Stay ahead of the mess when you have no idea how to apply it to reality.

by Jordan DeWald


Usually when you read an article, you expect the author to be an expert on the topic and provide helpful tips from their knowledge and experience. This isn’t one of those articles! I am probably the last person that should be consulted on organization. I would describe myself as a Type B person who would really like to be a Type A but am very far from it. I want to be different because the mess eventually causes me stress. I appreciate neatness, and everything having its place but haven’t found a way for it to work in my world. I watch Marie Kondo in amazement, but think I might be that person that would make her throw up her hands and lose all her joy.

Maybe you can relate. The organizers make it sound so simple, but you have no idea how to apply it to reality. Surely, I am not alone in this! So, I am taking this article as a learning opportunity and I will take you along with me.

I reached out to Tonya Romer with Neat Freak Texas to see if she could give us some guidance on how to bring order to our homes. I gave her a few questions to work through, and she also shared some philosophies regarding organization. I learned how much organization is really about perception and planning. I tend to feel overwhelmed when tackling projects and Tonya gave several tips that take away that feeling.

What are quick and easy daily tasks that will have a big impact?

Tonya suggested three tasks that could be done daily and will aid in bringing and keeping order in your home. They take place at the beginning and the end of the day, and they all have to do with giving yourself a fresh outlook.

  1. Make your bed right when you get up in the morning. It reduces the appearance of clutter. Your bedroom may have a pile of laundry, or other odds and ends that ended up in the corner. Having a bed that is made gives off a finished look and takes away the nagging feeling of the room being a mess. You simply have a few things to pick up.
  2. Before you go to bed clean the kitchen and pick up the living area. That way you start the day by walking into a clean room and have space in the kitchen on busy mornings to make breakfast or lunches. It takes a little bit of purposeful time in the evening to start your next day off positively.
  3. In the evening, choose 1-2 tasks you wish to accomplish the next day. Keep it realistic and achievable. Tonya gave the example for herself. She did not put grocery shopping and meal prepping for the week on the same date knowing that both are big tasks. This helps to know you have a plan, removing the guilty feelings surrounding the disorganization. It also makes accomplishing that plan possible. Tonya encourages keeping a housekeeping list that lists the task that need to be done weekly, monthly, etc. Once you have done the task, you can mark it off and you are not always wondering what you need to do next. A plan removes the stress.


How do you stay organized or stay ahead of the mess when you have kids in the house?

Several years ago I read what I thought was the perfect illustration of cleaning the house and having kids. “Cleaning the house while children are living there is the same as brushing your teeth while eating Oreos.” That is so true! If you have toddlers that like to “help,” doing things like folding laundry seems like an exercise in futility. Kids like to have their toys in the family living spaces and the primary colors of Lego blocks and hot pink of Barbie don’t often match the living room décor. There are the piles of sports equipment, art projects on the table and the random socks. Oh the socks.

I think we all know about chores and getting them involved in the clean up, even if it ends up in a battle to get socks picked up (someone tell me it isn’t just my house with the sock issue). But what do you do with the stuff?

“Keep it simple,” encourages Tonya. Have a place to put their things so it looks like it belongs. First try to use things you already have. Some ideas are a storage ottoman, a decorative bench with baskets, attractive matching bins or a small chest of drawers. If you are creative, this could be a fun project to repurpose an item and paint it to match your color scheme. The bottom line is this; if everything has a place then it removes the sense of messiness.

If you have young ones who want to “help” well, good luck! Actually if you can have patience through the slower speed of accomplishing the task, you will likely be rewarded with a kid who enjoys and feels empowered in doing those tasks later. My daughter loved to fold clothes with me when she was little. I always had to redo them afterwards and it was harder to have her help me. Now she enjoys folding for me and it is actually useful. One day I caught her “teaching” her doll how to fold a towel.

Those with very young kids, I heard this piece of advice: “Sleep when the baby sleeps. Vacuum when the baby vacuums.” Seriously, this time will be over before you know it, life will resume to normal and the laundry will still keep coming. Savor your time.

What comes first, organizing or tidying?

Consider this scenario: there is a stack of folded towels that need to be put away but the linen closet is disorganized so there isn’t a good spot for the towels. There is a pile of laundry waiting to be washed after the clean laundry is put away, right in front of the linen cabinet. How do you clean up when there isn’t a good place to put things?

Tonya said one doesn’t really come before the other. They go hand in hand. Use the suggestion mentioned already, to plan tasks for the day. Make both organizing a closet and putting away laundry tasks for different days. It takes planning ahead. A laundry pile can be nagging, unless you know it is already planned for the next day and today you have other things to do. The planning ahead removes the stress.

By the way, Tonya’s answer to the scenario was to move the dirty laundry to the laundry room and ignore it for the time. Tackle the linen closet and have a donate box and trash bag. Then you have a place to put the folded towels.

What should I do with sentimental items that I don’t use or rarely use?

We all have things that we just can’t get rid of when we’re cleaning out a garage. Some things hold memories, other things you don’t want to give away because you might need it someday. I am absolutely guilty of the second. The problem is I can’t find it when I need it!

Tonya’s first suggestion is to simply use it! If you have wedding china that is waiting for a special occasion, make a special occasion so it can be used. Repurpose an item in some way to make it useful or have it out to be seen. Tanya has her father-in-law’s military medals on display in a guest room because it is something she is proud to have.

For sentimental items that started with me, they weren’t passed down from other people, I have a rule of thumb: Would my kids want to go through this one day? If the answer is yes, then I store it. If the answer is no, then I will donate or throw away. I have wondered what some of our relatives would say about some of their items that get passed down for generations after they’ve died. Would they think it was nice or think, “why on earth do they still have that?” What if they had an item out of obligation, but hated it, and subsequent generations continued to feel the obligation of keeping it!

Alright, after reading that, does it feel a little less overwhelming to take on the task of tidying and organizing your home? Take it in steps, plan ahead and make it where you mentally feel like you are achieving steps to improving your living condition. Perception goes a long way to making something achievable! If you need a little extra help you can go straight to the source, Tonya Romer. You can visit her website at and even set up a free consultation.

Lets make a goal to do this together. If I can do it, you definitely can. Lets make a goal for the end of the summer to check in and share how the organization process and maintaining the house has gone. Keep an eye on the Local Life Facebook page. This Hopeless Housewife will never be a Domestic Diva but maybe I can be a Getting There Girl.