You have your own living space. You and your children might live in an apartment, a condo, a duplex, or a single family home. Heck, you might even be setting up camp in your parents’ basement until you can get back on your feet. Regardless of your living situation or location, there is always a need to stay organized. Honestly, it’ll make you feel like you kind of have your life together if you can keep your clutter together.
We all have clutter. Stuff accumulates. You’ve even purchased things that you have never used. It doesn’t take long and you have lost your reading glasses and you cannot remember where you last left the checkbook. It could be in any drawer. All your stuff is piling up everywhere. Your kids have difficulty finding matching pairs of socks and their homework disappears among the stacks of papers on the table. You can’t remember the last time you’ve been caught up on the laundry, either.
Let’s face it. Not everyone can be Squeaky-Clean Jolene. She has everything together and seems to be able to spring clean weekly. Her van even sparkles when she brings the kids home from soccer practice on a muddy day. And how many colorful organizing totes does it take to organize writing utensils and cutlery? You’ll have to ask Tidy Heidi. You see her unloading bins and baskets from her car each time she comes home from shopping. Her pantry and closets must be spic-and-span!
It doesn’t matter how other people live. Stop comparing yourself to them. Many people have difficulties seeing the benefits of organization. They toss the idea out the window because they don’t mind having to step on dirty clothes scattered about the floor or have to clear a place to sit free from newspapers and bills. Others have slightly ambitious thoughts, but that’s where it stops. Then there are others, especially single parents, who dismiss the whole idea because they run out of time in the day.
Hold your broom, Cinderella. It’s going to take some work and effort, but you can do it! Let’s take it room by room and you’ll see that in just a few minutes a day, organizing will become part of your no-sweat routine. Let’s assume that you don’t need to take too much time gathering up stuff that doesn’t belong.
Grab a few garbage bags, some empty plastic totes (with lids), and any basket you have available. You’ve cleared out the clutter; that’s the first step. Now you can simply organize what you have left! How do you keep your living space appearing tidy and presentable? Even if you don’t feel completely organized, you can appear to be.
Admission time. Raise your hand if you’ve ever done the laundry, folded the clothes, but instead of putting the clothes away in the closet or dresser where they belong, you’ve set them on a chair (or floor or gasp! You left them in the laundry basket?!) of the bedroom. Us, too! You’re not alone, that’s for sure. Like it or not, keeping tabs on clean clothes one of the best things you can do to keep your sleeping areas clutter free.
Those darned clothes. Everyone needs them but they’re the source of most of the chaos in a bedroom. Always make a habit of putting away clean clothes. In fact, now may be a good time to go through closets and drawers. Get rid of things you no longer wear. The same rules apply for the children. Color coding your closet will give it an organized feel. If you’re not into hanging your sweaters, fold them neatly before placing them on a shelf. Fold and sort things in drawers, too. If you’re out of space, organize based on the current season. You don’t need your summer clothing out if it’s winter. Store extra clothing in totes or clothing bags until you need them next.
Make your bed. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but straighten out the blankets. Have your kiddos get in the habit of doing this, too. Other things to think about every other week or so would be to wash the bedding, dust surfaces, blinds, fans, and wash the windows. Try to stay on top of the easy tasks, such as keeping your articles of clothing put away at all times. This way, you won’t have so much to do all at once.
Your Kitchen is next.
Where in your kitchen would you like to see some organization? Go ahead. Narrow it down. You might want to know what’s hiding in the dark corners of the pantry. Others could be interested in knowing what is in each cupboard, because after some time, nothing seemed to have its own place anymore. If you’re like us, it’s too easy to close the doors on the cupboards and that dreaded pantry. What’s the most obvious, though? The countertops! They’re a catch-all for everything except what should be there.
Our favorite tips to keep the kitchen space clean involve baskets and organizers. The thing is, you don’t even have to spend loads of money. You likely already already have plenty that you can clean out and reuse for the kitchen space. Keep the clutter off the counters. You need prep space for the food. Speaking of food, it’s important to organize the pantry and know what is there. We label baskets for things such as granola bars, oatmeal, fruit snacks, other snacks, etc. Pasta is kept together. Sauces stand with other sauces on the shelves. Cereal is located so it's accessible for the littles.
If your kitchen is too small for your liking, it doesn’t have to be a drag. In fact, you might find that adding a small island will provide some work space. If you don’t have a designated pantry, don’t sweat it. Just try to keep things organized as best as you can. Keep your counters clear. Clutter on the counters makes a small kitchen feel that much smaller. Go through your cupboards, eliminating things you don’t use or have expired. Give every dish its own space. Once you eliminate the items you don’t use, you’ll free up some additional space.
Living Space is next.
In a perfect world, the clutter would take care of itself. Or, you could snap your fingers and make it all disappear like Mary Poppins could do. Reality is such that if you want something picked up or tidy, you’re going to have to do it yourself. Sorry, but that’s how it works, unless you have a magic wand or the ability to wiggle your nose. Chances are, you don’t. Let’s talk about the next best option.
Your living room needs to be functional. It’s where you sit and relax to watch movies with your kids. So much of your time together takes place in this space. Keep everything picked up. Give everything a home. We’ve seen clever ways to keep blankets folded or rolled up and out of the way, yet they remain easily accessible for those chilly nights. Throw pillows can easily be tossed back to their respective place. Toys and other items should always be picked up and put where they belong. Get a grip on all the cords and while you’re at it, put the remotes in an easy-to-locate drawer or basket.
Stop forgetting that it’s not just you. You don’t have to do it all on your own. Prior to bedtime each night, ask the kids to help you tidy up. You don’t need to dust and vacuum daily; just keep things picked up. You’ll begin to notice how much less stressed you’ll feel when you can wake up in the morning to semi-clean living spaces.
The Washroom Is Next
Keeping the bathroom/(s) organized is never a fun thing. We’re not saying organizing and cleaning is fun all the time, but the outcome is terrific. Before you head to the bathroom to work on its transformation, get a trash bag. You’re going to need it.
The first step is to purge. Get rid of all things that are no longer used and outdated. With the remaining items, you’ll want to separate the items into categories. Of course, there’s hair products, skincare, makeup, other toiletries, etc. You’ll want to keep out the products that you use frequently and put them in an easy-to-reach location. The rest can neatly get put away.
We’ve found that even if a bathroom seems tiny, there are some clever things you can do to create some storage. For example, don’t forget about the space above the toilet. You can mount towel racks or hooks. There are even some great ideas out there that include hanging baskets, even. One of the best things you can do to keep your bathroom organized is to keep everything off the counters. If it’s not in use, put it away.
You may not feel like a natural-born organizer. That’s okay! (Why do you think people invented cute little baskets, bins and organizers?) We’ve learned these tricks from others and it has helped us to have a tidier living space. If you can remember that everything has a home and remember where that place is, you’re going to love how tidy your quarters look!
We hope that you are able to see some value in keeping things organized and that you’ll feel proud of how you have cleaned up the clutter. Don’t forget to get your children on board. While you’re teaching them to mind their manners, remind them to mind their own messes, too!
Cleanliness and organization can be habit forming and when you step back and look at your home, smile. You’re creating a happy and inviting environment for your kids! You’ll have clean spaces to build blanket forts and cozy areas to snuggle to read bedtime stories. You’re going to enjoy spending more quality time with your loves once you’re a bit more organized!
by Lyric Anders, writer