the lazy gal’s survival guide to better housekeeping

When someone says the word ‘better housekeeping’, what image comes to mind?

Because this is mine. With a hybrid perfection super mom unattainable nightmare mix of June Cleaver. I guess you could say I have an aversion. I struggle with organization, and I’ve talked about it here for a while…spewed my confessions…shared my plans…but the truth of the matter is, I just haven’t gotten my jazz together.

I have good intentions. 

But this is my reality.

Why yes, that is a drawer chocked full of chargers, birthday streamers, spiderman toys, school notebooks, fundraisers, chargers, home decor and a plethora of STUFF. Has anyone seen my pen? Ten points if you can spy the well-designed wrapper of a chocolate bar.

It is what it is.

I feel like the term ‘housekeeping’ goes beyond just the organization of things. It’s a lifestyle. It’s everything from getting silly cords under control, to parenting tactics with pitching in around the home.

I think my biggest frustration is that I’m a surface cleaner. My home looks great on the outside. There is no clutter. And I have little systems that are semi-working. But as soon as I get my home looking like the photo above this one, I come crashing back down to reality. I’m a prime candidate for a spinoff of Hoarders. They can call it Borderline Surface Cleaning Behind the Scenes Poser Hoarders.

The last time I shared my organization issues, a very well meaning friend shared their condolences. Say what? You’re sorry I’m not organized?

I’m sad to admit that it kind of made me feel bad. I let it make me feel bad. I’ve been feeling downright guilty about it. About not being ‘enough‘ in the land of having-it-togetherness.

You may as well say you’re sorry I’m not perfect. To me, organization has been the unattainable perfection.

I’m living my life. And so are all of you. I hate the word ‘busy.’ The truth of the matter is, we are what we choose to be. And I know it only gets worse. Honestly, I’ve been overwhelmed.

So why am I letting myself feel bad about that? Why should I feel bad about having a disorganized drawer? (dysfunctional pantry, closet crammed full, and crap under my bed?) Guilt. It only complicates the original problem.

And then I realized I was looking at the approach to a well-kept home, in a completely wrong way. A well-kept home is not the equivalent to perfection. Because there is no such thing as a perfect home.

Guilt is no longer driving me to an organized home. Neither is some preconceived notion or unrealistic expectations.

I want to run a smoother household. Creating a beautiful home is more than just a pretty space. It’s about the delicate systems behind it, that keep it running. And right now, our ride is a little bumpy.

It’s a new, definitely ongoing, series starting this fall at The Handmade Home. No, I’m not lazy. But when it comes to organization, I’d rather not be an over achiever. I want the attainable side of it. I think that’s what makes it so intimidating for me, and for others as well. How do we balance every day life, and keep it together? How do we manage what we do, and still pull off being a spouse and parent? What are some practical solutions that I can apply? How do we survive?

Do you really want to see the spaces I probably shouldn’t be showing you?

We’re getting real up in here.

Will you join us on our journey? Here’s my hopes for this series:

1. Systems. It starts with baby steps. This series will have a practical side of easy, peasy simple solutions. From how we deal with homework, easy dinners, and school papers to managing the recycling and changing the sheets.

2. Real overhauls. This will be something that evolves for us over time. But as your family grows, and you stay in the same home, so do your needs for each space. Our home was for sale last winter. We changed our minds, and decided to stay, for many reasons. So we are in the middle of making this work for us. It’s all about utilizing everything to minimize the legobarbiestuffedanimal nightmare to it’s fullest. And some spaces have to change according to our growing needs. From simple baskets, to shelving, etc. We’re diving in.

3. Every day tips. You know what they say about Rome not being built in a day. The simple, not-so-common-sense-to-me ideas. There are some things (believe it or not) that are working. Whether it’s something ridiculous like cleaning light fixtures, or how you get the kids to pitch in. We’ll start here.

I would also love to hear what others use around their own homes. In their own lives. We want to hear all about your own ideas. What works for you? I can’t wait to feature you guys regularly and your wonderful ideas. If you have practical, time saving tips that you’d love to share with us, please shoot an email to [email protected] titled ‘Lazy Gal Housekeeping.’ We’d love to hear!

So please spill the beans. Do you struggle with this? Are you overwhelmed? Would you like to turn your creative ideas into practical solutions for your home? Because I would.

Creating a beautiful home is multi dimensional. It goes beyond just the pretties, and it contains the delicate balance of managing it all. Raising a family and surviving it all.

We hope you enjoy this series, and that we can grow together.

Have an inspired day!

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Responses to the lazy gal’s survival guide to better housekeeping

  1. I love this. I am so proud of the way you are handling this decision to stay instead of upgrade or whatever was the desire behind moving last year. It takes a strong creative enduring person to make your current circumstances the desirable thing. It’s easy to keep making new decisions but just like a good marriage I would suppose (I’m not married so I really can’t say) I would imagine that being able to renew what was once your choice and re-choose it again. LOL well, that sounds wacky but I love the idea of this series and I will be looking forward to each post! Thanks for sharing yourself!

  2. THIS IS WHAT I AM IN DESPERATE NEED OF!!!!! I am so overwhelmed in my chaos that I need a guiding beacon of light to help me through it :) Can’t wait to follow this series. As you said, perfection in organization seems unattainable to me…looking forward to some real goals!

  3. Erin says:

    Omg I need this…I am soooo bad at organization! I just never know where to start! So glad I’m not the only one out there!

  4. Great minds think alike. I was just thinking about sharing some of my tips on my blog too. My biggest pet peeve is not being able to control clutter and piles of unfinished projects at home. I have to finish a baby mobile, paint nursery letters, sew buttons on pants, make pillow cushions, and the list goes on…but instead of finding time to work on projects, I spend it clearing clutter! I have piles of my favorite magazines that I can’t bear to part with, and have started looking up my fave articles and recipes online and pinning them to my pinterest board for future reference. Baby steps is the way to go. Keep us posted and thanks for sharing!

  5. I am so excited that you guys can use this…and that we’re not alone! ha! ;}

  6. I love this post. Know you are not alone, wandering in the world of disorganization. With that said, I am an organizer. I can actually feel it in my bones when things get too out of place; I think I physically shudder and start to mini-convulsive. I need everything to have a home. Everything. And really, that is where it all begins. But you have to want to be organized for it to work. I mean REALLY want it. And has to be taken in baby steps and let it sink in. And everyone in your home has to be on board. Well, at least the adults. Kids will eventually follow by example. My husband does not share the same feeling when it comes to organizing. I have created three spaces for him to drop his work boots after they come off his feet. Do you think he puts them in their home? I tell him, “listen carefully. Don’t you hear them? They are saying PLEASE send us home!”. This tactic has not been successful. :)

  7. We’ve been in our home for close to 15 years and I can finally say that it’s working for us. I used to complain that I didn’t have enough storage, when in reality, I had too much excessive stuff and the spaces were not organized. Love your inspiration for making it work and creating a system. I see how happy Hubs is when he knows where to find something and doesn’t have to ask.

  8. Sara says:

    Oh man, I hear ya. When I know people are coming over I pick up like a mad woman. But don’t open my spare “bedroom” door because it looks like a storage unit. It’s so bad. I hate it. But when I go to try and attempt to get my home organized, decorated how I really want our home to feel (without breaking the bank) and I just overwhelmed, frustrated and it leads me to ease distractions. Very much looking forward to this series :)

  9. I love this!! What a great idea for a series. There are only a couple of homes I have been in that don’t have a clutter problem, and those moms seem to never have time for anything other than housework. I CAN’T LIVE LIKE THAT. But I love to tackle a problem and find a solution.
    Looking forward to the first post!!!

  10. JEN C says:

    I have the hardest time with counter clutter. I have papers, coupons, ads, mail, ect all over every flat surface in my house. I even went out and bought $60 worth of Martha Stewart office desk stuff, because I was convinced that pretty boxes would help. A month later and I think the desk has been clean for all of 2 days.

  11. Kelly K says:

    This is right up my alley! I was just thinking this weekend how my system (or lack of) for cleaning is broken. I have so many things shoved all over, and I don’t have a good filing system for them. Can’t wait to follow your series and hopefully get our house cleaning in check!

  12. Tiffany says:

    Love this idea! We haven’t managed to get the house “under control” since our first little one came along almost eight months ago! I’ve stopped feeling guilty about it (time with her is more important, am I right?), but I’d still like to have a better handle on the cleaning and clutter.

  13. Angie says:

    Totally struggle with this! My home is not even surface clean right now. I am reading a great book though. It is titled Simplicity Parenting by Kim Jon Payne. It is so good…Now to just do it :). Anyway. Thank you for your honesty!

  14. Jessica says:

    I struggle with this too! Most of mine is school related. While my closet and cabinets are organized my desk is a MESS, solely because of all the school stuff! Memos, worksheets, artwork, etc. is taking over!

  15. Kelly says:

    I always wonder at those who are super organized. For me, it seems to be an ever evolving process, like making your home work for the changing needs of your family. What is organized for me one day, evolves into a hot mess over a year with me following the same process I originally set out. I think the hot mess is a stage of life that comes with children. The lack of desire to use my vacuum…well that has always been with me. We can be Martha, but I would rather be a semi sane mother.

  16. emma t says:

    I’m a hoarder, but I do gradually clear out – it’s just I like to sell, give away, reuse etc rather than just burning or chucking like my OH does. Last week my LO and I came back from a week away to find OH had decluttered everything (well, mine and our toddler’s stuff as my OH doesn’t have stuff!…so it’s got me having to move faster…but will be keeping a watch on this as still have drawers, bookshelves, wardrobe to clear out (oh and the craft supplies/baby stuff that is taking over the utility room at the moment!)

  17. Dude says:

    Great blog series. Looking forward to it.

  18. Natalie says:

    I’m not one of nature’s little housekeepers either, but I’m learning to roll with it. What helps me is dealing with how things actually are instead of how I think they should be. For instance, I’m resigned to having about three extra laundry baskets lying around simply because it’s easier to put laundry baskets where I drop my clothes than to constantly try and carry them into the next room. On the other hand – sometimes visual cues help. Stuff your mail into a magazine holder, and when it’s full it’s time to clear it out. You don’t have to deal with it right now, but it gives you a sort of timer as to when it does need dealing with.

    Dishes though. Dishes are my enemy. I can use all the help I can get there.

  19. Bobbi says:

    Oh my goodness girl, I think this is going to be a hot post! Do we all not struggle with this? If you dont, you have been blessed with a God given talent! Thanks for being so transparent to your bloggers, it validates a ton of us as women to hear someone just say it outloud and be honest about how things really are! Ive been reading Lisa Tyrkerst’s new book Unglued(you all would love it) and the one thing that makes me come unglued is a busy week, with a messy house and a tired momma! Thanks again for your honesty Ashley! I love the PERFECTLY IMPERFECT!

  20. Kristen says:

    I feel like this is going to be just for me! I hate organizing. I’m like you in that I will clean up the clutter but don’t open my closets or drawers! Thankfully my husband is an organizer and likes to throw stuff (everything) away to balance out my hoarding, unorganized tendencies! As a SAHM, I have tried to be more organized when it comes to my cleaning routine and meal planning. Both are always a work in progress. Thanks for doing this! Looking forward to it!!

  21. Gloria says:

    I totally see that Olive SInclair wrapper because I just finished a bar of their dark chocolate with sea salt. What do I win? ; )

  22. libbywilko says:

    I would be very interested in this series need all the ideas and tips I can get.

  23. Paula in NH says:

    I’m in! After a summer of unexpected events and a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, I’m ready to get my home back in order.

  24. mary says:

    Thank you! I so need this and my husband would say Amen! I too am a bit of a surface cleaner / hoarder. I think it is hard when you have kids and are also creative in ways that don’t fit neatly into a knitting bag. I look forward to all the practical tips. The only thing that I have done for 4-5 years that still works is a weekly meal swap. Two friends and I swap make dinner for the others each week. One of three nights we each cook and the other families pick it up at 5 on your night to cook. Keeps me from eating out and the dreaded kitchen clean up on the nights they cook. We have narrowed it down to just a main dish which makes it very easy to triple the recipe one night a week.

  25. Clearissa says:

    This is an excellent idea and I look forward to learning with and from you and this series. We could all use a nudge in the right direction. I have an issue with allowing projects to linger. I’m hoping for incentive and suggestions on this and other subjects. Yaaaay, beginning Fall on a positive note!

  26. This sounds fabulous. Organization is something that really needs to be attainable for me. Unless it’s a passion (I know it is for some!) I don’t think most of have hours to dedicate to organizing everything perfectly in our homes. Sure that would be nice, but it’s probably not going to happen for me. I look forward to this series!

  27. Karen says:

    I don’t have many projects on the go at once, then I don’t have to find space for unfinished projects. I organize because I enjoy having a house that works, not one that looks magazine ready. I love to appreciate my house for it’s usefulness, the shelter and comfort it gives us, and the people in it. For me, those things happen more when we are not drowning in stuff. Plus, it’s better for our finances and the environment, our mental health, our productivity…there aren’t really any downsides to buying and consuming less, and there are SO many benefits. It even like to repurpose what I organize with, a covered cardboard box, or a wooden holder that we had for a 5 year old that gets repainted and taken as a desk organizer for my college student. It makes me smile.

  28. Denise says:

    Thank you for being so open and honest! I am so looking forward to this series!!

  29. Lisa says:

    Sooooo ready for this!

  30. colleen from alabama says:

    YIPEEEE! I’m in. This Alabama girl is in need of some purging and organizing! Bring it on.

  31. Mirinda says:

    I am at this moment avoiding cleaning the bathrooms because all I want to do is organize the workroom. Yup- I need some help too!

  32. Sheri says:

    I can hardly wait to follow along. I decided a long time ago to reduce my expectations on housework. I was going to school part time, two kids to shuttle around and a husband who decided he didn’t want anything to do with housework. So I scaled back and decided what was “good enough” for our family. Things might be a bit messy at times or cluttered, but so is our reality. I hope now to get some organization to the house now that I am done school, and maybe my son can follow along and do something about that very messy room, LOL.

  33. Sarah says:

    I can’t wait for this series! I love to organize and purge. Unfortunately, staying organized is not a strength.
    A few things that do work for us-
    We have a dresser in our family room that has a drawer for each kid. We don’t have a mudroom, so this functions as our “go” storage. It has shoes, backpacks and then the accessory drawer. I don’t know about you, but I am always brushing hair as we are heading out the door. I’ve got brushes, hair product and all of the hair goodies that two little girls require in that dresser.

    We do bath time every night before bed. I have two baskets in the bathrrom linen closet- pjs for each of my girls.

    Lastly, we have a seasonal drawer in our laundry room. In the summer, it’s for swimsuits and sunscreen. In the winter, it’s for hats and gloves.

    I am trying a new paper system. As I pick my kids up from school, I pull everything out of their backpacks and put it in file folders IN MY CAR. They are only in preschool, so I don’t have to worry about homework and maybe all of those papers don’t go into the house to someday go to the recycle bin. We shall see!

  34. Gina says:

    Looking forward to this! My main issue is papers including my son’s who is constantly gifting me with his lastest creations or keeping them for himself. And not all his creations fit neatly in a box. Have any ideas on how to store a double length pool noodle that is currently being used as a marble ramp? Or a large fire truck box? Keep in mind we only live in a small 1400 sq. ft. house so not a whole lot of storage area going on.

  35. Oh, how I needed this today! We were planning to sell our house a year ago so we did the “sell your house” purge and sent many boxes of “stuff we could live with out for the next six months” over to my brother-in-law’s basement. Fast forward a year and there is a mold problem in said basement and we now have all 15+ boxes all over our house in various states of unpacked. With my 4yr old’s birthday party on Saturday I’m scrambling to get it all done. The question I ask myself is “where did I have this stuff before we took it out of the house?”. I have no answer for this but enjoyed not having it. So, we are in the same boat, making the same space work harder for us and not against us. I’m looking forward to joining your journey to better spaces that work for you.

  36. Nataliya says:

    OMg, I cant wait to see what comes in this series. I am completely a surface cleaner too. My house has to look perfect, so my closets and drawers suffer. Once every few months I get super motivated to organize, and I start with all my drawers and closets etc, but I have a major problem keeping things organized and staying motivated. I’m so excited you’re starting this!

  37. Natasha says:

    I struggle even with surface cleaning. Just getting the house to LOOK neat would be great. But I’d also really like to work out something that really works for us and help us to keep the house looking and working like it should. We don’t even have kids, so it shouldn’t be as difficult as it is right now.