As our Minnesota days grow shorter and colder, we tend to spend more and more time within the four walls of our homes. Whether you’re someone who survives or thrives during this season, we can all agree with the experts that keeping our home environment orderly and clean does wonders for mental health!
We spoke with local organization expert, Anne Messerli of OrgaANNEizer in Lakeville, Minnesota, to get her insights into how we can better care for our spaces and make them work for US instead of creating work FOR us! It was such a joy to visit with her, and we appreciated her very Montessori perspective on including children in the care of the home environment!
Messerli’s approach to organization was formed in her early years as a single mom, when she quickly realized that if she was going to survive, she had to stay organized. Meal planning, organizing toys, labeling bins, and a policy of putting things away before moving on to the next thing were some of the practices that became lifesavers for her. She says that when everything has a place and everything is in its place, we can be better parents, better employees, and better people.
A mom of a recent high school graduate, Messerli reminds other parents that, “You only have your kids for 18 years, then they are gone!” She says, “When you are organized, your quality and quantity of time are better…life is too short to lose those precious moments with your family.”
Home organization is possible, even with little ones underfoot! Let’s dig into the four main problems when it comes to keeping our homes organized.
The #1 Problem: Too Much Stuff
The number one problem when it comes to disorganized homes is that people have too many possessions: too much stuff. Organizing is much easier once you go through your belongings and remove the things which you do not need or use.
Often, our children’s bedrooms or playrooms are filled to the brim with “things”. When it’s time to search for a particular toy, a favorite shirt, or if it’s time to clean up, too many things overwhelm our children, often resulting in whining or meltdowns.
And, let’s be honest, just like children, adults can be overwhelmed by too many choices. Downsizing will make your (and your child’s) choices and cleanup easier and less stressful, says Messerli.
- Clothing. If you haven’t worn it in 2 years, says Messerli, donate it; if you’ve changed sizes, it is likely time to accept the change and donate those items which no longer fit. (And when you reach your goal size, you can reward yourself with a new wardrobe!)
- Dishes and kitchen items. Do you have duplicates or excessive amounts? For example, if you have 20 cups in your cupboard, is there an occasion where you use all of them? If not, consider downsizing.
- Pause before you buy. Before you make a purchase, consider what you NEED. Messerli also encourages her clients to abide by the rule of “one thing in, one thing out” – meaning, when you bring something into your house, you remove something.
- Sentimental value. There is a place for items that are solely sentimental, and each person has to decide where their guidelines are for how much to keep. However, if you are ready to downsize and are struggling, Messerli suggests taking photos of those treasured items and uploading them to an online photo book creator, where you can add a story to go with the photo. Then, donate or share the items with those in need. This is a wonderful way to keep memories while saving space and decluttering.
Problem #2: Overbooking Your Life
Another problem that many families with young children face is that they are on the go from dawn to dusk: packing lunches, serving breakfast, dropping off kids at school, going to work, picking up kids and shuttling them to after school activities.
Messerli encourages parents to be careful of overbooking their lives and their child’s life. “Decide what commitments you can make and the ones that you are giving priority to, then plan ahead.” Once you’ve decided what commitments are the most important for your family, you can:
- Use a calendar. Put a calendar on your refrigerator or in your home office, as a visual reminder of what needs to be done during your week.
- Plan ahead. Map out your meals. Get in the habit of helping your child pack their sports equipment, dance supplies, and backpacks the night before. Set out outfits the night before (your kids can be involved in this process of choosing and setting them out). Note: more on this below, but eventually, you want your child to take responsibility for these things!
- Prepare your child for transitions. Always give your child time to prepare mentally for transitions. “We are going to leave in thirty minutes. That means in ten minutes we are going to do a clean up time!” It’s also important to plan the cleanup times into your transitions, otherwise you’ll end up leaving a mess, planning to clean it “later”, and we all know how evasive “later” actually is!
A special thanks to Anne Messerli for collaborating with us on this post!
Hi! I’m Anne, an expert in decluttering, organizing, revitalizing and loving your space again! I was a high school Spanish teacher for 19 years and I raised my son as a single parent so there really wasn’t a choice, I had to be organized. I’ve always loved to organize and have a space for everything so when I decided to start my own business in the middle of a pandemic, it was a labor of love for sure! The fact that I get to help people is really what it’s all about for me. From decluttering, organizing and helping my clients use systems to keep their spaces organized, the process is fun, exciting and heartfelt. I also know how important family is so when your space is organized, you have more time for you and your family! The passion I have for organizing is seen in my client’s homes, lives and hearts. Let me know how I can help you orgANNEize your space. And always remember, an orgANNEized space is a happy place! Anne can be found at https://www.organneizer.com/