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Organizing Your Home (and keeping it that way)

January 23, 2014

I started the Home Sweet Home series to share what I’ve learned while decluttering and organizing my home. Not only do I want to create a more organized and peaceful home, but I want to teach my kids to appreciate and care for the things they have. So moving forward from Phase One (ie. getting rid of what you don’t use) we are ready to talk about the next steps.

I’m combining them into this one post so it’s easier to see how each step relates to the other. I’ll share more specific posts about the toys, kitchen, closets (including diapers), laundry, and car in the coming weeks. Today, I’ll just use a few examples to illustrate my points.

Once you’ve done a ruthless purge, you’re ready to organize. Where to begin? It’s worth the time to do a walkthrough of your home to write down what needs to be done. It helps if you can see an overall goal and then break it down into bite-sized pieces. You’ll have to be honest about how much you’ll be able to do in a day and prioritize the areas that are the most high-traffic.


I tend to make a huge mess at the start of organization. I need to take everything out and slowly add things back in. This is definitely a challenge with small, inquisitive hands around. Use old boxes and lids to sort small items. At this point you will most likely find more things to get rid of so you might want to keep a bag for that handy. Every single item that’s to stay in the space must have a ‘home’ that’s accessible.

Here’s the question to ask yourself over and over again: How do I want to use this space? Envision the end result and then make a plan to get there.

It’s important that you don’t buy anything new to store your items until you know exactly what you need. Make do with what you have until you are sure your organizational plan is functional…


After you’ve done a trial organization of the space, take a step back and make sure what you’ve done will really work. Do this before you purchase organizational materials like bins or boxes and before you break out the labelmaker. By taking the time to evaluate your work, you can be mindful of how much stuff you have, how you use it, and how you access it.

In the example of my playroom, I did what I thought was a decent purge. Then I put all the toys that we kept out on the shelves and in a small, three-drawer organizer. I used a few baskets and shoe boxes that I already had and held off on making labels.

Within days, it was apparent that there were still too many toys.

So I cleared everything off the shelves and put only a few things back on. It was perhaps about 1/3 of the toys we have.

Everything else will go into storage and can only come out if something else gets put away.


Once you have your beautiful space, you need to figure out how to keep it that way.

The last phase is meant to be an ongoing routine that will help you maintain all that hard work you did. As with everything, the specifics of this part will depend on your lifestyle. How much will your children be able to help maintain the neatness of the space? How often is the space used?

Sit down and decide on a schedule. In the past I’ve used a weekly rotation, but it might make more sense for you to use a 10-day or 2-week routine, depending on your needs.

Now is the time to snap your ‘after’ photos. Keep them as a reminder of how you want the space to be. You can use them as part of a chore chart for yourself or the kids.

We also have to make a point to be mindful in what we bring into the space. I try to purchase only things that I truly love. And–especially where toys are concerned– only things that inspire creativity and have multiple uses.

I’ll be updating you on my progress throughout the next weeks and months!

How are you doing with your Home Sweet Home project?


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