Do you find it difficult to stay organized in a small home?
This week I had a taste of small space living when we took a quick trip to the beach and stayed in a tiny two-bedroom apartment.
We’re talking 600 square feet for 6 people! Sleeping and eating arrangements were tight but we had a blast. I came away with some ideas to share with you on staying organized in a small house.
3 Tips for small house organization
1. Smaller spaces demand just the necessities
A vacation rental is designed with only the necessities. There are no closets full of linens, a spare crockpot or a closet full of games and craft supplies. There are enough dishes for a couple meals and no more. There are a few books to read and 3 or 4 family board games.
You won’t find 20 coffee mugs or 30 forks or knives. These things just aren’t necessary and so you won’t find them in a vacation rental. Extra items would detract from an otherwise pleasant stay.
The owners want their guests to enjoy themselves as much as possible and a big part of that is providing the necessary amenities and comforts of home, but nothing extra that the guests won’t use.
Action item: What do you really use in your day to day life?
If you’re not regularly using those extra coffee mugs or the third set of sheets or the good china (or whatever else), maybe you should let them go. Keeping your house organized will be a lot easier if you free up some extra space by getting rid of some of those things.
==> If you’re squeezed for space in your home, consider parting with some things you don’t use regularly.
2. Smaller spaces require just one activity at a time.
When you’re on vacation and life’s moving a little slower, it’s not so hard to finish one activity before starting the next.
In our little rental apartment, the kitchen was tiny with no dishwasher in sight. If we wanted to use the kitchen table, we had to clean up immediately after meals. So everyone pitched in.
I’m sure the kitchen was clean in less time than it takes us at home and that included hand-washing, drying and putting away all the dishes, pots and pans. It really wasn’t taxing; plus then we didn’t have a messy kitchen to deal with later on.
Action item: slow down and finish one activity before you start the next.
Are you guilty of leaving something out and having to put it away later? Do you kids walk away from one mess just to make another?
This is more a good habit than anything else. You can work on this! Kids can learn – but they won’t do this if you don’t require them to. Barring emergencies, everyone can work to make this a habit.
==> Start telling yourself (and your kids), “Finish what you started” (such a powerful habit!)
3. When you have fewer things, it’s easier to care for them.
We each took 1 pair of shoes with us (except the 3 year old who packed an extra pair of flip-flops!) There was no mountain of shoes to deal with at the door (seriously, the pile of shoes at home is an embarrassment to me and something I plan to better organize soon). If someone couldn’t find a shoe, we had to locate it or we couldn’t go out.
Action item: consider eliminating some of your related and duplicate items
Consider cutting back on:
- shoes (note to self…)
- kids toys
- stuffed animals
- kitchen gadgets and appliances
- sweaters and jackets (1 per person per season is probably plenty)
- bikes, scooters, etc. (again, 1 per person is a nice guideline)
- knick-knacks (less to dust)
- … and the list goes on
If you do have the room to store the extras and you don’t want to part with them, consider removing them from daily circulation. You can bring them out when you need them and they won’t be in your way when you don’t.
These are just suggestions for staying organized in a small space.
I’m not saying this is the only way to stay organized in a small house. Rather if you’re tight on space, these strategies can help free up some much-needed space in your home and make it easier to stay organized and clean up.
One final thought about organization and smaller spaces
If you’ve got kids, please realize that it’s going to be hard work to keep on top of the mess and the clutter. People (especially kids) make messes – it’s part of life. Whether you have a smaller or larger living space doesn’t really change this, it just changes your challenges a bit.
So when you’re working hard on processing paperwork or cleaning up from a meal for the 3rd time that day, it’s OK to feel tired. Being a parent is demanding! But I hope that that also motivates you to continue making changes in your home and habits that help life run more smoothly for you.