Do you ever sit back and wonder why you should bother to organize in the first place? So often it feels like you just get an area of your house picked up and organized and then before you even know it, that area is a total mess all over again.
You get the living room just the way you want it, walk out of the room for 5 minutes and the tornado of LEGOs has come through…
You sit down and spend time with your children picking up their room and finding a place for all their toys, then you go to start dinner and by the time dinner is over every toy is scattered all over the floor…
You have your kids pick up the school room when they’re done with school for the day, but when you walk back in the room 3 hours later, papers and markers and scissors and games are strewn all over the table and the floor and no one is in the room…
It’s enough to make you cry, isn’t it? It’s enough to make you throw up your hands in despair and wonder why you ever bother in the first place!
But in all the chaos of the moment, in all the confusion and disappointment, there’s a question that need to be answered: Is it worth it?
Is it worth it to take the time to organize when it feels like that organizing gets destroyed on a daily basis (if not sooner)? Is it worth is to create routines when they won’t always go right? The short answer: Yes!
You see, organizing is important. Organizing does make an impact. Having a routine or a system does make a difference in how your day goes. And yet sometimes, the definition gets muddled. Let’s take a step back and look at the true meaning of organization before attempting to organize anything else…
Being Organized Does Not Mean ‘Always Tidy’
When you hear the words “being organized” what springs to mind? A pattern or way of doing things? A structure where you know where things go and where they belong? A perfectly picked up and tidy space?
If I don’t miss my guess, most of us automatically go to the third option. You see, it’s easy to think that “being organized” means you have a perfect house, a perfect life. That every tiny little thing in your house has a home and is always in its place. To think that someone who is organized never lets anything stay out of place for more than 5 minutes. That each and every room of their house is always clean, sanitized, and perfectly tidy. And on top of that, they’re dressed and ready for each and every day with not a hair out of place!
Let’s set the record straight here: That’s not being organized! That’s living in a movie or a magazine!
Oh, don’t get me wrong, sometimes it’s fun to daydream about having a house where everything magically gets cleaned up and goes right back into it’s place the second you’re done using it. It’s fun to dream that you have the power of Mary Poppins’ snap to clean up a room with almost no effort on your part. But that’s not reality!
And if you’re going to grasp why you should organize in the first place, why it’s important to bother and how organizing really does help you day in and day out, you need to understand this: Just because you have an organized house does not mean you always have a perfectly tidy house!
Life is Messy
Did you realize that life is messy? No shock there, right? Life can get crazy messy sometimes! And then you add kids into the mix and the mess and the crazy can feel overwhelming!
But when you stop and think about it, even the things you do can be messy without even trying. When you make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch, bread crumbs get on the counter and need to be wiped up. As you make dinner, dishes get dirty and need to be washed. As you’re working on an art project with your kids, the items you need get pulled out and need to be put back in their place.
You see, the first thing you need to realize and accept is that life is not perfect. Life is not tidy. Okay, let’s be blunt: Life is a mess! And in life, you create messes in your space.
But so often, it’s easy to stop there. To acknowledge that life is a mess is the first step, but you need to take it further than that. Yes, life is messy. Yes, there will be messes to clean up. Yes, the messes can get frustrating at times. But just because life is a mess, does that mean you have to live in the constant chaos of a perpetual mess? No! Absolutely not!
The True Meaning of Organization
So, organizing isn’t keeping a picture perfect house. Being organized doesn’t mean you can never have a mess in your space, but what does it mean?
It means you have an underlying structure. It means you have a system or a pattern in place to take those things you do over and over again and be able to do them more quickly.
Being organized doesn’t mean you’re perfect. It simply means you have a foundation, a pattern.
Think about it this way: When you go into your kitchen to get a glass of water, what’s the first thing you do? Get a glass, right? And where do you go to get that glass? My guess is you know exactly what cupboard or shelf your glasses live on. You walk directly to that cupboard or shelf, grab your glass, then fill it up with water from the sink or the refrigerator.
But what would happen if each and every time someone unloaded the dishwasher, they put the clean dishes back wherever they wanted? What would happen if the glasses ended up in one cupboard one day, on another shelf the next day, and clear across the kitchen the next week? It would be frustrating, right? You wouldn’t know where to go or what to do. Making dinner would be a nightmare because you wouldn’t have to just make dinner, you would have to go on a treasure hunt just to find the pots, pans, dishes, and utensils you needed – even if you were making something simple like spaghetti!
That’s the meaning of organization. Organization is knowing where to find something when you need it. Organization is knowing where things belong. That’s not to say there won’t be dirty dishes in the dishwasher. That’s not to say you won’t get behind on the dishes and they’ll pile up on the kitchen counter occasionally. But you know the structure. You know what cupboard the glasses live in. You know what shelf the plates sit on when they do get put away. They have a home. They go back to where they’re supposed to be.
But why should you bother? Why is organizing important at all?
Let’s face it: When you set out to organize a space in your house, to clean out and take a look at what’s there and then figure out a way to put it back together in a way you can easily use, it takes time! Getting that initial organizing and cleaning done is time consuming and challenging. So, why should you bother? Why should you carve out time in your already busy day to tackle a project like this?
What if I told you that you could create more time in your day? Really! Without changing the 24 hours you’ve been given in each day, what if I told you that you could create more time in your day? Sounds a little too good to be true, doesn’t it?
And yet, this is exactly what organizing does. It allows you to reclaim time you’ve been wasting without even knowing it. It allows you to use that time in other ways, like spending more time with your family. It allows you to streamline things. To get those little tasks you hate doing done more quickly. It allows you to know where things belong – and not just you, but everyone in your family. And when everyone knows where things belong, picking up becomes much quicker. On top of that, everyone knows where to find things so there’s less time spend asking you as the momma where to find it all!
Have you ever stopped to think about the time it takes you to do little tasks? Particularly those ones you do over and over and over again?
For example, when you bring the mail in the house, what do you do with it? Do you set it on the counter and wait until there’s a huge pile to deal with? Does it get scattered around the house and then when it comes time to pay the bills you have to go on a hunt to find what you’re looking for?
What about making your grocery list? How much time do you spend each week sitting down to figure out what groceries you need to buy? How many times have you gone to the store, picked up all the groceries, then gotten home only to realize you forgot something essential like milk or eggs or bread?
How about when it comes time for your children to pick up their room? Do they spend hours and hours at this task? Are you in there trying to help them for hours on end week in and week out? Do they know where things go? Are they trying to find things all the time or do you have a plan for where things belong?
What about when it comes time to leave your house? Are you constantly hunting for those lost shoes or where your car keys went? Or do you know right where they are?
You see, in each of these scenarios, organizing is what helps you. Organizing. Having a system in place so you know where things go, where things belong. Having a pattern for getting something done might take a little bit of time to set up in the first place, but you’ll be able to get more things done more quickly as time goes on.
Getting the Small Tasks Done More Quickly
Let’s face it: There are tasks in your day that you don’t like to do. There are tasks in my day that I don’t like to do! And yet, these tasks still need to be done.
Unloading the dishwasher is not on my top 10 things I enjoy doing! And yet, it needs to be done. But knowing where the plates, cups, cutlery, and serving dishes go in my kitchen streamlines this process. I don’t have to stop and think about where each item goes. I don’t need to create a place for each item because the place is already decided.
This is the beauty of organization. Yes, it takes time to organize your kitchen at first. It takes some thought and time to figure out where you’ll keep the plates and cups and serving dishes. But once you know where they go, you can unload the dishwasher in a very short amount of time, right?
Organizing, having a pattern or a system in place, knowing where things belong, allows you to save time by getting those small tasks done in less time.
Well, this is all well and good for dishes and emptying the dishwasher, but what about the rest of the house? What about the activities you do day in and day out? Can organizing really make a difference there, too? The short answer: Yes!
Starting the Day on the Same Page
“Mommy, can I watch a move?”
“Mommy, can I have goldfish?”
“Mommy, can I…?”
How many times does your day start with these questions? I know it happens for me a lot! And so many times, it can be easy to give in. You can start off the day with such great intentions in your mind, but with a simple decision your day goes off the rails and that familiar crazy feeling sets in again.
This is where organization and patterns come into play. When you know what to expect and you’ve set the pattern or routine for the day, it makes things so much easier to decide in the moment!
For example, in our house, my husband and I have decided there’s no screen time until school, your daily chores, and piano lessons are done. So, when my kids come to me and start asking “Mommy, can I watch a movie?” And I know it’s a school day, the answer is simple: No! School isn’t done, your chores aren’t done, your piano lessons aren’t done. No screen time yet.
Having this pattern, creating this system has not only allowed us to streamline our days a bit more, but it’s also removed a lot of chaos, stress, and confusion out of decisions that need to be made in the moment.
Organizing is Key to Homeschooling
Now, don’t let this statement scare you! Homeschooling can be intimidating in and of itself without throwing the ‘organizing’ word in too, right? But think about it this way: What would your school day look like if everyone started out the morning on the same page? What would it look like if everyone knew what needed to be done before your school day was complete? How much stress and how many questions would that save you?
What would it look like if you knew where to find all your school books? If you could reach out a hand and have exactly what you’re looking for at the tip of your fingers? It would save time, right? It would save energy, frustration, maybe not all the questions of whether or not you’re done for the day, but it would certainly cut them back significantly!
You see, knowing where things belong takes the stress out of trying to find everything in the moment. That’s organizing your things: Having a spot where things go when they’re not in use. And making sure everyone in your family knows where that spot is!
And knowing your pattern or routine for the day takes the stress out of knowing what comes next. That’s organizing your day: Having an expected pattern or routine to follow. Now, this won’t be perfect, but it does bring everyone together on the same page so you can work together towards a common goal.
The Heartbeat of Organization
The heartbeat of organization isn’t getting the picture-perfect house. It’s not making sure that every little thing is picked up every moment of every day. It’s not even giving a facade that you have it all together.
The heartbeat of organization is making your life simpler. It’s creating systems to get things done faster to reclaim lost time. It’s knowing where things belong so tasks like putting toys away become simple and easy and not a big, insurmountable project.
It’s making your life simpler so you have time for what’s truly important. It’s getting some of the tasks you have to do done more quickly so you can reclaim lost time and put that time into something more significant, like having time to read with your kids, enjoying that family game night, or just taking a moment to breathe.
So get rid of this idea that organization is perfection. It’s not! You see, organization was never about perfection. It’s about the progress in the process that allows you to keep the simple things in life, simple.
- 5 Simple Steps to Take You from Scattered to Organized
- How to Create a Daily Homeschooling Routine
- How to Organize the Mess: A Step by Step Guide
- 20 Secrets to be More Organized
- How to Set Up Your Homeschooling Space for Success
Elizabeth Tatham, founder of Inspiration in the Everyday, is a homeschooling momma of 5 who loves helping other homeschooling mommas create a unique homeschooling adventure your kids will love…without the overwhelm! Join in on the journey with 7 simple steps to make your homeschooling day go faster, easier, and with less tears here.