Tidying Up and Some Tips from Kathleen

Most people desperately need to put their house in order. Unfortunately, the majority of them fail to embrace this as a “special event” and instead make do with rooms that are more like storage sheds. – Marie Kondo

Is your house like a giant storage shed?

Do you have clutter everywhere that is driving you crazy?

Do you stuff things in closets that you don’t want to deal with?

Do you wish you felt more peace in your home?

It is difficult concept to grasp that you are the boss and the employee of your home. We here at The Whole House get it. In fact we did a whole podcast on the subject. (You can find it here). We often think that some invisible “they” is in charge and we must do what “they” say. Another myth is the items we own are in charge of us. We move them. Stack them. Shove them in closets. All the while we desire some space to breathe or a peaceful place to relax. How do we get there? I don’t have all the answers, but here are some tips from someone who likes an uncluttered environment.

  1. The object is not the memory. Get rid of the object. Keep the memory. We often hang on to items because we want to remember the event. One of my girls loved to share candy wrappers, tickets, receipts (basically trash) in bulk in shoeboxes. They took over her closet. She could explain where each bit of paper came from. It took many years for her to understand that a scrap of paper is not a memory. On my live on Facebook last week, I shared how I helped my sister clean out a corner cabinet in her kitchen before a move. She had well over fifty plastic cups from various sporting events her family attended stuffed way back where no one could get to them. But, she could tell me which event they each came from. I’m not here to tell you to change your personality. Just change your perspective. If things like cups and tickets are valuable to you. If they “spark joy” for you , then find a way to display or store them. Use a scrapbook for tickets. Just ask yourself, “Is this item bringing value to me? To my home? To my family?”
  2. A gift is not a blessing if it is frustrating you by taking up space. This is a tough one. We all get those gifts that we aren’t sure what to do with. What if Aunt Mabelle comes over and the giant ceramic iguana she gifted you is not displayed? Will she be offended? If the item is taking up space, you don’t like it and looking at it frustrates you, give it away. Bless someone else with it or return it and get something you do like. Your home is your space. It should feel peaceful to you. If your closets and shelves are stuffed with “gifts that don’t bless you”, take control and do something about it.
  3. Have a specific space for everything. Store things where they make the most sense. Don’t keep paper clips in the laundry room because you have a cute basket.
  4. If you get it out, put it away. This is such a simple concept and yet we procrastinate. I am probably more adamant about this practice than most. Raising seven children, things got cluttered pretty quickly. I gave my kids daily room assignments. In each room, I posted an index card with the instructions for tidying the room.The instructions were detailed and simple: put all couch cushions away, pick up toys (whether they are yours or not), fold blankets, etc… This eliminates so much work and avoids confusion about expectations.  
  5. Purging is not a one and done deal. Although I love Marie Kondo’s idea of doing it all at once, you will have to do again until your habit changes (mine is still in process). This is because we aren’t just consumers. We are collectors.

People cannot change their habits without changing their way of thinking. -Marie Kondo

We are not just consumers..png

 Step number one of Marie’s method with my two-cents thrown in:

  1. Clothing

Place all clothes in a pile. I do this on my bed. When sorting Marie says to hold an item and notice whether it “sparks joy.” If you are putting it in your go pile, thank it. If you need a Christian perspective on this – thank God for the item and pray it will bless someone else. I do hang my clothes a little differently than Marie suggests. I hang mine by color instead of grouping them by like items such as blazers, blouses.

Another practice I finish my sorting with is creating outfits with what I have. I call this shopping in my own closet.

Put together outfits.png

We women are famous for saying, “I have nothing to wear” when we have a closet full of clothes (raising my hand here). Take some time to sort and then put together some outfits. It will make you feel as if you went shopping!

Here’s a tip from Marie on folding:


How I Organize my Day

In 2ooo my homeschooling days changed drastically.  With the adoption of a sibling group of four added to my three bios, I had to find a system of organization that worked and quickly! 

Organizing my days was a lot of trial and error at first.  Some of it came naturally to me and some of it required some killing of my flesh.  I tend to like to do things myself.  I struggle with perfectionism.  Cleaning the home myself gave me the pseudo control that perfectionism demands.  With a house full of children doing everything myself was not beneficial to me or the children.  (Ages:12, 8,7,6,5,4 and 1)

I am going to share some material that helped me to organize school, chores and meals, but the more important thing I have to share is perspective.  What is the most important thing to be accomplished?  The chore or character of the child?  Ten years from now, which will matter more?  The clean kitchen or the work ethic of the child?  

The year before we adopted, I read two books that greatly influenced my organization skills when it came to running a household.

1.  To Train up a Child

To Train up a Child focuses on training rather than punishment.  I decided to start training my children for proper behavior and how to work instead of expecting them to know what to do or punishing for behaviors.  I trained my children how to make their bed, clean a room, load the dishwasher, etc…  Training made the transition for the enlarged family so much easier!  

2.  Cheaper by the Dozen

Cheaper by the Dozen follows the life of the Gilbreth family.
Frank Gilbreth was an efficiency expert (industrial engineer).  He practiced his efficiency on his twelve children.  Reading this book inspired my card/chore system. I made my own chore chart.  Each child is responsible for a different room each week day.  All he need do is go to the room and follow the instructions on the card.  Of course, it required some initial training, but it was well worth it!  

After we enlarged our family through adoption, I found another great resource for planning out my school days.  It is full of great worksheets and tools for organizing multiple children.
I work through the worksheets while planning my upcoming school year, filling in my goals for each child.  I plan the time chart for each subject including play time, rest time, reading, group subjects and individual subjects.  A bit of work ahead of time saves a lot of frustration later when mom is trying to figure out what to do next!


Weekend Planning Date

On Saturday or Sunday afternoon, I sit down and check my lesson plans, fill out my planner for the week with sticky notes.  I plan my meals, my blog, make sure I am aware of appointments and find any books I need for the coming week.  It is my meeting with God.  It’s our coffee date.  Along with scheduling, I pray for my children (and ME) for the upcoming week.  I want to make sure I have my priorities straight and my focus on the hope of my calling in HIM.
None of the tools mentioned above mean a thing if they are not used in the right perspective.  Schedules are tools, not mini gods.  They are a means to a end.  What is the end?  What is the eternal perspective?  Like I said in my post Tuesday, I have to ignore the times stamped on the schedule at times when my special needs child has a meltdown.  People are more important that a pretty schedule.  I am schedule driven which has been a struggle for me.  I have to deny my flesh and those pretty posty-notes and focus on the children in front of me.  

Be sure to check out how my fellow homeschooling bloggers organize their day!

Clockwise, from top left:
Lorrie @ Life and Lessons LearnedSelena at Campbell ClanKathleen @ Positive Adoption
Audrey @ Everything BeautifulCharli @ WV Urban HippiesTracey @ Building My House, and Maria @ The Joyfully Frugal Home 

Discipline and Desire

Bloggers everywhere are posting new found web pages that help organize family life: chores, meal plans, exercise and diet apps….

These sites tell you what to cook, give you grocery lists, tell you when to wipe out your sink, hang up new hand towels, when to replenish the toilet paper and more!

No brainer, right? Just open your wallet, pluck out that trusty credit card, pay for the system and next thing you know, your house is sparkly house beautiful clean, your bathrooms sanitized, towels washed, clothes are put away (not left in the laundry basket or dryer), table is set with festive dishes and the happy family sits down to dinner and participates in lively intelligent conversation. All you have to do is order, order, order, print, print, print, or app, app, app.? Right?

Wrong!! Don’t stone me yet, I am not against these organizational apps in the least, in fact, I use some of them! These apps give birth to the desire that is within us to be organized, functional, eat wholesome meals and have a low stress home. (Clutter breeds stress.) For those of us who just can’t find a starting point to put it all together, these geniuses have done it for us!

What happens after the birth? You have to take care of the baby, right? Simple? Right? Make a system. Work the system. Have a plan. Follow the plan. What does this take? Discipline. It is the key that unlocks any organizational plan. Period. You can plop down the money for all the apps, worksheets, planners, organizers in the world and none of them will work for you. You work for them. It can be a healthy relationship. It’s okay, don’t be afraid, it’s just words on a page. How tough can it be?

Change all hand towels. Check.
Wipe out the fridge. Check.
Feed the dog. Check.

The mental discipline is the challenge. I can do it, I can work the system. My desire and my discipline will line up.

I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who [g]infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency]. Phil. 4:13

The battle is fought in the mind, more specifically, the will. Weak willed people don’t accomplish much. Many times in my life my will was weak when it came to certain tasks such as putting the book down to cook dinner. One more chapter, I told myself. Half an hour later, hungry kids sought me out, “When are we eating dinner, can I have a yogurt?”

Aligning my will with my desire to have a clean organized home accomplishes the task.

Many eons ago, before INTERNET, web pages and apps for the I-pod/pad, I designed a system of organization with a PEN and PAPER, note cards, a ruler and assorted books. Most of my ideas were gleaned from reading BOOKS, not necessarily organization books. (Cheaper by
the Dozen
is one)

My system:
A chore chart on the fridge (for kids and me) plus time during the day to do the chore
On this chart each child is assigned a room to be responsible for per day (in addition to their bedroom)
Note cards tacked up in each room to list cleaning tasks for that room, daily and weekly
Meal and snack plans posted on the fridge from the Menu/grocery list page I designed

My system requires industry to keep it running. The investment of time was well worth the outcome. The performance of daily tasks grew discipline in me and in my children. The desire became reality.

Is my home perfect all the time? No, there are days when we don’t toil for the system, but not many. We get back on track because as daughter Ania says, “I don’t care whose dish day it is, I am doing it cause I can’t stand it!” Her will parallels her desire.