Get organised
Keep your home tidy – even with kids (and a messy partner) around.
For most of us, a perfectly organised life is a pipedream. And it seems the bigger the family, the more impossible it gets. As a mother of 3 children under 5 years old, I quickly realised that getting organised is no easy task. But it isn’t completely impossible. Let me tell you how:

1. Baby steps: make a plan

Choose a part of your house that you consider the most important and start there. Think about this for a second: If your house is on fire and your family and pets are safe – what would you save next? For most people these are maintenance and memories items and are also the things that we tend to neglect. Are all your financial papers, policies, marriage certificate, birth certificates and will up to date, filed and easily accessible? Are your photos sorted and in albums, or are they stashed in a drawer somewhere?

After you've identified the starting point, you can start doing something about it. Use a lever arch file and plastic sleeves to organise important documents and papers (you cannot take a filing cabinet out of the house in an emergency). I also find a computer and scanner invaluable for back-ups on non-SARS related paperwork and old documents. (Remember that SARS requires us to keep five years' worth of ORIGINAL paperwork, so you can't scan those.)

2.  Use what you have

Getting organised isn't expensive and you don't need special equipment. Empty ice cream containers can be used for pens and pencils, medicine (but keep it locked away nevertheless) and till or bank slips.  Use margarine containers to store erasers, pencil sharpeners and crayons. Empty formula tins are great for puzzles and smaller toys. Use empty Purity jars to store buttons. Use your imagination and you will be able to find a container for virtually everything that clutters your house. And as a bonus, you are using stuff that you would normally throw away!

3.  Delegate
Remember that you can't do everything alone. Get every member of your household involved. Children can help by fetching and sorting, or taking things to a certain room.

4.  Baskets of hope

If the task still seems too daunting, it's time to make some The Baskets of Hope.

The idea is simple: get a basket for every room in your house. Take the baskets to the room that you are going to organise, and put everything that belongs in a different room in a designated basket. Then you just take the baskets to the other rooms and unpack the contents. It might seem like work, but it is much better than running from the dining room table to the study 200 times!

5.  Maintaining order
When (and not if – because you will eventually get it done) your house is organised, the challenge is to keep it that way. You could keep using the basket system – it's much easier than sorting out the dumping area everyday.

As with all things regarding children (and don’t forget husbands), you might have to use some bribing or rewards to maintain your effort. Children can be rewarded with a special treat if they help to keep the house in order. And since most men need some organisational skills too, reward him with a romantic dinner (and whatever goes with it!).

What practical tips do you have to keep your home tidy?

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