Mom would always remind me to put my shoes where they belong when I came home from school every day to keep our home tidy. It took some time, but eventually it became a habit.
Putting things back where we found them is something we were taught in kindergarten (tidy-up time). In fact, it’s one of the credos Robert Fulghum shares in his book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.
It’s simple really. Instead of dropping things in random places, to be put away later, if we put things back in the proper places as soon as we are finished using them, our home will always look tidy with hardly any effort. The few seconds it takes to do this is nothing compared to the time it takes to look for something that wasn’t put back in its proper home. We actually save time and feel less stress because we can find things when we need them. So why don’t we do it?
I bet some of you are saying, it’s not me, it’s him (or her). One of the most common things couples fight about is the division of domestic responsibilities. Resentment builds when one partner feels the load is not shared equally. What do you do if one person naturally puts things away while the other leaves things strewn about?
I heard about a woman who was so fed up with her husband’s habit of leaving his stuff lying around, she would pile it all on his side of the bed. He couldn’t get into bed without moving the stuff. Eventually, he learned it was better to put stuff away as he went along. I feel that’s a little extreme. It’s never a good idea for couples to turn their bedroom into a battlefield.
My suggestion is to meet halfway; the neat one could get a little less compulsive in picking up, and the messy one could get a little tidier. Couples need to do this not only to save their own sanity but for the sake of the relationship.
Here are some strategies to make this habit easier to implement:
Assign a Home
Make sure you have assigned proper homes to things (i.e. bills in the ‘to pay‘ tray, keys in the bowl by the entrance). Without that, items will just get moved from pile to pile or get stuffed haphazardly into drawers.
Use ‘Step’ Baskets
If you live in a home with more than one floor, use a basket near the steps. In the basket on the bottom floor, deposit each item that belongs on the second floor. When you are heading upstairs, grab the basket and put away the contents immediately (not tomorrow). You can also keep a basket near the top of the stairs for items that need to go downstairs. Keep the cycle going and swap the baskets out.
Adopting this simple habit of putting things back when you are finished using them will go a long way in maintaining the tidiness of your home with minimal time and effort.