Thursday, March 11, 2010

Organizing Your Home

From Jennifer Allen

Last month my mother moved in with us due to her illness. We have completely rearranged several rooms in the house upstairs and downstairs according to her needs and ours. All our books have been moved, furniture, and all my sewing room. Needless to say it has been a lot to pull it all apart and put it back together again. It unsettles me when my home is out of order. I'm thankful that we are almost back in order again! I ran across this article I put together on organizing in the past. Hopefully something in here will help and encourage you as it did me.

Organizing Your Home
At my church we were having Keeper’s At Home meetings. (I'll post on this at a later time) For one of the meetings a young mother, Rachael, asked her mom Elaine to share with us her thoughts on organizing in the home. I have been in Elaine's home many times through the years and know she is very good about organizing her home and personal schedule.

Elaine first started by mentioning we need to have our spiritual lives in order as Christian women. Your home can’t be a refuge from the world with peace and order unless you have submitted yourself to the Lord in spirit so He can come dwell in your heart and home. Then you change the physical reality of your home to what it should be, because there is peace in an orderly home.

Elaine shared many practical applications for us. Some of these ideas she shared are as follows:

Morning Cleaning:
As you are getting ready in the morning clean as you go. See how long it takes you to get each task done and in the future you could use a timer to keep yourself on time and ready for the next task. If you start your day getting ready in the bathroom pick up after yourself. After taking a shower you could use a squeegee on the shower door to make it easier when you are scrubbing the shower later on.

In the kitchen clean your dishes as they are dirty or rinse them off and put them in the dishwasher. Fill the dish washer with table dishes, not pots and pans. It’s quick and easy to wash the pots and pans yourself if a large load won’t fit in the dishwasher.
If you have small children teach them to avoid messes. Teach them to eat at the table with a mat and large plate to lean over. You can use plastic color plates, cups, and silverware for each child. If your child has for example green color for their dinnerware buy them green wash cloths as their napkins. That child can then wash their own dinnerware and put the washcloth in the laundry.

With the laundry give each child their own color for laundry tubs, one for clean clothes and one for dirty clothes. You could put pictures on the side of the tubs for children who can’t read yet. Maybe a frown face for the dirty laundry bucket and a happy face for the clean clothes. As they grown older they can fold the clothes in the their “happy” basket.

Learn to organize your mealtimes. You can have a grocery list and meal plan for your week. The days of your week can be organized such as laundry day is Monday, Tuesday’s are errand days, and soon. If you attend church on Wednesday evenings make sure you have simple dinner meals to prepare like a crock pot meal.
If you need to iron clothes and have room in your closet, go ahead and do your laundry and ironing for the week. Another idea is to iron the clothes for yourself or your family before you go to bed. I usually have my clothes ironed for the next day before I go to bed and hanging so they don’t get wrinkled again during the night. I wear a lot of cotton dresses and blouses so ironing is a must do for me!

Children's Chores:
An idea for your children’s chores is to create a chore chart with a one color for each child. If your child Amy is the red color she knows she will be bathroom, dishes, and feed the dog on Monday’s by looking for her color on the chart. To motivate your children with an evening pick up have a Redemption box. Your children have to get everything picked up by 8PM. As you go around the house and see anything they left out you put it in the Redemption box. You do not put essential items in the Redemption box such as a tooth brush. You can decide how the children will redeem those items in your family for Saturday night Redemption's.

Like Items:
In your home you can consolidate all ‘like” items together. Such as put all the CD’s in one spot. Keep all the sewing fabric in the one spot. It makes it so much easier to find what you need and to sort and get rid of extra items. If you home school you can save back toys for the younger children that are only used during the school hours. When school is over those toys are put away. One of Elaine’s daughters had a special doll that was for school time only.

As the mail comes in open it and sort it. You can have a basket that the bills are placed in. As I open bills I write on the envelope “due 9/15” etc. then keep them in order of what needs paid in the basket. It is important to have a filing cabinet for paperwork. Create a file for each member of the family and place important paperwork in it for each person such as birth certificates, immunization records, etc.

I really appreciated all the ideas Elaine shared with us. I am a person who loves to be organized. At the same time I am not a rigid “I will stick to my schedule” person! My Mom would drop anything to go help if someone needed it, and she passed that thought on to me. There is a reason to keep a schedule but you don’t want to become a slave to it. There are times you will need to flex and meet the needs of your own family or friends around you, even if your house isn‘t clean.

Another way to keep your home organized is to de-clutter often. I have cleaned house for elderly or sick people who needed help as a teenager. My brother, sister, and I did the housekeeping for my great-grandparents when they were not able to on their own. From these experiences I told myself I would never ever allow myself to collect so much stuff! It is so easy to have things pile up on you and before you know it you’ve become a pack rack. Even in this you can have an organized approach to taking care of it all.

If your home is seriously overcome with odds and ends of items you should try tackling 1 room each month. Have a get rid of tub with you, a trash bag for items that no one else can use, and tubs for storing or organizing things you can’t live without out. After my great grandparents died this “seriously overcome house” put my Mom, aunt, sister, and I to the test. We did go room to room and had to decide what would be garage sale, auction, a family keep, or off to the trash bag. At the time there were a lot of things that seemed to be of sentimental value that we all kept. After a few years of much of it sitting in the attic my Mom took her box out and weeded through what she truly wanted to keep. If you have a lot of sentimental items I would advice this method so you don’t regret what you threw away later on down the road.

For other homes you may be able to go through 1 room a week. I have done this before! I go through the closets, and linen closets while I am at it. If I have sewn or bought new clothes I try to go through my closet and get rid of something I haven’t worn in the past year as the new clothes go in. This spring when I get out my spring/summer clothes I will weed out clothes from my spring/summer set. I’ll make sure each skirt has a blouse or shirt that goes with it, the dresses aren’t faded, and so on. Then I will give to Goodwill or someone at church anything I don’t need or want. The same thing goes for shoes and everything in my dresser.

An idea I got from my great-grandma Schmidt is to have a gift dresser. As the year goes by and I find something that would be a great Christmas gift, birthday present, or baby shower gift for someone I know, I buy it and stick in the gift dresser. One drawer is full of wrapping paper , gift bags, tissue paper, and bows. I have some folders in there with cards for various occasions such as weddings or baby showers. This dresser came in very handy the summer I attended 7 weddings!

One year I sat down and wrote on a calendar all the birthdays and anniversaries of people I would send cards and or gifts to in the year. Each new year I sit down and rewrite the info onto the new calendar and in five minutes I’m ready for the year! Once you start organizing your home I’m sure you’ll come up with plenty of great ideas yourself. I am blessed to be the daughter of a woman who loves to be organized so I’ve had plenty of lessons in real life growing up. Take a look at your local library for some books on organizing so you can brush up on or learn your skills as a domestic engineer.

For more extensive ideas on organizing your home check out: Manager’s of the Home by Terry Maxwell, Books on organizing by Emilie Barnes, and books on cleaning by Don Aslett. His books are wonderful! Happy Organizing!



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