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Last year, I got really excited about home organization and decluttering. And I mean REALLY EXCITED/OBSESSED. I read the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and thought I had found the next best thing to the messiah. (I’m joking, people…mostly.) This book has made the KonMari home organization and decluttering technique world famous.
I threw out most of our family’s clothes and organized them in lovely little rows.
I gleefully discarded old books and toys, convinced that by the end of the year, I was going to have a house completely devoid of all things clutter.
But then it got harder. I made pretty decent progress on my kitchen…and then I just gave up entirely. And I mean cold turkey, man.
Marie Kondo says in her follow-up manual, Spark Joy, “No matter how cluttered it looks, don’t pause, don’t stop, don’t quit.” You’re supposed to declutter your entire house in a single marathon session, even if it takes a few months.
But life got busy last fall. Between soccer practice, homeschooling and holidays, I just didn’t have the time/energy/motivation to participate in this never-ending decluttering marathon. So I made no effort whatsoever.
I love the KonMari concept in theory: only keep what you love. Discard the rest. But practically, I couldn’t finish the process of going through each and every category of all. the. things. in my whole home. Maybe I’ll get there eventually—I mean, it is A LOT better than it was. But in the meantime I have to find a Plan B.
I’m a (recovering) perfectionist, and so a job woefully undone nearly undid me. I regularly felt anxious because in my head was this glittering standard I wanted to be at…and I was nowhere near reaching it. Not in a million years.
So, since I know I can’t be the only one who has felt like an epic failure at home organization, I thought I’d share some of things I’ve learned, how I’ve stopped feeling bad about myself, and what I’m doing instead.
Home Organization: How To Create a Realistic Plan and Not Feel Bad about Yourself
If you’re like me and are tempted to feel woefully inadequate about your home organization and other wifely/motherly skills, these tips might help you. I’ve learned these things the hard way, so hopefully they will be helpful to you before you find yourself in emotional breakdown mode. And even if you do break down…well, you’ll be okay.
1. Get Over Yourself Already
No seriously. Unless you have your own show on HGTV, you need to get off Pinterest and stop beating yourself up when you don’t have matching throw pillows. What’s more important: having a clutter-free kitchen counter or taking time each day to snuggle with your kids? You know the answer, of course.
Going back to the Bible and getting godly perspective always helps me. Not sure where to start? I’ve got two posts you might find helpful regarding this matter: 10 Bible Verses for the Perfectionist Mama and 10 Encouraging Bible Verses about Insecurity for Moms.
I know that for some of us, we have this unrealistic vision of the perfect Proverbs 31 wife running her home on no sleep and laughing all the while. Ha. Take another look at her in this post: What You Don’t Know About the Proverbs 31 Woman as well as my free 7-day devotional Woman of Strength.
Bottom line: while I think it’s good for us to push ourselves beyond our comfort zones a little bit, it’s easy to fall into a traps of perfectionism and impossible expectations. Love and embrace grace, friends!
2. Get a More Realistic Vision
What do you want your home to look like? I’m sure we’d all like everything in white, spotless, with no toys anywhere…but get real, lady. Here’s a little exercise that can be quite helpful: write down each room, and describe that room’s purpose and the general feeling you want to get when you enter it. For example:
Master bedroom: this is a place of rest, a sanctuary. Quiet. Peaceful.
Bathroom: this is a place of cleansing. Bright. Happy.
I know it’s a little cheesy, but try it. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Then think through what might have to change in order for you to meet that ideal. I know that for my bedroom, I’m actually in pretty good shape with my closet and drawers being mostly in order. But, I have work to do with my accessories and all of the random junk stashed in the corners. In the bathroom, I actually want to redecorate so that it’s brighter (and the closet is a disaster, ugh).
Now remember we have to be realistic too. I would love the space in front of our bay windows to be free of toys, and generally most of the kids’ toys are down in the playroom. BUT with all of its light and central location, it is also ideal as a LEGO construction space. So we compromise. I also have surrendered one of our bookshelves to be my husband’s dumping ground for his random stuff since he doesn’t have a desk at home, and one of the kitchen counters is my not-so-tidy command center.
3. Make a Plan
This is the hard part, folks. Where to even start? This process can be especially frustrating for lazy perfectionists like me (yes that description is accurate), who like to make things happen by sheer willpower rather than with a well-executed plan.
If you have trouble making realistic plans and following through, for home organization or anything else, you might find this post helpful: Goal Setting for the Lazy Mom: 5 Steps to Calm Your Chaos.
I know there are a lot of home organization guides out there, so if you find one that inspires you, go for it. For me personally, I’ve decided to enroll in an online course from my trusted blogger friend, Hilary from Pulling Curls.
Her course, The Organized Home, holds your hand as you walk through your house step by step. This is where I felt the KonMari method really lacked. I suppose that if I spent a bazillion dollars and hired Marie Kondo to be my consultant that I would have had wild success. But taking an online course is perhaps the more realistic option for me. I think it’s better than just reading a book because there’s more built-in accountability.
Could I do it without someone holding my hand? Probably. But getting those sweet little motivational reminders from Hilary in my inbox helps keep my butt in gear. What’s more, Hilary is kind of the super mom we all want to be, but she’s completely down to earth and cool about it. Her home is not perfect (I LOVE the photos of her home that she shows in the course, which are not the type that you’d find in a Pottery Barn catalogue). She’s also a big advocate about finding the system that works for YOU. You don’t have to imitate her exactly, you just have to figure out how to make your home tick (you might also like her ebook Family Systems: How To Automate Your Housewife Life).
I also learned about the insane value of Command Hooks from Hilary.
Amazing idea, right? (Or am I just slow…?) This took about two seconds and I used the hooks I already had. I need to go buy some more, stat.
4. Follow Through
Here’s where the rubber meets the road in home organization: gettin’ it done. Setting goals and taking a course have already motivated me to get more done in a week than I have in the past six months. I threw out a whole trash bag of old arts and crafts supplies and did a happy dance after I organized what was left.
For some people it’s helpful to write up a checklist of the things you need to do in order to reach your vision for each room. If that’s your jam, go for it…but again, don’t let it defeat you if you just don’t get to everything by tomorrow. If you need some motivation, set deadlines for yourself.
It’s great when you can get those big chunks at a time, 2–3 hours or more, to work on decluttering. That is what Marie Kondo recommends: uninterrupted focus. That sounds great, but typically I just don’t have that luxury. And I think that’s ultimately why I gave up. I had elevated my home organization to some holy practice, and there just wasn’t enough space in my life to make it work.
One of the changes I’ve made in my life this year is to simply make home organization and decluttering a daily habit (which I am tracking in my Living Well Planner). Even if I just take five minutes to throw out some expired spices or old mail, that is better than doing nothing. And as Hilary says, few things motivate better than just doing jumping in and doing it! Just do it. Thank you, Nike.
I’d also recommend talking through your plans with a “decluttering buddy.” It’s so much more fun to work on things together and spur one another on. Check out the ever Wiping Noses for Jesus is Legit Facebook Group, where like-minded moms can help each other out!
What are your biggest hurdles when it comes to home organization and how do you think you can get through them? Leave a comment below or on social media, I’d love to hear from you. Happy organizing!