Welcome Cameron, from Cameron Jones Interiors, to Take Back Me. Many of us have kids and the idea of reclaiming our house seems like a far away dream. She’s got some great tips for helping reclaim your home after kids.
Is keeping your house organized with kids an oxymoron? I don’t think it has to be. My house is my sanctuary and keeping it neat and organized is essential to my happiness and mental well-being.
As anyone with kids can attest to, their paraphernalia (and I mean all of it – the toys, the pack’n’plays, the bibs and highchairs, the bottles, the diapers, the clothes, etc.) can seriously start to take over your life. What started out as adorable little baby toys gifted by loving friends and relatives give way to collections of junk from birthday party favors, fast food prizes, and cheap toys you buy to pacify kids in the check-out line. The clutter starts to get REAL, and fast.
Read on to hear some of my ideas on how to achieve Zen in your home even with the kid chaos.
1. A place for everything and everything in its place. Pick one thing and get the organization ball rolling.
In January I laid out some organization goals for myself. I’m not big on resolutions (because I tend to break them) but I am goal-oriented and enjoy a good challenge. Make a list of the things that drive you nuts about your house and then pick one thing to tackle. Everyone can make time for one thing. For me, it felt so good to have that one thing done that it motivated me to hit other parts of my house that had been making me bonkers.
Do you have little kids and can’t get anything done with them underfoot? Hire a babysitter for a few hours one afternoon and just start.
Here are some quick projects that I tackled that have really changed my organization game:
- Drawer organizers: These are awesome for kitchen junk drawers, drawers overflowing with kitchen utensils, jewelry and watch drawers, cosmetic and toiletry drawers, kids crafting drawers, desk drawers…just trust me and get some. Amazon Prime will have them to you in two days.
- Think about where things are stored. When we moved in, I was in such a rush to unpack and get the boxes out that I didn’t give good thought to where or how I was storing things. Once I started thinking about it, it really made no sense why I had things I needed to access all the time shoved in a basket in the back of the pantry. So I rearranged. Saves me so much time and energy not having to dig for something I need at least three times a day.
- Decant your snacks and organize your pantry. Get some clear storage containers and all those half-eaten boxes of cereal, bags of chips, etc. suddenly go from a hot mess to super organized. A) You and your kids can see what you have. B) You won’t waste as much food because it keeps things from going stale as quickly. C) You will have more room in your pantry or cabinets because you can get canisters and bins that are stackable and all the same shape. It takes NO TIME and a little bit of money and it is life changing. Seriously.
- Set aside a permanent bin to collect items that need to be donated to charity. I keep a box on hand and when I come across a toy that my kids have outgrown, clothes from high school, or a barely worn pair of kids shoes, I can easily place items in the box. Once it’s full, I drop it off with a charity to clear out the clutter.
2. Don’t let the mess get ahead of you. Because it will.
I read something a few years ago that organized people do laundry every day. Before I had kids, I distinctly remember thinking that was just crazy talk. Not anymore. Now that we are a family of four, I do a load of laundry every day. Not a word of a lie. Between kids clothes, towels, sheets, cleaning rags, etc., there is always laundry to be done. When you do a little every day, it doesn’t become overwhelming. I was in a text chain with a couple of friends a few weeks ago talking about life, kids, etc. and they were sending pictures of their piles of laundry (and by piles I mean mounds) and complaining about how awful it was to tackle it. While I can think of plenty of things to complain about, I couldn’t contribute to that part of the convo because my piles of laundry were already put away. Yours can be too.
The same goes for cleaning up toys, dirty clothes, dishes, etc. Letting it go means it piles up. Taking care of messes in real time as they happen means that you don’t have to tackle ginormous disasters. And, this goes back to my first point. If you are organized and there is a place for everything, clean up takes a lot less time. And your kids learn too. If there is a dedicated spot for things, they can easily assist in putting things away.
At the end of the day when I finally get to sit down on the couch to have a glass of wine, catch up on HGTV or watch a movie with my husband, I can do so fully relaxed because there is no clutter, no piles of laundry to fold, no littered toys all over to distract me.
3. Embrace the kid stuff. Pick and choose and display it proudly and intentionally.
We’ve established that kids come with a lot of stuff. But some of that stuff is sweet. And before you know it, your kids will be all grown up and heading off to college. (My chest is seizing as I just typed that last sentence knowing that time will be here way too quickly.) So, while they are young, find dedicated places for their toys, their games, their whatever, and proudly display it. It could be shelves in a playroom, it could be baskets in your den or it could be confined to their bedrooms. But let them be little and enjoy seeing the fun things that make your kiddos happy. It may spark some creativity or the inner-child in you.
That said, you need to be intentional about what you are displaying. Pick and choose the toys and games that are visually appealing. Look at things that are handmade, don’t have logos or words on them, and things that are colorful and textural. You’d be amazed at how great some of these toys and things look when they are intentionally meant to be focused on as part of the decor. Also, you can switch the displays up frequently. It reminds your kids of toys that haven’t played with for a while and allows you to avoid that dreaded “I’m boooored!”
4. There’s no judgement in getting help. In fact, I highly recommend it.
Life get busy and chaotic. We all wish we had more free time. One of the best investments I ever made was hiring a housekeeper to come twice a month. When I was working full time, it allowed me to reclaim the little free time I had. It meant that deep cleaning bathrooms, scrubbing kitchen appliances, mopping floors, vacuuming, and all the other cleaning tasks that would take up my nights and weekends were no longer required. It also allowed me to escape the mental anguish of thinking about what needed to be done and the feeling of dread over having to do these tasks that brought me no joy. What cost me a few hours of my salary gave me back several more hours of my free time.
After I quit my full-time job, having a housekeeper put on the chopping block as we looked at our finances. But, I found other ways to cut back so that we were able to keep our twice a month help. If it meant not eating out a few times that month or taking one less trip to Target, it was worth it to have my house clean. Having a third party come in while you and the kids evacuate the premises means everything is perfection for five glorious minutes before the kids trash it again. Those five minutes are everything.
What are some of the tips and tricks you have for keeping sane and organized in your home?