You know, there is no secret to being organized, you just have to work it.
There are always articles, television stories, and radio programs about organization. They are full of secret tips for getting organized. I am not ashamed to admit that I have checked out my fair share of them. Each time I have walked away discouraged. When I look at the before pictures in the magazine or on the television shows, I wish my after shots looked that good! I want some organizing tips for a woman like me, a work at home wife and mom with four active kids. I have never found any tips that would work for my household, so in the spirit of necessity being the mother of invention, I have created my own organizing plan for work at home mothers.
The first thing you must do is get realistic about your life and living situation. If you have a small house and lots of people, things are going to look crowded because they are. Suck it up and keep moving. If you have the obligation and responsibility of a spouse and children, you may have to work around their schedules rather than picking your own if you want to be organized. If this is the case, suck it up and move on. Reality may mean you work your business after putting one set of kids on the school bus and before another set gets off the school bus. My big secret for getting organized is: get real and start working with the life I have, not the life I want.
Let me sum it all up by sharing a few of the things I learned that work:
- admit that perfect is not necessary, good is good enough
- stop caring what the neighbors’ houses look like, take care of your own
- make realistic work hours that fit your actual home
- get the whole family involved in keeping things organized
- put things away as you go along, not later
- make cleaning up a daily routine and get the whole family involved by making it fun – a 30 second tidy up period
Now for the hard part. These realizations didn’t come immediately and without pain. Most were the results of yelling, threats, and timeouts for the children. Over the years we have come up with dozens and dozens of ways to keep the house neat and organized. We have failed at this task more times than I care to count. Perhaps the reason we failed so often is because we were trying what should work or what others told us would work.
When I changed my mindset and started searching for ideas for our family, there was a change. Two of the children hate doing the dishes and you can never tell if the dishes were washed when they do them. On the other hand, one of my children absolutely loves doing the dishes and does an amazing job with them. Therefore rotating the chore of washing the dishes among all children sounds like a good idea. But in reality, it is a horrible idea.
We had similar results with sweeping the steps and halls. One child does an excellent job and thinks those things are easier than eating chocolate. The others call it torture and child abuse. Once we began to look at our family, our schedules, and our responsibilities things got better. Now in the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit that sometimes the house still looks like before shots. But, when we want, we can make it look beautiful.
These are ideas that work for me, a real work at home wife and mom with four kids. So the question for you this serene day is what are your real world organizing tips?