Several people have asked me to share a few tips on keeping a family home organised, and everything that comes with that, so I am finally getting round to doing so today! These tips cover anything and everything from housework, family time, work, school admin, shopping and meals and other bits and bobs.
I am not counting any chickens, it could all go wrong at any moment, but so far no deadlines have been missed here. I have yet to be the parent sending their child in in uniform on a dressing up day, birthdays and occasions have not been overlooked, breakfast cereals have not run out and bills have all been paid on time. So far….! As such, the plates are all still spinning and I put that down to a few of these things below, as they keep me on track. Hopefully one or two of these tips might help you out, and please do also let me know what you do to keep it all going, I do love a good organisation tip.
Get a diary/list system
This is the place to start. If you want to have an organised home, you have to have a system. Or realistically you need a series of systems and routines.
For me, I have a bullet journal and then a calendar and I absolutely would not be without them.
Ensure that you pop every event on the calendar, from birthdays to appointments to school discos. Then you can use a bullet journal to keep plans, schedules, lists and daily tasks. These are essential. If it needs to be done, it needs to be out of your head and written down somewhere. You might use your phone to note things down, if you prefer to keep things that way, but do note things down. And preferably in one logical place, not on scraps of paper here, there and everywhere as that’s just going to be chaos!
You’ll then want to work on certain routines that keep things ticking nicely. A morning routine is an obvious one, as we’re all so often pressed for time then and rushing about, so having something that sets up your day nicely makes all the difference.
Declutter and do it regularly. This one cannot be emphasised enough.
There is often an area that we dump stuff in our homes, so stay on top of that and keep your eye on the house starting to fill up. The obvious times are over your kids’ birthdays and Christmas. Plan to have a clear-out in advance in these cases so that all of the incoming stuff will have a home when it arrives.
Now I know that some people like to keep hold of things more so than I probably do, so we will all be different on the levels of clutter that we are happy have around us. Go with a limit that you are comfortable with and then if things start to spill over those limits, declutter.
Have a task hour once a month
There are always those random jobs that you know you need to sort. Booking an optician’s appointment for your son, getting the dog in to the vet for his booster, sorting your energy tariff as it comes to the end of its deal, you know the sort of things I mean.
It is worth setting aside an hour once a month as your task hour for these odd chores that need doing. Note them down and tick them off as you get through them and it will feel good when you are all done! It should be perfectly manageable to get it all done in an hour, unless you haven’t done things like this for month and now have a backlog of appointments, utility reviews and the like waiting for you! If this is the case, go for half a day to get caught up and then keep it going monthly going forward.
Keep a cards and wrap stash
Every house needs a stash! You don’t want to get caught out by that last minute birthday or gift that needs wrapping, so buy ahead. I have written a post around this with more details and suggestions.
Keep all school paperwork in one place, or take a photo of it as soon as it comes in, and store it
My kids frequently have letters coming home notifying them about book fairs, film nights, dress down days, projects, discos, charity days, parents evening, assemblies, you get the idea. And then on top of the school letters, there are often party invitations too, so it can be easy to get lost in it all.
You need to make a note of it as soon as the letter comes home (you’ll need to check inside your kids’ bags every night) either on your planner, calendar, phone, whatever system you use. Then keep them all in one place, where you always keep them so you know the details will always be to hand as and when the date pops up on your calendar. If they need any further action, do it when the letter arrives. By that I mean, if it’s an invitation, respond then and there. If it’s a dress up day at school, get the costume planned or ordered then and there. It might sound like a hassle, but doing it like this means the task takes a few minutes and it’s done and dealt with. You won’t be the one panicking the night before World Book Day trying to find an outfit!
The same goes for any other paperwork that you need to deal with, from bill payments to form filling. Keep it in one place, and ideally, deal with it immediately.
As soon as you have dealt with it and/or the event has passed, bin it.
Now I know this could be a bone of contention. Many people don’t bother ironing, many people hate ironing, I know, I know! I fall into the latter camp which is why I cannot stand to have it build up.
If that’s you, then try to iron most days as it will be just ten to twenty minutes then. And it is done, out of the way. I hate an ironing pile!
‘Tidy Up’ should never be on your to-do list.
This is another one of those, deal with it then and there mantras.
You should aim to just have to clean your home, but not tidy it. Everything should have a place so that it can be tidied away, so that might be a first step as a declutter might need to take place to create more room. And then as everything has its place, it goes back in it!
No toys to stay out after bedtime and most toys to be put away throughout the day as another one is brought out. Make it a habit to clear up after yourselves as you all go along each day. After a meal, put everything away before you sit down. Before you go to bed, pop everything back where they go. You get the idea. This is absolutely habit-forming, so stick with it and you will soon be used to picking up after yourselves throughout the day so it never feels like a chore and it takes minutes, sometimes just seconds to do this.
Give yourself a schedule
As I work from home, this is absolutely crucial for me, otherwise all tasks could merge into one.
This will completely vary for everyone, depending on your day and your priorities. Try to block tasks together and get chunks of things crossed off your list. This is where routines and habits can be handy and yes, use those lists.
When working from home, aim to divide up work time and home and family time so that you can remain focused on one or the other when you need to.
Make a cleaning task list
You know the jobs that need doing in your home. The challenge is getting round to doing them! Thanks to Mrs Hinch, I have created a list of jobs that need doing, broken them down into daily, weekly and monthly tasks and then I tick things off as I go. I shared more about it in Using a Bullet Journal for Cleaning, if you’d like to read more around this one. For me, this breaks everything down into smaller chunks so I don’t find myself spending hours in one go cleaning, it’s about spreading the tasks over the week/month.
I do go to supermarkets, but only when I feel like it and only to grab a few bits and bobs. The trip is never a chore then, it’s more or a meander.
Look to do the food shop online as it will allow you to check the cupboards as you’re completing it and keep an eye on the costs. Meal plan as you go along so that you buy just what you need each week. This saves time, and the hassle of actually doing a full family shop in a supermarket.
Complete homework as soon as it comes in
I realise that every school works differently on this front, in our case, homework tends to arrive here on a Friday.
Aim to do it as soon as arriving home with it. It is then done and out of the way whilst the kids are still in school mode. You don’t have it eating into your weekends or dragging out over several days then. The kids can do it and then run off and play and don’t have to think about it again.
If you can do one thing, it should be this…
I think the biggest overriding tip that I’d give for keeping an organised home, which is something of a running theme here, is to do it now, not later.
Jobs soon build up in busy households as there are always more and more things coming in that need doing. I think if I put all of the kids’ school letters to one side for just one week, I would feel so daunted by the task of having to sort it all. I might then procrastinate over it further. And so it builds. The same could be said for the ironing (no-one wants to be faced with a huge ironing pile!), or tidying up.
If you can adopt the do it now mantra, you will be doing yourself a huge favour.
What are your top organising tips?