By Teri Worten
Without a doubt one of the most valuable skills for a single mother is the ability to organize the home. An organized home reduces stress for your family and provides more time for those things that will really matter one hundred years from now. Fortunately, organization is a skill and can be acquired, learned and adapted. It's all a matter of developing new habits and staying committed to a structured, tidy lifestyle.
Begin by taking an inventory of what you currently have in your home. Approach it on a room to room basis. As yourself, "what's necessary for the family to function properly and which items are useless?" Most people's homes are cluttered with so much junk that it interferes with day to day living. So, go through your closets, drawers, and every other hiding place for junk and methodically get rid of it all. Remember, if you haven't used an item in the last few months to a year, you more than likely don't need it. What's more, examine those expiration dates on vitamins, meds, food and any other object in your home. As for the larger"junk" items, consider:
* having a garage sale,
* giving it away to a less fortunate single mom,
* donating it to the good will,
* hosting a "single mom swap day" with other single moms
Whatever you decide to do, get it out of your house!
Need a Habit?
The most important pit stop toward your road to organization is developing new habits. It would be futile to clean up and clear up without a plan to avoid cluttering up all over again! So, figure out how you can change your habits and those of your children. The emphasis is on your habits because your kids often learn their behaviors from what you model in front of them on a regular basis. I'm the biggest culprit of this! When arriving home, my practice is to throw my keys on the floor, walk out of shoes and toss my coat on the nearest chair or couch. It should be of little surprise that my little boy did the same when he came home. As you can imagine, keeping the living room tidy was an ongoing and tedious chore for us. Before approaching my son about his bad habit, I tried an experiment. I began to routinely hang my coat in the closet when I got home and retire my shoes in the proper place! My plan was to inspire my son to imitate my new habit. Well, that didn't work, so I told him to put his things away as soon as he walks in the door. Now, our living room looks so neat and organized - well - most of the time.
Home Sweet Home
"A place for everything and everything in its place"
This old adage is so right. At our house we've created a "home" for everything. The scissors have a home, so that they don't end up at the last place they were used. The stapler has a home so that I don't see it on the floor and go bananas! The pens and pencils have their home so that we always know where to find them when we need them. Our"home" approach works well for us and has become something of a game for my little boy.
Don't You Dare Throw That Away!
Containers are the organizer's best friend. For instance, old baby wipe containers are great for holding lipsticks, hairpins, barrettes and even ink pens! Another great container is your plastic ware or Tupperware. You can store your kids' crayons and makers in a nice, neat stackable holder. So, don't be so quick to throw away those containers! Remove that label and see what else it can become!
Hang'em Out To Dry
I'm convinced there isn't anyone who actually likes folding laundry. Besides, folded laundry can take up lots of valuable drawer space. Why not use some of the cheap wire hangers from the dry cleaners for hanging up"fresh from the dryer" cottons. The wrinkles will fall right out and the clothes will stay delightfully fresh and crisp. Hanging up t-shirts, shorts, jogging pants save you loads of laundry time and fit perfectly into your (and your kids') closet. My son's closet looks so neat with hung up t-shirts and sweatshirts. Organization, rocks! Again, organizing your home in little ways will pay off big in the long run. As a mom, you already have tons of stress and many demands on your time. So be intentional about working smarter (and not harder) at maintaining a pleasant, well-functioning home environment. It's really not as hard as you think!
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