easier to find . . . easier to put away . . . everything needs a home


Liz Jenkins


Getting used to this tiny house has been a challenge. Any mess we make needs to be picked up promptly or the whole house looks a wreck. On the plus side, the entire place can be thoroughly cleaned in about an hour. I can vacuum nearly the whole thing without changing outlets.
But I have to say that it’s been a good thing – having the mess be so visible makes it clear what needs to be done. And I’m more motivated to get it done because it doesn’t take that long to do and there’s instant gratification when I see how nice it looks.

I think sometimes with many families, the homes are so large and they have so much stuff, that the mess can get overwhelming pretty quickly, especially if the kids (or grown-ups) in the family aren’t trained to put things away after they are done using them. While this can be a real challenge to stay consistent and give clear messages about your standards, the payoff is huge. If each “thing” has a place, and you consistently tell the family members (and assist them if necessary) to put that thing in that place, you get the following:

  • you all know where that thing is when you need it
  • you save time by finding the thing quickly
  • you save time by knowing where the thing belongs and being able to put it away quickly
  • you aren’t tripping over the thing and breaking it

This place where the “thing” belongs should be where the thing gets used the most. For example, storing toilet paper in the bathroom is smart. Storing it down the pantry is not. Keeping keys hanging by the door is smart. Leaving them in various spots around the house is not.

I have found that explaining (albeit repeatedly) to children WHY we put things where they belong is much more effective than just telling them to do it. Kids like a rationale when it is short and simple. As in, “If you put your hats back in the bin, we always know where to find a hat. Isn’t that smart?” and “Look how easy it was to pick up all of the Barbie’s – they all go right in this box. Now you know where they’ll be the next time you want to play with them!” The photo here shows My Little Pony’s, Barbies, and other toys each in their own bin. This concept works not just for kids but for all of us.

Easier to find . . . easier to put away.

Take that extra 30 seconds to place things where they belong. It will save you so much time and so much frustration down the road.