12 Tips To Get The Family On Board When Organizing Your Home

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When a potential client gets in touch with me to organize their space, I always have them fill out an intake form. On this form, they answer general questions like "What space are you looking to organize?" and "What has motivated you to contact me?". These questions, while super helpful, are not as important as the following ones:

"Who lives in your home?"


"Are they on board with having a professional organizer visit?"

Most people will answer "yes" to the second question; their family is totally on board!

Then why is one of my most frequently asked questions:

"How can I get my family on board with keeping our home organized?"

I wanted to be able to answer that question, but I didn't feel that I could adequately do so on my own. Everybody's home is different and their family dynamics are different as well. So, instead of typing out what works for me and giving advice that I think will be helpful, I decided to question the masses.

So I logged into Facebook, Instagram, and Quora and typed up the question above.

The response was overwhelming. I got so many great tips and tricks from people all around the world and from all walks of life. From those answers, I was able to sort them into 12 common themes.

So, here are 12 tips and tricks to get your family on board with organizing!

1. Involve them in the process and be on the same page

This is one mistake that many people make when deciding to organize a shared area in their homes. They don't involve their families! Instead, the organizational system is created and imposed on the other family members.

"In most cases, I believe that compromise and agreement are essential for getting cooperation." - Lewis E., New Jersey.

"We have to recognize not everyone has the same priorities as we do, so filling in each other's edges is the best way to go about it. Asking to keep shared common spaces clean and tidy and letting other areas go might be how you start." - Rebecca H., North Carolina.

(The following contributor is a friend I met through training to be a professional organizer. If you are not familiar with Cassandra Aarssen's Clutterbug theory, I talk about it a little bit here )

"I had each of my kids take the (Clutterbug) test and got them involved in the process. I educated them on the types of systems for their bugs, and I let them choose the products for organizing their bedrooms. They took so much pride in the way they set up their rooms." - Coralie P., British Columbia.

Getting your family involved in creating the system will ensure that it is sustainable.

2. Stay in your lane

In my house, I am the one who does the laundry and, therefore, the folding of said laundry. When I discovered Marie Kondo's way of folding her clothing, I took it upon myself to reorganize everyone's drawers in the house. Including my fiancé's. How kind of me, right?


Within one week, the system I had so generously created for him in his dresser was ruined, and I felt a wave of resentment rush through me. Then it hit me. He doesn't organize the way I do, so why do I expect him to maintain the system he didn't create?

Apparently, I wasn't the only one with this issue.

"For the kids' rooms, I only require that they be clean (no food or drink or trash) and visibly tidy (toys can be out and art projects in progress, but tidy, not strewn around). This means their closets and drawers can be organized however they want (or not), BUT nothing thrown on the floor and beds made." - Jessica B., Florida.

"Once, when my well-intended wife sought to declutter and organize my office, she discarded some incorporation papers and the title of my car, which were an expensive hassle to replace. We now agree that I don't 'organize' her office, and she will not 'organize' mine. Our master bedroom, bath, family room and kitchen/dining areas are all happy compromises." - Lewis E., New Jersey.

"Don't organize what's not yours. Don't mess with your spouse's things without asking, even if you think it's messy. Respect their belongings if they say no. Same with kids." - Tine J., Washington

3. Make it as easy as possible

"The secret is making it easier to be organized than not. Have a large trash can and hamper in each bedroom. Put names on the shelf in the laundry room, where you sort and fold the clean clothes. Have a bin or shelf for each family member. When they come in the door, backpacks, lunch bags, books and papers go there, not the kitchen table or counter." - Maura R., Delaware.

"I show them there is a place for everything. It helps my young kids know where things belong, and they are more likely to place them in the appropriate place" - Jess E., Texas.

"Home for every single thing. Baskets or drawer dividers to organise little things like socks/ panties etc." - Misbah M., United Kingdom

"Not everyone wants to maintain the organization, and the easier you make it for them, the less you have to nag them to keep up on it." - Amy L., Colorado.

4. Make it part of the daily routine

In our home, we have what we call "Opening and Closing Duties." It's a set of dry-erasable checklists on our fridge.

"Kyle" is our robot vacuum, by the way.

Every morning and every evening before bed, we dedicate 20-30 minutes to work together as a family and get the tasks done. Not only have these lists been a game-changer in our home, but making these chores a part of our everyday routine has made it so much easier to get everybody on board.

"In the evening, I find setting a 10-minute timer very helpful. We all do as much as we can." - Coralie P., British Columbia.

5. Make it fun

I think Mary Poppins was onto something when she sang the following words:

"In every job that must be done

There is an element of fun

You find the fun and snap!

The job's a game

And every task you undertake

Becomes a piece of cake."

In other words, the more fun the task, the less tedious it becomes.

Here are some ideas for you:

"Trying to go towards to be done with fun and play in mind, putting music on loud, putting a fun podcast on for you to listen to with your partner, can turn all this into more bonding and fun than dreaded cleaning chores." - Rebecca H., North Carolina.

"Make this process a game for the kids. Time them or if you have more than one child, see who can find the most items to donate or toss." - Alexandra K., Living Simply PGH, Pennsylvania.

6. Focus on each family member's interests and habits

Some of the tasks found on our lists mentioned earlier are feeding the animals and checking the weather by asking Alexa and writing in on the whiteboard. My 5-year-old has taken to doing these tasks because it involves two of her favourite things: Getting love from the cats and dog and talking to the robot in the kitchen.

Tailoring the chores and tasks to each individual's interests makes it fun for them.

"I set up systems that work around my family's habits instead of trying to change their habits. For instance, we take our shoes off outside, but instead of carrying our shoes into the closet right inside the door, we leave them out there. Instead of putting new shoe organizers in the closet, I put a shelf outside the door to hide them and keep them organized. Works like a charm!" - Laurisa C., Arizona

"My kid who loves board games is responsible for the board game closet, the one who likes books for the bookshelves, the one who likes outdoors for outdoor gear, the one who has an interest in cooking helps with the kitchen... The kids who claim to have zero interest get assigned something random (and quickly find they prefer something else!)." - Jessica B., Florida.

"Look at what accumulates, and come up with plans to deal with it immediately before it has a chance to build up." - Maura R., Delaware.

7. Give each family member a catch-all basket

When I read the following response, I was floored! The idea of everyone having a basket that they empty each night is so genius, and yet it is so simple! Why didn't I think of that? I can't wait to incorporate this idea into my own home!

"Each kid has a basket at the foot of the staircase. While cleaning up downstairs, their stuff gets tossed into the respective baskets, and they take them up, empty and return them." - Cici C-N., Alabama.

"Help and take your stuff to your room. Clean up your messes, or lose all your stuff! I have 4 teens, and they help with everything, inside and outside. Makes them appreciate what they have." - Dorothy R., Texas.

If you're looking for catch-all basket inspiration, there are so many ideas on Pinterest! Here's one of my favourite uses from Nanny Goat.

Check out these stair baskets on Amazon Canada!

8. Add visuals to the mix

Many studies and research has been conducted surrounding how we, as humans, interpret information. We process visual data better than any other type. This is why we respond better to lists, clocks, post-it notes, labels, and more when trying to stay organized. Why not incorporate those strategies with our family.

I previously wrote about how labels help keep an organizational system in place by creating unspoken rules.

Here's what others had to say:

"If there is a lot to do, I write a list of chores. We take turns choosing a task, and I write names beside each item. They enjoy checking off each item once complete. Labels are our best friend because when things are tidied, we are all in agreement about where things go." - Coralie P., British Columbia.

"I used to have to become a complete psycho for my family to listen to me and help. Then I tried setting a timer for my girls. Every day, after their 30 minutes of downtime after school, I set a timer for 15-30 minutes (depending on what needs doing), and we put things away, organize, and choose things to clean. The timer helps because they can see an end to all the things they can't stand doing: picking up, organizing, and cleaning." - Lindsey M., Missouri.

9. Lower your standards and allow room for error

As an educator, I have learned over the years that when my students don't succeed at a task, it is usually because my standards were too high and that I was essentially setting them up for failure.

Just as teachers need to differentiate their methods and set their students up for success, I, as a mother and spouse, need to give my family some grace and do whatever I can to help them succeed.

"Lower your standards. If it's not folded correctly, at least it's put away. If it's on the wrong shelf, at least it's not out on the counter. Perfect is the enemy of good. There is no faster way to breed resentment than to nitpick how your family members tidy up." - Tine J., Washington.

Perfect is the enemy of good

"Be flexible, adjusting the plan as needed. For example, kids who can't reach their clean clothes shelf in the laundry room won't be putting it away in their bedroom. Try not to scold too much when the plan fails. Use it as a learning tool." - Maura R., Delaware.

10. Have a list of non-negotiables

Ok. Honesty time. When it comes time for my family and me to undertake our nightly and morning chores, we don't always want to do them.

Shocking. I know.

Some nights we are just too tired.

Some nights the kids are losing their minds, and bedtime can't come soon enough.

Some nights, Mom and Dad have had a little too much to drink. (That Jacob's Creek Moscato just goes down so quickly, I tell ya!)

On those nights, we just do what needs to be done for the home to function and the creatures living inside it to survive another day.

So we always make sure the bottles are washed for the baby the next day, and we make sure the animals are fed, and the plants are watered. All the other items on the list can wait.

Because we are human, and sometimes we need a break!

Though she doesn't have anyone living with her, the following contributor lives by the same rules.

"I live alone, but I am very disorganized and messy. I have a daily to-do list of non-negotiables that I have to do around the house. They include washing the dishes, sweeping, wiping down counters, and picking up items if they're not where they belong." - April S., California.

11. Check-in every now and then to do some tweaking

A functional and sustainable organizational system is like a well-oiled machine, and just like every machine needs a tune-up, it is ideal to revisit your organizational systems every once in a while to make sure they're still serving you and your family.

"Once every two months or so (or when I notice they're having a hard time keeping things tidy), I give them a laundry basket and ask them to put in there anything they don't want anymore, or that doesn't fit them, or that can be tossed." - Jessica B., Florida

"I periodically (at least twice a year) thoroughly declutter and clean their rooms with the kids. We go through each drawer, closet, bin." - Brandy M., Alberta.

12. Do it for yourself, and your family will follow suit

At the end of the day, you have to remind yourself why you want to organize your home in the first place.

Because it brings you joy.

Because it brings you peace.

Because it brings you sanity.

For this contributor, by showing your family how staying organized and having a system in place affects your life, they will naturally start to follow in your footsteps.

"Lead by example. One of the most challenging things for me was to make my husband clean up after himself. I was doing all the cleaning for both of us, and it was really frustrating. That was until I went on a tidying marathon and left nothing out. Once I had accomplished that, I asked him if he liked it and if he did if he would help me keep it that way, and so far, it has helped." - Isabel M., Texas.

So there you have it. I hope that something on this list works for you! Thank you so much to everyone who contributed an answer!

Do you have a tip to get your family on board with organizing? Feel free to leave a comment below!

Happy organizing! You got this!

If this post was helpful, be sure to pin the image below so you can come back to this list when you're ready.

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