Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Talk About It Tuesday ~ Getting Organized

Back to school time is more than just getting the kids back into their 'normal' routines. It's also a time to plow through the chaos and disorganization that happened over the summer months when we let things slide a bit. I don't know about you, but my house looks like a cluttered pawn shop threw up all over my house. And it doesn't help to have a dog and a cat who think all that is left laying around is their new chew toy.

There are two times a year I go on a house-wide gutting and organizing frenzy, once in the spring and again in the fall. Spring is a clean up after the winter months where we're inside a lot more and we tend to want things new, fresh and clean. Fall is getting control back from the lazy, hazy days of summer where no one is doing much inside because it's too nice outside, and getting rid of everything that has been neglected over the warm months.

The logical thing, of course, is to maintain this crazy re-organization all year long so there isn't as much day-to-day stuff to keep up with. But with four kids who don't seem to know what shelves are (or cleaning, for that matter), a husband who is a pack-rat (in addition to his lack of understanding he has to contribute to said organization rather than treating the kids like his minions to do stuff for him) and a dog and cat who find things I didn't know I even still had in the house control must be maintained.

Here are a few things that help us along around here before Mama gets to the point of pulling out her own hair:

A place for everything, and everything has its place. I can't even count how many times a day I'm asked, "Where is the/my/a _______?" Well, right where it's supposed to be. I mean, seriously. I once had the audacity to hang up one of my kids' coats in the closet, rather than it being flung over the back of the couch, and it took her 1/2 hour to find it! Teach and enforce that when things all have their own place, there will be no need for a Search Officer to locate misplaced items (Search Officer is me, by the way. Highly stressful, tremendously thankless and very underpaid.)

Out with the old, in with the new. We have too many people around here to hoard stuff (something I constantly have to remind my husband of who spends way too much time trolling the free stuff on Kijiji). When I have to participate in a military-style obstacle course just to get to the kids' beds to say goodnight, crap must be tossed. Clothes, shoes and winter gear that doesn't fit anyone anymore should be given away, unless a younger sibling is willing to wear hand-me-downs. Books no longer read can be given away. Trinkets, toys and old craft stuff not being used can also be given away. The key is to teach getting rid of the things they don't use, like or even remember having, and to ask for anything new until the old is gone to make room for the new.

Keep the high-traffic areas clean. Here that includes upstairs living room, the kitchen and the bathrooms. No, the couches, coffee tables and dining room table are not storage areas for clothes, unwanted papers and/or dirty dishes. What's yours, that doesn't need to be tossed, should be in your own space. Dishes need to be rinsed off and put in that magical machine called 'the dishwasher'. Not only are dirty dishes piled in or around the sink messy, it's also unsanitary. Bathrooms should be cleaned up at least once a week (my four kids share a bathroom and fights explode over who's turn it is to clean it) and in between clean ups, towels should be hung up, toothpaste spray cleaned off the mirror and all toiletries stored in assigned drawers. I tell my kids they can let things go in their own places when they move out as there will be no Mama service then. But while you live here, I want to see more floor, table and counter surfaces than mess.

Create a calendar for weekly chores. What I've done in the past is create a whole list of chores that need to be done on a daily/weekly basis, then create 'To-Do' lists for each kid. When they achieve their goals, they were given an allowance based on what was actually done and done properly. Well, it worked at first until they fought over who was supposed to do what, even though I'd written everything down, and each just said, "Flip it! You do it!". This just created a scene in the house where none of them did anything and all I heard was, "It's ____'s turn. Ask them." to which I simply gave up and did the task myself. Allowance entitlement was removed, of course decreasing any incentive to help out all, creating a very cranky Mama. Now, the rule is that their main chore is keeping their rooms clean and organized. They are forced to take turns with the bathroom (as I get sick of them using my bathroom because it's cleaner. ::roll eyes::) since they all use it; they must scrape and rinse plates, cups and utensils and put said items in the dish washer, as they all also use those too; shoes on the shoe rack, coats in the hall closet, backpacks in assigned rooms and any item left out anywhere its not supposed to be for longer than 2 days gets tossed by the Mama Garbage Maintenance Chief. So far, things are running more smoothly.

Keep an on-going grocery list on the fridge door. I am very much an only-buy-what's-on-the-list type of person. It keeps me on track in terms of what we have food-wise, helps better plan out meals and keeps me on budget. Nothing annoys me more than buying something we already had (or have three of) or getting back from the grocery store and hearing, "Mom, you forgot ____". I didn't forget it! You either didn't tell me you needed it to be included on the list or never bothered to add it to the list after being reminded hourly to do so. It is very expensive to feed four children and a husband that never seems to be full. The two things are that they need to understand this expense and help out by contributing to the list. I may ignore an item or two (no...chips, candy and other junk is not a necessity), but generally it helps a lot.

This is just a snippet but with a family this size, if we let things go for too long people get lazy and Mama is wandering around creating new swear words under her breath and taking away fun stuff from everyone else.

We are a team and a happy, well-functioning organized home starts with everyone being on board and working together.

Share your own ideas!

Good luck.

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