5 steps to a ‘sort-of’ organized home

Keeping a perfectly organized house can be a challenge with children, but you can easily have a “sort of” organized home.

  • 1. Create a place for stuff Walk through your house and find a home base for items you commonly find strewn throughout your home. Decide on a place for your children to put their backpacks when they come home from school each day. If you are constantly searching for your kids’ shoes, get a small shoe organizer and place it near the door. Install hooks at your children’s height so they can hang up their jackets. Be sure to find a spot for your purse, keys and cell phone

    Joetta Tucker, professional organizer, suggests creating an “In box” for mail and school papers. Have your kids pick up their papers from the “Out box” after you sign them.

    Mom of toddler twins, Sarah Shaw, frustrated with bath toys overtaking her bathroom, hung a mesh bag on the wall over the tub.

  • 2. Use labels, bins and bags For organizing children’s toys, use bins and label the type of toy that goes into each bin. For younger kids, put pictures on the bins so they can put items in the appropriate place. Put small toys and game pieces in sealable sandwich bags to keep the pieces together and label the bag with a permanent marker.

    Families with multiple children of the same sex often find clothes getting mixed up. Tucker suggests putting one small dot, using a permanent marker, on the tag of the oldest child’s clothes. “When the child outgrows it, add a dot to the tag and hand the item down to your second child,” Tucker says.

  • 3. Pick small projects Your house did not get cluttered in a day and will not get uncluttered in a day. Pick a small project to start, such as a junk drawer. After you have finished, enjoy your success for a few days and then pick another small project.

    “You can’t organize clutter; you can only get rid of it,” says Marla Cilley, the “Flylady” who shares her organizational strategies on her Web site, www.flylady.net.

  • 4. Get your kids involved By enlisting your children in your battle against clutter, you are reducing your work, teaching them good organizational habits and helping them learn responsibility.

    “When your child sees you making your bed, she is going to try to make her bed, too. Don’t allow your perfectionism to get in the way of her following you. Don’t go back and redo how she made her bed,” suggests Cilley.

  • 5. Pick your battles When your children grow up and move out, it will be a lot easier to have a perfectly organized house. While your children are young, have realistic expectations about the state of your home.

    Pick the few areas of your house to focus your organizational efforts on. For example, if having a tidy laundry room makes you more productive, then spend a few minutes every day straightening it up.

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