One year, when my children were young, I encountered the word entropy. “Entropy has often been loosely associated with the amount of order, disorder, and/or chaos in a . . . system.” Rather than delving into the second law of thermodynamics, quantum mechanics, or other such realms, basically what I discovered was that there is a natural drift in science, nature, and pretty much all aspects of life, from order to chaos.
The matchless socks in the bottom of my folding basket are evidence of this.
The opposite of this move toward chaos, is creation. My favorite definition of create is: “To make or produce, by new combinations of matter already created, and by investing these combinations with new forms, constitutions and qualities; to shape and organize” (Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language). In the beginning, God “organized and formed the heavens and the earth” (Abraham 4:1).
To me, keeping an organized home, links me to this divine nature of creating.
I found the best way to keep the external, public areas neat, is by keeping the hidden, behind doors and inside drawers organized. It’s the truth of the old maxim: “A place for everything and everything in its place.” When I know, not only where something goes, but that there is a space reserved for it that has not been claimed by another item, it becomes much easier to put it away.
Here is a simple, 3 step method to a tidy home:
Step 1: Every week, completely declutter and organize one closet, cupboard, or drawer. Be brutal—throw away or send to the thrift store the unnecessary. Resist the urge to save. The longer we keep something, the more sentimental it becomes. Try to be objective. Do you really need that prom dress from decades ago? I’m not saying you have to dump everything that is non-utilitarian (I still have my childhood teddy-bear and my wedding dress), but try to pare down 60% or more of your “keepsakes.”
Help your children choose what to save. I gave mine a file folder for each grade of school. That was their limit. These folders can be kept inside a file box, labeled and stacked neatly in storage. Also, invest in some simple drawer organizers. I have them for my desk drawer, junk drawer, 3 kitchen drawers, and 4 bathroom drawers.
Step 2: Every week, clean out a drawer and cupboard. This is the maintenance phase. Remember, things will tend to move toward chaos. Besides, even the neatest flatware drawer or linen closet occasionally needs to be wiped out. Include in your child’s chore list that they clean and organize one of their drawers each week.
Step 3: Retrain your family. With a place for everything, tossed backpacks and clothes are no longer acceptable. Help them understand the benefits and principles of taking stewardship over their belongings. Be firm with the rules.
I have lived in both: chaos and order. I feel that an organized home is more peaceful. Stress is reduced and I’m rarely overwhelmed by unexpected demands because this aspect of my day to day life runs smoothly.
P.S. I was going to take a picture of my own “junk drawer,” but I just received a call from a sister and I’m dropping everything to run down to see her and go on a once-in-a-lifetime hike tomorrow. My home? Not only will packing at the last minute be possible because I can find everything, but I’ll come home to a organized one.