It seems that at some point in our lives we get super busy and our home is the first to suffer. Coming home, barely throwing the empty takeout away, and then just going to bed not even touching the pile of laundry left undone.
How do we homesteaders make it easier on ourselves with so much going on both inside and outside the home? Here are a few simple tricks and tips to make the organization of a homestead less tedious.
How to Keep Your Homestead Organized
1. Don't Be Afraid to Label Everything
You know the age-old saying, “A place for everything and everything in its place”.
If you are in a room and you know that the item doesn't necessarily belong in that room, but you don't know where it belongs either, then create an “I have no idea” bucket and toss it in there.
Once the house has been cleaned, you can decide what to do with those items. You might find that they are similar and would do well in a certain area.
If not, then try putting these items away in a closet. If you have not used them in six months, donate the items.
For everything else, create a label.
There are multiple ways to do this now as well. You could stick with the labelers similar to what has been used for ages or you could opt to make a QR code.
I use this QR code maker for the boxes in my garage. If my daughter is looking for a specific box, she can go in and scan her phone without having to dig in them all. This helps for the boxes to stay neat and tidy, relieving stress for everyone.
It’s crucial that you actually put things away in the places that you have designated for them.
My awesome husband has created a place for us to hang our keys in between the dining room and kitchen. However, about once a week I have to spend two to five minutes looking for my keys because I sat them in the living room or the bedroom.
I am guilty as well but if everything has a place we need to put it there!
2. Take the Time to Plan
I am a huge fan of planning. I use the Happy Planner. My girls and I take one day a week, typically Sunday, and we get out all of our stickers and stamps and everything else and we plan. I plan things that need to be done and make our grocery list.
Then in the mornings, I can flip right to the page, where I have a reminder that I need to order my daughter's medicine or get “secret ingredients” from the store for chopped practice at school.
I keep all of my notes in the planner. You can add things that are more important to your homestead, like keeping track of how well your ladies are laying eggs, when the incubator will finish hatching your new lovelies, or a detailed cleaning list.
We also have a monthly planner for the whole family that we keep in the kitchen. This is really awesome because that way one of us cannot say to the other, “Oh! I didn't know that was happening.” Being a teacher, I have a lot to do and sometimes my late nights get forgotten. This way they don't.
3. Handle the Paper Trail
This is a hard one for me. Being a teacher, I keep a lot of papers. And then there is work on the farm, as well as my husband's job that requires us to keep receipts.
This is the first year that we have a binder started for all of our receipts and I'm getting better already. This binder is where we keep all of our business receipts that had been lying around in the garage, kitchen and dining room.
For my student's work, I have created a box to keep the few items that I really like. I had been doing this for a long time with my children, offering to save two items a week that they got to pick. This is fun for the both of us and I hope they enjoy having those memories when they are older.
4. Understand Your Why
Why have you decided to organize your home? Maybe you are tired of hunting for items, maybe you feel stressed when you get home.
Write it down. Keep it somewhere handy. This way, when you are tired and want to go to bed instead of dealing with the problem, you will remember how great it feels to have a clean kitchen when you eat breakfast.
It’s a way to put future emotion into perspective and, in a way, make tomorrow better than today.
5. Think Outside the Box
Part of the problem, especially with the paper trail is that you have sentimental value with things that you still have no place to put.
Examples could be the artwork I previously mentioned.
Instead of creating the box, that again creates more storage and therefore more clutter, you could also take a picture of the item and put it on one of those digital display photo frames. This way it is in your eyesight but the paper collecting dust is now long gone.
6. Find That One Area
Does your household have that one area that you tend to clutter up? For my in-laws, that area is the table. For us, it’s the counter between the kitchen and the dining room.
If you know this is an area that causes problems for your family, why not dedicate five or ten minutes twice a day to put away items that are in that area? This relieves stress when you are thinking about, or looking at, that area.
7. Get Everyone Involved
This is one that we struggle with at my house. It feels really good when I get to do work or spend time with my spouse without having to worry about what needs to be cleaned, because one kid is doing half the dishes while the other one is folding laundry.
I think too many parents (myself included) feel bad because their children go to school for eight hours a day and many still come home with homework. That guilt means that we try to do everything for them.
That day will come when they might work eight hours a day and have to come home and do everything just as we are now. Why not help them to understand that they can lighten their load by delegating chores now, setting a good example for in the future.
There are many creative ideas on Pinterest to get children involved, from “locking up” their toys they left out and giving them back once a chore has been done, to chore charts that spin, telling each child what they are doing for the day/week/month (depending on how long you want that to be the chart).
8. Don’t Let Perfection Get in the Way
One of my favorite people to watch is Julia Child. The reason for this is that she was amazing at what she did, created a cookbook that inspired a nation several times over and still was not perfect.
She messed up on her television shows and yet people still watched as she explained how to fix the mess.
In today’s modern age, we come to believe that if our house does not look like it just came off of “Fixer Upper” then we should just fall down in defeat and forgo the whole process.
Instead, break it down into chunks. Start with your desk. Decide to take however long it will take to get the desk cleaned off. Then go back to what you were working on before (even if that means watching television).
Basically what I am saying here is just do it. The goal is to have a clean, organized home, not a home that looks like it came from Better Home and Garden Magazine.
Although, if you know how to do that, send that article my way!
I really debated on adding this section or not because I have said over and over again to get rid of things or to find a place for them but there is something to be said about having a “spring cleaning.”
Maybe you’re reading this post in the fall though. I would say fall is as good a time as any, especially with the holidays coming up. NOW is the best time.
Start with four boxes: one for keeping, one for a yard sale, then one for donations, and one for trashing altogether. Naturally, you want your first box to be the smallest.
When you are doing all of this, think like a robot. Don’t add sentimentality to every single item. If you look at everything objectively you are more likely to part ways with it.
I will emphasize again the tuck away box. This box is sat to the side (in a closet, the basement, etc.) and gone to if you need something out of it. If you haven’t touched it in six months, get rid of it.
10. Make a Cleaning List
This cleaning list can go in your planner, on the fridge, etc… just make the list. What needs to be done daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly?
A great cleaning list can get all the chores done Monday-Friday, leaving you with Saturday as a carry-over day if needed and Sunday as a day of rest. For me, that’s the opposite, I like Saturday as my free day and Sunday as my “get ready for the week” day.
While you’re making the list think about things you can automate – either through having others in your household do it (see number seven) or having someone else do it.
Way back in the day, we used to wash our clothes at a laundromat that had a woman who would wash and fold clothes for others. You'd just dropped off your washing, and came back hours later to clean, folded or hung clothes.
That being said, you need to determine for yourself if it is worth it to you to have someone else do it for you? Are you willing to pay the price for extra hours in your day or does it make more sense to you to save the money and do it yourself?
Since we are on the topic of cleaning lists, here are a few things I think should be done daily, as well as an explanation as to why:
Clean the Floors
For a while, I was bad about not cleaning our tiles in the kitchen, yet it never failed as soon as I cleaned it I was always amazed at how much cleaner my floors looked. This did not even include when I mopped them.
Sweeping the floors daily does not take too much time out of the day and makes a world of difference in a household’s cleanliness. Once a week it is a good idea to mop the floor. I, personally, would recommend it be on the day you are deep cleaning that particular room.
If you have carpet, I highly recommend a Romba. These machines will run around the room and sweep the floor while you are busy on a different task. Once the room is clean, just turn the machine off. Easy, peasy!
Do the Dishes as soon as they get Dirty
I started this one about four months ago and I absolutely love it. While our dinner making dishes don’t always get done as soon as they are dirty, our dinner eating dishes do. I tell my children, “When you are done eating, wash your dishes”. This way there is less for us to clean in the long run.
As summer is quickly approaching here, I will install this about breakfast and lunch meals as well. This way the dishes are always done and the sink is almost always empty because believe me, dishes multiply rapidly!
Make Your Beds
Again, this is supposed to make you feel more organized and less stressed, not make your home look like a magazine so this task shouldn’t take more than a few minutes a day. Yet, despite the fact that there may be dust that has settled on the nightstand and jewelry on the dresser, your room will look much cleaner with the beds made.
Wrapping It Up
It is easy to write it and harder to apply it. Looking at these tasks as smaller, more time manageable is one way to make it a bit easier and before you know it your house will look and feel more organized.
Once your household has settled into the routine of being more organized, it will actually free up your time and your creative energy, excited to try projects such as making soap, making bird baths and cooking scrumptious treats. Definitely worthwhile incentives, so get that planner out and organize your home.