Organizing the Catholic Family
by Rita Davidson
Ahh it’s Spring again and that drive to purge and spring clean is here again! I thought it a good time to revisit this top and share some resources that have worked for me.
When our family started out we had three young girls. Having lived with my parents until then, was more of a blessing than I realized at first. Within a year my father passed away, and as much as I was frustrated living there, I will be forever grateful for the time I had to spend with my dad in his last days.
Moving out into our new home, out of the city was exhilarating to say the least. I mean, it was OURS. The floor, the newly painted walls, the lock on the front door, the view from the window, I mean it was really, really ours. You know that feeling you had when you played ‘house’ as a kid? It just was so real in your mind, the cookies you made and the play kitchen you had then. The smell of dust, tin pans and plastic food. And here we were now as adults standing in our first home, feeling almost like when we were a kid except this was surreal.
It was a huge house by our standards with 50 acres. No basement and no attic, or closets, we didn’t seem to mind. We just settled in and life got started.
Soon after we were expecting again and so when that baby was born, we just made do. One day, we figured we’d add on to the house, but for now it was cozy and life was busy. Years passed and another baby added and more belongings and it started getting more cramped than ever.
I was so desperate by this time, I went through one whole 9 month pregnancy sleeping on the hard floor, no mattress. A sacrifice I made so that St. Joseph would find us a new house. (that’s another story, but let’s just say he did!)
By the time we moved out of there, we had six children and the boys and I were sleeping on the floor.
The last Christmas we spent there, we all slept under the Christmas tree. Literally.
How to Stay on Top of It
Living in such cramped quarters, with many children and two home businesses was a challenge for us. We had two annual book sorts, clothes and toy sorts, just to stay on top of the growing collections we all got. As money was pretty tight, all the kids only had one pair of shoes on average, or one pair of boots. I realized that if we could keep the amount of stuff down, we could manage it better.
Seems like commonsense, yes, but not so easy when most clothing and toys come free and you have the room for them.
A Natural Organizer or Not?
It wasn’t long before I realized that with de-cluttering came Organizing. Just having a home for everything makes things so much easier. But, organizing did not come natural to me. As a kid, my room was a mess, until I got fed up. I watched my own mother struggle with organizing and much of my family too. As I started a family I had a big desire, not to be like this and HAD to get organized. I longed for walls with matching containers and things were you could find them. So, I studied, and studied, and read, and taught myself some ‘habits’ but I still struggle with this today.
I can organize my kitchen pantry, but I have a hard time organizing my bedroom. So, it’s like I have part abilities and part NOT. LOL I once hired a professional organizer and after spending, let’s just say too much money, I had my school room organized. Until my boys took off all the labels on our shelves, It’s been a learning process to say the least!
Now that we live in a much larger house (4500sq feet from 800sq feet!) I have more stuff and had to find more ways to organize a larger house. So I took a few ideas I got from our cramped living and some of the ‘habits’ I learned, to use in our larger house, such as:
- Sorting in General: Sorting only has three destinations.
- 1.To keep (can be storage too)
- 2. To Giveaway
- 3. To Throw out.
- Keeping these three destinations in mind will go a long way to helping you go through any piles.
– Using the Walls: Climb the walls whenever you can, bookcases or shelving will be a big help in keeping things off the floor.
– Having Proper Containers: Its tough, but using the right containers will go a long way to wards helping keep things in order. Measure your area first, before you buy containers, to make sure they will fit.
– Putting ‘like’ with ‘Like’: If your overwhelmed with sorting, take a small corner at a time only. Separate things into ‘like’ piles. Crayons together, blocks together, or shirts together etc. Keep it simple. Once you make progress with your ‘like’ piles, it will make more sense to you.
– Knowing how much room you have, so you know how much to keep: Simply knowing how much room you have for something helps you know if you need to purge more. If you only have one toy box, and you do not want to see them on the floor, then you have to decide, if you can put another box out of the way or if you’ll have to get rid of more toys to fit the box.
– Labels: once you have everything sorted. Label. Go label crazy, but seriously, label everything. This way others know where to put things back, you know where to get things and your chances of staying organized will last.
– Kitchen sorting: Kitchen’s can really get out of hand can’t they? When we did our kitchen renovation, it gave me a chance to purge things. How many plates, cups, dishes, do we really need? So, I put them in categories “like” with ‘like’ then I looked at how much space I would have and purged the rest.
– Sorting clothes: In our house, this easily gets out of control. We used to get a lot of hand-me downs and other free donations and it was tough keeping it under control. So the solution again, put things into categories, how many shirts, how many skirts, pants, socks. Then when you see how much space you have, you can decide how much to keep.
Using alternative containers for clothing and toys: don’t be afraid of using alternative and creative storage ideas.
Some creative ideas I have used:
- Hanging all clothing, instead of folding
- Rolling scarves and keeping them in drawers.
- Using clever places to store, such as under beds, under couches, and chairs if needed. Those containers with lids meant to store under couches and beds are great. If you can’t afford them, cut a box down for now, and use that until you can get some.
- Using bookcases to store clothing rather than dressers. For two of our youngest boys, instead of dressers I put all their clothes on a bookcase. This way I could see them and access them easier. I also have this one bookcase in our laundry room, as these two boys go through clothes too fast. I limit their clothes to fit on this shelf.
- Using practical storage instead of traditional storage. As much as fancy, crafty type solutions to storage might look nice, you might find they more get in your way than solve your problem. Take the ‘pretty’ out to keep it simple.
- Sorting toys and storing them and rotate them to keep them fresh. Instead of purging, sometimes it is good to just rotate. I will be doing this with my next de-clutter session here by keeping some boxes up in storage and taking down only what is needed, then rotate later and see the eyes light up with all those old, forgotten toys!
Find out what kind of organizer you are?
Are you naturally clean and organized without even thinking about it? Naturally organized people are not able to think like someone without this ability. Some are naturally clean, like my son with OCD. He gets annoyed just seeing toys on the floor. Some don’t see it until it’s too late, like me. We are called ‘messies’. (A name with humility for us! )J So, big tip: Don’t take advice from someone who is naturally organized, it won’t work for you! I learned this the hard way after much money spent! *sigh
If you have always been organized, but now find yourself not able to keep up with it any more, take a good look at your health. When my health deteriorated with adrenal fatigue, my house went down fast. It was only as my health improved again that I found I was able to start organizing again. I am now just starting to dig myself out of the mess that accumulated. So, take a good look at your health if organizing is making you overwhelmed. Health plays a very big part in someone not able to organize, purge and sort. Start by read my Health for Catholics Series here.
If your still struggling with being organized and realize you need some extra help, here are some resources I have used that I hope will benefit you as well:
- Online sessions, classes, and forums. All done online, tons of support, and tons of printouts. I would say to be careful with the forums, they are a big time waster if your not careful. But overall great basics here.
Some other books I was recommended, for someone not naturally organized:
- Conquering Chronic Disorganization by Judith Kolberg
- It’s Hard to Make a Difference when you can’t find your keys by Marilyn Paul
- The Organizing Sourcebook by Kathy Waddill
I agree sometimes de-cluttering is really the bigger problem before organizing. Some of us are naturally organized (and a bit OCD. 🙂 ) I wish. Some of us struggle with it all our life. That’s me. 🙂
I hope these few resources will bring you some peace about your own organizing problems. Often we spend way too much time trying to fit into someone else’s idea of what is clean, what is organized.
Give yourself some grace, even God doesn’t expect the impossible! If you have health issues, be sure to take care of those first. And take them seriously! I had a long way to climb back up after my health failed so badly, don’t let that happen to you.
Try to find a happy medium, if your not naturally organized, but your spouse is stressed by your messy corners, try to find a happy medium that is workable for you, but takes some of the stress off of him.
And educate yourself, by reading and learning and in time it will become easier for you to make sense of your life.
What resources have you used to help your family get organized? Share with me here!
©Copyright 2013 Rita Davidson All Rights Reserved.
Rita is a Catholic wife and mother of seven children. Mark is her ever patient husband. She reverted back to the faith when her oldest was making her First Communion. By then, she had completed degrees in Hairdressing and Make up artistry. She went on to receive a degree in Natural Health and another degree in Art. At age 26, Rita suffered a minor stroke. With no lasting effects, this dramatically changed her outlook on life. In 1996, Rita began ‘Little Flowers Family Apostolates’ to reach out to other families with her new found faith, by creating unique Catholic books and resources.. In 1999, she wrote the bestselling, ‘Immodesty; Satan’s Virtue’. She was editor of ‘The Catholic Health Letter’ for 7 years. She has been a homeschooling mom for 20+ years, and has written for various magazines. She is honored that families have trusted her with their questions, needs and concerns over the years. She continues to write and reach out to Catholic families with her husband, Mark and their 4 boys through http://www.LittleFlowersFamilyPress.com