Yes, it sounds like the title of a National Geographic documentary, delving into the plight of some animal near extinction. Is your dream of home organization near extinction? I understand. There are days you may want to be on the endangered list, hoping that someone will save you.
Not only is an orderly home important for your peace of mind, but it’s also a vital component to being prepared for all types of emergencies.
Many years ago our family went from three kids to six kids in a one year. Our children were all between the ages of 5 to 11 years old. I knew I was in trouble if I did not find a way to establish order, and fast. What followed were years of trials and many errors. Our kids are now older and the struggle still continues. My mom recently moved in and our college age children will be in and out for the next few years. I have learned that life will always be changing and my home will, too.
Staying organized is a constant work in process. Hang in there, don’t put your lucidity at risk. You really can get your home and life off of the endangered list. Below are some tips that have saved my sanity and helped me conquer much of the chaos that is always a challenge to home organization.
Simple rotating menus
Buy and store what your family eats. You will save money, time and peace of mind knowing you have what you need on hand. have 12-15 dinner recipes your family enjoys and rotate through them. A great app is “OurGroceries”. The free version is all you need. Set up does not take long. This app lets me know exactly what to buy from which store and helps me remember the odd things I often forget to purchase, but need.
Everything in the home, has a home of its own
School backpacks, keys, batteries, Legos, half-dressed Barbies and bread twisty ties — each one must have a place where it is kept. If you are always losing an item, it is because it does not have a home. Give items a permanent home or get rid of it.
Have multiples of things in rooms
Pencil jars, tablets of paper, scissors, waste baskets, flash lights, water and blankets are in almost every room. We have flash lights stashed in almost every drawer in the house. We all have our own bath towels, but keep many additional towels in other rooms. One cannot predict vomit from a kid or a cat.
Use the inside of cupboards!
Post grocery lists, baking conversion charts, emergency contacts, evacuation info, CPR instructions and anything else you may need. It keeps your information handy, but out of sight.
Each room has its own cleaning supplies
The kitchen and each bathroom should have a bucket of cleaners that are specific to that room, along with a small broom and dust pan. You won’t waste time hauling a bucket of supplies from room to room and the moment you see something that needs to be cleaned, you can handle it right then and there.
Label everything that you can!
Seeing on a label what is in containers /boxes will remind you what you have and what you may need. It saves time looking for items in closets and in the garage. Own many Sharpie type markers.
Inside every room is a list of how to clean it
These lists are kept inside a cupboard or closet. It will remind kids, big and small, what needs to be done for that room to pass inspection.
Place a BIG calendar where everyone can reach it
If it is not on the calendar, it does not happen. Have a pencil attached to a string nearby, so each member of the family can add appointments, activities, due dates, etc. Using a pencil will make changes easy to make. At the beginning of the week, ask family members to fill in their activities. Family members are responsible for putting all family info into their own calendars/phones. Two family calendar phone apps that help with this are Cozi and Hub Family Organizer. Google Calendar can be synced to multiple phones and desktops.
Assign a “laundry” day and a “deep clean your room” day to everyone
Hopefully when they deep clean they will find all of the clothes that have been stuffed under the bed and in corners and wash them! Have them choose a day when work or school responsibilities are usually light. Post the laundry schedule on the inside of a cupboard along with any other instructions concerning laundry.
When age-appropriate, have your kids help with the laundry
At the age of 8 years old, our kids could do most of their laundry without too much assistance. For older kids, hang a squirt bottle of stain remover (we do homemade) over the edge of the hamper. This will encourage family members to squirt the stain before they toss the dirty clothes in the hamper.
Have chargers in every room for tablets, phones or any other items
This will prevent WW III at the computer desk and you will have extra cords available when one breaks. Try to keep items regularly charged in case of an emergency.
Replace items as you use them and buy an additional one
This method works best on things you don’t use often. Examples-Propane/charcoal, matches, batteries, candles, duct tape, permanent markers, OTC meds, rope, fluids for car, etc.… This principle also work well on canned food items and staples. Let you budget dictate what you replace. Do what you can afford to do at the time.
Fill up the car with gas when you hit ½ a tank
Murphy’s Law can and will dictate that your car will run out of gas on the busiest day of the month.
We spring clean and fall clean for better home organization
Spring cleaning allows you to get out all of the summer gear, toys and clothes. In spring, go through the “hand me down” clothes box, replace broken gear, clean out the garage and put away the winter stuff. Clean and prep your home for the upcoming warm weather. Clean screens, replace home filters, etc… In the fall, pull out all the winter clothes and replace what is old or outgrown, prep for back to school and the holidays. Clean and prep your home for the winter and upcoming holidays. Remember to toss what you don’t need.
Go through 72-hour kits in spring and fall
Like the above suggestion, you can prepare your emergency kits with proper clothes for the season. Check to make sure flashlights and other items are working and in good condition. Replace the food too! Use the food you have been storing for 6 months for kids lunches or snacks. Check expiration dates on medical items in kits.
Have a cleaning schedule
You may not always be able to follow it, but a cleaning schedule will help you maintain some feeling of control in your day to day life and also when an emergency occurs. I have always struggled with this one! Children need to feel a sense of pride and responsibility for their home. Begin early and teach them how to care for their belongings and home. There have been days in our home when dinner wasn’t served until chores were done!
Make more copies of your home and car keys than you need
Leave some with a trusted neighbor or friend. You will thank me for this one day!
Have a “beginning of the day” and an “end of day” routine
Whether you go for a walk with your family, eat dinner at a specific time, say nighttime prayers together, feed the fish or watch a favorite show; routine makes us feel good. We create habits that make our days and nights run smoother. We also create rituals that bring us closer to those we love and reminds us to start and end the day on a positive note.
Remember, the struggle will continue! There will be times when life will not go as planned and that is okay! As time goes by, you will develop your own tricks of the trade that will guarantee your family’s sanity and survival. Do what works for you and your family and get off the endangered list!