Try these clever, practical strategies to beat clutter and reclaim order in the family home.
I’m sure that many parents have often experienced that moment when they go to put their children to bed and see that their toys are spread about across the bedroom as if a tornado had hit. Where do you even start?
Tidying up can be complicated, and even more so in a house with children. Our home is the place where we rest and regain strength. But to be able to enjoy the peace and happiness of home, a certain amount of order is necessary.
Clutter prevents us from relaxing. It overloads us with stimuli, distracts us and prevents us from focusing on what we really want. It makes us lose both money and time, because we can’t find what we need when we need it.
Perhaps the biggest problem is that we often don’t know where to start picking up.
When I was a child I was taught something that I’ll never forget and that I’d like to pass on to my own children: “Do things at the right time, don’t wait until tomorrow. Do them with love and good humor.”
How much love can there be in a well-ironed shirt, a tidy storage room or a plate of lentils!
For me as a mother, keeping order helps me to put love for God at the forefront. Otherwise, I’d let myself be carried away by all sorts of excuses to procrastinate. However, the thought that it’s possible to sanctify even this arduous task of maintaining order leads me to live much better in the ordinary circumstances of each day.
There’s no magic wand that organizes and cleans up rooms with a single stroke, nor can we just snap our fingers and sing a song like Mary Poppins and have everything go to its place. The closest thing to a “magic formula” I can think of is keeping on top of the situation every day and not letting the problem accumulate. I can assure you that doing things at the appropriate time goes a long way to solving the problem and makes everything more efficient.
Cultivate good habits of orderliness. This is the first golden rule for maintaining order. Here are a few tricks that can make your day to day life easier:
- Determine a place for everything. That way we’ll avoid last-minute stress because we can’t find our keys, a shoe, a scarf, or whatever it may be.
- Tidy up little by little. Try to pick up anything you see out of place as you go from one room to another. This, especially in a house with children, contributes to keeping the chaos under control.
- Establish a cleaning schedule. If you find it hard to plan ahead and tend to leave everything for later, establishing routines can be a great help. You can print them out and post them somewhere in the house, so that everyone can collaborate.
- Don’t put off cleaning up after making a mess. It’s much easier to clean up the kitchen after cooking and eating, or to put away and clean up art and craft supplies or toys immediately after using them.
- Provide effective storage spaces for each age group in the family. For example: coat racks at children’s height, shoe racks that they can reach by themselves, a small box for rubber bands or hair ornaments, a space for school bags …
Although it may seem odd, because we usually think of keeping order as related to material things, exterior order has its origin in the spirit. It’s the fruit of an inner effort through which we evaluate and prioritize how to organize our day so that none of its areas (work, prayer, family, friends, leisure) is neglected.
This interior order helps us orient our hierarchy of values towards service as a sign of love for those around us.
If we banish laziness, then dedication, perseverance and dedication will help us achieve goals that seemed unattainable before.
Therefore, it’s very important to be educated from childhood in keeping order, because it opposes idleness (so dangerous in adolescence), helps us to form an upright personality, makes us efficient, and gives us the mental clarity to solve problems or situations more quickly.
As a great saint told us, “When you bring order into your life your time will multiply, and then you will be able to give God more glory, by working more in his service” (St. Josemaría Escrivá).