Sincerely, Shantelle

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5 tips on organization pin
5 tips on organization pin

I'll preface this post by saying I am no longer the organized person I once was. I am in certain aspects, like keeping up with appointments and things that can be written in a planner or put in my calendar app. As far as keeping up with the house...I'm trying to get there again. Becoming a stay-at-home mom was one of the best decisions my husband and I have ever made together, but boy was I completely unprepared for how it would change my life! My days went from incorporating changes in aircraft maintenance publications, to turning in papers and lesson plans, to changing diapers and clothes (10x a day), all in a matter of four years. All that change caused my manner and methods of housekeeping and organization to change. I've also learned I'm not the only one who has gone through this, so hopefully some of y'all will find some of these tips useful.

#1. Get your partner on board! Discuss expectations.
This may seem unrelated, but if you're the (un)designated homemaker, having a supportive partner is key in dealing with the household organization. My husband knew from the jump what he was getting into well before he married me. I'm running around with the kids nonstop, running the entire household (cleaning, errands, appointments, cooking, laundry, etc), and was attempting to get a business off the ground. Even prior to having our son, I was constantly away for my college classes. We may have had many messy/cluttered periods over the course of our life together, but I definitely stayed on top of things enough to prevent us from entering an unsanitary state. He doesn't have any particular peeves (or hasn't shared them with me), but had he, I would have made sure to take them into account when trying to get things done. If your partner absolutely DESPISES dishes in the sink, maybe that can be your non-negotiable and everything else can be a to-do until you get to it. Messiness/clutter effects individuals in different ways and it's good to keep the family in mind. It's also great to keep yourself in mind as you are attempting to tackle everything; give yourself a little leeway and make non-negotiables the priority. Chances are, your house won't be 100% tidied in a single day anyway. FYI: your partner shouldn't be off the hook no matter how much money he/she makes or simply because you are the SAHM. He/she should play at least some role in household management to give you a hand. My husband handles all trash and yucky jobs. Those are my non-negotiables! If you've got the type of partner who simply wants YOU to provide a 100% clean house EVERY. SINGLE. DAY they come home and you are staying home with children, I truly hope at some point they take just ONE day off to live your life before making that statement again.

#2. Have a central board in your home that all family can see.
We have a chalkboard in our home that I've been using for the past few years to keep track of major household events. If we have a party to go to, I write it there. If there is a school event or some other thing that doesn't happen often, I write it down. Each member in our family (aside from our 1-year-old) has their own space, and we often jot messages to one another there, as well. I used to always use my phone to keep track of things, but the problem with that was others not knowing (or forgetting) stuff. This board changes all the time, and it's right at the entry of our living room, so we look at it very often. Definitely helps us to stay on task with things!

#3. Meal plan and build your shopping list.
I've been through many phases in my life where money was so tight, and I had to squeeze a penny to be able to get a drink of water. It's been bad. When I'd emerged out of those, I found myself buying so many groceries, to the point where we bought a deep freezer for me to put more food in. This was problematic for a few reasons. 1) We were a family of two adults and one child and didn't really need more than our traditional freezer. 2) We kept forgetting to check the deep freezer, so I kept buying duplicates of items. 3) We eventually starting using the top of the deep freezer for recycling and altogether forgot to look in it anymore. This past fall, I threw away TOOOOONNNNNS of food that was in there. Most of it expired back in 2015-2016. So wasteful! I know some people are fans of shopping in bulk, so this may not be quite your style. For people who shop a week or so at a time, this method works great!

On Sundays, I check our budget and come up with a menu for the week, everything from sides, main courses, breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks for Monday-Sunday. After I have it written down, I go to the kitchen to start my grocery list. Walking through, I recall all ingredients needed for a particular meal. If we have it, great. If we don't, it gets added to the list. I check all of our snacks, beverages, and then remember that board from earlier in our living room? I check that, too! If we run out of condiments, milk, eggs, or things that are regularly used, sometimes it gets written up there. While I'm shopping, I STICK TO THE LIST. I do not deviate, unless it is something I intend to eat on the same day or it is being changed out for something else on the list. This helps me to stay on budget and keep from stocking up on things that will end up in the back of the cabinet or the deep freezer.

#4. Figure out what you despise most and find a way to make it less of an issue.
Laundry and dishes were my most frequently done household tasks AND most despised. There was always a sink full of dishes, sometimes to the point where I'd find myself unloading the dishwasher of clean dishes only to load it immediately of the dishes in the sink and on the counter. This cycle was exhausting, annoying, and took too much of my time. At the beginning of January, I took a minimalism course to try and understand the basics. Although the minimalist lifestyle is not 100% for me, there are many aspects that I felt would help to improve my overall happiness and give me a little more of my life back. As a result, I chose to declutter the kitchen by removing all of the excess dishes that we had in our kitchen. So instead of having 15 plates, 10 bowls, 10 saucers, and like 10 sets of silverware, I condensed it down to 3 sets of each. This requires reuse of dishes for daily meals, instead of grabbing new ones each time, which prevents that gross pileup I had become so accustomed to. With laundry, we all had so many clothes, socks, and undies, that I could go for two weeks (probably longer) without washing anything. The problem became that when I finally got around to it, there were at least 5-6 loads and that was overwhelming to do at once. Laundry mountain would inevitably end up in our bedroom or on the couch because I'd run out of steam to fold and put each load away. To combat this, I started paring down my wardrobe. In just the first day, while being 110% honest with myself on what I wear/won't ever wear, I ended up with 5 trash bags of clothing to donate from my clothes, alone!! Laundry has been much more of a breeze ever since.

#5. Make those BIG tasks smaller and much more manageable.
One of the key factors in helping me stay somewhat organized is breaking BIG things up into smaller, more manageable tasks. I used to believe that there should be a day designated for, the entire house. I now operate under the philosophy that there are parts of days designated for cleaning certain parts of the house. I might do the kitchen and dining room today, laundry tomorrow, the bathroom the next, and individual bedrooms on another. In all honesty, since my pregnancy with our son, the house is rarely ever tidy all at the same time. In order to come to terms with it, first, I had to let go of whatever piece of me believed that guests were judging me as a person based on my home's cleanliness. I've been reminded time and time again (thank you Facebook groups) that I invite others over to see my family...not my house, so if someone is coming over to make a home inspection, they should actually schedule an appointment. Actually, if someone is that worried about how clean any part of my home is, they are more than welcome to set a date to lend a helping hand or slide some cash or a gift card for a cleaning service to stop by once in a while.

On second thought, I invite anyone to do that. I won't be offended, I promise.

So what are your tips? How did you help keep your home organized and housekeeping at bay? I'd love to hear from you!