Getting organized is one of the most popular goals for the new year. I’ve met many wannabe organized homeschoolers at conferences. Yet I suspect that no matter how great my intentions, many of the homeschoolers who have heard me speak or own my book, The Organized Homeschool Life, still aren’t organized. I’d like to discuss six reasons I think that’s the case.
Listen to the podcast
#1 You decided to get organized
The first reason you’re still not organized is you’ve decided to get organized. What? You might think it’s true what they say about psychologists — that we’re all a bit crazy. But I mean it. Sometimes deciding to get organized destroys your motivation. Psychological research has demonstrated that the anxiety we feel about goals like getting organized dissipates as soon as we decide to do something about it. So, buying an organizing book, joining an organizing Facebook group, or even setting a goal of getting organized can make you feel like the battle is half won. You can relax because you’ve already started getting organized.
I’m not suggesting that you don’t decide to get organized. I’m saying that you can’t stop there. You’ll understand what I mean as I share more reasons you’re still not organized.
#2 You haven’t made organization a habit
We think organizing is an event — that weekend in August when we may or may not get our school room set up, the day when our husband has all the kids out of the house and we’re going to set up our shiny new record keeping system, the spring day dedicated to cleaning out the garage. There are so many problems with an event approach to organization. First, we’re always running behind. If you’ve waited until August to set up your school space and that’s when you’re starting school, you feel behind. You feel like a failure. You’re understandably stressed.
If we count on the golden time when all the kids are out of the house, you just know something is going to happen to prevent that from happening. Your husband will have another commitment, one of the kids will be sick, or something urgent will come up. Even if your day goes as planned, you’ll discover that there is more to do in your space than you thought or you’ll be frustrated that you can’t do more. When my husband has had the kids out of the house for a period of time, it always, always seems too short.
Organization is not an event, but a habit. If you read my article on mini habits, you know that habits are best established with daily practice. It’s what you do every day that determines how organized you are. If you’re still pinning your hopes on an organizing event, you’re going to remain disorganized.
#3 You’re taking on too much
Those of you who are event organizers are also taking on too much. You want to organize your whole school space, including lesson plans in a weekend, a day, or an hour. But even those of you who are trying to organize on a daily basis are also likely taking on too much. Our eyes are almost always bigger than our schedules. We can’t accomplish what we imagine we can in our fantasy world. So here’s what happens. We don’t do what we planned and we feel like failures. We give up. The organizing book goes back on the shelf or more likely in a messy pile. Another thing that didn’t work. We imagine that we are a hopeless case. Strategies that work for other people won’t work for us. I have been there. The truth is we are taking on too much and no normal homeschool mom can accomplish what we dreamed we could.
#4 You lose track of your why
About the time you give up because it’s all too much, you’ve also forgotten why it was so important to get organized in the first place. Maybe you’re fine just the way you are! You’re certainly better than that disastrous homeschool mom you know. You’re not that bad, so maybe you should just relax. If you kept feeling good about your homeschool life after giving up the quest for organization, I would tell you that was a good decision. There are a number of you who are organized enough to do all that God has called you to do. Hyper-focus on organization isn’t good for you.
But the rest of you? You know you’ll be right back in that place of rushing, being crabby at the kids, embarrassed by your home or your lateness, and wishing things were different. You need to reconnect with your why. Why DO you want to get organized? Think about your worst recent organizational day — the day where you got up late, forgot something important, had nothing planned for dinner, got next to no school finished, didn’t do chores, and wasted too much time online, and stayed up late trying to finish something you should have done a long time ago. Really picture it in your mind. How do you feel? Do you want to continue to feel this way in the future? How does your lack of organization affect your spouse? Your kids? Your finances? Your friends? Your witness? Be honest. Now imagine that you are as organized as you need to be to accomplish all God has planned for you. How does that feel? How does that affect your spouse? Your kids? Your finances? Your friends? Your witness? Now you should have your why. You need to hold onto it in order to finally get organized.
#5 You aren’t considering your time
I have shared why the most important area of your homeschool life to organize is your time. Unfortunately, we tend to focus our organizing efforts on our physical space. We want our books, art supplies, and science materials to look good. We want beautiful bookshelves, smart-looking bins, and creative spaces. I do think that an attractive, organized space is important. But organizing and planning time to maintain an organized space is even more important.
The primary way we fail to properly organize time is not anticipating the obstacles that may get in our way each day. The obstacles include our own temptations and struggles, like the hard time we have not answering the phone or responding to text messages. We ignore the likelihood that our child will be crabby, resistant, or slow to learn. We forget about the possibility of surprises — the guest who drops by, the furnace that konks out, the neighbor’s emergency. We can’t exactly plan for these, but neither should we expect the ideal. What we can do is ask ourselves what may get in the way of our week. And we can plan plenty of margin to accommodate the unexpected.
#6 You don’t have help
About the time we decide that we’re going to get organized, we also decide that WE are going to get organized. On top of everything else we are doing, we imagine that through our own strength, or force of will, we’re going to tackle the organizing problem. Take it from someone whose god has been her own strength for many, many years. That endeavor is destined to fail for a believer. God is not going to let you succeed in your own strength. Not only will you move further from Him and become convinced you can make it on your own, but your pride will grow. You’ll be telling everyone how you did it — how YOU did it with your organizing genius or your superior willpower or this program you found with your keen research skills. Why would God let us do this? He won’t. If you hear nothing else in this episode, I hope you’ll hear this: you can’t get organized if organizing is a struggle without God. You shouldn’t even try. I wrote about homeschooling without striving and I highly recommend that article to you.
The other way we try to get organized without help is creating our own approach. I believe in tailoring every approach or system to your personal needs, but reinventing the wheel isn’t a wise use of our time. Organizing books used to be written by born-organized people. They weren’t very useful for born-messy people like you and me. It isn’t that we’ve never heard of everything in its place. It’s that we need that broken down for us. Fortunately, there are people like FLYLady who have made organizing simple. We can adopt others’ grace-based approaches that recognize our natural tendencies — like if we have the opportunity to avoid putting something away, we’ll take it if we haven’t created habits for that.
Finally, we don’t get help getting organized by going through the process alone. It’s embarrassing to be disorganized. You feel foolish and weak. It feels so good to imagine getting your act together on your own and then pretending as though you’ve always been the same as your born-organized friends. I’ve had born-organized people who haven’t known me long tell me that I’m just like them. I laugh out loud. I’m not. Born-organized people have struggles that aren’t necessarily as visible as messies’ are. As I’ve shared the truth about me with other messies, I find myself loving them to pieces. There’s something so moving about being able to be real with people and their honesty in return. It isn’t that I don’t think it’s possible to get organized alone. God can get our lives in order, now matter how isolated we are. It’s that it’s not nearly as fun.
The tool that can help you finally organize your homeschool
There are people who have bought my book, The Organized Homeschool Life, who still aren’t organized. I can’t make people read the book or do the missions, even though some women wish I could. But I realized I could do something that would address these reasons some still aren’t organized. I’ve created a tool that will take my own organization to the next level. I used everything I’ve learned in years of experimenting with my productivity. I created a complete toolkit for Christian homeschool moms who want to organize their homeschool lives. It’s the Organized Homeschool Life Planner.
It allows homeschool moms to not just decide to get organized, but to take action daily. It allows them to create and track habits as well as each step of the challenges included in The Organized Homeschool Life. The planner encourages moms to choose one focus for the day by naming their day. Huge task lists are reduced to three priorities for the day and just a few others. You can finally finish your list and feel in control. The Organized Homeschool Life planner also has moms schedule their time — something that has been demonstrated to produce results. The weekly planning page prompts moms to write their why and anticipate obstacles to their goals. Finally, the planner prompts homeschooling moms to focus on where their help comes from. The daily page begins with a gratitude list, a place for a Scripture that spoke to you in your quiet time, and your response to God. I like to give any worries I have to God in this space. You could write a short prayer as well. Each month, there is also a devotion that will help focus your organizing efforts on what really matters. To encourage you to connect with other homeschool moms becoming organized, I’ve created The Organized Homeschool Life Facebook group.
The planner I’ve created addresses the major reasons homeschool moms struggle to get organized. It comes in two formats for your preference — a full-year, undated, digital planner or a two-book, undated, printed, spiral-bound planner set. The digital version has daily, weekly, and monthly pages that can be edited on your computer and kept there or printed out. It’s the most economical by far because you can use it year after year. If you’d like to print some or all of the 8.5×11 pages, you can.
The print version comes in a January to June version and a July to December version. Print orders will be shipped free in the US and when ordered direct, include stickers designed exclusively for The Organized Homeschool Life planner. At the time of this podcast, for a very limited time, take advantage of discounted launch pricing that also includes discounts on the book, The Organized Homeschool Life. To learn more and finally get your homeschool life organized, grab your copy today!
See The Organized Homeschool Life Planner
You’ll be able to download sample pages in the product notes or join me on Facebook Live for an inside look and coaching on how to organize your time and your homeschool life.
How are you supposed to do it all and stay sane in the process?
You do everything that moms with kids in school do, plus you have the responsibilities of a teacher, lunch lady, janitor, field trip monitor, and guidance counselor too.
To do it all, you have to be organized. But where do you start?
I was a born-messy mom. I was so disorganized with my ADD brain when I started homeschooling my oldest for preschool, that I was convinced I had to quit. I was buried in laundry, toys, diapers, and books. I had no idea what was for dinner and that was after getting no school done.
I was desperate when I found a woman named FLYLady online. She taught me that I needed routines and an approach to getting organized just 15 minutes at a time. Until I figured out what I was doing, I copied FLYLady’s routines.
I eventually found my groove and gained the confidence to have three more children, for a total of six. I longed for 15-minute missions that would not just organize my home, but my homeschool. I wanted to be ready for holidays in advance. I wanted to be organized in my marriage, parenting, and even my hobbies. I created The Organized Homeschool Life book to give homeschool moms like me easy missions for organizing these areas and more. Those who have taken on the weekly challenges tell me it’s made a big difference in their homeschool sanity.
But I needed something more in my quest for an organized homeschool life. I wanted a system for organizing my time and my homeschool.
“I needed a tool to simplify my life — not add to the overwhelm.”
Can you relate? I had used many task and goal-based planners and I wanted a planner that incorporated everything I loved about them in one place.
Get the Organized Homeschool System
Enter the Organized Homeschool Life Planner
Fans of the book gave me amazing insights into what The Organized Homeschool Life Planner should be. Because of their help, it features:
- Monthly devotionals that help Christian moms keep their organizing efforts in focus
- Weekly planning pages with the challenge steps of the week ready to be checked off
- Editable forms for those who prefer a digital planner
- All the forms needed to complete the organizing challenges in one place
- Heavyweight paper, spiral binding, and monthly dividers in the print planner
- Two-page monthly, undated, editable calendars with space for writing & matching holiday stickers
- Weekly, editable meal planning and shopping lists
Daily and weekly planning pages are designed to motivate homeschool moms to meet their organizing and other goals.
Moms are raving about The Organized Homeschool Life Planner!
Also see reviews by I Choose Joy and Our Thrifty Home.
Buy the digital planner
Digital or Print?
Monthly calendars, weekly, and daily pages in the digital version can be easily edited on your computer or digital devices. Other forms can be edited using Adobe Reader on your mobile device, Preview on a Mac, or a PDF app on your PC.
Create reusable meal plans with shopping lists that you can save to your phone or print as needed. Save time and your sanity!
- The digital version of the system is perpetual. It’s undated and can be used over and over in your organization journey.
- Print in color
- Print in 8.5×11 (the standard size) or in Happy Planner and other sizes by changing your printer settings
- Print only the pages you need when you need them
- Put printed pages in an existing binder or use your favorite binding system
- Save the 130+ pages to your computer or mobile device only and save paper, ink, and storage space
- Purchase custom holiday stickers to use with your printed digital planner here
- It’s a bargain!
- Nearly 300 high quality, planner-weight interior pages in each planner
- Beautiful laminated color covers
- Thick monthly dividers in color
- Lay flat spiral binding
- Open and go — no searching for files or printing time required
- Two planners (Jan-June and July-December) so they’re easy to tuck in your tote
- For a limited time, custom color holiday stickers included
The Organized Homeschool Life Planner is designed to be used with The Organized Homeschool Life book. The book explains weekly challenges in detail, while the weekly page lists each step of the challenge.
Hand holding included
Although the Organized Homeschool Life system isn’t a planner filled with so many forms that you’ll be overwhelmed, you could use some help making the most of it. When you invest in this organizing system, you’ll also receive a series of short videos that make it easy to use the system immediately.
You can also join our Facebook community (open to anyone who wants to organize their homeschooling life) for support and inspiration. We’ll have daily check-ins and extra tips for success in your organizing journey.
You might expect a complete system that can organize your entire homeschool life to cost a lot. But my desire is for every homeschool mom to be able to afford homeschool sanity. Purchase the complete digital system for just $25!
Preorder the undated print planners, available in January-June and July-December versions for just $25 each, with free shipping or the bundle for just $45. Note: Ships in the US only. Print books will ship in February and include digital versions of January-February forms while you wait.
Start organizing your homeschool today!
Still not sure?
Download your free bucket list for subscribers for this year and I’ll walk you through tips for making the most of this year, whatever approach you use.
Would you like to get more organized in your homeschooling this year? Many homeschoolers would. But where should you start? Should you start with your bookshelves? The schoolroom? Maybe the kitchen because you spend so much time there?
Organizing these spaces is a good idea. But the most important area in your homeschool to organize isn’t a space at all; it’s your time. I’ve written before about the importance of your calendar in organizing, but now I want to take a closer look at why organizing time usage should be a top priority for you this year.
#1 Organizing takes time
How many times have you said (or at least thought), I need time to get organized? However often you’ve had the thought, you were right. Organizing anything does indeed take time. Of course, we all have the same 24 hours in a day, so what we really mean when we say this is we need to take time for organizing tasks.The key is how much time and can we afford to dedicate it to organizing? We may also ask if we can afford not to take time for organizing.
#2 Homeschooling is time
In my state, I’m required to keep track of hours spent homeschooling. Transcripts for high school and college are an accounting of credit hours. And while we can accomplish more educationally in less time than traditional schools, homeschooling is still about time spent. Success in most subjects for most students will correlate with how much time has been devoted to it. Statistics comparing students who read 20 minutes a day to students who read just 5 or 1 minute a day is astounding. When it comes to homeschooling success, organizing your homeschool time will be far more important than how you organize your art supplies. We know this, yet the results of organizing our homeschool spaces are more Instagram-worthy, so we can get off track.
#3 Our time is our life
My kids don’t remember my system for organizing their toys and frankly, neither do I. (I just remember a lot of weeping when small pieces to things were strewn everywhere). My children didn’t even express awe over the binders and bins I used to keep their school materials organized. But they remember the medieval feast, the states and regions field trips, and the holiday parties. They remember time well spent. And so do we.
How to Organize Time
If we recognize that time is the most important area of our homeschool lives to organize, how do we go about it? Frankly, it can be challenging. I have spent years studying time-management approaches (better known as productivity these days). I can’t distill what I’ve learned into one blog post, but I can give you strategies that have made a huge difference in how I organize my time.
#1 Start with God
I think we have heard this so often, that it begins to be an obligation. “Oh, I have to begin my day with God because that’s the right thing. I won’t be a good Christian mom if I don’t do that. God will be mad at me if I don’t.” That sense of obligation and guilt actually works against us having time with the Lord.
Instead, time with God is for us. Time in the Word and in prayer encourages, reduces anxiety, gives wisdom, and saves time. I have had many days that were headed for disaster before my time with the Lord. I was anxious, despairing, and ready to give up teaching for the day. Then I read God’s Word and He spoke to my heart through it. Some days I found what I needed through my regular reading. Other days it came from looking for specific verses. In praying with thankfulness, in humility, and for the needs of others, I found that whatever was troubling me was small in His eyes. In praying about my overwhelm, I found God using my husband to help, tasks taking less time, and scheduled events being canceled. Beginning the day with God isn’t an obligation, but an honor and a privilege. I couldn’t organize my time without Him. For some homeschool moms, beginning the day with God means the night before or even afternoon. Early morning is not an obligation.
#2 Keep a short list
Have you ever noticed that God’s to-do lists were always short? Even in creation (an undertaking so enormous, we can’t fathom it), God’s task list was short for each day. The list of commandments is just 10 items and Jesus simplified them to just two. Jesus never gave His disciples a list of 30 things they had to do. And believers’ action list is just one item long: “Go and make disciples.” We are the ones who complicate matters. And believe me, I understand why. The Bible was written before email, Pinterest, and blogs like this one. You can come away with a list of to-do’s from everything you read or see. But here’s the thing. God hasn’t asked us to do all these things. When we’re overwhelmed, it’s so often because we’re taking on a load He hasn’t given us. Keeping a short list each day requires us to trim those unnecessary tasks, leaving just the essentials.
But I can hear you now. “That’s all I can do? Just the essentials?” Or maybe that’s my voice I hear in my head. I want to do more than the essentials. When we limit our list to essentials, we prevent overwhelm, and are likely to get these tasks done faster than if we were working from a list of 100 things. With the time left over, we can choose to do any nonessential tasks we’d like. And if we have no extra time? We have the satisfaction of knowing we finished everything that had to be done, without the guilt of frittering time away on nonessentials.
#3 Schedule time
Francis Wade’s guest post is one of the most popular on this blog. He argues for the power of scheduling when organizing our time. He won me over. I didn’t like schedules at all. They felt too restrictive. I’m a homeschooler after all! I shouldn’t have to be on a schedule (It was like a dirty word to me at one time). But scheduling allows us to make time for God, for homeschooling, and for that short list of essentials. A schedule is like a budget for your time.
I used to spend money until I got an overdraft notice. I didn’t have a budget because it was too depressing. I would see that I couldn’t get fast food because I couldn’t afford it and my rent too. We can be like that with our time. We don’t want a schedule because then we will see that we can’t sign up for ten field trips next month plus have our kids in the musical and start a podcast, while still homeschooling our kids. So we just do it all and complain that we’re overwhelmed, as though some maniac is in charge of our time. I know a maniac has been in charge of my time!
The solution is to schedule our time — not to the minute, but loosely. We must include not just time for God and homeschooling, but our relationships, homemaking, organizing, and time for things that renew us. Because I’m a rebel at heart, once I get my schedule written out, I find I don’t want to use it. I want to switch things up and I have to accommodate the unexpected. That’s fine. Simply the process of creating a schedule helps to limit our focus and serves as a reality check for our time.
The Easy Way to Organize Your Time
I’ve created a system that will help homeschool moms like you organize the most important area of their lives–their time. It will allow you to organize your time with God, develop a short list of what’s most important, and schedule time for everything God has called you to do — even the fun stuff!
What do you struggle with most? Time with God, keeping a short list, or scheduling everything?
Do you consistently find yourself with more to-do’s than time? If you’ve tried routines and schedules and planners and you’re still not organized, you’ll want to try time boxing. I love it!
How I’ve Organized Time in My Homeschool
FLYLady wasn’t a homeschooler, but in my early homeschooling years she introduced me to the idea that I needed routines. My plan was putting out fires. I handled whichever baby screamed the loudest. I learned that I needed to do the same things in the same order every day. Sure, there were interruptions, but the basic pattern created peace in my home.
I still use routines and talked with FLYLady about the power of routines in homeschooling in an episode of The Homeschool Sanity Show. But when I added more children and more students to my homeschool, I decided I needed more than just routines; I needed a schedule. Managers of Their Homes showed me how mothers of many could homeschool and parent and have a life, too. Time had to be allotted for it. I created the perfect schedule. But I forgot that my family is far from perfect. The schedule never really worked. It felt too constraining. So I started using what I called anchor points along with my routines. There was the noon anchor point by which the majority of my teaching should be done. There was the 5:00 p.m. anchor point at which time I needed to start dinner. Then there was the 8:00 p.m. anchor time which was when I wanted to have the kids in bed. I was usually disappointed in that one.
Today I have more scheduling in my day than I did years ago. Scheduling can be very effective if you don’t resist it. But I find that the more I schedule, the more resistance I feel. I like freedom and I suspect many homeschoolers are the same. Fortunately, routines and schedules aren’t the only options when it comes to organizing your homeschool day. Time boxing is another option and it’s flexible and effective.
What Time Boxing Is
Time boxing is a list of tasks you’d like to complete in a day, together with the amount of time you plan to spend on each. Unlike a routine, a time boxing list will be different every day. The list can be arranged in order of how you would like to complete tasks, but unlike a schedule, can be easily changed as you go through your day. A list for a homeschooler may look something like this:
Bible time – 30 mins.
History – 15 mins.
Read Aloud – 15 mins.
Raking leaves – 30 mins.
Tutoring Time – 60 mins.
Break – 30 mins.
Organizing – 15 mins.
You decide to do one of these tasks first and set a timer. When time is up, you can either wait to start another task or move on to the next one of your choice. When you’ve finished the list, you’re done for the day.
Tips for Using Time Boxing to Organize Your Homeschool
Use an app. The Sloth (iOS) and Do Now (Android) apps make it easy and motivating to keep track of your tasks for the day. You can easily rearrange the task order, start and stop the timer, and mark tasks complete. I love having my task list with me on my phone. I’m easily distracted!
Don’t include routines. If you already have morning time in which you do the same things in the same order, don’t put them on your time boxing list. Instead, make a list of the other things you’d like to spend time on that day.
Use generous time estimates. Most people underestimate how long things will take. The more time you anticipate, the more likely you will finish with time to spare. You’ll also be less frustrated by the day’s accomplishments.
Use it to add balance to your day. What is it that you never seem to have time for? Add things like sewing, reading, or Bible journaling to your list. Even 15 minutes of these activities matters. The more time we spend doing things that rejuvenate us, the more likely we will get less enjoyable tasks done.
Use it to create habits. Until exercise is a habit, try adding it to your time boxing list. If there is something you always forget to do, add it to your list.
Use it to organize your homeschooling life. The Organized Homeschool Life provides you with 15-minute missions that will help you get organized all year. Add a 15-minute organizing task to your time boxing list and you’ll be on your way to experiencing more peace and joy in your homeschooling and life.
Use it to organize your distracted child. I have a child with ADD who flourishes with time boxing. He learns to plan work for the day, estimate how long tasks will take, and to work quickly when timed. If you use the app on your phone, rather than your child’s, you can help remind your child to stay on track.
Don’t time box your whole day. If you have a whole day’s time allotted to tasks, you are scheduling and not time boxing. The beauty of time boxing is it allows for response to distractions, new tasks, and our need for margin. Keeping the list short is more motivating, too.
If you give time boxing a try, let me know how you like it. If you’d like even more homeschool organizing tips, check out 10 Days of Homeschool Organization Ideas at They Call Me Blessed.
Am I the only one who hasn’t gotten my spring cleaning done? I doubt it. Once spring arrives, I find myself getting busier. But I’m determined to give my home a good spring cleaning before we have my son’s graduation party at the end of May. If you’re motivated to get your cleaning done too, read on.
Part of The Organized Homeschool Life
Spring cleaning is one of the challenges in The Organized Homeschool Life. I think it’s important to get the kids involved in the process, as I recommend. One of these days they’ll want to get their own homes freshened up this time of year.
While I love all the spring cleaning checklists that you can find on Pinterest like these from SheriGraham.com, I find they can be a bit overwhelming. I’d love to have my entire home clean and perfectly organized TODAY, thank you. That isn’t possible, but it doesn’t keep me from being frustrated.
What’s the answer to the desire for a perfectly spring-clean home? Doing a little bit every day. I recommend just 15 minutes. If your family members help you, your time will be multiplied. Okay, if a toddler is “helping,” your time won’t be multiplied. But you know what I mean.
How to Spring Clean Konmari Style
The book The Magic Art of Tidying Up inspired me to declutter. I’ve written about my passion for her method of folding clothes before. But the KonMari method of determining what sparks joy can also help us complete our spring cleaning.
Of course, we can ask ourselves the question of each item we touch in our 15-minute spring cleaning sprints (“Does this spark joy?”) and use it to declutter and simplify our homes. I prefer the question: Do I love this? Of course, not every item that doesn’t pass this test has to go. I’ve had a microwave I haven’t loved for years, but I was stuck with it until died recently. When it comes to standard clutter, though, the question can be very powerful.
What about washing windows, beating rugs, dusting shades and ceiling fans and the like? How can the KonMari approach help with these cleaning tasks?
FLYLady helped me think differently about my home with her Home Blessing Hour. Rather than engage in the drudgery of dusting and mopping and cleaning toilets, I was blessing my home. As I changed my thinking about cleaning, I realized I loved my home. I had the privilege of owning it and caring for it. What a change in perspective!
So now when I clean, I can ask myself if I love my picture window as I clean all the many fingerprints left on it. As I beat rugs, I can think about how much I love having my children, my friends, and their friends in our home. As I dust shades and ceiling fans, I can ask myself if I love having a comfortable, private retreat from the world for me and my family. My answer will be a resounding yes!
If you’d like a cheat sheet for KonMari-style decluttering as you go about your spring cleaning, MakeSpace has provided you one. You can check out their self-storage locations here.
What’s your top priority for spring cleaning this year?
I thought I would have two or three kids and wasn’t prepared for the organizing challenge six kids would be. I’ve learned the hard way, but you don’t have to. If you have three kids, some of these tips may not be necessary; if you have twelve kids, feel free to offer your tips in the comments. You certainly have a lot more wisdom to share than I do!
These are the tips that have saved my sanity for the last 16 years that I’ve had three or more children.
#1 Organize by Day
I wish I could say the issue of arguing over the best seat in the car or the house is over now that my kids are older, but that’s not the case. The bickering started early and I needed a strategy for resolving these squabbles.
My solution was to assign each child a day. Once I had six, it worked out rather well. Monday was the oldest’s day, Tuesday the second oldest’s, and so on. Sunday is Dad’s day. We use each child’s day to give privileges like choice of seat and what restaurant to go to if we are going out to eat, but also responsibilities like leading prayers and being mom’s helper.
Bonus Tip: Assign seats at your kitchen table for life. Do you have to ask why?
#2 Organize by Color
I wanted to be able to identify whose belongings were whose (because there are oh-so-many belongings!), so I assigned colors to the kids at an early age. You can use color for towels, toothbrushes, cups, notebooks, folders, pencils, and more. When someone’s item is missing, it makes finding it easier than if everyone had the same color. It also makes shopping decisions easier.
Bonus Tip: Does your child keep losing things? Make him pay a finder’s fee to a sibling who finds the missing item.
#3 Use a Label Maker
Some things can’t be purchased in multiple colors. That’s when a label is a life saver. I often have two kids using the same level of curriculum. We immediately label the books. I keep a label maker in the kids’ bathroom so they can label their toiletries. Everyone has their own hygiene tools and products and complaints of missing items are minimized.
Bonus Tip: Consider getting items personalized when you order them.
#4 Teach your Children to Do Chores
If I had had just one child, I would have been tempted to do too much for them. With six children living in a bigger house, I couldn’t manage without their help. There are many ways to approach chores with a big family. Managers of Their Chores is one option. Many systems are more trouble than they’re worth for big families, however. I know; I’ve tried so many of them! I’ve created a super easy checklist that you can modify for your family. It has worked well for us for many years.
Bonus Tip: Instead of using a chore list for daily chores, just work together on each room or floor of your house. Use a timer and play some fun music to motivate kids.
#5 Use Checklists
Packing for myself and six children when we travel would have been a nightmare if not for the checklists I created and saved on my computer. Each child has a list of things to take that I edit each year. I print them off and the kids love packing for themselves. Do I have to check my younger kids’ clothing choices? Absolutely! But it takes so much less time to check than to pack for them.
I’ve also created checklists for allowing my kids to be independent with their homeschool assignments. But there are many ways to use checklists to organize a big family: packing lists for sports or music practice, morning and evening routine checklists, exercise checklists, and tasks to be completed before screen time checklists, for example.
Bonus Tip: Laminate or put checklists to be reused into page protectors. Make dry erase markers available to be used with them.
#6 Declutter Together
I don’t have any mind-blowing tips for organizing toys and clothes with a big family besides constantly getting rid of things. For years, I struggled to determine how to choose what to give away. So many toys belonged to all of the kids. Just because my 10-year-old didn’t like something didn’t mean my 5-year-old didn’t want it. I finally put blankets out on my playroom floor for giveaway items and throw-away items. I had the kids go through their toys and put them on the respective blankets. Doing this together allowed younger kids to rescue treasures, but still encouraged them to give things away. It’s worked brilliantly and the kids actually enjoy doing this.
To declutter clothes, I start with my oldest child. As he pulls out things he doesn’t want, I offer it to the next smallest child (my second son is actually the tallest now). If the next child doesn’t want it and it’s in good condition, I donate it. We keep working our way through the kids in this way until we have gotten through all of their clothes. My daughter only has to sort through clothes a friend has handed down to her.
Bonus Tip: Keep bins or hampers for unwanted items easily accessible in your home to make this process faster.
Do you need more help getting and staying organized with your big family? Order your copy of The Organized Homeschool Life.
Join us for the “How to Organize your Life in 30 Days” Challenge!
Do you feel like you are drowning in to do lists, laundry, and dishes? Does lack of organization cause you to lose your patience or avoid having people over? Are you often late because you can’t find what you are looking for? As moms, we all have a lot on our minds and life is busy. In some seasons our mind becomes so full that we become less productive. I am teaming up with some amazing bloggers to bring you 30 days to an organized life! All you need to do to join the challenge is check out the landing page HERE and start working through the challenges. You can join in at any point, there are no rules! Share your before or after pictures on Instagram and use the hashtag #30dayorganize for a chance to win a $10 gift card to Hobby Lobby (3 winners)! The more your engage on social media, share the graphic below, etc. the more entries you’ll have! The winners will be announced on Instagram so stay tuned!