably an Enneagram Type 1 personality like me! Good luck and Godspeed...
7. Give every item that you choose to keep a labeled home.
If you want the fam to put it back where it actually goes, you've got to give them a clear sign.
It can be a tag hot off the label-maker, or it can be a notecard your kid drew a picture on and you laminated with packing tape. Punch a hold in that puppy and hang it on your box/bin with a piece of ribbon. You are winning!
8. Reward tidy behavior.
Now that you have just de-cluttered, I would suggest rewarding your kids with something that doesn't take up permanent space. Something that is consumable or that is more of an experience works best.
You know what motivates your kids.
In our house, it's TV time. The phrase “All the little girls who want to watch (40 minutes of unashamedly educational) TV have to clean up their rooms first!” has been said so often that it has become a part of their routine.
And items have to be put away in their actual homes as opposed to shoved into random hiding spots or they have to redo it.
Now for a few parting thoughts:
1. View this process as an experiment.
Give it a solid try. Pause and regroup when necessary. If you don't like it, or you find your family is just not ready, you can totally revert. However, you may be surprised to find that you like the new organized normal better after all. And once your family sees how awesome-sauce your stuff is (because you went first), they will want to get in on the action.
2. Keep the trust.
Do not get rid of someone else's belongings without their permission. This includes your children. My exception is if your child is too young to have reached what I call the “age of reason” when it comes to evaluating their belongings. My nine-year-old has been capable of this for years. My 4.75 year old? Not yet. You are the expert when it comes to your kids.
3. Have fun!!!!!
If it ain't fun, I ain't doing it. And neither are your kids.
You've got this! You've already been homeschooling on the fly and prepping your fla-billionth home cooked meal. You can do hard things.
Now, go get 'em, Tiger!