Written to mom who feels organizationally challenged:
How can we get you on TOP of your circumstances instead of under them? Sometimes hiring a very organized teenage girl can help you for a one-time boost. Some people are just born more organized than others. Is there some girl at church, perhaps? or in another homeschooling family? or some older lady whom you admire, whose family is already raised—to just come over for one day to plow through the worst of it, with you—developing some systems for you?
With or without such help, the greatest principle is to just start moving in that direction. Pick up one thing and put it somewhere…then the next. Action creates emotions. The famous German philosopher Goethe said: “Only begin it and the mind grows heated; simple start it and soon the job is completed.”
Here is the principle: anything you do repetitively, you want to do optimally.
You need a wall of loads of pre-made cardboard boxes with removable lids. White records boxes (one cubic foot each) work splendidly (obtainable from any office supply store). Mark the end of each box what is in it. You want to buy these, because they look tidy all stacked together and the lids are super easy for getting in and out of repeatedly. Just the look of them will help you and the family stay neat. Often we aren’t neat because we don’t have a place for everything; this eliminates that problem. Use them all over the house if you have to. They are cheaper than furniture, and much easier to organize than drawers, because smaller groups of things can be contained with like kinds.
For your kitchen, purchase a shoebox-size flat plastic container that you toss all dirty silverware in as you use it. Use a flat container, because if you dump dirty silverware into a large bowl it can tend to tip over, and if you set them on a flat plate they often spill out all over the counter and they don’t get soaked to loosen the stuck particles. Get this plastic shoebox that will from now on contain all your silverware neatly and will never topple over, no matter how much you toss in there. Keep it permanently open on the back of your counter, near your sink. This keeps the dirty silverware out of being stashed in between the plates, making them stack all cater-whampus on the counter, and lets you tightly stack everything in a much smaller space, if you don’t have time to do the dishes right then. This keeps your counter stacked and clean- looking at all times.
Rinse everything as soon as you take it to the counter. Rinse all pots and pans as soon as you dump the cooked food out onto dinner plates. By rinsing immediately you keep your kitchen clean and lessen your future job of washing. Keep a long-handled brush by the sink and swish it on every dish/plate/pot immediately. The long-handled brush allows you to pre-wash anything, even if you are in a pretty dress and running out the door, because your hands don’t have to get down in the water. When you do wash the dishes, focus on speed. I use three white dish drainers and have them sitting on the counter at all times, so that I can just fling the pots and pans into them. I set the three on a large white towel and keep changing the towel every few days or once a week. The speed becomes fun: “Okay—I’m going to be a bulldozer—ready, set, go—can I get it done in five minutes? three minutes?” Work quickly and get it over with. It helps to have two sinks, and a plastic tub inside each sink; one is for washing in hot soapy water; the other is for immersing and rinsing in clean hot water. (For lots more tips, order our inexpensive, helpful practical downloadable video MP4 file of Kitchen Efficiency Tips.)
Form a habit of swiping a paper towel around your bathroom floor or tub or sink when you are in there already—not as a separate formidable job that you dread. Do it on the run.
I play a little psychological game with myself, convincing myself that I enjoy taking the trash outside to the big container because it forces me to take little mini-walks all throughout the day—helping me exercise and get sun!
Stop watching so many TV - media - movies - non-informational movies on the Web. It is a super time waster, causing you to arouse your emotions over something you can do nothing about. It is a consummate robber of energy, resolve, relationship, planning, doing, etc. You’ll notice a difference in your capabilities immediately. If you use media as a baby-sitter for your children, be terrified of this sure result: “The parent’s convenience becomes the child’s addiction.” Instead, train your children to work from a very early age. (We know a toddler whose job it is to deposit his own dirty diaper in the trash.) Having to clean the house forces you to employ your children in doing something meaningful with you. Always do it together. More is caught than taught.
Also: if you just can’t get on top of your energy even without the enervation caused by the electronic media, check your thyroid levels (through a blood test). Your thyroid may be under-firing, causing you to feel tired all the time. A natural bovine thyroid supplement or a plant-based compound tailor made and prescribed by your health practitioner can make a world of difference, if your levels are low. Also, get off all added sugar, and experiment with getting off wheat (many find that a fatiguing food).