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The Essence of Family Organizing

Managing shared spaces and shared possessions reflects a great deal about your family life. Often, though, people haven't given much thought to how to do this together. Here are some guidelines that can help your household with managing space and things.

1. Recognize that people get their sense of home in very different ways. For some people, the visual field is very important. What they see communicates their sense of home. Lots of objects around may bother them. Other people are more kinesthetic. They'll get a sense of home from the feeling of being in the space and the texture of the items around them. Talk about what your shared aesthetic is and where you differ. Build on your shared values and make sure that each person has spaces that reflect what really matters to them.

2. Plan your big purchases together, and make sure that you have all identified places for your new things.

3. Regularly give away unused and outgrown belongings together. Create a ritual of giving things away to a cause that matters to you.

4. Discuss and create written guidelines for how you would all like your common spaces to look in terms of amount of stuff versus spaciousness, aesthetic style, standard of cleanliness, and so on.

5. Get off to a good start in the morning by preparing the night before. Make lunch, put out clothing, leave briefcases, cell phones, and knapsacks by the door. Put cereal boxes and bowls on the table. Leave as little as possible to the morning rush.

6. Have a fifteen- to thirty-minute cleanup/get ready time before going to bed. Depending on the ages of children in the household, this could be as early as 7:30 and as late as 10:30. Take turns choosing the cleanup music, then everyone pitches in to put everything away, wipe off counters, and get set up for school and work in the morning.

Not only will these guidelines help you to create a more harmonious home, they can also lead to stronger family bonds, as well as opportunities to put your values into practice. Twice a year, Robin and Ali and their three kids go through the household, purging toys, books, and clothes, collecting and bringing them to the local homeless shelter. They all do their purging at the same time, so it has become a family activity. They know their possessions are going to people in need, reinforcing the family's belief in giving back to the community.


From It's Hard to Make a Difference When You Can't Find Your Keys by Marilyn Paul, Ph.D. Copyright 2003. Used by arrangement with Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

If you'd like to buy this book, click here or on the book cover. Get a 15% discount with the coupon code FENPARENT.

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