[Contest is closed. Winners are Mindy (comment #42), Bethany (comment #106), and Sandra (comment #131).]
Organized Simplicity

“There is no reason to complicate your family culture just because the culture at large is complicated.” – Tsh Oxenreider

As a somewhat disorganized person, I have been drawn to Tsh Oxenreider’s new book, Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living, from the time I heard the title and saw the crisp, clean cover. Tsh’s website, SimpleMom.net, inspires me to simplify and organize, simplify and organize. It’s a mantra.

In this interview with Tsh, I asked questions that are relevant to my family; I hope they are relevant to yours, too. Leave a comment at the bottom of this post for a chance to win one of three copies of Organized Simplicity!

Interview with Tsh

What suggestions do you have for delegating, motivating, and holding your children accountable in the cleaning of your home?

I’m a big believer is leading my example. My kids are little right now, so my husband and I are mostly the ones molding the world for them. When they see me clean, they want to clean. I like taking advantage of this little stage, when they think it’s fun to clean — I give them a spray bottle of water and a rag, and let them clean cabinet doors and windows.

I also think it’s important to do a little at a time, as we go about life. Every now and then, those day-long cleaning sprees are useful, but since kids tend to have short attention spans, it’s helpful for them to see that if we just do a little all throughout our day, it really doesn’t take too long.

My kids also like lists. So even if it’s a no-brainer, I’ll make lists. Part of their chore list is “put away jammies,” for example. That’s obvious, I think. But it’s not so much for the kids, so they get a kick out of crossing that off the list.

And finally, I need to regularly remember to show them grace, especially since they’re young. They’re not going to fold towels perfectly. They’re not going to naturally think to pick up the clothes off the floor (at least mine don’t…). Holding them accountable for age-appropriate responsibilities means loosening up my expectations and showing them grace. It tells them I know they can do what they’re capable of, but that I don’t expect perfection. I’m not perfect — why should they be?

Some of my children don’t want to part with anything. How can I make it easier for them?

I always make sure I’m setting an example. Am I holding on to things I don’t need also? Secondly, I encourage them to ask the same questions I ask myself — is it beautiful? and is it useful? I take these from the quote from 19th century architect William Morris — “Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” This can mean different things to a kid than to an adult. I need to remind myself that sometimes. My daughter’s rock collection on the window sill is beautiful to her, and since I believe the relationships in our family are more important than a perfect house, I also have to throw out the window my idea of what should stay and what should go.

Lastly, when they’re younger, I help them go through their items and decide whether things stay or go. As they hear me process, the same decision-making hopefully embeds in their minds. “You have seven My Little Ponys, and you don’t really play with this one, so how about we put this in the donate pile, so another kid can have a turn playing with it?”

I tend to have organized cabinets and drawers, but disorganized surfaces. How should I tackle this problem?

You and me both. I think the issue there is more of a time one than a need for organizing skills, because you already have the skills you need — the cabinets and drawers speak for themselves. It’s just a matter of making the time in your daily routine to put up clutter. I’ve found that setting up specific times throughout my day — 20 minutes after lunch; 15 minutes before story time, etc., surfaces slowly but surely start staying more organized.

I also know it’s time to get rid of stuff when not everything has a home. If the reason it’s out in no-man’s-land is because I have no where to put it, then I need to either find a place for it, or it needs to go. If it needs a home, and there’s no room for a home, something else has to go. I can’t defy the laws of physics; I only have so much room for my things.

Project: Simplify

Project SimplifyToday Tsh kicked off Project: Simplify, a five week project for tackling those messy hot spots in your home. The first target is your wardrobe and closet. I was really excited when I read: “Yep — this week we are going to touch every. single. item of clothing in our wardrobe, and make a decision whether it stays or goes.”

I keep a “donate” bag in my closet floor. When I come across items I’m not wearing or that no longer fit, they go in the bag. Actually touching every item of clothing in my closet, however, is huge. It’s a big project, but one I’m determined to tackle.

How to win one of three copies of Organized Simplicity (do one or all, leave a separate comment for each)

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell us where’s your biggest hot spot, that place you can’t keep clean?
  2. Tweet about it!
  3. Share on Facebook.

Giveaway ends on Saturday evening, March 12.

{Disclosure: Book links are affiliate links. Copies provided for review and giveaway.}

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