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When you stop and look around you and there are messes, clutter, and idle hands, but you feel overwhelmed in what you are doing, it is time for this webinar. In raising up a family of soon to be eleven children, I have learned a few tricks of the trade. Most importantly, it is important to know when to sit and be with your family versus when to roll up your sleeves and get to work with your family beside you. Your family doesn’t help enough? I have some ideas for that, too. I hope you will join us for this free webinar.
We’ll be discussing:
Organizing by seasons
Taming the Laundry
Train your family up to be willing helpers
Organizing by seasons
Taming the Laundry
Train your family up to be willing helpers
When to work & when to play
We in America have a buzz word—home organization. Everyone has a plan for you. You can probably think in your head about several homes you think are perfect and want your home like that.
The problem we have is too much stuff. The stuff we have manages us. It takes from our happiness, time, money, peace, and sometimes our sanity.
On the opposite spectrum, some spend more of their time and sanity chasing after each thing out of place or that catches our eye. When can one sit and find rest for the soul?
Home and family organization really starts with you, the matriarch of the home. We often want to pass the blame or excuse ourselves, but the power lies in our own hands. I hope today to empower you with new ideas, inspiration, and systems that will help you in this ongoing process of home and family organization.
Start with the Organization Traps
In our modern world, we have a greed problem. It is entitlement. We often feel entitled to have everything we want, but what are the costs, and do we really need all this stuff?
Let’s start with all the new technology. In Inner Mongolia, there is a manmade lake in China. This lake doesn’t contain water. It contains toxic sludge. To get the iPods, iPads, gaming systems, and big screen TV’s, you need the earth’s minerals. The problem is that mining them is a hugely toxic, radioactive, and hazardous process which results in a huge amount of poisonous byproduct that looks like something in a dystopian novel. But this is real. Because of our consumerism, we are directly involved in creating this lake, which is about 5.5 miles in diameter.
Entitlement affects more than our outer world. It affects our internal happiness. When we are always in search of the next item to bring us happiness, the search will never end. It brings momentary pleasure, then becomes yet another belonging to maintain. If the item was purchased with credit, the emotional chains to the debt one owes are added.
In our culture, we’re taught to shop for happiness, to go out to eat, to have expensive hobbies, etc. There isn’t much emphasis on the simple, beautiful ways of life that require less time, stress, and money. Gardening, reading, hiking, sight-seeing, entertaining, etc.
This brings us to:
There is an entire business with the motivation to entice you to shop and spend time in the store. It is called Store Psychology. They want to make you feel good to stay there. They want you to want to visit often and stay a long time. The longer you stay, the more you’ll buy…the more the placement of belongings will make you feel like you need these items in your home. The best advice I can give you is HAVE A SHOPPING LIST and STICK TO THE LIST. Use cash, if possible. Psychology has discovered that we do not spend more when we have cash. Limit your time in the store. Don’t shop hungry, tired, angry, or otherwise impaired. It does cloud our judgement. I have discovered I spend twice as much when I shop with kids as when I don’t. I now plan my shopping trips with one child as a mommy/child date or no children.
Do we mistake worldly goods or bank accounts with wealth? True wealth is finding satisfaction in everyday life. True wealth is finding satisfaction in family and relationships. True wealth is in finding and nourishing our relationship with God. True wealth is finding satisfaction in increasing our knowledge and understanding. True wealth is good stewardship over what is ours.
Next are these:
Comparison is the thief of happiness. Stop comparing. Being inspired is different. There is no jealousy in being inspired—just respect and an inner desire to produce something similar in one’s own life. If you find yourself in this trap, start counting your blessings. You are more abundant that you remember.
Spare time Pitfall
Are we shopping in our spare time? Spending hours of our life we can’t get back watching junk television or wasting time surfing the net in ways that do not improve our lives? Where are you wasting time that you could spend it getting organized? Make a goal this year to catch yourself in these pitfalls. If you want to surf the net, set a time for yourself. Go to the gym after your 30 minutes, clean the bathroom, organize a closet, do something to improve your home, family, and self.
A disorderly home can lead to a disorderly mind; sometimes vice versa. It is important that we order our minds to order our homes. When there is too much going on in your life, your energy is spread and separated in many directions, and so is your mind. Choose now to simplify your life. On the Homemaking Cottage, we feature many articles to help in this. I’m going to name 13 articles just to give you an idea: In the Home; everything should have a multiple purpose; Clean as you go bathroom tips; Linen Closet Organization: A Primer; Practical housekeeping tips; Redoing a room with simple rearrangements; How to Tidy your Bedroom in 10 Minutes or Less; Clutter Affects Your Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual Growth; Accomplish any task 15 minutes at a time; 5 ways to get motivated to clean; Taking some laundry Tips from the French; How to Purge What you Don’t Love; and Help for the Organizationally Challenged.
When I need quiet time or uninterrupted time to think, sometimes I have to leave the house. I’ll go to a library, a park or my favorite place in nature to think. Turn off the cellphone. Write two master lists.
Master list one:
Room by room: how to you want it organized? What is stored/lives there?
Master list two:
What do you want straightened up/cleaned up daily? (Be realistic, push the limit.)
What do you want done (what should be done) weekly?
What should be done monthly?
If it’s too much to start with daily, go backwards and work from monthly to daily. Then decide on a regular scheduled day for the monthly’s (every 4th Sat?) and weekly’s (Fridays?).
As you create your master list, it will help you to visualize what is there in the room and what needs to go. Also, what additional supplies you might need to get that room ship-shape, such as baskets, bins, a bookshelf, rearranging, etc.
Where does your stuff pool?
Imagine water in your house…pools. If you’re upstairs or downstairs, as the case may be, where does the flow begin: usually down or up, or at the staircase? Where does it pool? Is that where junk piles up? What systems or organization can you put into place in those areas?
Next, we have these:
What stuff is your nemesis to keeping your home clean?
Papers, toys, clothes, dishes? Make a list of these problem areas, and then learn new ways to conquer them. Multiple solutions for these are featured on the Homemaking Cottage.
Let’s discuss some symptoms and ideas for Cures
Symptom: No or Inefficient/Ineffective Systems
It’s better to spend your time improving something than in any other pursuit. I love Stephen R. Covey’s books. He teaches some wonderful systems.
Stephen R. Covey in the book The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness shares four critical disciplines that are helpful for parents:
- Modeling trustworthy behavior—having good character and integrity. It’s not a “do as I say,” but “come along and let’s do.”
- Path-finding—deciding what your focus is as a family. Setting goals, having mission statements, helping your children to do so as well. It is your family’s “voice” to the Lord. This is what we do to serve you and love you.
- Aligning—aligning our will to the Father’s and putting ourselves below others.
- Empowering—too many times we nag, follow, and do things for our children, instead of empowering them to make their own choice in a loving environment of natural consequences, mentoring, and parental guidance.
Putting into practice these four disciplines can help us as we develop systems to manage our belongings and our family life.
The way to tell if your system is ineffective or Inefficient is this: it isn’t working. You are having a hard time maintaining it. Maybe you’ve lost your interest. Maybe it’s too complicated. Maybe you’re the only one maintaining it.
As I reevaluate why something isn’t working, I find it’s also important to find out why I’m insisting on it. Perhaps more than the system has to change. Sometimes the kids own too many things to care for. Sometimes, (real life example) I want something for the home, but no one else values it. Perhaps I need to let it go. For instance, a bench seat in-between two bookshelves. I had visions of a cozy reading nook. My kids see it as the perfect place to stack things. The cure: get rid of the bench.
Some systems we have developed and are always working on:
Clean as you go—when you finish using the bathroom, what are things you can do to make it better than when you went in?
Inventory Management—What do you use the most? Running out of? Inventory management is essential in any well-run business. When you go to the grocery store, you expect the items you often shop for to be in stock and available. When they aren’t, you don’t often think highly of that store or manager. I was a manager and inventory keeper years ago of a restaurant. If we ran out of food, no one was happy, and we had to go out of our way to borrow or buy the supplies needed until the next truck came, and I was in trouble. It is hopefully not that extreme in your home, but no one appreciates sitting on the toilet and realizing the empty toilet paper roll was the last in the house. This falls back on organization and inventory management. Refer often to your master list. Have a shopping list on the refrigerator or other central location for those who use the last of something to write a note of it.
Homes for belongings—A place for everything and everything in its place – and everyone knows the place. I find it helpful to have frequent family conferences to discuss changes of placement, organization, problems in personal organization, etc. We discuss solutions and make commitments to be better. I also find it helpful to make the item easier to put away than to get out.
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Symptom: No or Weak Willpower
“The first and best victory is to conquer self; to be conquered by self is, of all things, the most shameful and vile.”—Plato, Philosopher
Willpower is the power one’s spirit gains over the desires and weakness of the flesh. It is a false notion that it is unattainable in this life. We are only limited by ourselves. “Character is determined by the extent to which we can master ourselves toward good ends. It is difficult to say just what builds good character, but we know it when we see it. It always commands our admiration, and the absence of it our pity. But it is largely a matter of willpower.” (April 1975 Ensign, “Success is Gauged by Self-mastery”)
Symptom: Lack of money management
I have found that a lack of money management skills can throw off home and family organization in no time at all. I highly recommend you find a good money management system and sit with the family to teach and involve them. Plan out your meals together; let them be involved in shopping for the ingredients. It teaches everyone that food or money doesn’t just grow on trees, and they learn to respect what you have in the kitchen is not all fair game, making it easier to create the planned meals. Learn ways to say time and money. Learn new skills to do this. Teach these to all of your family, regardless of their age. It is never too early or late to involve all of your family in learning money management and wise stewardship.
Symptom: Holding onto everything
Another problem that can get in the way is that we don’t want to let it go. Perhaps we feel it has meaning, but no value to use other than that. Perhaps we’re worried we might need it one day (very unlikely). Perhaps it makes us feel powerful, a part of something bigger than ourselves (I’m someone special because I own this). Sometimes we’re indifferent- you have it because you’re supposed to. Europeans take pride on having less. Less is more. What you own owns you.
Have you ever stopped to consider the amount of useless items we have in our homes? Useless items are more common today with the accessible materialism of the twenty-first century. Some examples of useless items are: home décor trinkets, papers, household items that are rarely used, boxes of unused items we never open and use. In the kitchen, how many dishes or small appliances do we have that just sit in the cabinets unused?
The typical Swedish homemaker for centuries has been a minimalist and adorns her home with objects that are multi-functional. It is not necessary to adopt the minimalist furniture or home decorating style of the Scandinavians to improve your home’s functionality in decorating and organization. Simply finding new ways to reuse an item in more ways than the original intention is a form of art.
Symptom: Too overwhelmed to begin
When you look around at your home and it’s in disarray, and you look at your family organization and want to cry, take heart. You can only climb a mountain one step at a time. Start with the master list. I then recommend the most crucial areas first: kitchen, where we need to be at least 3 times a day. Then, the place we eat—the dining area. Next, the living area. Laundry is next. Then, bathrooms, followed by personal spaces. Last is closets and storage. This is how I organize when I feel that things have gotten out of hand. Yes, it happens to the best of us.
Symptom: Family: baggage or your asset?
We teach people how to treat us. If we are apathetic and do little to stand up for ourselves or our environment, then we become victim to it. Having vision and willpower can be the cures to having your family be your baggage.
Proverbs 29:18 “Where there is no vision the people perish.”
What are the most important things to you and your husband that you want for your children to know by the time they leave to go into the world on their own?
General MacArthur’s prayer for his son:
“Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak; and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid; one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat and humble and gentle in victory.
Build me a son whose wishes will not take the place of deeds; a son who will know Thee and that to know himself is the foundation-stones of knowledge.
Lead him, I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort, but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenge. Let him learn to stand up in the storm and to feel compassion for those who fail.
Build me a son whose heart will be clean, whose goal will be high, a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men, one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past.
And after all these things are his, give him I pray, enough of a sense of humor, so that he may always be serious, yet never take himself too seriously. Give him humility, so that he may always remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mindedness of true wisdom, and the meekness of true strength.
Then I, his father, will dare to whisper, “I have not lived in vain!”
Confident and well-rounded. All household/cooking skills. The knowledge of where to go for answers. To be good citizens, to be virtuous. Self-motivated. Leaders. Inspirational.
What do you want for your children? List 10-15 key things you want for your children to know/be when they leave the home. Remembering we need to teach and provide the environment to help them bloom into these things. Remember: if you shoot for the moon and miss…you still land among the stars.
Ways to get the family involved
Turn OFF the electronics. Keep them off. Get rid of them or find systems to manage time on there. Again, the Homemaking Cottage offers solutions.
Motivation – rewards, its natural consequences
Continuity – lacking trust to enforce
Setting timer – for certain time then get time reward
Competition – great and amazing chore race
Daily stuff before breakfast – missed meal, stay in pajamas to the store
Don’t change your mind about priority – causes confusion
Choices – they choose favorite chores
Specific marked places
Not managed – it goes bye-bye, option to earn it back
Taming the Laundry Monster
If laundry is an issue managing, you own too much. I have my children allowed 7 outfits, 2 church outfits, and 2 pairs of pajamas. When the seasons switch, we swap, one for one, buying new things for those who need them.
At any given day when the laundry is overwhelming us all, we go to the laundry mat and get it all done in a few hours.
If the folding is piling up, again, it’s the same issue: you own too much. Have a folding party and as you go through it, get rid of laundry. Bless others. Give to the poor and needy. We often don’t need what we have—we just think we do. Having a hard time getting rid of it? Ask yourself some questions:
Who are you trying to impress?
Why are you emotionally attached to this piece of cloth?
Why does this cloth have so much power over you and your decisions?
What does it represent to you?
Let all of that go and throw it/give it away. It’s easier to keep cute outfits in good repair for your kids if you don’t keep buying so many. You can ONLY wear ONE outfit at a time. That’s it.
Buy outfits you can mix and match, and make 7 outfits into 49 outfits. Creativity is ingenuity.
What motivates me personally is seasonal organization. I’m addicted to getting rid of things. Trust me, stuff some to be almost as fast. Did you know the average American family accumulates more than 1,000 pounds of stuff a year?
Pull out the seasonal clothing—need more room for snowsuits, boots, mittens, etc? Have systems and places for all of these.
Christmas decor is so beautiful. Have less storage “stuff” and more freedom by using seasonal decor that is from nature. A real tree compared to a fake tree, a fresh wreath as opposed to a fake wreath.
Putting the bulky items of winter away is cause for celebration. Replace these with places for rain gear, umbrellas, and rain boots.
We always do a top to bottom, room by room, cleaning of the entire house. Go through the pantry and get rid of old food; start fresh plants in the kitchen window. I give myself a full week to do it, and we do it as a family. We are armed with trashbags, cleaning utensils, bins for storage, and boxes for donations.
Our organizing include our garage or storage. We go through seeds, pots, and soil for planting. We get rid of more storage items we haven’t used in a year or two.
Summer’s warmth means we need to shed the heavy. Nothing for cold weather is left out. Summer clothing is lighter, which means laundry is getting done faster. Kitchen organization is easier because we use more of our electronic cookware to do the job. Spending more time outdoors means less mess inside.
We always do a top to bottom, room by room, cleaning of the entire house. I give myself a full week to do it, and we do it as a family. We are armed with trashbags, cleaning utensils, bins for storage, and boxes for donations. Inventory seasonal clothes, put them away, get ready for fall clothes, and shop accordingly.
Here’s my rule for donation or selling items. If they aren’t gone in a week, I take them to a donation drop off point. Nothing is allowed to sit around my house—it will end up integrating back into the house.
When to sit and just be
I’ve often see some women up and moving about, going from task to task. Even having a visitor, they had a hard time sitting and just being. I was that woman at one point, too. It took a lot of self-evaluation, prioritizing, and realizing the importance of knowing when to just be still. Clutter can happen in minutes when you are raising a family. Sometimes, dishes pile up. I feel that it is important to find that balance between work and rest. You know what it is innately. Sometimes we take counsel from our whims. Sometimes we take counsel from our fears. And sometimes we take counsel from the wrong voices. Having an organized home and family doesn’t mean it is perfect. It means it is efficient, progressing, loving, patient, clean, and homey. Each of us has our own standards. Each of us can improve. Some of us can relax more, and some of us need to work harder. The more we work to find the balance and go to God in prayer, the more we will find it.