Getting Your Family Organized

I get asked on a pretty frequent basis about staying organized when others that you live with may not be. I have two toddlers, so I know what that is about. Depending on the ages and motivations, your strategies might be very different than another household.

Do you live with family or roommates? Is your spouse part of the solution or part if the problem? Be honest, now. If you have kids, how old are they? I’m a huge believer in setting up a household so that the kids of any age can help mom, and she’s not the only one taking care of things. The magic components are getting buy in, having spaces and containers that are super functional and labeled for their purpose, explaining to others how a daily routine works in your home, and making time available so that everyone can pitch in (which always takes longer than mom thinks it should).

In our house, with a 2 and 5 year old, we have a “Getting Out of The House” checklist tacked near the back door. It has both words and pictures for each task. I keep asking, “What’s next on the list?” until they get through all ten items and are ready to leave the house. It takes for…ever (about 20 minutes) to get through it on it a good day.

Leading by example is pretty much a given. Once others in your household start to appreciate how much better their lives are because you have your act together, then you can ask for more participation with statements like:

“You know, I was thinking we could make things easier in the kitchen by clearing out all the paperwork to the office every night. What do you think of that? Would you be able to help with that?”

Rewards are great if you can work them in, whether your kids are 6 or 16. I am not against bribes if it helps the household run more smoothly. My bribes are pretty innocent; I often bribe with milkshakes. Or I let my kids watch one TV show in the morning *IF* they get all of their “getting out of the house” tasks done without my nagging. “Yes, honey, you can watch a show as soon as you get through the ‘Getting out of the house’ list.”

For older kids, it’s especially important to leave time in the day for one or two organizing tasks. If the kids and you are never home, you are dead in the water. But if they are watching TV for four hours a night, you can remind them that Task A can take as little as one commercial break.

My husband is wonderful, although he might watch a bit more TV than I think is ideal. But that works in my favor when it comes to laundry. I sort, wash, and dry it during the day. He folds it while he’s watching TV and sets it at the bottom of the stairs. Whoever heads upstairs first takes the basket with them and puts it away. No nagging, and he loses no TV time. It’s a system that has worked for us for years.

    I’d love to hear some of the ways that you encourage/bribe/ensure others in your home help the whole family to stay organized.