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Ask The Organizer: 6 Tips to Get Your Family On Board

Earlier this month, I posed the question, Is Your Family On Board?. Your answers were kind of a “mixed bag” but many of you responded that it was difficult to get your family members to meet your organizing expectations.

So today, I’m excited to read Andrea’s tips to get our families “on board” when it comes to keeping our homes organized.

In my own family and in my experience helping many families to get {and stay} more organized, there is usually one person in the family who is more organized than everyone else.

If that one person is you, I know how frustrating it can be to get your family on board with your cleaning and organizing standards. But it’s not impossible! Yes, it might take a decent amount of effort on your part, but the results will be worth it once you are no longer doing all the work around the house.

Here are a few things to think about as you encourage your family to “get on board”.

1. Do it yourself.

This might go without saying, but if you expect your family to put their dirty dishes in the dishwasher, hang their clothes in the closet, put their papers away, and clean up after themselves; you will first have to do these things yourself.

Your kids aren’t going to eat vegetables if you refuse to eat them; so why would you expect them to be neat and organized if you are a complete slob?

Before you even venture down through the rest of these steps, make sure you are willing to do everything you’re asking your family members to do… otherwise I can guarantee it won’t work!

2. Ask them to do it.

I learned very early on that unless I ask for something to get done, it probably won’t. Even if the clothes are folded and sitting at the end of the bed, your kids might not realize that the clothes should be put away — unless you ask them to do it.

If your family members aren’t naturally clean and organized, their brains don’t constantly think “what can I do next” — so we need to ask them {and make sure to ask nicely!}

3. Show them how to do it.

If your family members have never had to fold their clothes, clean the bathroom, or load the dishwasher, there’s a pretty good chance they won’t intuitively know how to do it. So after you ask them to do it, show them how to do it — especially if you have a specific way of doing it.

If you like the socks folded a certain way — show them. If you want the dishwasher loaded in a specific way — show them. If you want them to unload their backpacks into a specified location — show them.

And yes, you might have to show them more than once, but just keep at it! Over time, and with persistence on your part, these things will become second nature.

4. Let them do it.

One of the main reasons to get your family on board is to alleviate some of your responsibilities and the need to do everything around your house, right? So once you’ve asked them to do something and showed them how to do it, then back off and let them do it!

I realize that your children might not fold the laundry as nicely as you would or clean the bathroom as thoroughly as you would, but at least they’re doing it. Once you know they are capable of doing what you ask, don’t hoover around, watching to make sure they do it perfectly.

If they do mess up a little, it’s okay to correct them after the fact, or “remind” them of how they should be doing it; however, they won’t learn unless you actually let them do it on their own.

5. Make it fun to do it.

No, I don’t think every chore has to be fun — but I do think that by making some of these organizing chores a little more fun, your family will be much more likely to participate.

If you want your children to put their dirty laundry in the clothes basket instead of on the floor, try putting the clothes basket under a basketball hoop so they can “shoot” their clothes into the hamper! Or encourage family members to keep the bathroom neat and organized by letting each person pick out a brightly colored bin to store their items in.

I’m also not above giving rewards for a job well done. Encourage your children to get rid of 25 toys by allowing them to pick one new toy or let them have a special treat or do something fun once they’ve accomplished their chores.

6. Thank them for doing it.

I know we don’t always get thanked or praised every time we clean and organize something around our house, but I’ve witnessed first hand that a simple “thank-you” goes a long way when you’re trying to get your family on board.

By implementing these simple tips, there’s a good chance that {over time} your family members will “get on board” with your organizing efforts and thus, alleviate some of your responsibilities. Yes, I realize some of you might be thinking these steps could never work — but would it hurt to at least give them a try?

At the very least, you’ll give your family a taste of what you do every day, and hopefully teach them a few new skills in the process!

How do you get your family on board?

Andrea Dekker is a wife, mom, blogger, organizer, speaker, and founder of Simple Organized Living. Her goal is to motivate and encourage others to “create their best life” through simplicity and organization.


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  • Beth says:

    I especially agree with asking and showing – these two things have helped tremendously around my house. I realized I can’t expect the other members of my family to do something unless they know I want them to do it and they know how to do it. Also, a thank you for even the little things goes a long way in encouraging repeat behaviors!
    I found over time my husband got on board with cleaning and organizing because he realized how nice it was to have an uncluttered, clean, organized space to relax in. HE is the one that can’t go to bed with dirty dishes in the sink now! Sometimes it just takes awhile for others to realize how nice a clean organized space is. Once they realize, they are much more likely to pitch in!

  • Ashley says:

    I struggle the most with #1 and that is what I’m currently working on. I certainly can’t expect my kids to keep their rooms clean when mine is always a mess or put their shoes/coats away as soon as we get home when I just throw my stuff on the couch.

    I also struggle with being okay with things not done up to my standards. My daughter has started to clean the kids bathroom and I’ve showed her how to do it and I let her do it by herself and I’m having to learn to just get over the fact that it is never as clean as I would like it. She does seem to be improving though.

  • rkessler says:

    Thank you for the suggestions. When I read the list they made alot of sense. I live in a household with only my husband, it doesn’t have to be only for children. I can also see setting an example for him.

  • Heather says:

    My kids are ages 2-9. I tried to help them see consequences. Just last night, one asked if there was any dessert. I told them no, and pointed out that no one had been very helpful when I asked for help weeding earlier in the afternoon. On the flip side, if they are extra helpful with chores, I try to make the effort to do something like make a dessert or take them to the park, so that they can see that everyone working together gives us all more time for fun.

  • #4 is/was my biggest problem. I realize that when I correct what my husband does (while he is doing it, no less) he just gives up. He has told me that when I go behind him to “fix it”, he feels like he can’t win.

    When I stopped “fixing it” so much, he started helping more. I still have to work on it, but what the organizer says it true, at least it is getting done.

  • BethB says:

    My husband and I have spent a lot of time talking about what kind of environment we want our home to be (as well as what kind of life we want – I do think they’re related). How we want to utilize our space, funcationality and organization, the basic feel of our house. Having this in mind keeps us intentional about what we bring in and purge. My husband is a designer/ usability expert so he’s really good at this kind of thinking.

    Also, a great deal of understanding for the other person’s needs. My husband collects comic books and action figures. The former takes up a great deal of room. While I’m not crazy about it I’ve learned to Let Go of certain expectations (yes, there is a Transformer displayed in my living room and super heroes in my bedroom) out of respect for him. So then when I do say something bothers me, like having a pile of white cardboard comic boxes in the corner of my bedroom, he’s willing to find a solution we can both live with.

  • That first step is so so so necessary. I know from my own personally experience when I tried to get my children to eat veggies and they would refuse. One day I decided my health needed to get back on track fast so I started eating A LOT of fruits and veggies. From that point on I haven’t had problems with getting the kids to eat them too and they’ll eat it raw!

    I like the one about making it fun too. I need to work on this one.

    I’ve also found that if there is a good routine in the home then the kids will automatically know when to clean up and be organized. For example since they know when it’s time to do our chores in the morning and when it’s time to fold clothes they’re so much more likely to help me than if they have no idea what’s next.

  • Abra says:

    Great suggestions, Andrea! Thank you so much!

  • Jennifer says:

    I like that you included “showing them more than once”. As moms we all feel like broken records a lot of the time, but I have been pleasantly surprised as of late that many of my “broken record” things have become second nature to the kids. For instance, putting their clothes in the dirty laundry hamper. They now strip down in the bathroom and toss them straight in, rather than on the floor NEXT to the hamper. It seemed to take forever (three months for a 4-year-old is forever) but they’ve got it!

    We’re a bit proponent of chore charts and I am finding that about every two months or so I can change the chores – what used to be on the chore chart as a tick-off-the-list item is now an expectation and no longer needs to be on the chart.

    Now, if only the same were true of my hubby…. 🙂

  • Leading by example is a big one in our family. If we could have a place for everything, I think it would make a huge difference. Team work.

  • lizajane says:

    I think the “thank you” is sooooo important. I just think how I feel when my boss thanks me at work for something or my husband thanks me for something. It doesn’t even have to be anything out of the ordinary or special that I’ve done, it still just plain feels GOOD to have someone thank you. And then it makes you more willing to help out again because you feel appreciated!

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