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Organization tips for busy parents - Part 1

May 31, 2023

Let me start by saying that I really love it when our home is clean and tidy. Our home is in constant need of organizing, cleaning, and maintaining, and sometimes the mess drives me completely crazy. However, with a toddler, a neurodivergent child, a dog, and two careers, we can’t and don’t want to spend all our time and energy cleaning up. Our time is so valuable, but so is an organized home. Our space can affect our mood and energy, hence I felt that I need to find that balance in a way that works for me, my family and my schedule. Naturally, some days it works better than others, but in this post and the next one that will follow in a few weeks, I’ll share how we do it in our home. You can also jump to my Instagram guide, where I gathered all my videos on this subject.

Morning Routine

Even though we wake up early, our mornings can be quite chaotic, therefore it does not include any tidying up. We are focused on our breakfast, first cups of coffee, and getting both kids to daycare fully clothed and with snack boxes in hand. However, I have chosen two small things to clean up before I start my workday that don’t take me more than 5 minutes to do - making the bed and cleaning up the dining table, which doubles as my workspace during “office hours”. Those two small things help me start my day more organized and with the feeling that I’m in control. Because I work from home, I have the luxury of doing that after the kids are already in daycare, but even if that wasn’t the case, I am certain that I would manage to squeeze it in before we leave.

Choose two small things around the house that are meaningful to you and that you can get done in a few short minutes during your morning routine. It can be the bed, desk, kitchen counter, or whatever provides you with that sense of calmness and comfort. Make sure to check those boxes before you start your day. If you work from home, it will provide you with a better organized and serene environment, and if you work outside the home, do it for your future self, who will feel better coming back to a slightly more organized home.

Messy living room floor

Evening Routine

To keep myself sane and maintain a peaceful atmosphere in the house, I do my best to tidy up before we start our bedtime routine. We don't do it every day, I must admit. When we had one child it was easier to maintain, but now with two our evenings can be overwhelming and terribly messy. Still, our routine usually works to some extent. One of us is there with the kids, and the other one cleans up, usually after dinner and before bath time. We try to involve the kids but don't push too hard on it. Most of the time it takes 10-15 minutes, and it allows us to feel more relaxed and comfortable, and enjoy what's left of our evening.

Use a timer

I work from home, and as a mom of two without a substantial support system, my time is very limited. Therefore, I really try not to get sucked into housework and chores during my workday. If the house is extremely messy, then I'll set a timer for 10-15 minutes and tidy up whatever I manage to, within that time frame. You could decide on any boundary that suits you, for instance until your coffee is ready, until your meeting starts, etc. As long as it is limited and you stick to the time frame that you established.

Setting a timer

One at a time

Every once in a while, there is a specific area, shelf, drawer, or corner in the house that gets really messy and screams for attention. When our environment is constantly chaotic and disorganized, it can seem overwhelming and almost impossible to get things back in shape. So my suggestion - do it one at a time. When you have a few minutes, use them to dive into that specific area that drives you crazy whenever you look at it.

On the go

This tip is about all of those little misplaced items around the house. We constantly have stuff that's laying around out of place - an animal figurine under the sofa, a lost piece of paper in the hall, a dirty towel on the floor, a missing puzzle piece in the kitchen, and the list goes on. Next time you walk around the house and notice such an item - pick it up and put it away. When you do it on the go, like when you go to the kitchen for some water or to the bathroom, you don't need to make time in your day for it. It takes a couple of minutes and you can go on with whatever you were doing.

Storage solution in the living room

Find a place for everything

A big part of keeping an organized home is finding a regular place for every item or group of items, such as craft materials, office supplies, kitchen utensils, towels, etc. It makes everything easy to find and put back into place, and everyone knows exactly where everything is. When every item has a specific place, shelf, box, basket, hanger or drawer, you don't have to waste time figuring out where everything goes. You just do it, without even thinking about it. Store things where it makes sense to you and in a way that best fits your routines. Preferably, every object will be stored in the space where it's usually used.

Involve the kids

It's no secret that kids can be messy, but there are a lot of different approaches to dealing with it, involving them in house chores and getting them to clean up after themselves. Our kids are still young (4.5 and 2 years old) and our approach will most likely change and evolve over time, but for now we don't force them to put things back or to help us tidy up. We teach them that a clear and tidy space is better and important to our well-being by modeling it. We do it with them, we talk to them about it, explain that it's important to us, and make sure that they see us doing it. We ask for their help by giving them very specific tasks, and do our best to not get mad when they refuse and leave us to do all the work ourselves. However, when they do agree and cooperate, we encourage and compliment them for being helpful, kind and responsible.

Mother and daughter cleaning up