Tag Archives: organization

Organize and Simplify

Junk_DrawerOne of my New Year’s resolutions was to organize our home, and we got off to a good start this year. As we rearranged our rooms to make our space more useable, we packed up boxes and boxes of stuff (some might call it junk) that we just don’t need right now. Fortunately, we have an extra building we can use for storage, so we put everything out there. I haven’t sorted through anything yet — we just boxed it and stored it.

I’ve learned several things through this process:

1) A house with less stuff is easier to clean. I always knew this, but for the first time in several years, we’re actually putting it into practice. That’s not to say we’ve never gleaned through things before — we’ve given away bags and bags (and bags!) full of toys, clothes, and household items just this past year. But it must not have been enough, because we had so much to pack away as well.

2) We can save money by not having so much stuff. We have spent a lot of money on those things we packed away. Even with store sales and yard sale finds, the money adds up. When I look at all that stuff we aren’t even using, it’s easy to estimate how much it cost — and somewhat disheartening.

3) We don’t need so much stuff!  We are a family of collectors, and we all tend to hang on to things either for sentimental reasons or because we just might need it someday. But we’re functioning just fine without all that stuff, and actually, we’re functioning even better.

So here’s to a new year and an uncluttered house! Now I just have to sort through that building…

The Redemption Box

boxAs part of my constant effort to get our home in order, I have decided to implement an idea I first heard about when I began home schooling. At the time, I was attending a homeschooling conference where educator Inge Cannon was selling a tape set entitled “Finally Organized.”  In it, she recommended a certain method for helping children (and parents!) remember to put away their things: the Redemption Box.

I’ve since misplaced that tape set (hmmm…. sensing part of the problem here), but I do remember the basic premise of the Redemption Box. If someone leaves their personal belongings out of place around the house , the items are placed in the box. Once a week, the child will have the opportunity to “redeem” the items by paying a certain amount for them. We’ve decided to empty the box on Saturdays and have our children pay 10 cents for each item they recover. If it’s an item they need before Saturday (such as a shoe, a school book, etc.), they’ll have to pay 50 cents to get it back early. If it’s an item they don’t really care about (such as a toy, not a school paper!), they can leave it in the box, and it will be given away the next week.

But what if Mom leaves something around?  The kids came up with a good idea for that one. If they find something of mine out of place, they can put it in the box, and in return take one of their items out of the box. That way, they don’t have to pay to get it back on Saturday.

How’s it working? We’ve been using the Redemption Box this past week, and it’s been great!  I don’t have to fuss at people to put their things away anymore — I just throw the items in the box. And as a result, the kids are working a lot harder at picking up their stuff. They’re also helping each other remember to put their things away.

I’m not sure yet what we’ll do with the money I collect, but so far it’s proven to be a good motivator — and the Redemption Box a great organization tool!


I’ve tried a number of different methods of assigning chores to my children, some of which have worked better than others. About a year and a half ago, though, I found a system that has done well for my family. Here’s how we do it:

Each week, I print off a new “chore list” for each child. I list the chores on the paper, with the letters M, T, W, TH, F, SAT, and SUN (representing the days of the week) after each one. As the children complete a particular chore for the day, then, they simply mark off the corresponding letter or letters.

 I like to call the first set of chores our “Good Morning!” chores, though the kids don’t quite agree. But they are easy things to do. Good Morning chores include making their beds, getting dressed and putting pajamas away, brushing hair, bringing dirty clothes to the laundry room, putting away clean clothes that have been folded, and feeding the pets. When everyone is finished, we all sit down for breakfast and devotions.

I wrestled for some time about when the children should complete their chore lists – before school, after school, or in the late afternoon before Dad comes home; after school has worked best with our schedules. So then, when the children are done with their schoolwork, they pull out their lists again and continue on down with jobs such as tidying up various rooms in the house, sweeping outside, folding laundry, and cleaning their bedrooms.

Also included in the after school list is “Put Away the Things in Your Box.” A friend gave me this idea, and it has relieved us of more than a few arguments as we clean. Each child has a box on a bookshelf near our kitchen. As the children clean up their assigned rooms and find toys or books belonging to their siblings, they just pick them up and put them in the appropriate box. No one says anymore, “That’s not mine. I shouldn’t have to pick it up.” Instead, they just put it in the box so the owner can put it away.

All this may sound like I’m an extremely organized homeschool mom with a clean house, but all those who have stopped by can tell you that’s not so. Some days go better than others, some days we’re more disciplined than others, some days the house looks a lot better than others. But at least with the lists, we all know what needs to be done.