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How Can I Get My Child, Husband, Home Office More Organized?

How can I get my children to be more organized? And what are some of the signs of hoarding in children?
How can I get my spouse to follow through and clean up after completing a chore?
How can I make my home office functional instead of a “clutter-catch-all?”

These are some of the Facebook questions you asked.

Let’s face it, Moms are the CEO of their homes; they are expected to run the household with precision and are replied upon to create and organize “systems” to accomplish that. But what if your husband and your children have different ideas about what organized looks like and how they need to organize their “stuff.”

A client shared a story recently with me about cutting her finger while preparing lunch. She immediately reached for a drawer that she knew contained a mini first aid kit only to find it empty, and had to run upstairs to another “stash” of Band Aids.  That night her husband explained that he had organized all the first aid supplies, that were all over the house to one single location!

Your husband, children and you, may all have different organizing systems.  Obviously my client’s husband thought “like” should be with “like” altogether in one place.  Whereas my client thought that having things where you might need them, no matter, how many different places, was more logical.

You can test your children very simply – by playing a game to see you who can sort a large pile of toys into 3 separate piles most quickly.  Similarly you could even dump a couple of “junk” drawers and you or your husband could do the same! Sorting the toys or drawer contents without thinking will reveal how each of them instinctively organizes.

  • Like with like – all dolls, all cars, all legos; paper clips, pens, hi-lighters; cold medicine, aspirin, toiletries.
  • Size with size – a pile for small, one for medium and all large items.
  • Colors – all red toys, project – all scrapbooking supplies or frequency of use – maybe a certain screwdriver or kitchen appliance is used more often than another.

There are many ways to group items, but this test will reveal what is most logically and easily maintained for each person in the home.  And can be applied to clothes, kitchen utensils, tools and hobby or school supplies.

This process can reveal hoarding tenancies as sorting items will allow you to discover duplicates or large “collections.”  If you or your children have a tendency to collect or hoard items, by purging often you can set a good example for your children to follow. You can also ask why a child feels the need to hang onto to certain items and might be surprised to learn that they are attached to something because of an emotion or accomplishment.

Creating a system of “homes” for things will help eliminate “catch-all-corners.”

  • A set of hooks for keys – either upon entering the home or in the kitchen.
  • A mail and message center – upon entering the home, in the office or in the kitchen.
  • A vertical file or pocket calendar system for bills, lists, to-do’s, current coupons and receipts.

The Rules: Having a set of House Rules that everyone follows is a great way to systematically stop clutter from collecting where it should not.

  • If YOU get it out – YOU put it away. If YOU take it out of a cupboard, drawer, room, house, garage – YOU put it back where it came from.
  • If YOU start a project – YOU finish it, and clean up after yourself.
  • The whole family participates in seasonal purges – Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. Put it on a communal calendar – one day, one weekend, every three months.

For more detailed information about organizing systems in the home, ways or get better organized, or how to recognize hoarding tenancies and nip them in the bud, check out Dr. Robin Zasio’s book, “The Hoarder in You” – in which I contributed a ton of ideas and systems.  Also the Chicken Soup for the Soul’s Life Lessons for Busy Moms, which I co-authored with Mark Victor Hansen, Jack Canfield, Debby Bitticks and Lynn Benson.

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