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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Change is in the Air

I'm no organizational expert, but I am organized. Now that the kids are back to school I can reclaim my house from the mess of towels, swimsuits, sunscreen and Popsicle wrappers that come with summer fun. I love summer, don't get me wrong, but I am a freak for organizational calm. I like a place for everything and everything in its place. Must be my upbringing.....

We always had chores on Saturday and responsibilities throughout the week. It made me responsible and taught me life skills that I use every day--parenting, volunteering, working, being a wife and friend, etc.

Here's some quick tips on how to organize the chaos in your life. Let's face it there's a little bit of chaos in all our lives; that's what keeps it interesting.

1- Find a place for the big things first. Whether you're rearranging furniture or placing new small appliances, these things take up some prime real estate in your home, so try out a few places and put it where it feels best to you. Think "is this item in a 'Park Place' or 'Baltic Ave'." location. If it's something you can't live without find it's right place.

2- With the rest of your interior real estate break it up into zones. My kitchen/dining area is long and narrow. I've created a work zone--kind of a mini office--which allows kids to do homework in a place I can help them while I cook dinner, or do a project with the little kids. We have an eating zone (table) and a cooking/prep zone (kitchen area). If you have an open floor plan, decide how to break up your space by deciding how you want to use it.

3- Deal with the clutter. We've all seen HGTV and their fabulous list of shows on how to do everything to your house. Well put it into action. Make your 3 piles-donate, keep and sell, and then DO IT. There are charity donation bins around every city that you can just drop in your un-needed items to help someone else; Sell the stuff you can--garage sale or online; The stuff you want to keep-find it a home.

4- Where do I put this "stuff." I have inherited a lot of sentimental objects in my time. There are things I have from childhood I can't part with, even though some of them bring up memories I'd rather not remember. When we got married I had 13 boxes of various objects. I am down to one. My advice-give yourself a limit. Take a picture of items and write the story to those things you maybe could get rid of, and then after you've scrapbooked the picture and story, get rid of the item.

5- Make a list. I love lists. You know this if you've read this blog. Prioritize room by room what needs to be done. Start top to bottom. Clean the room, change the furniture and decor if needs, make repairs and declutter. You'll feel better when you do. Remember eat the Elephant one bite at a time. Take one room at a time. Here's a few lists you can recreate to help you organize your life.
Job Description and Chore Check Off List.

6- Give everyone their own responsibilities. There's a difference between clean and perfect. My house is clean, and I've had to give up the idea that it had to be perfect. Five kids makes that impossible. Instead I let everyone help. It may not be perfect, but I don't have to chase anyone around with a cleaning rag either. Find my Chore Chart here.

Make a chore chart for kids to help. WARNING: you have to train your children how to clean and it can be excruciating. Be patient and help them. This is paying it forward to your future son or daughter-in-law and grandchildren. Give a reward--after they've successfully done a new chore well for a few weeks. They've probably earned it.

7- Lastly, if you've got kids you're well into the chaos that comes home after school. Here's my advice. Have an after school snack ready (see the School Time posts on this blog), and use this checklist to help organize your lives. Daily To Do List. This one didn't translate as well as I wanted, but you can fill in your blanks and make a copy for each child. Put them in a binder or folder and the kids now have a routine. Come home, get a snack, empty their bags and give you necessary papers and check their list of what to do that day. Since I have 4 coming and going, I give each kids 5-10 min. of time one-on-one to talk about their day, assignments, help they need and what I can do to help. This is how I can deal with the chaos and avoid four little people talking to me all at once.  Happy Organization.

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