Back to School

Expert Tips: Household Organization Is Key to Being Back to School Ready

Once everything has a home, it’s a question of getting the others in the house to practice putting things away. Every day. After a while, it becomes second nature but that doesn’t happen overnight.

August has arrived which means back to school is just around the corner. There’s no better time than now to not only organized your home but to bridge the organization of where things belong gap so that all family members can find what they are looking for during the hurried rush of school mornings.

The Key to Finding Things In Your House

You reach into the kitchen pantry, expecting to lay your hands on a can of tuna for lunch, and instead come out with a can of beans. Or maybe you go to the mud room, expecting to find the coat you left hanging there yesterday afternoon and instead, you find an empty hook.

We’re all spending a lot more time at home these days, and if you happen to live with someone who is a compulsive organizer, you might be finding yourself looking for what you need in all the wrong places.

But is it the “wrong” place? Or is that someone in your household has decided what the “right” place should be, possibly without telling you? This is an oddly common complaint with couples and families who have a compulsive tidier in their midst. The one who is organizing might be frustrated because they’re always having to clean up; the rest of the family might just be annoyed because they can never find anything when they need it, having to rely on the one who organizes to help them time and time again! 

Living in close quarters with that kind of disconnect can result in some real arguments and hurt feelings though, so in the aim of keeping everyone safe and happy during these times, here are some solutions to make sure that the “organizers” and the “organizees” get on the same page.

Communication First

If you are the one who is usually organizing, tidying and in general keeping the mess at bay, you probably have a system. If you’re not this person, you might be subject to a system that you don’t understand or that hasn’t been communicated to you.

Overall, communicating on keeping things tidy fundamentally requires agreement between two or more people that there is actually a problem with mess and clutter encroaching on life. Like every civilized society, there are compromises that need to be made to ensure that everyone is happy. Even if you think the house is fine, the person who wants to tidy clearly does not. And if you are the one doing most of the organizing, don’t be heavy handed about it: ask for the opinions of others. You might be surprised and find out that they have a better idea! 

Putting a system in place to keep the house tidy works best if everyone in the household gets involved in deciding how all of your household items will be stored. It guarantees compliance if they are part of the decision making process, rather than simply having it dictated to them.

How can you bridge the gap between the person who knows everything and the person who does not?

Work together to organize the house. Pick a day or evening when you both have time off from work and organize a section of your home together. Since it’s better to tackle one or two things at a time than everything at once, choose one area a week and pull everything out, take inventory, and discuss where things should go. Not only does this get partners on the same page, but also it gives them a sense of cooperation and accomplishment when meeting their weekly organization goals.

Delegate areas for cleaning and maintenance. Another great way to bridge the gap is by dividing areas between partners when it comes to maintenance and organization. For example, one partner can be in charge of keeping the kitchen and downstairs bathroom organized and clutter free, whereas the other captains the linen closets and garage. Delegating areas relieves the stress from the person who knows where everything is, as well as empowers the other partner with an opportunity to feel like they are doing something good for the household.

Remember to show your partner any new arrangements. For stay-at-home partners who may have to rearrange cabinets and drawers often so their precious little ones and pets stay safe, it’s easy to forget that moving cups from one area to another may seem like a simple, mindless task, but for a partner who isn’t around all day, this minor shift in normality is confusing. Their forgetfulness or inability to find things is not entirely their fault. With this in mind, always show your partner where you put things after any spur-of-the-moment or planned organizing venture.
 

Consider Purging What Isn’t Needed

Taking a little time to review what is currently in your home and whether or not it actually needs to be, is a great first step to figuring out how to organize what’s left. You’ll probably find that the board game with the missing pieces or the glassware in the kitchen with chips can be disposed of, while the clothes that were bought and never worn can be donated.  

A little time spent triaging what you all want to keep, throw away, or donate will help whittle down the number of items you need to keep tidy. It’s not a question of living like a minimalist, but the stack of long out of date magazines? That probably doesn’t need to be taking up space anymore.

Everything Has a Home

Once you’ve agreed with your spouse or family that a little organization would be a big help to keeping the house tidy and gotten rid of things you don’t want or need anymore, it’s a question of finding a home for everything in your house. 

An example most people deal with every winter is where to put mittens, hats and scarves. Depending on how much space you have, a basket for each person to put their items in makes sense. There’s no wondering where these items are at the start of each day! 

Look at each room and see what storage you have in each and what should be stored in that space. You’re not going to put canned goods in the living room, obviously, but do you have a spot for board games, blankets and books? It’s a good time to evaluate if you have enough storage in each room for what needs to be in there and, if you do, to organize it so that it makes sense for everyone. For example, book shelves should have books for the little ones where they can reach them, and books for the big ones higher up. It’s functional, practical and will save time putting things away when you need to. In fact, spending more time at home is a great opportunity to rejuvenate closets and other storage spaces so that they are more functional and less cluttered too.

Practice Makes Perfect

Once everything has a home, it’s a question of getting the others in the house to practice putting things away. Every day. After a while, it becomes second nature but that doesn’t happen overnight. 

Take a breath and realize that a picture-perfect home isn’t the goal, particularly with everyone home a lot more than in the past. The goal is simply to reach a point where someone can think to themselves: “I need XYZ” and they know exactly where to go to find that item. This process will save you from having arguments and frustration all around, create a pleasant living environment, and in general will improve the reality we’re all living with right now.

Marty Basher is the design and organization expert with Modular Closets, https://www.modularclosets.com. Marty regularly contributes on topics of DIY renovations, home design, organization, improvement and more, helping home owners get the most of the spaces in their home. Modular Closets are high-quality and easy-to-design closet systems made in the USA that you can order, assemble and install yourself, in no time at all. Using closet modules (closet pieces you can mix & match to design your own modular closet), homeowners everywhere are empowered to achieve a true custom look- for nearly 40% less than standard custom closets.

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