Have you ever walked into a room in your home and immediately felt emotional? Maybe agitated? Overwhelmed? Angry? Stressed?
All the things. What did you do following these emotions? Did you go into a crazy town cleaning spree without talking to anyone? Maybe threw away some stuff that later you needed? Maybe you lashed out at your kids or husband because the house was a mess? Why can’t they understand what I need? Why do they not love me enough to keep the house cleaned? Why does he not understand what this does to me?
I have done all of the things and more. I am sure my husband and those really close to me have experienced the crazy. AND yes my self talk is a little shall we say dramatic sometimes. No one can deny that. Here is the thing. We cannot always control the thoughts that flow through our minds or our emotions. BUT we can control how we react to a situation.
I am often asked how do I get my husband or kids to clean? Why won’t my husband throw his laundry the hamper? Why don’t my kids know to put their long sleeved shirts in this drawer?
Here is the thing that often we fail to remember. I am telling you this from a place of love and understanding because I have and still do occasionally struggle with this myself. We are co-habituating in a house with more than just ourselves. I can see you nodding yes. But that means that we need to understand that each person in our home has a relationship with the things around them, they are on their own unique journey, they organize differently from you, and they are sharing this space.
Let me give you an example. I like clean spaces, limited clutter, and I hate digging for things. So, in order to “control” the clutter, I took it upon myself to organize our home. Well, here is the deal. I organized our home for me. I only considered how my brain worked, how I used the space, and neglected a very important ingredient for success.
Can you guess what this is?
Communication. When I would organize a clients space, I would ask them questions, provide recommendations, and walk them through the new system. I would also provide them tips on how to maintain this newly organized space. In my own home, I was missing this step.
How can I use communication to create a sustainable organization system in my home for my family?
This may be one you want to talk through and forgo texting, but I think I missed the true millennial gene and prefer to talk to someone. Odd I know.
You will not know how someone uses an object or why they are leaving their clothes on the floor unless you ask. I guarantee you in most cases it is not because your spouse or children HATE you. Again, that self talk can get a little dramatic, right?
Example: Hey Jim, I noticed that you tend to leave your towels on the floor in the bathroom. Is there a better place to put the hamper?
Example: I am re-organizing the pantry this weekend, I was going to get a bin (like this one) for the pasta to go in and place it here. Does that make sense to you?
The examples can go on, but you get the idea. Don’t overcomplicate it or go on and on. Just make it simple and to the point.
Talk it out:
I do not know about you, but I have yet to fully be able to read my partner’s mind. I mean I feel like sometimes I do know, but remember the self talk some time is really crazy. So, I have found that having a discussion really helps.
You will want to drop your stories first. That means that you will want to take a moment or longer to do some deep breathing and let go of the self talk that is telling you that your spouse is an insane person that clearly does not care that the clothes he left on the floor is driving you to go crazy yourself. Ask yourself, Why would someone who loves me do that to me?
Chances are my friend they do not know it drives you insane. So, come from a place of love. Not a place of interrogation, anger, or agitation.
Example: Jim, I noticed that you tend to leave your clothes on the floor next to the closet. It honestly is driving me a little insane and sometimes I forget to wash your clothes because they are not in the hamper. Is there a better place we could place the hamper in our room?
Yes, when you read this out loud, I know you are thinking that I have lost my mind. I know you are thinking that is cannot possibly work, but it actually can. Now, it will take time. I am not suggesting taking your spouse or children through the entire house right now and ask them or point out everything that drives YOU insane. Probably will not be successful.
Create a Plan:
Now, it is easy to get into a mode and want to do all the things on a Saturday morning because you just got done watching 3 episodes of Marie Kondo and are SUPER PUMPED to throw everything out that does not bring you joy. I get it. BUT here is the thing. We all have a different relationship with materials, a different threshold for clutter, and a different timeline on when and how to work through it.
Take a deep breath here and instead slow your roll. Explain to your spouse or children that you would like to work on a particular room or space. Make a plan together for the space and the a timeline for completion. This will increase their involvement and make it less emotionally terrifying when mom is running around with a garbage bag.
Yes, Nancy Drew only the best detective series EVER. Put your detective hat on and watch where your significant other or children are leaving their belongings. Take note of how they are using the kitchen, etc.
Maybe the hamper in the hallways does not serve you, although it looks prettier there and maybe is more of a logical fit. Maybe it would make more sense to have a hamper, basket, etc in the bathroom near or where they are leaving all the dirty towels. It is already habit.
You all know I love my labels. This system really, really works! Purchase or borrow a label maker, use chalkboards, or just a little sharpie and label your bins. These a really nice non-verbal reminders of the system that is in place. This way you will not need to constantly remind anyone to do it. Win win for everyone. I mean look at the picture above – labels are lifesavers.
Use picture labels for children’s bins. You can even have them pick out, draw, or take the pictures used. Again, involvement is key in this. It makes it more exciting for everyone.
This is not something I recommend doing without verbal communication. You still need to ask the members of the family, if this makes sense to them.
Organization is a process. Organizing for a family is a larger undertaking. Remember you all have different thresholds for clean and you each have a different way of organizing. So, finding a balance is CHALLENGING!
You will need to re-assess the system you put in place. If it is not working as designed adjust using one of the strategies above.
Intentional Living Tip: Before you lose your mind because all of your hard work was ruined in a matter of minutes, talk about it. Does everyone in your home understand and/or have the same expectations for clean and organized? Does everyone understand and like the system that is in place. I use all of these strategies in my home and teach others to do the same. They are effective and necessary to truly create a sustainable organization system.