THE SIMPLE LIFE

Recently, I have talked to several people who are frustrated because they are so busy and their house is a disaster area. They know they need to organize but that takes time that they do not seem to have. Years ago I read The Disciplines of the Beautiful Woman by Anne Ortlund. The theme of the book was organizing our lives so that we had time to serve God and others.

Our purpose in life is to glorify God and to serve others. But, we cannot do that well if our lives and our homes are a wreck and we waste precious time looking for things that are in the wrong place.  Quite frankly, we have become a society that moves so fast and takes on so many activities that we often aren’t home long enough to clean, organize and enjoy it!  The Bible tells us that everything should be done decently and in order and that we are to glorify God in whatever we do.  As Christians we may be decent; but, can we honestly say that our home is orderly and it glorifies our Heavenly Father in the peace and beauty that it projects?  In a world that seems to be spinning out of control our homes should be a sanctuary for anyone who enters the door.  How can we accomplish this and still fulfill our commitments outside of the home?

SCHEDULE YOUR TIME:

First we must recognize that we cannot fix in one day what has accumulated over years.  I have often put off a cleaning or organizing job simply because “I didn’t have time.”  We must quit making excuses and make a plan.  Grab a pad of paper and walk through the house.  Make a list of every area that needs to be organized.  Such as, Master Bedroom, office area, family room.  Now subdivide the bigger areas.  Under Master Bedroom you might put: 1.  his closet, 2. my closet, 3. dressers, 4. nightstand.  What you are trying to do is break the tasks down to where you can accomplish them in 30 mins, 15 mins., or less.

Put this list in a notebook, on a bulletin board or somewhere that you can access it easily and not lose it.  Now create a plan for tackling these projects.  This depends on your activities and family.  Once you have a plan enlist the troops.  Unless you live alone, this should not be done only by you.  It is a fact that people will support what they had a hand in creating.  So find a time to talk with the family and share your vision for a house that is organized well enough that things do not get lost and leaving the house every morning is not a battle.

Now schedule at least 1 day a week that you will work on this plan.  There is no right or wrong way to do this.  Some people might do it every Saturday morning.  Others might choose to spend 30 minutes after supper 3 nights a week to tackle these projects.  Whatever you choose to do, make sure that you are able to do this on a regular basis until the entire house is organized.  In other words, don’t bite off more than you can chew!  Doing a little bit at a time will reap results in just a few sessions.  Start with something like cleaning out a junk drawer.  You can probably accomplish this in 15 minutes or less.  The end result of an organized drawer will encourage you to move on to other projects.

It may help to make columns for jobs that will take different lengths of time.  15 mins., 30 mins., and 1 hr.  Some projects like cleaning out and organizing a walk in closet may take at least an hour but a night stand could be cleaned out in less than 15 mins.  If you have these jobs listed in columns and posted in a public place, anyone in the family with a few minutes could pick a job that fits their schedule and mark it off the list.  This way cleaning and organizing can be done whenever someone has a few minutes free or while you are waiting for something to cook or someone to come.

TOOLS:

As you are cleaning areas out you should have 3 boxes, buckets or baskets.  Label 1 “Keep”, 2 “Throw, 3 “Donate”.  As you pull things out of closets, drawers and nooks ask yourself these questions:  Do I LOVE this?  Have I used or worn this in the last year?  Is it a special family memory?  Be honest with yourself.  Quit saving things that you could wear if only you lost 10 pounds!  By the time that happens it will be out of style. 🙂  You can reward yourself with a new outfit if you do lose those 10 pounds. 🙂

I read a good tip for saving memories.  Take pictures of things like your children’s special papers and pictures and save them on a disk then you can look at them for the memories and not have all the paper clutter that will accumulate for the first 18 -22 years of your children’s lives.

MAINTAIN:

Once you and your family have the house in order,  find a way to maintain this level of organization.  Do you and your family need a place to put things when you come home?  Install hooks to hang coats, backpacks, and totes on.  Have a basket and a trash can by the family entry.  Use the basket for mail and important papers that need to be read or filed.  Throw the junk mail away immediately.  Go through this basket at least once a week to file, pay bills etc. You  might even want to keep a jar or cup with pens, pencils, and highlighters near this station so that you can highlight important info as you read it and sign papers to go out immediately.

Make sure that your children have baskets, drawers, cubby holes or shelves where they can put their clothes, toys and books.  If necessary label each area or glue pictures on for those that cannot read yet.  Once this is done make sure that you inspect what you expect.  Insist that they put things away before bed until it becomes a habit.  Just a note here, you must set the example.  Do NOT expect your children to keep their rooms clean if yours is a wreck!  Train yourself to hang your clothes up, throw the dirty things in the hamper, put your jewelry and shoes away and make your bed.  Often the hardest part of training your children is training yourself. 🙂

ENJOY!

Organizing your entire house may sound like an impossible dream; but, it can be done.  It simply takes setting goals and working at it one small step at a time.  Remember, you are doing this to glorify the Lord.  God tells us in His word that we are to do ALL things decently and in order.  I promise you life will be much simpler and your family time more enjoyable when you are not constantly frustrated because you or another family member cannot find something like the keys to the car. 🙂

Now that you have gained the extra time that you used to spend looking for things, ask the Lord how you can use that time to serve Him and others.  Enjoy your peaceful home and the blessings that God will bring when you are serving Him.

CREATIVE USES FOR EVERYDAY ITEMS

Recycling has become a big thing in this nation.  We are encouraged to find a way to reuse many things that in the past we would have just pitched in the garbage.  When I was growing up recycling was a way of life we just didn’t have a special name for turning other people’s trash into our treasures.  My mother was great at finding ways to reuse things even if it wasn’t designed for that purpose.  I have continued that tradition in my home.  Let me share with you some ideas for using things you already have to help beautify or organize your home.

  1. Use old mugs, pitchers, and glasses to hold and organize groups of things. Most of us have a collection of mugs, glasses and pitchers that are the last of a set or they have a chip in them so they are not safe for liquids.  These containers can be used for all kinds of things.  I have used mugs and glasses to hold flower arrangements.  Often they are a better size than the vases that I own.  I use pretty mugs as pen and pencil holders that I place near each phone and between Larry’s and my chairs in the family room.  They are decorative and that way I have a writing utensil handy when I need it.  I use pretty glasses to hold cotton balls in the bathroom.  I have a large, heavy pitcher that holds my curling irons next to my sink.
  2. Use small candy, sauce, or pickle dishes for something other than food. I have an assortment of decorative dishes that I have inherited or been given over the years.  Most of them are never used for the original purpose.  For instance I have a long narrow china dish originally made for holding things like celery.  It is just perfect on my bedside table to hold my hand cream, nail file, and other things that I like to have handy.  I have a little cut glass dish that I use by my sink to hold safety pins and hair clips that I use regularly.  The point is to be creative.  Just because that dish was made for food doesn’t mean that is the only thing you can use it for.  It is so much better to use a pretty dish to organize a group of things and make that area look nice than to keep it stored in a cupboard and never see it.
  3. Leftover wallpaper or wrapping paper. Instead of buying shelf paper to line your cabinet shelves and your drawers, use leftover wallpapaper or wrapping paper.   Vinyl coated wallpapers makes great kitchen shelf paper because it is scrubbable.  I have heard of new brides using their wedding paper to line their drawers.  When my children were born, I used the paper from the shower presents to line the drawers in the nursery.  It was a nice way to remember all the love that was bestowed on my family by our friends.
  4. Toilet paper and paper towel rolls have all kinds of uses. I use toilet paper rolls to hold extension cords and small appliance cords. Folding them and stuffing them inside the roll saves a lot of untangling when you need to use the cord.  These rolls can be used to wrap ribbons around.  Wrap each ribbon around the roll and secure it with a small straight pin.  Next time you need a ribbon it will be easy to spot the color that you want and it won’t be wrinkled.
  5. Ice cube trays can be used to organize your drawersDo you have old ice cube trays stuffed in a cupboard somewhere?  Those little square holes could be great for those small items that you keep in your junk drawer.  You could fill those holes with hooks, nails, screws, paper clips, all kinds of little things that you don’t want to throw away but never can find when you need them.  If you don’t have a nice jewelry box or armoire, put some ice cube trays in a top dresser drawer and use the divisions to store your earrings
  6. Empty jars can be used to store all kinds of small itemsTake the labels off of clear glass or plastic containers then write on them with a magic marker or attach mailing labels to them that you can write on.  These can be used for batteries, screws, nails, hooks, innumerable things that are small and get lost easily if just thrown in a box or drawer.
  7. Empty shoe boxes make nice dividers for your lingerie drawers. Instead of investing in plastic dividers for your sock and underwear drawers, why not use shoe boxes?  If you have children at home, you probably have an assorment of shoe box sizes.  Find the size that fits your drawers and the items you want to store.  Once you work out a system for storage of these small items you will find that it is much easier to grab what you need in the morning because you are not rummaging through a mixed up mess in your drawers.

Next time you want to organize something check your cupboards and closets.  You might just find some great surprises that will improve the organization and beauty of your home.