Organizing Your House

Last week we discussed how you should put yourself on a schedule to keep your house clean.  The same goes for organizing it.  If you want to get your house completely organized quickly, then pick one area a day, otherwise you can do one area every week.  Pick one drawer, one cabinet, one closet to concentrate on for the week or day, if you are on the quick plan.  Only do that one item!  Biting off small pieces is the key to getting it done. 

First empty the entire space.  Now create 3 piles.  One pile is to put away, number 2 is to put into storage (for items such as seasonal things, DON’T SAVE THINGS YOU DON’T NEED!!), the 3rd is for selling the item or donating it.  Don’t forget the trash bag for your throw away pile!  Now start sorting! 

Now it’s time to setup a system of organization for the space.  If it’s a drawer purchase or make a drawer divder to help stop clutter from creeping back into the space.  If it’s a cabinet you can purchase plastic storage bins to keep things sorted or buy a label maker to label the shelves so things will always be put back away organized.  If it’s a counter top, use baskets or cups to keep things neat and orderly.  You get the idea. 

The last step is to put everything away.  If it goes in the space put it in its new organized location.  If it goes elsewhere in the house place the item in a box, then sweep through the house putting all the things in their proper locations.

You are done! 

A word about throwing things away!  My daughter LOVES to color.  So much so that she has about 20 spiral bound notebooks that she leafs through to try to find a blank page and start coloring.  One day my husband looking at one of the books that had color on just about every inch of the page, grabbed the notebook and tossed it in the trash.  Maddie observed this and had a fit!  That is her ART!!  Are we like Maddie?  Even though the item has no use for us anymore, do we still keep it because it’s ours?  Why?  Will that item never again be available in stores?  Have I used the item in the last 6 months (aside from seasonal items)?  If the answer is no, then trash it!  You might throw a fit about it, but most likely you will get over it, and forget that you even had it in the first place.  There is one exception to this rule.  My sister tried to help me organize my room when I was about 12.  I had an AUTOGRAPHED picture of the entire band Bon Jovi!  Amy said that they would never be popular again, and I should just trash it.  I’m still bitter about it, and reminder her of it every chance I get.  So unless it’s an autographed picture of Bon Jovi, trash it!  If you REALLY can’t decide if you should keep it or not, designate one box for these items, if you haven’t needed any items in that box for one more month, then you know it’s safe to trash. 

OK, so pick a drawer and get organizing this week!

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Sarah Kimmel

Sarah Kimmel, the Organized Mom

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  • I find it very odd that no-one seems to feel that it matters that Maddie’s feelings about what is undoubtedly her own creation should be so disrespected.

    My husband is of the ‘I will throw it all away when I decide it should’ go school of thought too. I find this most disrespectful, in what way is it right that my decisions on what I own or do not own should be made for me? It puts me in the position of Maddie, a child whose wishes are overridden.

    I agree that children can’t bear the responsibility of making every decision for themselves but when a child has put their heart and soul into something then surely it could be possible to store these things in a neat and tidy way?

  • Great point. Sometimes it can be hard when others are making the decisions about whether or not we get to keep our things – especially when those things are our treasures.

    Sometimes though we object just because someone else is deciding and not because the thing itself has any value. That’s when we have to learn to let go.

    We value Maddie’s treasures but we also have a responsbility to help her discern what is a treasure and what isn’t. We may be wrong sometimes – it is a difficult balance.

  • A word about children’s art. When they get a little older, like past kindergarten, the amount of art they produce diminishes signficantly. I have four kids, and this is true of all of them. Also, they no longer think their toddler art is as much of a treasure. This is one that a little time can resolve.

    Of course, there are some kids, just like adults, who want to hang onto everything. They need help with making decisions. It helps to tell them they can’t get any more things until they get rid of something.
    You can also let them try to sell the things with a rummage sale, or even to you. It’s really a small amount of money for an adult, and saves time. Another option is to have them clean the space on a weekly or monthly basis. They will get tired of shuffling it around.


  • One thing I’ve found to be helpful is to allow my children a “treasure box” of those items they can’t seem to part with. This is a nice, sturdy, medium sized box with a lid that matches the decor of their room to hold those items they cherish. If something they want to keep doesn’t fit, then it’s up to them to “let go” of the current things in order to make room for new things that are important to them. This has worked nicely in eliminating “stuff” clutter and has also allowed me to show respect for what they enjoy since if it were up to me~it’d be gone! HTH 🙂

  • I agree with Beverly and applaud Denise B. Giving children the opportunity to make decisions and develop strategies to take control of their possessions rather than letting them become a burden will benifit them throughout their lives. Abruptly taking things from them and trashing them is disrespectful and can backfire. There are more than a few hoarders that claim such treatment as the impetus to there condition. When it’s time for my kids to downsize I tell them ,for instance, that we only have room for 3 baskets of toys then allow them to decide which toys go or stay. As long as the final objective is met I do not question their choices. Also my kids understand clearly why we need to make these choices and witness me going through the same process of editing my possessions regularly. With 5 people living in a 750 sq. foot apartment it just has to be done!

  • My father once threw away an open box that contained a Neandertal stone axe I found at a beach. I don´t throw away my children´s stuff, but go with the treasure box method. Everyone in the family has a drawer which is untouchable to the others, without allowance the contains can´t even be seen. Works perfectly!

    What helps me tidying a lot: I got a very beautiful turkish tea tray (they don´t have handles, but are carried by a ring from which the tray is hanging, usually three slightly bended thin pipes). The system keeps everything from dropping, spilling etc. I walk through the house and put everything on that belongs in a different room. If I have much to tidy, I carry a bathroom-tray, bring the stuff to the bath. Next round: kitchen tray, and so on. It is fast and brings stuff to the correct rooms every day.
    Having this beautiful tray helps me doing it because it´s adorable, pretty and fun to do with the pendling tray.

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