It is a truth universally acknowledged that spending more time at home equals more mess. Welcome to domestic life in 2020!
It can be a huge challenge to manage all of the moving parts in a household while working from home, plus homeschooling, being a supportive partner, parent and friend while generally staying sane. First of all, please pat yourself on the back for all that you have managed to do this year. It’s been a doozy.
If working and/or parenting exclusively from home has left you wondering how your home keeps getting to “that point”, it’s worth looking at some behavioral patterns. Here are some tips to keep things running smoothly, and involving the whole family in a solution.
Resist the Urge to Be “The Tidier”
There is a difference between doing a favor for someone and taking on responsibility that isn’t yours. This line can be fine when you love someone, because you want to help them as much as you can. And if you are already a “tidy as you go” person, the line can sometimes be invisible. As a result, it’s important to take note of who is responsible for certain messes in the home, especially if they keep showing up. Clarifying who is responsible for what can be very helpful.
Additionally, if you are constantly the one who is tidying that corner and putting that thing away, then you are the only one who knows where things go. There may be a reason why others can never find anything: because someone else keeps moving it. If this sounds familiar, it’s time to give those items a permanent home that everyone is aware of. The keys go on the hook by the door. Teddy lives on your child’s bed. The wine is above the fridge. (Just kidding! Everyone knows where the wine is.)
In short, if you are always cleaning up someone else’s mess, they will never learn how to clean it themselves (and they will never stop asking you where it went). If you can manage to resist the urge to constantly tidy things up, you give others the chance to step in.
If you are able to step back and things are still in chaos, it’s probably time for a decluttering session. Give us a call and we can help, or connect you with an organizer in your area.
Share the Mental Load
Another option (and this might sound basic but trust me, it’s tried and true) is to kindly remind family members of their mess. This can be done in a way that isn’t nagging or annoying.
For example, if it’s been a couple of days and the contents in the cup that’s been sitting there for days are beginning to grow an ecosystem that makes you cringe, let them know. “Hey, it looks like your science experiment is ready for the next phase in the dishwasher.”
Most of the time, something that bothers a “tidy as you goer” escapes the eyes of those who aren’t. It’s okay to ask for help around the house or mention when you’ve noticed that something hasn’t been put away after a few days. Like most things, it’s how you say it that makes a big difference. Letting your partner, kids or other housemates know that you can’t carry the mental load is the first step toward unburdening yourself.
Invest in Visual Organizing Systems
A great way to get everyone on the same page is to invest in a “Command Center”. This is an area designated for certain important things, like keys or the mail. An organized command center means those things are always put back in that same place. It also creates a hub of information, from the grocery list to upcoming appointments. Again, this helps take the mental load off of you and puts it in a neutral and visual place (not just inside your brain where you are the only person who can retrieve it).
You can design this yourself or choose from one of the many that exist online. We like any of the options for wall organizers by 1THRIVE, particularly “The Casey” model because it comes with a calendar feature where you can easily assign chores and set reminders. Having something like a Command Center also teaches the importance of keeping things in their place (not to mention the ease!). Plus, it’s visual – an important aspect for chronically disorganized or ADD/ADHD family members.
As the school season is quickly approaching and many of us will be participating in distance learning or teaching from home, it’s going to take some teamwork to keep the house in order. Set yourself up for success by setting expectations and vocalizing them ahead of time. At the end of the day, everyone will benefit from a tidy home and the more people who participate, the less work it is for each person individually.