OA Aunt Q&A – children and an uncluttered house

by Sara Hall. Posted in Home organising, Organising children

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Dear OA Aunt,

Is it possible to have children and an uncluttered house?

Any tips on how to create a weekly meal plan?

Any tips on how to create a weekly cleaning plan?

Carolina, Jane brook WA

OA Aunt’s response:

Thank you for your questions Carolina, no matter what age your children are- whether they have bulky pre-school learning toys, school work or activities, children create extra clutter around homes.

Having a place for everything, using the right storage solutions and creating habits are all ways to help keep areas tidy.

Here are some suggestions on organising:

The first step is to get rid of any items that are no longer needed – use Finer Details simple de-cluttering tips to do this with your children’s belongings.  Items can quickly become out of date with clothing or toys they have outgrown – if you have or are planning to have more children you may like to store some things away until your younger children need them.  Because child change so quickly, we recommend you schedule in regular mini de-clutters to help deal with the issue.

Have a look at your problem areas, where the clutter accumulates – is it your car, living area, play room, children’s bedrooms?  Here are some tips to help manage the areas:

  1. Look at where toys accumulate and use storage containers to collect items ready to be put away (including the car).  If the area is somewhere you entertain guests consider a storage solution that would fit in with your décor.
  2. Organise the room where everything lives with the right type of storage (pictures of some examples below) – make sure you have a place for everything so things are easy to put away.
  3. Look at the items you use everyday and make sure you have permanent easily accessible homes for these items: for example – for keys have a hook or a basket by the door.
  4. Label as much as you can – if you have young children, consider pictures instead of written labels (cut images from magazines or print from the web) so that they can help with the process.
  5. If your child is old enough – have items at the child’s level (hooks and railings, so that they can put things away).
  6. Involve your children in the tidying process – establish habits at an early age and turn it into a game.
  7. Create habits to minimise clutter build up and scheduling in time to put things away – like doing a quick clean up every night or setting aside 15 minutes per day to maintain your living area.
  8. Rotate games and toys, and leave only a few out at a time.
  9. Have a large cork board or string with clothes pegs to display your children’s drawings.
  10. Create an activity bag for younger children ready to take when you go out.  Take a few minutes on return to tidy out and restock ready for the next time you are running out the door.
  11. Rather than have your children’s memorabilia shoved in drawers and cupboards around your house, start a plastic memorabilia container for each child – with their drawings select one picture from each age rather than lots.  This also makes part of a great 18th or 21st birthday present for when your children are grown up.  Consider using an artist’s portfolio for drawings and cull regularly.
  12. If you enter you home through your garage, consider putting a shoe stand and other storage items in the garage by the entrance to the house to stop things cluttering up your entryway.

Here are some examples of storage solutions:

Tools for young children

Another great idea to help young children get organised for school is Cubeo – a brilliant simple tool created by Organise Easy:

Great organising tool for young children

Creating habits

Learning to put things away and stay organised takes time and practice.

It can take up to 21 days to create a habit.  Make notes for yourself until you have created a habit.

Keep a to-do list so that you can relax and concentrate on the task at hand without being afraid you will forget something.  Review the list before you go to bed and plan a daily task list with what you are going to tackle the next day.  Don’t set yourself up to fail, have time for the unexpected and make your daily task list no longer than 6 items

Prepare for the next day – set out clothes, put out the breakfast items, cut up any veggies and fruit ready for lunches and dinner.

Here are some suggestions on creating a weekly meal and cleaning plan:

Cleaning a house can take up most of a day, if you don’t have the luxury to do this, consider spreading tasks across the week.  Before you schedule in when to do what, have a look at your week ahead and look at where you can fit the tasks in.

Have a basket or bucket organised with the cleaning products you need ready to use.

With meal planning, be realistic – on jam packed days pick quick and easy meals.  Make extra on slow days and freeze leftovers for your busier days.

Have a list of your favourite and quick meals to help with the planning.

Choose which day is best to plan for your week ahead (would Sunday afternoon work for you or while you wait for your children to finish a sporting activity?).

Rather than having too many different planners dotted around the house, you could combine a weekly meal and cleaning plan onto one plan.

There are family calendars that have columns for each family member – could you use one of these and use spare columns for your meals and cleaning plan?

If a calendar wouldn’t work, here is another example (using very basic example of tasks) – if you like this one and want the template, please contact Finer Details and we will send you a copy.

Store past weekly planners and your list of favourite and quick meals in a folder, so that you can refer back to them.

If you can, make your weekly meal list near your pantry and fridge, so you can have a look to see what you already have to make meals from and create a shopping list at the same time.

If using a recipe book, bookmark the meal with a sticky note writing the day you are making the meal on it so that you can easily find it again.

Have everything in for a couple of extra quick meals so that you are prepared for days that run riot.

Stick your planner somewhere where you can easily see it like the pantry door – attach a page protector to the wall or door so that you can easily slip the planner in and out when needed.

Here are some useful helpful website:

http://www.mealsmatter.org/

http://www.foodnetwork.com/healthy-eating/index.html

www.Livingcookbook.com  – meal planning calendar

http://www.cozi.com/Features-Overview.htm – Cozi is a free web service that helps you manage your family calendar, track your shopping and to do lists, and organize your chores

http://voo2do.com/ – Voo2doo helps with your to do lists

http://handipoints.com/printable-chart/chore-chart.html?kw – create a chore chart for your children

http://www.hassleme.co.uk/ – has electronic reminders

Calling all mothers – do you have any more helpful tips to add?

Sara excels at helping her clients get rid of clutter and become more organised. Her knowledge and understanding of working with different people, and responding to their individual needs, means she excels at providing home and office organising services.