How on earth does a gal keep a big house looking (and functioning) mostly-organized most of the time?
It’s all about rotation of effort, y’all.
If I went through my house trying to organize every nook and cranny each and every week, I’d be mad and exhausted and I’d never be done. Furthermore, I’d probably get so overwhelmed I’d run away from home, and then you know how organized my family would be? 0%.
A few years ago, I saw a blogger’s 52-week organizing challenge and the women in my small group at church all agreed to try it. For at least eight months (I think, if memory serves, we fizzled out at the end of the year) we got a weekly email and worked on the area of our home the blogger had identified, and we texted each other before & after pictures–which was hilarious and motivating, for sure.
That group of friends wasn’t up for repeating the challenge, but I’ve stuck with that strategy ever since.
At the start of the year, I brainstorm a list of fifty spaces in our house that need to be overhauled. Yours will be unique because our homes and families are all so different, but here are mine in 2019:
guest room closet
fridge & freezer
kitchen: wall cabinets
kitchen: island cabinets
great room: drawers
great room: bookshelves
master bathroom cabinets
purses & luggage
upstairs hall closet
rec room: books
rec room: movies
annual family album
addresses & contacts
back to school
Abigail’s baby book
So, a few things might have jumped out at you. Some of these are going to be QUICK & EASY. It should take me 20 minutes, maybe 30, to use a critical eye on my shoes and donate the ones that I’m not wearing anymore. Some of these make sense in certain seasons of the year (for example: the holiday decorations get organized as I use them; the address books gets updated when I send Christmas cards).
And did ya notice that my 7-year-old STILL has an incomplete baby book? Ahem. Yeah. She’s noticed, too. (It is true, that thing they tell you about how you’ll overdo it with your first baby and then perhaps fall a teensy bit behind with your third baby. TRUE as can be!)
The fact that it’s STILL on this list should make it clear that this is a tool, but it’s not magic. Every year, some of these are easy for me and some fall off the beam.
I copy this list onto small stickers, and then each week when I’m planning, I choose one organizational area to focus on for the coming week. If it’s going to be stressful and crazy anyway? I pick one of the 20-minute jobs. If it’s going to be a week when I have lots of downtime, I’ll pick a longer one. Or during good weather I’ll tackle the garage. Change of seasons makes a good time to handle the kids’ closets. 🙂 Make sense?
If I get to the end of the week and the job isn’t done, the stickers have removable adhesive so I can carry them forward into the next week, or I’ll just re-write the task on a new sticker and save it for another time.
And let me explain why I do fifty and not fifty-two. We are incredibly fortunate to be able to go away on vacation most years for one week if not for two. Even if we don’t go anywhere special, I like being able to do a little less around the house during spring break and fall break when my kids are off school.
I really do try to keep most of these areas organized as we go. But no matter what, with five people and three dogs and the pace of life –somehow we do seem to end up with clutter we don’t need, arrangements that get crowded, and mess that needs to be tidied. Using my yearly rotation helps me worry less about the spaces that are getting out of hand, because usually that means they’re up next in the rotation anyway. The spaces that are spic-and-span probably JUST got attention, and everything else is at least in a livable state for a little while longer. 🙂
What’s the hardest part of whole-home organization for you? What strategies work for your family in this season of life?