So January is National Organizing Month.
Just hearing that, “organizing month,” makes me happy.
Not that I’ve actually even done that much this year,
with just getting back and adjusting to a routine again.
But I really do love having a bit of organization in my days and life and home
I thought it might be fun to do a little “tricks of the trade” of house-wife-ing,
in honor of this month. Since I have one day left in January.
Any other occupation tries to find ways to better itself and find shortcuts and time-savers, so why not the career of housekeeping?
[Now as a disclaimer: This is not about a clean house.
I'm not talking about dustless baseboards or spotless floors or weekly cleaning.
This is not about trying to have "the perfect house."]
[Yes, there are flowers blooming in January. I think winter forgot to come.]
This is just going to be some tips and tricks that I’ve learned from so many other people throughout the past six years of marriage. And even before that, observing my mother with her six children.
These are just things that seem to make the days go by with more calmness
and keep the home functioning more smoothly.
Things that promote orderliness and that are easy to teach to younger children.
I’m not a neat freak, but I do love order.
I also think that as a follower of Jesus my home should reflect His character and Spirit.
Jesus is the Author of peace, of order, of rest. He’s also the One who created laughter and fun!
And I want our home to be a reflection of Who He is.
I want my children to grow up without a feeling of chaos, but with peace and rest and lots of fun.
On a practical level, this means a lot of love and laughing, a lot of big messes, and a lot of cleaning up.
I’ve quoted Edith Schaeffer before, and she says,
“The fact that you are a Christian should show in some practical area of a growing creativity and sensitivity to beauty, rather than a gradual drying up of creativity, and a blindness to ugliness…”
I love that. And yet, honestly, with small children, it can be challenging.
Add an adorable but small cottage with two closets and it’s even more challenging.
I want to live functionally, practically, and yet beautifully.
I also know that in about three months our world will be changed by a little person less than two feet long, and I’m hoping the things we do now will stick then and hopefully help with the adjustment.
So, while order and neatness are important, I also never want my children to feel like they are in an institution, where a organized house is The Most Important thing to me. While I want to teach cleanliness and consideration and respect of others, I also don’t want shoe tracks across the freshly-cleaned kitchen floor to mess up my whole day.
As a mother, I think there must a be a fine line to all this, and it’s Wisdom that can tell the difference. I don’t always have it, and therefore ask for it. Often.
Somehow, in all the responsibilities of keeping a house, and cleaning up and washing dishes and laundry, I believe it can all be worship to God. I want to be a happy housekeeper. And yet I also don’t want to lose track of what really is eternal, and that is the souls of my children, and showing them LOVE above orderliness.
House-wife-ing, for lack of a better term, can be worship of God, but it can also be worship of self.
And how I need God to speak to my heart [as He did this morning] when I was doing the latter.
So I hope this can be a mutual encouragement, and not a comparison of who does what better.
It’s a mutual learning, and that why I want to hear from you too. Maybe someday I’ll look back and all this and think, “Goodness, girl, just let it go!” or maybe not. Time will tell. But for now, these are things that are working well for us, and as our family changes I expect some of this will to.
So, let’s start in the kitchen.
I think I’ve learned more about kitchen organization from two of my sister-in-laws than anyone else! I’ve lived in three different houses since we’re married, and two of those kitchens were organized by my sister-in-law when we moved in. She’s just really good at it. She thinks so logically – like baking stations and putting mixing bowls and scrapers close together for convenience-sake, and all sorts of wonderful things. I like organizing too, but Sonya is just really good at kitchens.
One fantastic thing I’ve learned from her and Mary Jo is to put lazy susans in the refrigerator. I’m sure the thought would never have crossed my mind, but when I saw it in their kitchens I thought it was brilliant. It works wonderfully for those little jars of all sorts of things, that are difficult to find if stacked all behind each other.
And not just in the fridge, but all over the kitchen. Under the sink for the soaps and scrubbies. In cupboards for spices, for vitamins. Little lazy susans like that are so cheap and you can buy them at Walmart or almost anywhere, but they have helped keep order so very well.
A lot of people have drawer organizers so this is not a new thing, but I love mine.
TJ Maxx or similar type of stores carry very good quality ones for under $10 and I love the shining pieces all in order.
[for silverware, large utensils, and small cooking items]
I solemnly affirm by Tupperware’s modular mates.
Pretty? Well, not especially.
But if organized is beautiful to you, then you’re in luck.
But functional and practical and organized as can be.
And now I hear they come with black lids, which are quite classy.
Every January for the past many years I’ve collected a few, because in January and part of February they are 40% off, which makes them quite affordable. Other times, not so much, unless you have a party. You can go http://my2.tupperware.com/tup-html/H/hildabean-inthenews.html to order them. [sorry, I'm having great trouble with my weblog page and can't do short links right now].
Also in the kitchen… Does anyone else have a problem with The Mail Collection?
It seems that it piles in the kitchen no matter how hard I try to take it to the desk.
So I may as well have a little place for it. This is Ben’s place for bills/reminders/coupons.
The kiddo drawer.
I wanted my kids to have easy access to their plates and cups for several reasons: so they can learn to set the table, so they can grab a drink if they need it, and so they can help unload their things from the dishwasher.
I think this was a Better Homes & Gardens tip, the assortment of napkin rings into little bowls.
In the girls’ bedroom.
One of two rooms that has a closet. Advantage must be taken of it.
It serves as room for their hanging clothes, but also organization for some of their toys.
Can you tell I ♥ baskets? They can be a bit of an investment, but to me they were well worth it.
Some of these I bought years ago, some I even received as wedding gifts, and they last so long. I keep wanting to make little signs to put on them to label what is what, but so far the kids can’t read so the signs would only be for their mother.
I have a basket just for Zoe’s K-4 supplies in her room, so that we can just grab it and take it to the table when we want to work on it. Glue, pencils, scissors, crayons, and everything are in it.
For pretty and practical – 5 little tins from the dollar section in Target.
They hold erasers, crayons, pencil crayons, glitter glue, and markers.
not just for looks, although I like the vintage touch they add.
The bottom trunk holds princess outfits, the top one baby dolls clothes and bottles and…
There is one more trunk in their bedroom that serves as the General Toy Chest.
There are two small and two large drawers, and that’s the only bit of furniture besides the beds. It’s a small room, and somehow Baby #3 is going to fit in there too. Zoe and Olivia each get a small drawer for shoes/socks and a large drawer for everything else but hanging pieces of clothes. It helps me keep their clothes up-to-date with sizes and also minimizes how many articles each one can have.
hair pretty organizer:
this idea [seen in Pottery Barn and replicated] is wonderful for those little bows and flowers that would just get so lost in a drawer.
And a little tin container works well for the satin and metal headbands.
bathroom drawer organizer:
I’m big on bins, baskets, and storage things ~ they simplify and organize life so much better.
These aren’t that cute but they’re hidden in a drawer and work perfect to keep everything from falling over each other. From Walmart.
A tiny plastic organizer, for those little objects:
The countertop can be a place of organization too, because we’re short on space.
The key is displaying it attractively but practically.
these are little condiment dishes I picked up at a yard sale.
Daily uses [junk shop or goodwill special]:
The laundry room is my other place of storage. We had custom cabinets build when we moved in, and without them I would be lost.
Above the washer and dryer the bins hold cleaning rags, spot cleaners and laundry soap, and the first aid supplies.
Also in the laundry room, various other storage units.
Our games are also stored in the laundry room, for lack of a better place, and the small ones we keep in a basket for easy access.
We take off our shoes most times in the house, and so a goodwill basket is a great place to put them.
General Clean-up Time:
We have two different clean-up times in the day. One is for me, and one is for the girls.
Mine falls in the mornings mostly, and is breakfast for everyone. This involves a cleanup of the whole kitchen area, cleaning all dishes out of the sink and either washing them or stacking the dishwasher. All countertops in the kitchen are wiped, the rug in front of the sink vacuumed, the floor swept, and a general tidy appearance is made.
Also included in this is an overall walk through the house, stopping in at the girls bedroom, getting them dressed if they didn’t already put on The Rainbow or The Sunshine, helping them fix their beds, putting jammies in drawers or in the hamper. Then on to the bathroom, making sure faces are washes, teeth are brushed, hair is combed.
Next is laundry - I’m still figuring out if a small load every day is best or making two big laundry days a week is better. This varies by week. And by weather, since I hang out most of the laundry. So if it’s laundry day I get that started, and if not, I make sure clothes are not left lying in a rapture-like state around the house.
Last stop is in the master bath, checking in the mirror to make sure I got fully dressed as well.
And after all that, which takes around a half hour normally, my part of the house is in decent order, the girls are making a happy play mess somewhere, and that’s when I can take some time for projects, computer time, [and in a perfect day] a walk outdoors with the girls, or some other housewifely thing.
For the girls, their cleanup time is a little different.
With small children, you could walk in my house at almost any waking hour and it’s a play area.
Toys, dolls, princess dresses, play kitchen things,
markers and pencils and colors and pads of paper will be found nearby.
So when it’s playtime those things are allowed. It’s just part of life with kiddos.
But three times a day we have clean-up time:
1. before lunch
2. before suppertime
3. before bedtime
And each of those three times is needed very much.
But it allows enough of playtime to where my kids are not frustrated by cleanup.
There are times when certain things are allowed to stay out longer than the three respective cleanups, but as a general rule this works really well for us.
And it helps me wake up to a clean house every morning.
I have this thing for a clean house upon awakening:
my morning time is very precious, and I do not want to spend any of it cleaning up.
Also, I cannot, and I mean, cannot, have any quiet time in the middle of a mess.
A mess makes my mind feel cluttered, and it completely distracts me from time with God.
So, even if it means staying up later in the evening, I will do it,
just for the sake of a clean house in the morning.
I have several disaster zones. Try as I might, I cannot figure out how to organize them.
The Container Drawer.
The Under-the-Steps Cubby
[home to brooms, vacuum, extra table leaf, various miscellaneous...]
Now this is the second part of the post:
I would love it if some of you would share your tips for the rest of us to learn about.
Within the next two weeks, I’m hoping for messages and emails, and hopefully some pictures,
of things that have helped you. I’m talking about very practical things, but if they’re pretty and practical that’s great too. My email is (so embarrassing, I created the account as a teenager and have never changed it) starbucksfan (@) juno.com. Please include your name, a link to your blog if you have one and care to, and pictures if you like. In about two weeks, if anyone has sent me anything I’ll do a Part Two Edition. I’m really hoping for your input, and would love to learn from you!
So, here’s cheers to anyone who keeps a house, who makes a home, and who wreathes it in smiles!