Struggling to have a clutter-free home on your own, with another adult, or with teens and young kids in your living space? Perhaps this is an impossible task because you think your family’s DNA isn’t capable of picking up, throwing out or straightening up? Think again with these fun, effective tips from a Parisian home organizer who finds joy every day to make life easier.
Do YOU have a hard time getting started tidying up or want new ways of doing it? Start small! A 10-minute project completed is better than a 3-hour project never started.
- Turn on the music! Choose soothing music if you’re anxious, or upbeat music if you need to be energized to organize.
- Use accessories, like an alarm clock that sets you free after 20 minutes of sorting.
- Treat yourself to something you enjoy once the job is done; call your best friend or treat yourself to a little nap.
- Create your ideal home on a vision board, bring it to the place you’re decluttering right now to help you work towards what you want.
- Take before and after pictures. Keep them at hand, so you don’t fall back on your bad habits.
- Put on the pressure: invite friends over. You don’t want them to see your mess, right? So you know this will motivate you to organize and tidy up! Plan ahead of time, and only take care of the places your friends will see. Keep all other room doors closed for now.
- Show the world how well you’ve done! Send like-minded friends your (before and) after photos.
How to manage with ANOTHER ADULT who doesn’t have the same criteria as you:
- Take a mental check of what he/she does.
Let’s say you’re thinking of your husband. What does he already do for the family? Take your kids to the park at the weekend, look after the kids so you can have a girlfriends’ evening out, take care of paying the bills? All of this is great! You can do a happy dance for what he already does.
- Upgrade your equipment to make chores easier and faster
…because chores are a bore, right? For example, take a robot vacuum cleaner that cleans the whole apartment while you’re away doing something else. I can assure you it’s worth the expense!
- If needed, start small, but do ask
If he’s resistant, be patient. First, pick 2 or 3 chores you really want him to do, and ask for him to do those. I hear a lot of men, once their partner is having a breakdown say “Why didn’t you just ask me?” Well, ladies, ask on! You’re a team. Happy wife, happy life – you’re doing him a favor by ensuring no cranky overworked wife lives in his home!
- Don’t be bossy, criticize his work or play the martyr
This would push anyone away, right? Talk about this subject when he is relaxed and not distracted by something else. Going for a walk together, or sharing a bottle of wine, or beer can help create a relaxing atmosphere. And it will help him come into this with an open and positive mindset!
- Make a list of tasks
You can list all the tasks that need to be done, and with your partner, each chooses what they prefer to tackle. When possible, delegate the rest to a housekeeper, your children (see advice below), or the nanny (when you hire your nanny, tell her that putting toys away will be part of her job assignment). And if they aren’t as organized in the house as you are, make them visual lists, like: “Empty and fill up the washing machine while you wait for your toast and coffee.”
- Just don’t do it
Your kid is calling for you in the middle of the night, just don’t move, wait! If your spouse is now awake, he will get up if he thinks you’re sleeping. The same thing with the dishes, I just don’t do them, and never will. I already have so many things on my plate (pun intended!), I won’t budge, I know deep inside, the fact I don’t do it is right. If I take that extra task on, I won’t survive the week, which wouldn’t be of help to anyone, now would it?
- Recognize and encourage your husband’s efforts
By telling him what a difference it makes (don’t hesitate to do this while you’re around other people, he will be very proud!), or by any other way you choose. And make the effort to put aside time for you as a couple, so he feels this new dynamic is good for him and worth the effort.
How to get your CHILDREN to do chores to lighten your load:
Don’t aim for perfection! Your child’s skills will improve over time. With little ones it’s best to do the work together; they’re keen on sharing activities with their parents. It will take more time, but their participation in the coming years will be precious!
2- 3 year olds
- collect toys
- help feed pets
- put napkins on the table, spoons and tableware that doesn’t break
- take dirty clothes to the laundry basket
- wipe the ground or a low piece of furniture with a small cloth
4-5 year olds
- help make beds
- set the table
- water the plants
- help do the shopping and store groceries away
6-8 year olds
- declutter toys, and keep their room or their playroom tidy
- make their bed
- sort the laundry
- put clothes away
- Fold trousers, socks and shirts
- do simple cooking chores
- help wash the car
9-10 year olds
- wash the bathtub and sink
- help prepare meals
- wash the dishes
- load the dishwasher
- declutter their closet
- clean the floor with a broom and a mop
11 and older
- plan meals and prepare certain meals
- wash the laundry by using the washing machine and the tumble-dryer
- wash the car and vacuum the inside of the car
- do the grocery shopping
How to help your TWEEN/TEENAGERS tidy their room
If you ask adolescents why they don’t sort their room their answer will generally be one or several of these: (Please don’t laugh!)
- They are worried their room will be in the same state again within a month.
- They are too tired, stressed from school, homework and sports and just want to relax and rest.
- They don’t understand why parents care that much, they’re the ones living there.
- They don’t have enough storage containers.
- They need privacy.
- They feel overwhelmed by all their stuff and don’t know where to start.
- They have a hard time focusing or disciplining or motivating themselves to do it.
- They don’t want to spend the time doing it.
This is why they need help and clear guidelines!
Declutter! Any teenager can understand that having less stuff means having less to manage. Here is how personal stylist Anélle Coetzee advises you and your child handle her/his wardrobe:
“Ask her/him: Does it fit? Is it in good condition? Have you worn it lately? If you saw it in a shop today would you buy it with your own money? Will you need it again (sportswear/ equipment) and will it then fit?
Let them throw out any clothing they don’t like to wear, don’t need, or doesn’t fit as it will only take up space and not get worn!
Is it for this season (summer/winter)? Have storage space allocated for out of season clothing.
Is there anything you need such as your own laundry basket/ better lighting/access to a tall mirror, etc)? Make sure they have appropriate storage: containers/dividers.
Maybes or sentimentals get packed away to be relooked at in 6 months’ time.
How to get everyone involved and keep it up in the long run? Encourage them to determine their own tasks and set up their own timetables, provide storage space where needed and pat everyone on the back for making the effort. Bring in a professional organizer to help you get started if the task is so overwhelming.
A clean home greatly contributes to joy every day! What are you going to do for your Home Sweet Home today?