Tips for Tidying

Messy room

Messy room

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Tidying is my #1 most important home task.  As soon as I moved into my first home, I started making it a priority and I’ve done so ever since.  After Bible reading, it’s always the first item on my list, followed closely by sweep and/or vacuum.  I can get by with a lot less cleaning if my #1 and #2 chores are done daily.

to do list

At this stage in my life, my house doesn’t get quite as messy as it used to – except when the grandkids are here.  Then it gets pretty awful!  Thankfully I have a good system in place to deal with the chaos the little kids leave behind.

But sometimes, even with my system, I get a bit overwhelmed by the mess.  For example, this morning.  The house had gotten out of control while I was sick.  I hadn’t been doing more than the bare minimum for at least four or five days and it showed.  That’s probably why Ivy’s room overwhelmed me.  It really didn’t look any worse than usual, but combined with the rest of the house, it was just too much for that moment.

So I took a deep breath, entered the room and started following my “tidying when overwhelmed” rules:

Pick something really easy. In this case, I started with the stuffed animals.  We keep those in a bookcase in her room.  I gathered them and put them back.  I didn’t bother making them perfect because I knew as soon as Ivy got back from school, she’d be getting them out again.  So I just put them on the shelves.

stuffed animalsThat leads to rule #2. Do the amount of tidying that’s beneficial for the situation.  If you know it’s going to get messed up again, like within a few hours, don’t be too picky about how you arrange things – just get them picked up.  If the room/area will be untouched for days or weeks, take a little more time – if you have it.  In the case of Ivy’s room, she was coming back so I did the bare minimum.

Continue choosing easy tasks by category. Put away the stuffed animals.  Put away the books.  Put away the lego’s.Then start tackling the harder stuff that has a home. I found the pieces to Ivy’s medical kit and put them in the top drawer of her nightstand.  She always knows where to find the medical kit because that’s always where we put it.  I put the doll clothes and doll blankets in the top drawer of the other nightstand.Then tackle the hard stuff. I’m talking about the things that don’t necessarily have a home.  Do those last when you’re less overwhelmed.  In the case of Ivy’s room, I tossed them into the various containers she has in her room because I knew she was going to get them out again.



medical kit

medical kit

Look around and see if anything else needs done to make the room look good. In this case, I made the bed and dumped the trash.


Was the room perfect? No.  But I told you why – she was going to mess it up again in a few hours.  Did I feel better about the room?  Oh, yes!!!

Anytime you feel overwhelmed by an untidy room, whether it’s a bedroom, the kitchen or the living room, these steps can help you get started.  They’ll work for any room.  If you only choose one step, it should be #1 – start with the easy stuff.  Usually a lot of it is easy and once you get started, you won’t have any trouble with the rest.

What are your strategies for tidying a REALLY untidy room?   Do you ever feel overwhelmed?

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Born in Kentucky, I am a wife and mom to 1 son and 2 daughters . I have an ink pen obsession, as well as a love for all things planner. I have been married for 10 years to my high school crush. I am a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

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10 thoughts on “Tips for Tidying

  1. I get completely overwhelmed because my kids’ room (like every other room) is really small and we don’t have enough storage space, so there’s not a designated home for everything and I don’t know where to put things away. Over the summer I cleared out about 10 big garbage bags of stuff from my kids’ room (trash and charity), gave them boxes to put their things into and put onto shelves. That worked for a couple of weeks but now for some reason they don’t seem to know where things should go anymore! So most things end up on the floor, as usual. I’m terrible at putting away (I never know where to put anything!) so I’m not much help to them, unfortunately!

    1. That is a very big problem, Laurie -not having adequate storage space. I’m going to think on that and see what I can come up with. There has to be a solution – besides getting rid of everything or moving to a bigger house. Lots of people live in small spaces and do okay. We’ll figure it out so you don’t lose your mind!

      I do notice, though, that I do the same thing. If something doesn’t have a home, I just stick it SOMEWHERE. If it has a home, I usually put it there. Since we’re remodeling this house and everything keeps changing, I don’t have homes for everything and it absolutely drives me nuts!!! I feel your pain.

  2. Patty, Believe it or not, I have 3 piano’s in my living room and i NEED to find new homes for 2 of them! They are in good condition and I play them when the grandkids come over but that’s rare. I’ve called Keys 4 Kids to come and pick them up but so far that hasn’t happened…so I’m just asking if you know anyone who wants one. You might have more contacts with young moms than I do!! 🙂 anyway I do hope they can be a blessing to someone!

  3. That bed looks just like my daughters bed, animals and all! Thank you for this post. Often I am very overwhelmed by my little hurricanes messy room. The strategies sound like such a better way than I normally do it. I think I’ll go give it a try.

    1. Brittany – they really do work. I use them every time I clean Ivy’s room up. I use them on the living room, too, after the kids have been here. Sometimes I’m able to keep things picked up while the kids are here but sometimes I just give up. So when they leave – oh, boy! But the strategies outlined in this post make clean-up a breeze.

  4. I get overwhelmed by all the junk. We’ve been married for two years, and in those two years, we’ve combined our households, and then moved once. He’s a bit of a ‘saver,’ and doesn’t really like me to go through too much stuff without him around… because I tend to dump. We really just need to take a weekend and go through the storage bins and organize and get rid of stuff, but that hasn’t happened yet. Too many other projects! So for now, if I don’t know what something is or where it does, I put it in my “Zeke” pile. At least then he knows where to look for it!

    1. I like that – “Zeke pile”.

      It’s definitely more complicated when one is a saver and one is a tosser. Both of us are tossers but David’s more of a tosser than I am. I like to keep some stuff but he’d toss it all!!!

      If you wait for a “weekend”, you’ll probably never do it. You’re better off doing it in 15 minutes increments or even an hour – just doing what you can and then stopping until the next opportunity. It’s not so overwhelming that way, too.

  5. My whole house is like this. We have one 19″ linen closet. That’s it. I keep saying I need to reduce the volume of our house contents by at least 1/3. I can’t tidy or handle clutter if my life depended on it, so we live very slobby, I hate to say. I’m working on my front room right now. Purging, purging is the name of the game. I try to use aslobcomesclean’s rules. Do the easy stuff first. then, “Where would I look for this?” and go put it there this instant. then, “If I needed this, would it ever occur to me I have this?” if yes, then keep, if no, then get rid of it.

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