Keeping the home: two of five

(Don't miss part one: Thoughts on Housekeeping and Things I do to Keep my home. This introduces the series and offers vital information to understand these tips and put them in perspective.)

Part Two: The ABC’s – Organizational Tips

Organizational Tip “A” — Acknowledge Your Weak Areas

Often people want things to change without wanting to make any changes. Before we effectively change habits, we must acknowledge a need for change! To change a habit permanently, we must do even more. We must begin to replace bad habits with good habits. When it comes to housekeeping, good habits can make all of the difference in the world. While this is simply an observation, I think it interesting that the good housekeepers I know all have certain good habits in common – and more importantly they do not have certain bad habits that are often traits of women who struggle with keeping their homes.

Before you make any long lasting changes in your home, you must first acknowledge that you have weak areas that need work. It might help to discuss them with others and get feedback. As harsh as this sounds, validation that you are a great housekeeper (if you aren’t!), is not good feedback. When we are seeking to make a change, we need an honest critique of our weak area. You may want to read blogs or books highlighting your weak areas (essays on home organization, de-cluttering, time management, effective scheduling). Finding out what habits you have that hinder good housekeeping is an invaluable tool to make necessary changes.

Sometimes it is difficult to recognize bad habits and understand how they hinder your efforts. Consider the following:

  • Failing to set your home up for ease of living and working
  • Failing to put things away when you are finished with them
  • Failing to keep up with chores regularly
  • Failing to clean up after meals (or projects)
  • Failing to train little ones to clean up

Remember, in order to make the investment it takes to get organized you must acknowledge that you have a problem that needs correction. If you are not committed to changing your bad habits, your efforts to be a better housekeeper will NOT work. If you prefer dirt, disorganization, and disorderliness and cannot appreciate or desire cleanliness and order, it will NOT work. If you have bought the philosophy that says you can’t be a good wife, mom and homemaker simultaneously, you have already cut out your feet from under you.

Think of why you want to change, how this change could affect your life, how it could benefit your family, how it could bless others. If you are convinced that a change is in order, you are ready to begin.

Organizational Tip “B”–Bring Your Family Into the Plan

Involving your family is a priority in any major change you make as a homemaker. Once you have determined that you have habits and weaknesses that need to be changed, you need to discuss them with your husband. Though you are probably “in charge” of your domain, you are still under the authority of your husband. You should desire his blessing on any project you embark upon. It is neither wise nor desirable for a wife to overhaul the entire house without seeking guidance (in some manner or another) from her husband! If your husband is not at all interested in hearing about your plan or taking part, you will simply have to learn to happily pick up after him. This is a small sacrifice to make to keep from being a contentious and annoying wife!

Husbands are often able to be quite objective for us and truly give us a picture of where we need work. They may be able to point out weak areas and they may be able to offer practical advice. They can also assure us that what we wish to do is an acceptable change and offer support and encouragement. Remember, some husbands may not want to be involved in any way, including advice-giving. You know your husband best. Respect his wishes always.

One word of advice here: your goal is not to change your husband’s habits (if he is disorganized)! Your goal is to change your habits and, perhaps, train your children for better habits. This may mean carrying a larger load to help a disorganized spouse. However, a godly spouse is well worth the small efforts it takes to clean up after him! If your husband is organized, and you are the only one drowning in disorganization, count your blessings and seek his advice.

Children should be involved in an age appropriate way. We should not be afraid to ask our children if they see areas of the home that need work. This gives them the opportunity to get involved. It also teaches them “problem solving” skills. They learn to observe the workings of the home and discern where changes are needed. Furthermore, children need to be trained in good habits from early on; this is much easier than fixing bad habits at a later time.

A family working together is a powerful force, even in something often deemed secondary (an orderly home).

In a nutshell, getting your family involved includes:

  • Seeking your husband’s counsel
  • Seeking feedback from your children
  • Training your children

Organizational Tip “C” – Catch Your Groove — Get Things in Order

Now that you have acknowledged the weaknesses and bad habits that have hindered your ability to keep an orderly home and discussed them with your husband and children you are ready to get into your groove and fulfill the vision you have for your home!

Examine your home (closets, drawers, bookshelves, storage areas, cabinets, even decor) and decide what needs work (overhaul or simple maintenance). Consider whether you might have too much and need to purge. Think about what you will need to organize your home effectively. Are you totally lost and clueless about what your home might need in regards to organization or even cleanliness? Look around! Get ideas from magazines or others’ homes! As you do this consider your own family, your budget, your style…this isn’t about a certain standard or style or house beautiful…this is to make the most of what you have!

Depending on your level of disorganization and dirt, you will need to set short term goals to begin taking the path to organization. If you have two problems to deal with: disorganization and dirt, you will have more to overcome. It can only be done one step at a time. However, it can be done!

In the beginning, there are several steps you need to take to get things in order. First, I suggest that you make a list of areas that need organization—these areas will become your short term goals.

A possible list may look like this:

  • closets
  • drawers
  • kids’ toys
  • bookshelves
  • cabinets
  • under beds

I suggest breaking this down into even smaller jobs if you are easily overwhelmed and have a lot to do. For instance, you can break your list down into extremely specific tasks:

  • kitchen cabinets
  • kitchen drawers
  • bathroom drawer
  • under bathroom sink

Next, you will need to decide what materials you will need to get better organized (if any):

  • Buckets
  • Baskets
  • Bins
  • Rubbermaid
  • New cabinet
  • Old cabinet (to be emptied for a new home for items)

Look for any items that will help you sort things in a more efficient manner. You may begin to look at the dollar store for cheap items to aid in organization, you may choose fancier items like baskets for areas that you want to look nicer, you may scout out items at second hand stores or garage sales. This is dependent on what you wish to organize, what you can fit into your budget, and what works best for you.

In a playroom, large tubs may be great for stuffed toys while Rubbermaid is better for keeping pieces together (blocks, legos, etc). Baskets look nice in the living room. Small containers are great for under the sink and in drawers…it is easier to keep a drawer organized if things are going in a container as opposed to just being tossed in (ie. a small container for items like paper clips and safety pins instead of floating them in a large drawer). Also, think about designating drawers for various items (craft supplies, markers, etc).

After this you need to honestly evaluate the cleanliness of your home. It is efficient to clean while you are organizing, this will help you “deep clean” one step at a time (one room at a time or one job at a time). An example would be to organize the bathroom cabinets and drawers and to “finish the job” by deep cleaning the bathroom. It is also a good time to 'purge' your home of unwanted and unneeded items. Give them to others, sell them, toss what is not worth saving.

If the rooms are done thoroughly, they are now ready for maintenance and will not ever require the same time investment that you must initially invest–providing, of course, that you and the children are able to put things away and tidy up. Remember it is never a burden for a wife to pick up after her husband. That small service should be rendered lovingly and without nagging. You cannot nag a grown-up into changing old habits. Rather, you can and should find joy in serving. Children, on the other hand, are still learning and you may need to train them the right way–make it fun!

Things to Remember:

  • If your first room is a terrible mess and requires a lot of organizing and cleaning, you need to break it down into several short term goals. It may be too overwhelming to overhaul the entire room in one day.
  • Finally, decide which area you want to begin with, considering both deep cleaning and short term goals for organization, try to work it out so that you can work on cleaning and organizing at the same time.
  • Don't forget to enlist your children's help if you need it. Work is good. Little ones love helping alongside their mama. Make it fun!
  • Allowing this to cause stress defeats the purpose. Do your best!

Coming Soon:

Part Three: Step-by-Step-Overhaul–Room #1 The Bathroom

Category: Musings
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