Managing work-life balance can be difficult, especially when it comes to keeping your home tidy. Sometimes other families' homes look so neat that we often wonder, "Do they really have kids?" "Do they spend all their time cleaning?" Organized people often have a system in place for keeping their house tidy and typically it's a few small changes that make a difference. Here are a few organization and cleaning tips for busy moms and dads.
Home Organization Tips for Your Family
- Develop a house cleaning list or routine for you and the kids. It's much easier to be organized and declutter your home when you make putting things in their place a priority and a habit. When you come in the house, put your things away as you go. Stow away your shoes, hang up your coat, put your keys in a special tray or on a hook, place your mail in the paper pile for later sorting, and designate a spot for backpacks, purses and briefcases. Teach the kids to hang up their coats (you may have to install lower hooks for little ones), and throw gloves, hats, and other outerwear in their container (for more on individual containers, see below). Have them immediately take all the paperwork out of their backpack (you may have to do this for children 3 and under), and put their lunchbox, with the day's uneaten food removed, away. Make sure the kids understand why they are helping with these chores and acknowledge a job well done.
- Have a small kid's area in almost every room. With the exception of perhaps the dining room and your bedroom, have a space for your children's things in each room of the house. One home organization tip for a clutter-free room is to place the children's toy boxes, shelves, or baskets in a corner of the room nearest to the entry of the room. That way when you look into the living room, for example, it looks clean because most of the children's toys and games are tucked away in the corner. It doesn't mean children don't use the whole room when they're actively engaged, but after play, their things go back into their area. Here are a few more toy storage solutions to keep your home organized.
- Use large baskets or other containers for "catch-alls" and quick clean-ups. Have a toy basket in the kitchen for quick toy and book pick-up. Have a container for each member of the house in your entryway. They can dump their things there and you can use the containers to distribute miscellaneous items you find around the house to the correct family member. At the end of the day, everyone must clean out their box leaving only the things they will take with them in the morning. This also eliminates the never-ending question, "Do you know where my (insert item) is?" If someone left it lying around, they'll most likely find it in their container.
Tips for Organizing Kids' Rooms
When it comes to children's rooms, even the most organized parents may feel frustration. Why? Parents tend to want their children to organize and keep their rooms clean according to their rules. And that's OK to a certain point, like no food allowed in your room (or at least your bed), make up your bed each morning, place dirty clothes in the hamper, and put your toys away.
It's often "How realistic are our expectations?" that may get in the way. Preschool children may not be tall enough to make their beds, and school-age children may not do it as neatly as we could. Help your children organize their room in a way that gives them lots of opportunity to be successful according to your "clean" expectations and allows for their own style and comfort.
- Throw out what you don't use. Get rid of old toys, clothes, and clutter. Create a space for a few special, sentimental things. Teaching your child how to sort what items to keep, donate or throw away is a first great step at home organization.
- Divide the room into areas. Make an area for books, one for toys, and another for writing or coloring.
- Make clean-up easier. Place a laundry basket, trashcan, shoe basket, and toy box in their room or closet. Toddlers and preschoolers may not line up shoes in a closet or toys on a shelf until they are older, but even little ones will toss things in a basket. For easier bed making, use a comforter instead of a bedspread on your child's bed.
- Have your child do a quick cleaning up routine before bed. Make cleaning a habit by encouraging your child to do a quick pick up before bed. Have him lay out clothes for the next day.
- Use child-height storage and shelving. Use the space on tall bookcases and shelves for displaying items or decoration. Have your children store the things they use on a regular basis in clear containers or bins on the floor.
- Be realistic with your expectations. Organization is an important skill that children need to learn, but as long as there's no mold or anything else growing in their room, a daily “pick-up” and a weekly “clean-up” should do it.
We all want to create a home where we feel comfortable and relaxed, and every family has different definitions of clutter and clean. There's probably some difference even between family members. How and what you organize is up to you, but getting organized should alleviate stress, not cause it. Sure, there will be some adjustment time if we are taking our family through an organizing transition, and most likely, some resistance from the troops. But some good organizational efforts should make our lives less hectic, and we could all use that!
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