If you're anything like most of my clients, you probably hate doing laundry, and you really hate taking the time to match socks. Some people (and especially children) love their crazy socks. If this is sounds like you or one of your kids, by all means keep rocking those funky sock patterns. If you couldn't care less about what you wear under your shoes, I highly suggest going the simple route the next time you're in the market for new socks. When all of your socks already match, you know what you don't have to worry about? Digging through piles of clothes to find a mate. Ta-da!
You've likely heard this before, but have you actually tried it yet? Donate the toys that they rarely play with and let them in on this. Have THEM call the donation shots. In my experience, parents are always more likely to hold back than their children when it's time to let things go. Don't force kids to keep something just because you spent good money on it. The money is gone anyway, and they're clearly not playing with the toy. Move on!
2. Avoid Sub-Categories.
This surprises a lot of people, but when it comes to young children, I never recommend sub-categorizing their toys. If you have a cute, good-sized basket in the corner of your living room and your children can manage to clean up their toys and get it into this basket, do that. It's okay if trucks are mixed with Barbies and Mega Blocks.
3. Keep the toys where they play with the toys.
If you have a playroom, but your kids never go into it except to pull toys out and bring them into the living room - reevaluate. Can you instead plan to keep their favorite toys in the living room? Most kids just prefer to play in the common areas where everyone is hanging out.
4. Teach habits.
Sometimes we just don't give kids enough credit. They're totally capable of picking up after themselves, even if they don't always want to do so. Choose whichever tidy-up habit works best for your family, but do at least pick one. Sometimes this is having kids put one toy away before getting out a different one, sometimes it just looks like cleaning up everything when the play is over. Either way, the easiest way to deal with messes is to take care of them as they happen. Don't let it accumulate!
One of the biggest contributors to stress in so many of our lives is the compulsion to say yes. I am such a "sure I can do that!" person it's sickening. Sometimes I say yes because in the moment whatever I am agreeing to sounds doable. Sometimes, I know it's going to make my life extremely difficult on the given day, and I say yes anyway. This is what I am currently minimizing in my own life, and maybe you need to ponder the idea as well.
We could sit and discuss the reasons behind always feeling the need to say yes, but they're aside from the point currently. What I've realized in my own life is that I've spent a lot of time saying yes to things that haven't aligned with my priorities or my goals. I took notice of the fact that I was saying yes to acquaintances and then coming home and not having time for my own family, my own errands, or even my own self-care. Yikes.
I'm currently being much more intentional with my time and setting way better boundaries and the payoff is remarkable. I have time to see my nieces and nephews, I can snuggle with my dog and finish a book, and I can make sure my house is orderly without making myself crazy!
I spend a lot of time getting to know my clients, and one of things that I've noticed time and time again is that they are extremely busy people. Sometimes this means they have a lot of their own commitments, sometimes their children have a lot of commitments, and sometimes they just take on more projects than they can focus on at one time. Because your house/outer world tends to be a pretty good indicator of your stress/inner world, I highly suggest taking a look at your schedule and seeing if there's anything you can simplify in that area of your life when you're trying to get your home organized or questioning why you're never able to stick to any organizational goals. Just try it - at the very worse, your house will still be messy, but you might find some time to sleep in!
My boyfriend and I spent one school year living in a rural Eskimo village in Alaska, completely off of the road system. In fact, you had to take one of those itty bitty Bush planes to fly into the place. When planning for this move, I had no idea just how expensive it would be to ship huge boxes of our things across the country. Throughout college, I had been anxiously planning for this year. I never knew I would be spending it in Alaska, but I couldn't wait to have my own classroom. I had been buying and storing supplies for the greater part of my college career - books, manipulatives, decorations, etc. and I was going to be teaching Kindergarten. My dreams were coming true! I'd curl up in bed at night and think about what my classroom would look like and which books I would read to these eager little ones first.
As we got closer to our move date, I realized we couldn't afford to send all of these things I wanted and truly thought I needed. In fact, we couldn't even afford to ship my winter wardrobe. I went through everything I had intended to bring and I simplified. Then I simplified again. In High School, I spent my freshman year never wearing the same outfit twice. Now I'd be spending the first year in my career hoping the very few outfits I could fit in my suitcase would last the 10 months I needed them. I was already out of my element.
We made shopping lists and began purchasing items on Amazon that would (hopefully) meet us at our new house when we arrived. I had never even left home before, and I had no idea what I really needed aside from those cute winter clothes and the adorable picture books I couldn't bring. From what I remember, we ended up shipping toilet paper, cleaning supplies, coffee, popsicles, and some of those little crackers in the plastic packages. Adulting at its finest.
The trip there was glorious. For the most part, I was too excited about this move to even remember my fear of planes. There was one minor incident from the Anchorage to Bethel airport where we couldn't land and had to fly back to Anchorage where I had a slight (severe) panic about the amount of fuel we had left, but aside from that we were two starry eyed kids and we had no idea what we were about to be getting ourselves into. Upon arriving, we realized we didn't have a toilet. Yep, no toilet. That's probably worth circling back to another day. We also realized there was very little furniture in our fully furnished home and that there was a definite fly infestation. I was DYING.
I don't remember that first night very well after that point. The following day I had to fly back out for a weekend conference. Jared used all those cleaning supplies to turn the house from something out of a scary movie into something livable. For the next few days, we did have a clean house (thanks to Jared and to all of the chemicals I'm now horrified by!), but it was empty... and ya know, didn't have a real toilet. We didn't have much an an appetite either, so we just split those little cheese crackers in the plastic wrap.
As time went on, we adjusted. We made good friends with another teacher, who always referred to us as minimalists. At that time, I had never even heard of that term. She loved that we moved across the country with just coffee & popsicles as our staples. I learned that I didn't need a lot of things in order to be able to teach those sweet kids. In fact, I spent most of the year clearing out my classrooms (I had two!) of all the previous junk and old curriculum past teachers had left behind. I wanted a clean slate. And it was nice to go home in the evenings to a house that never needed tidied up. We had become minimalists totally by accident.
Let's talk bins, baskets, and bags. Containing items is typically a useful "trick" for keeping like items not only looking tidy, but staying organized. Obviously, I'm not disregarding this logic. However, there is a dark side. If you're chronically disorganized (and many people are!), make sure that you're not using these items as a crutch to quickly hide your clutter. It's not uncommon for me to walk into a home that looks fairly orderly, only to realize that the adorable bins, baskets, and bags they have are actually hiding insane amounts of unorganized, lost stuff. If you're going to contain items, make sure you're being intentional. When you're quickly tossing everything on the floor into a reusable shopping bag and throwing it into a closet in the 10 minutes before guests arrive, you're creating a more difficult mess than if you had just taken each item and put it in its proper place to begin with. Breathe. You've got this!
My name is Hannah and I am a 29 year old from Streetsboro, Ohio with a passion for home. And I don't just mean being at home, although I really love that. I have yet to master the art of cooking... or even confidently turn the oven on, but I love all things related to organizing and maintaining the home environment. It’s never about fancy labels, pretty baskets, or matching hangers. It’s about the sense of calm that an orderly house brings. Laura Ingalls Wilder once said that home is the nicest word there is, and I quite agree. Here, you’ll find inspiration not only to simplify and sort your belongings, but also tips and tricks related to how to make your home a healthier place to be.