RULE #1: DON'T FORGET YOUR FIRST PRIORITIES!
Before we plunge into to my Top 10 list for getting organized, I need to start with a little disclaimer: I have not always been organized, and to this day I am not always organized. This is not an area of my life that I have mastered, nor does it always come naturally to me. I’m actually a messy person by nature. It has been a learning process for me, especially as we have added more kids to our family. Let’s just say that I’ve had to break A LOT of bad habits to get organized. So, I guess you can say I’m a bit of an oxymoron: I’m a messy, but organized person.
I do feel like God has given me an excitement about being organized. I get a little giddy when I put labels on bins or on binders. And you don’t want me to get me started on how happy my pantry makes me when it’s in order. I love the feeling of having a space clean and organized. It’s often hard to get it that way, and it’s even harder to keep it that way.
Let me start by defining what organization is not. Being organized does not mean that you have to have a perfect home, sterile and clean at all times. Clean is good, but dust bunnies and crumbs on the floor happen. It’s also important to understand that an organized home looks different for every family.
I want people to feel at home in my house. I don’t want piles to distract from my ability to minister to people. But I also don’t want my house to make others feel inadequate. Sometimes we can bless others by allowing our homes to be real and looked lived in.
Getting organized allows time for other things, namely family time. I find when I’m more organized I’m able to better maximize my time with my family. Also, the more organized I am the less time I waste scrambling around before guests arrive–decreasing stress and chaos. I guess I could just forego having people ever set foot in my house, but where’s the fun in that.
My goal in organizing my home is to create a welcoming atmosphere of love, joy & peace. It can often take the other six fruits of the Spirit to accomplish this: patience (with myself and my family as I try to conquer the clutter), kindness (to others as getting organized and staying that way can be frustrating at times), goodness (trying to make good choices), faithfulness (to get things done even when I don’t feel like it), gentleness (not turning into a crazed, obsessive person during this process), and self-control (to not allow other distractions to stand in the way of my first priorities). I want my home to be a place where my husband and kids choose to be. & this finally leads me to my #1 rule:
RULE #1: DON'T FORGET YOUR FIRST PRIORITIES!!
In our home we have a family mission statement called:
The 4F’s = Faith, Family, Friends & Fellowman
This helps us to quickly prioritize things. After God, my family is my first priority! This rule can quickly be applied when it comes to organizing. Although creating an organized home is important, my family is more important. So, if I find myself snapping at the kids for making a mess, removing a label or not putting things away properly, then I’ve missed the point (and I need more of the fruit of patience). I also don’t want to neglect my family for a well ordered home. Some times it’s okay to leave the piles for later and have fun with the kids.
This is not an excuse for laziness (foreshadowing to Rule #4). At some point we do need to make time to get on top of the chaos.
One book that has really encouraged me in my homemaking is Elizabeth George’s A Mom After God’s Own Heart. In it she uses a great example of numbering your priorities, and then making choices about things based on your number system. So, if you think of God #1, Hubby #2, Kids #3, Family #4, Friends #5, etc. (be sure to include yourself in there somewhere), then it’s easier to know how to respond when things happen. So, if your hubby (#2) comes home while you are on the phone with a friend (#5), you should consider finishing your conversation quickly to be with him. You probably noticed the priority of our hubbies comes before our kids. This is really hard, but it is God’s design. If you really want to bless your kids, keep your marriage strong & your hubby happy.
A big priority crusher in this day and age is OVER SCHEDULING!! Nothing creates more chaos in the home than a overly busy schedule. There are obviously busy seasons in life. However, these days it seems to be a trend to over-schedule our kids and over-commit ourselves. If you are spending more time in your car shuttling people from one thing to the next or not finding time for regular meals at the table as a family, then I’d encourage you to re-evaluate your schedule. THIS IS VERY HARD! I hate saying “no” to things. It has been a very hard process for our family as we pulled out of ministries, sports and other involvements to make sure we had time for our family. Ministries and other service opportunities are a great way to serve the Lord and others, but God wants your family to be your #1 ministry! This doesn’t get you out of serving. Serving others is good, but not if you are constantly sacrificing family time.
There are a lot of good things out there to do. But we have to think beyond what is good to what is best.
When it all comes down to it, I think we all understand that it’s important to prioritize our lives. And this may seem like I’ve taken a turn from organizing your house, but what is really important is getting your “house” in order first.
“As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15
“A wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands.” Proverbs 14: 1