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3 Reasons Your Family Ruins What You Organize

We’ve all been there. We spend all day organizing the fridge, the pantry, the toy room or the art supplies. And then faster than you can print out a label, someone fixes a snack or tries to find the scissors and all the careful sorting and arranging is undone.
This organizing dilemma is a prescription for frustration and resentment. You wonder, does the family not appreciate me? Do they just not care? Why do I even try?
Today on KUTV Fresh Living I suggested that this conflict is less about the family’s apathy and more about the things you didn’t do when you organized this space. Want to organize things and have your family help keep them that way? Here are three reasons why they don’t:
Reason #1: You did all the work yourself.
I think every mom or home manager can agree that if you want a job done right, you do it yourself. But that might not be true when it comes to organizing. While it’s definitely faster to make it a one-man job, if you want the family to maintain the space, you might want to make it a family project.
When I asked my Happy Gal followers how they get their family’s support, this is what one mom said: “I find they’re more invested in putting things away & keeping things organized if they’re a part of the organizing process.” Another mom said “When I explain the logic behind how I’ve organized, people understand why it makes sense that certain things go together. Then they usually put them back where they go. So they put all the baking supplies back in the right section of the drawer because I explained to them that I keep all of the baking stuff together in the same spot.”
The solution: Involve the family in the organizing process.
Maybe they don’t need to do the whole job with you start to finish, but when you’ve sorted things out and tossed the things you don’t need to keep, you can get their input: “Where do you think we should put the crayons? What shelf would make it easiest for you to put the cereal away?” Kids love putting things in containers, and their investment in the process can go a long way to contributing to the upkeep.
Reason #2: It’s too complicated!
We see lots of organization ideas on Pinterest, and it’s easy to get seduced by all the creative ideas. But just because it looks pretty it doesn’t mean it’s functional. Experience has taught me that the more steps there are to keep things organized, the less support you get from your family.
For example, one of my followers said they’ve learned to ditch the lids on containers wherever possible. She found that if a kid has to open a lid to put something away, they find a shortcut and just stack stuff on top of the lid instead. Another example – It might look and feel really rewarding to sort similar toys into individual bins, but the kids only see a lot of extra work when it’s clean up time.
The Solution: Keep it simple.
Look at things from your kids’ or spouse’s perspective. What is the simplest way to put something away that requires the least amount of effort? Can you ditch the hangers and hooks for the dress ups and instead provide a bin they drop everything into instead? Is it ok that they toss everything into the dirty clothes when they clean their room, even though it might mean an extra load of laundry? Could you design a general area for office supplies, rather than having each item need to be in its own specific place?  
Remember, your organizing projects aren’t going to be on any Pinterest gallery, so choose function over form if you really want the family to participate in the upkeep.
Reason #3: It’s not obvious where things go.
In your mind, it’s pretty clear that all of the snacks go on a certain shelf in the pantry. When you look in the coat closet, there is no question that your child’s shoes should go in her cubby. But remember, we are dealing with people who really don’t care about keeping these spaces organized. Any effort they put forth in upkeep usually stems from a desire to please us, and that desire only goes so far. If it requires too much effort, they aren’t going to even try.
The Solution: Label, label, label!
People need frequent, visual reminders to keep them on track. They may have gotten the cereal off the shelf just seconds ago, but if (and that’s a big if!) they put it back, they will likely stick it in any open space…unless their eye catches a label on a shelf that says “cereal.” When it comes to organization, it’s all about how easy it is, and a subtle reminder from a label can mean the difference between things being returned to their proper place…or not.
A few label tips:
Label both the container and the shelf it sits on if you really want the containers to stay in the same place.
Use a labeler, like this one from Brother. It’s fast and efficient and creates consistent labels that will finish off an organized space with a crisp and polished touch.
A Final Tip…
Positive reinforcement goes a long way. While it’s tempting to criticize our family for everything they failed to do, look for ways to compliment their efforts. Everyone likes a little recognition! And positive interaction contributes to a healthy, loving environment in families and in the home.

 

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