Homeschool families are at a disadvantage when it comes to getting organized. Having children at home – and even mom at home – all day adds to the mess tenfold. Just imagine: three meals a day in the house, all of the school papers and projects spread out on the floors and tables, book cases and cabinets full of educational supplies, and chores that get neglected because of other, more important learning experiences. Add these all up and you have a colossal mess: a daily challenge to overcome that tends to overwhelm even the most dedicated of organizing mamas!
You can ‘tread water’ by just tackling the urgent – laundry, dishes, floors, paperwork… but if you ever plan to get ahead, you have to create your own system – and then devote your entire family to keeping it. Everyone will have their own system – based on what works for your family. Each of us is different: different amounts of children, different types of stored things, different amounts of times in the home, etc. No matter how different all of us are, though – one thing is the same for everyone (homeschooling or not): clutter.
The first part of getting organized is getting rid of clutter. Clutter can be anything that is in the WRONG place, or things that don’t really need to be in your home any more because they aren’t being used. We all have our fair share of those types of things because for the most part, things just keep multiplying. The longer you live in one place, the more you accumulate. There are easier ways to learn to purge unneeded things than moving. It takes time, but it is so worth the effort when you can remove the mental weight of all that clutter off of your back. Clutter stresses people out. Having a place for everything and an organized system that works for YOU will give you peace of mind.
Here are some ideas to get rid of the junk and organize the things that stay:
1. Use the 3 Box System: “Keep”, “Donate”, “Trash”
Have your family pick a room together to tackle on a weekend. Just like many of the Home Improvement Television shows instruct their participating home owners to do, set out a set of boxes and start going through the closet, drawers, corners, shelves, and crannies – emptying the room down to it’s core. It’s amazing how much you will begin to ENJOY getting rid of things when you see progress. If you have more than one person doing all the work, you’ll tend to stick with the project until it is done. Better yet – enlist a third party that isn’t as sentimental as you are (someone who hates clutter and keeps a clean house is preferrable). Watch your home begin to slowly morph into an organized haven, one weekend at a a time!
2. Move things UP
Clean floors can give the illusion of a clean space – even if you have your shelves packed and your room busy with furniture. Have a rule in your home that children (and parents – remember to set the good example) can’t create floor piles. It’s tempting to just set things aside to tackle later, but stick to your guns. Utilize upward spaces… such as the wall (hang a floating shelf if you don’t have one to use) or even the ceiling (hang a stuffed animal hammock). Put things in stackable boxes in the top shelf of your closet – ones that are easy to get down and work with so your “to-do piles” can remain tucked away out of sight until you have time to work on them.
3. Light it on Fire
School projects are fun, but it isn’t realistic to keep every single toilet paper animal, macaroni necklace, overly large construction paper glitter painting, or towering clay volcano. The children might balk at the idea at first, but let them start a project scrapbook and PHOTOGRAPH these items. Make them write a paragraph or two about the fun they had making them. Then set a date to have a bonfire! Goodbye clutter, hello sneaky writing assignment!
4. Meet a Need
Freecycle and Craig’s List are great ways to give back to others in need and keep the landfill from growing. People (especially in today’s economic times) are looking for gently used items on both of these great websites. Join either one to get rid of your stuff. Craig’s List is a selling site like Ebay that charges no fee to list your items. Freecycle is a FREEBIES only sight and you are allowed to give requests for needed items as well as give your things away. I have a special place in my heart for Freecycle. There was one year that I was supplied with a Christmas tree and an entire set of pots and pans by giving Freecyclers. I have even seen people giving away LAND on Freecycle. Someone else’s junk might just be your treasure. Just be sure to give away more than you bring home!
5. Thin out your drawers.
Keep only what you need. This is hard for women in the closet department… but before you start figuring out what wardrobe items to give away, tackle the areas where it is easiest. Do you need 10 kitchen skillets? 25 serving spoons? 30 boxes of dental floss? 13 boxes of primary color crayons? Start small and begin to fill a box of ‘Extras’. Before you know it, you’ll be able to donate to Good Will or list things on Freecycle. Keep reminding yourself that the less you have, the less you have to keep up with. Liberate your time by limiting your responsibilities to ‘things’.
I’d love to hear your organizing ideas. Leave me a note in the comment section and let me know what things have helped you to keep your homeschool house functioning with ease. It is an endless battle, but one we can’t afford to lose if we want to keep our sanity.
*This post originally posted at ‘Complete Organizing Solutions’.