Thursday, February 16, 2017

System #1: Tidying

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I have never had a talent for keeping things neat and in order. It has been something that has taken me YEARS to overcome, and though I am not perfect at it, I have improved a lot over the years.

I have a daughter who is especially good at tidying. She was born that way, and tidies at least once a day in my kitchen when she can't stand the chaos any longer. I love her. I hope to be more like her when I grow up.

There are a couple of really great tools that have helped me learn to keep and organize my home over the years.

Organizing Resources

Way back in 2000-2001, I started using FlyLady's emails to get my house in order. She helped me overcome procrastinating household chores, and taught me some great lessons about wearing a "mom uniform" and shining my sink. I don't agree with every part of her philosophy, but there are habits I learned from her that I have continued to use more than a decade later.

I also LOVE the classes and blog posts that Becky Edwards at Purpose Driven Motherhood has. I was privileged to stay in her home while I was speaking at a homeschool conference in her state, and to say that I was impressed with her organizational, homemaking, and mothering skills would be an understatement. She was so warm and welcoming, and her children were gracious and kind. Her home was not a mansion, but it had a wonderful feeling there. Her home and schedule were orderly, but comfortable.

Her online class on organizing really moved me forward into being consistent in my daily habits-- something I was woefully lacking in. I tell every mama I can about Becky-- she is truly inspiring! You can find her at her blog and also on Facebook. I just love her and what she teaches!!

One of my drawers, after using the KonMari method of "tidying" 

Our Great Purge

More recently, I have had wonderful experience using the book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" (Also known as the "KonMari method.") We were making a temporary move to a house half the size of the one we were living in, and I knew I had to reduce the amount of stuff we had.

As a little bit of background, I am a very sentimental person, and have been known to hang on to things in a pretty desperate fashion. I have always been the type of person that strongly associated memories with "things," so, needless to say, I have been surrounded by clutter throughout my life. I had begun decluttering a LOT using Fly Lady's method, but it never seemed to stick. My heart had not changed, I was just getting braver about getting rid of things. (Which was a step in the right direction, for sure!)

Keep in mind that I am a homeschooling mother to thirteen-- yes, that's 13-- kids, only one of whom has left our home for good. You can imagine how much stuff we have!

In August of 2014, my 91 year old grandmother passed away, and my mom and her family were able to take care of her things she left behind easier than many, because my grandmother was so organized. However, there were many things that needed to be passed around the family, and I inherited really too many of them. (My mom brought a truck full of stuff for me two states away. She associates stuff with memories, too.)

As I have been going through many of the things, I realized that most of them hold no memories for ME, even though they did for my grandmother and my mother. And then I was startled to realize that my sweet, amazing grandmother had to leave all of those things-- that she longer needed them! She has moved on to be with my grandpa and her other family members, and those memories she has are also always with HER.

This realization has been so absolutely FREEING for me! The main reason I hold on to things is so that I can be reminded of memories and people. But now I know that the memories are REAL-- in my heart. WOW.

If I had not learned these things, I could never have been able to embrace the KonMari method! While I still worry about what my mom will think, at the same time, SHE didn't want the things she gave me! There are special things I inherited from my grandmother, but I have also been able to let many things go.

And for me, that has been ground-breaking, because it is MUCH easier to keep a tidy home when one only keeps the things that they love and can care for. It's really is "like magic!"

"Tidy-Up Time"

Now that I've told you about how I tidy up myself, I'd like to share how I get my younger kids to bring some order the disarray they inflict upon our house...

"Tidy-Up Time" happens at a couple of key points in the day. We aim to gather around the homeschool table at 10:00am each weekday, so I use that as our first "Tidy-Up Time" of the day. (I mean, who can learn in a room of chaos?!)

Then after their school work is done, they might want to go to a friend's house or outside to play, so I require another "Tidy-Up Time" before they can go out. And then, before any fun family evening activities or desserts happen, they need to tidy one more time.

I will often add a "Tidy-Up Time" before Dad comes home if our front room is cluttered. After his long day at work, I know that he hopes to find some peace in order to decompress. (He's an introvert that works in a very loud, sociable company.)

Okay, so maybe he won't find PEACE, but I try to make sure that he doesn't come home to a disaster. It's the least I can do for his diligence in supporting us all!

Some things that help motivate kids to help with the clean-up, rather than dragging their feet, includes fun music, racing a timer, playing "I Spy", or some other fun game, and let's face it: bribery.

(I admit it-- it has happened here a time or two...)

Tidy Boxes

I learned this many moons ago from my amazing mother-in-love who raised eleven children. 

When tidying a room, I want to have QUICK success, so I grab a box or plastic bin labeled "Tidy Box" or "Misplaced Items," and I put all the homeless stuff in that one box, then I can carry it around to put things away.

I sometimes even have a box like this sitting at the top of my stairs, and one at the foot of my stairs, so that I can put everything away when I make it down or up stairs. It works much better than just chucking stuff over the stairway, let me tell ya.

I hope some of these Tidying tips help you in your homemaking efforts. Tidying is one thing that will never go away for we humans, so it's nice to know that there are methods we can use to contain the madness.

Love, Mama Rachel


  1. Thanks Rachael, I know you are inspiring many with your ideas. I like them. Giving away memories is a hard one. I have several items from my Mom and Grandmother but most are too precious to give away. Luckily, they didn't have a lot so I didn't get a truck full it was more like just a couple of boxes.
    I am looking forward to some de-junking this fall when we are off our mission. Meanwhile, I work on keeping control of the clutter.
    Hugs for this one; you do inspire me~

    1. Thank you, LeAnn! I always look forward to your comments and words of wisdom! {HUGS!}


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