Thanks for visiting my blog. Hope you find some helpful hints for organizing your time and space. My passions are to help you make home a refuge instead of a crisis center, and to help you function in peace rather than chaos - at home or at work. I have switched my main blog to 1-2-3 ... Get Organized on WordPress, so please visit me there.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Get Organized Month 2009 - Family Five Minute Challenge

Part of getting organized is setting up sytems that allow you to maintain your organization. One that nourishes my soul is having everyone clean up what they have messed up and pick up what is theirs before going to bed. It is pretty discouraging to me to get up in the morning and be greeted by a messy living area!

A way to make it a fun event is to have a Family Five Minute Challenge. Designate a container for each family member - a basket, a bucket, a shower caddy - have fun with it! During the day your family members can deposit their stuff in their containers.

If by the time you start your evening routine for bedtime, things are still out of place, set the timer for five minutes. Each family member searches the main living areas and drops misplaced items in his/her container.

Then set the timer again, and they take their containers to their rooms and empty them. You'll need to "inspect what you expect" so the items don't end up in a pile, in the closet, or under the bed. The key is to have a home for everything. But that's another topic.

Even your toddler can participate in the Family Five Minute Challenge with a little training and/or help. Because the attention span is so short at that age, I usually did it with my girls. Of course that means I needed to have my stuff cleaned up beforehand!

When our girls were pre-school ages, we did such clean up activities three times a day. Once before lunch/nap, once before dinner, and once before bedtime. Otherwise, it was too overwhelming for them, and I started twitching with the mess. Yes, I know ... your child is supposed to put a toy away when she takes another out. But that doesn't always happen, does it?

Do the same thing for your kids' rooms: set a timer for younger children or a time limit for older ones to declutter and straighten their rooms. By setting aside time each day, it creates a system for maintenance.

If clutter is out of control at your house, have a Family Five Minute Challenge several times each day to help you and and your family get to a manageable state. Designate containers for giveaways, throwaways, stowaways (toys/clothes that are too young for one child until the next child grows into them - label according to age), and/or tradeaways/sell.

Take before and after pictures, to share the sense of accomplishment. Once you get the clutter under control, do something big to celebrate and to reward everyone's hard work!!

To encourage consistent decluttering, reward the person with the least number of items collected each night. It doesn't have to be big, but positive encouragement goes a long way. So much nicer than if we are growling and grumpy!

If there comes a night when everyone's containers are empty because they have gotten into the habit of putting things away (is that a possibility!?!), celebrate by doing something special the next day.

By taking a few minutes each day, clutter doesn't pile up and become overwhelming. And home is inviting and peaceful and calming.

What do you do to keep clutter at a minimum? (If you receive this blog by email and want to comment, this (link will take you back to my blog.)

More on similar topics: Clutter in Your House or Office Means Clutter in Your Mind, Schedule Daily Clean Up Times, Getting Rid of Stuff While Saving the Environment, More Eco-Friendly Recycling, Cash from your Clutter

If you need help in creating a functional and fun room for your child, consider Three Steps to Organizing Your Child's Room (book and ebook).