... in spite of your family.
- Put trash cans in every single room of the house.
- Put a hamper for dirty laundry in every bedroom and bathroom.
- Have a place for EVERYTHING, and put it there.
- Be merciless when it comes to de-cluttering. If you haven't used it in more than a few weeks, or if it's been broken and sitting around waiting to be fixed - toss it (or donate if someone else may want to use it). Obviously, there are a few exceptions to this since some items are only used around certain holidays, e.g. cookie cutters etc.
- Before buying anything, ask yourself: "Where will I keep this at home?" If you can't think of a place for it, don't get it.
- Use a little time here and there throughout the week to work on a drawer, shelf, or other small area that is getting out of control, rather than waiting to have an entire day to "clean the shed/garage/bedroom". Chances are the time will never come, and if it does, you will be too overwhelmed and discouraged to actually do it.
- Don't give in to the urge to leave the house just to escape the mess at home. You won't like it any more when you get back. Instead, clean one area and feel good about it.
- Have a strict policy when it comes to your children's toys, and enforce it. In our house, the rule is that outside toys must stay outside, inside toys must stay inside, and that no toys are allowed in the kitchen, living room, and dining room.
- Teach your children from an early age to clean up their own room. If they are old enough to take the toy out, they are old enough to be taught to put it back in its place. Provide lots of storage bins, and preferably label them. Many small bins for sorting are much better than one or two large toy boxes, since every child always wants the toy in the very bottom and will dump the whole thing out. For little ones that are too young to read, you can print clip-art images of various toys on index cards and glue them to the respective bins. Be patient, and praise them if they clean up without being told to do so.
- Avoid letting small, cheap toys into the house in the first place. The type that comes in a happy meal, or that you buy at the dollar store. They only ever seem to end up broken on the floor.
- Enlist the help of your children from early on. Teaching them takes time and effort, but it is an investment that will pay off.
- Try to keep the area that visitors see clean and tidy throughout the day. It will make them feel comfortable and welcome. Nobody said you have to show them your bedroom closet.
- Once the kids are down for the night, spend a half hour or so cleaning and tidying without any interruptions. Everyone loves waking up to a nice house.
- Give up trying to reform your husband. If his Mom didn't manage to teach him, you won't either. But think about it: Would you rather live with someone who always drops his laundry right in front of the hamper, or with a clean freak who is obsessed with making sure there is not a speck of dust anywhere?
Of course, these are just a few suggestions. You can find helpful books on how to de-clutter and organize your home at the library. The more members your family has, the more organized you will need to be, but you will also have more helpers. Making your house a relaxing, comfortable home is a great opportunity to show your family how much you love them.