“Ouch!!!” I winced in pain as I retrieved yet another lego, deeply embedded in my foot. Enough was enough, I thought. Having kids is great, but the giant mess the tiny humans leave behind can be a pain (literally!).
With kids, There will be messes
My kids are small, and a big part of learning and growing creatively includes playing with their many, many toys and making a mess, and that is TOTALLY okay! Messes can be cleaned up. And those messes are also a beautiful representation of imagination, creativity and all things special about childhood.
Truth be told, there was something much bigger than the daily toy dump that has been frustrating me. And, as I stood there preaching to my daughter on the importance of putting things away after she was done using them, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I realized that there was absolutely nothing that I was asking her to do that I wasn’t also guilty of myself. My four-year-old daughter was becoming a mirror of my bad habits!
Clutter on the counter. Papers covering up my desk. Coats and bags strewn on the couch and dining room chairs. Yuck, yuck, yuck. She was learning every moment of every day from me. But it wasn’t my words she was learning from. It was my actions.
Something definitely to change around our house and (cringe) it started with me.
I’m an avid reader (or, audiobook listener) and had already read some amazing books on home and life organization. They were more than just entertaining and enjoyable to listen to, they also had some life-changing tips. If ever there was a time to put them into action, it was now.
As Ruth Soukup, author of the book Living Well Spending Less puts it “It takes 60 days to make anything a habit. Stick with it for 60 days and it will become second nature.”
Keep reading to learn a few of my favorite tips that we’ve been incorporating into our day-to-day routine. And wow, have they made a difference.
1. Everything You Own Should Have a Home
This is a tip I learned from Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up. Or, as my grandma used to say: “A place for everything, and everything in its place.” If you’re thinking: “Okay, that’s just common sense!” You’re totally right. It is.
But, just like eating healthy, exercising, or any other great habit, it takes putting that knowledge into action to reap the benefits. As I took a good, hard look around my living space, I realized how many random things (or stow-aways, as I like to call them), were cluttering up my home on a daily basis. The biggest offenders? Lids, wrappers, trinkets, and junk mail that seemed to attack us on a daily basis. These things liked to congregate on our high countertop and dining room table.
Have you ever heard the expression “clutter breeds clutter?” It’s true. So, we’ve worked hard to find a “home” for everything that enters ours. If it doesn’t seem to fit anywhere it gets tossed or donated. At times it feels like an uphill battle. However, I’m happy to report that, in just a few short weeks, it is getting easier!
Before dinner we take time to put our things back in their respective homes. Our rule for new things that come into the house is to decide right then and there where that item will “live.”
The clarity it is providing our family is invaluable.
2. Anything that takes 30 seconds or less should be done immediately.
Now that everything in our house has a designated spot, this next step is so easy! I never realized just how long 30 seconds was, until I started counting as I put things away.
I learned this handy little tip while listening to Ruth Soukup’s audiobook Living Well Spending Less. It is such an enjoyable and relatable book that I highly recommend. Ruth is such a breath of fresh air, and actually runs an amazing blog by the same name as well. But I digress!
After learning this tip, it has helped stop my bad habit of just throwing things anywhere in its tracks. Bags on the couch and coats on the chairs? Not anymore. The moment I start to throw those things somewhere they don’t belong, I stop. I pick that item up and I take it to it’s “home.” And you know what? It has never taken me over 30 seconds to put something away.
Fun fact: My daughter and I can actually be lazier by just putting things back where they belong from the get go.
I know! Mind. Blown.
3. The one in, one out rule.
To be honest, I can’t remember where I heard this one first. It was either in The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up or Joshua Becker’s The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own. Regardless, it’s a great rule to live by. Essentially, for every new thing you bring into a home, you part ways with something similar. A new pair of jeans in, means saying goodbye to a pair I’m just not that excited about anymore. We do the same thing with toys in our home. It’s a a great way to learn to respect our space and also only keep the things around that we truly love. (To read a whole lot more on that topic, check out Marie Kondo’s Spark Joy, a companion book to The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up.
We’re a few weeks into this process as a family and it’s going well! We’re striving towards that 60 day mark of just making these things a habit. I feel myself breathing easier as I set out to tidy up the house each day. Everything has a place. And it’s amazing! I literally feel myself breathing a little bit easier in a neater, more organized home. For my four-year-old, it is a work in progress, but I can tell she’s enjoying having a “home” for all of her things as well.
So, while total home organization not always as easy as 1-2-3…these simple steps will get you well on-your-way to getting there!