5 Ways to Get Organized, Deschooling Style

Raise your hand if you think one of the benefits of school is it keeps us organized. If you raised your hand, you aren’t alone. One of the biggest fears and frustrations about homeschooling is the daunting task of staying organized. Here are 5 tips to help you get and stay organized in a deschooled home education.

1. Pick 5 things that are the most important, then let the rest go. One of the problems with homeschooling is we have this idea that we have to do every little thing. And that everything we do has to be in order, on schedule and in compliance with the invisible homeschooling perfect mom criteria. All of this gets overwhelming, and then we either end up giving up altogether, or we kill ourselves trying to keep up. The truth is, very little matters so much that if we didn’t do it, our world would fall apart. And among those things that matter this much, our own fears are usually far worse than the reality of not doing what we “are supposed to.” So, pick 5 things that are the most important to keep organized, and then focus on those 5 things. If the other stuff gets done, excellent. It’s icing.

2. Get everyone involved in the organization program. Often times, homeschooling moms work super hard to get organized, only to have it all messed up by someone who isn’t on the same page about the organization system. When we get everyone involved in organization, we all have a vested interest in keeping things organized. My son’s room was a big mess. When I cleaned it myself, it got unclean again very quickly. At first, my way of getting him involved was to ask him to keep his room clean enough that I could make it to his bed in the middle of night to save him from a fire, without tripping over his toys or slipping on his clothes. He had a vested interest in me saving him in a fire, so he kept a path to his door clean. Then, one day, he had a sleepover with two of his cousins. I told him that his cousins wouldn’t be able to sleep in his room if his room wasn’t clean, and there wasn’t enough room in the living room for them all to fit. He really wanted them to sleep in his room, so he was motivated to clean it. We worked together (actually, that was mostly my husband and my son working together), to make his room more organized so the things on the floor would have a place. Overall, his room has stayed relatively organized, because he was voluntarily involved in the process of getting it together.

3. Make it a game. Instead of being a chore, organizing and cleaning can be a game. It can be any kind of game from “who can find the most Polly Pocket clothes” to “let’s see if we can find anything to sell at the garage sale this weekend ” to “Did you know we still had this?” (it becomes a game of who can find the most off-the-wall thing that we didn’t know we had.) I also make organizing a game for myself as well. My game is, ‘How much of the stuff on my desk can I throw away, give away or put on my husband’s desk?”

4. Have less stuff. The less stuff we have, the less we have to organize. If the idea of being organized is overwhelming, maybe the problem is that there really is too much to have to deal with. Reduce the amount we have to deal with, and suddenly, it becomes easier. Have a garage sale, give away books to the library, or give away to the local charity. If you’re having trouble organizing the “school” stuff in your lives, same thing holds true – maybe you’re doing too much. Do you REALLY need to have every single detail of a child’s learning be recorded? Does it matter exactly how often or how much time is devote to math or science? Are you putting too much importance on numbers and quantities, and how it might look from the outside? If we’re talking about not being organized enough to remember when to go to classes or forgetting about play dates, again, think about doing less, and let the kids help keep track of the stuff that they are interested in. It’s funny how the stuff we really want to do, we don’t have any trouble organizing that.

5. Get away from the house and do enjoyable or relaxing activities. Everything we are doing can seem very overwhelming when we are in the midst of it all. Toys, books, clothes, schedules, have-tos, dishes, everything… all that stuff is in the house. It’s daunting, taunting, and all around annoying. Getting away from the house gives us space to think about what’s really important. It also re-fills our energy tanks, so when we come home, we’re able to see our problems with new eyes, and renewed motivation. If you find that going out makes you tired, and not wanting to do anything when you get home, you still win, because at least while you were out, you didn’t make your house even less organized than it was before.

Everyone has a personal organization style. What’s your style? How do you get organized? What was your bigged issue? Did you figure out a way to get through it? If so, how?

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15 Responses to “5 Ways to Get Organized, Deschooling Style”

  1. candaceclayton100 Says:

    I really love item nimber four. We have been trying to declutter. Well, I have been! I am having a hard time getting my family onboard! Clutter in our homes makes it harder to focus and be productive.

  2. Tasha Says:

    We do a lot of #5 when the homeschool/life clutter starts to get on my nerves. Nothing like a little fresh air and activity to relax me and make me realize that that a little disorganization isn’t going to kill us.

  3. Jessica (Trivium Academy) Says:

    I’m really taking this to heart as I’m re-evaluating everything we’re doing:

    -Why are studying what we are at this time? What is the purpose? What should our goals be and where should our focus be?

    – Do our short-term and long-term goals truly aid each other?
    – Getting rid of “stuff” so that we use what we keep more efficiently.

    Yes, this is on my mind. Thank you for your post! 🙂

  4. Sheri Says:

    Great list Tammy. I don’t know how you manage to take what I’m thinking and just put in a coherent list like that.

    Number 4 is a big one for this family. It doesn’t seem to matter how much I take out – more just keeps coming in.

    It’s harder to manage the flow of stuff when you’re kids are older because they’re buying it themselves. Add a pack rat Hubby into the mix – who still argues that he might someday need his 9th Grade term papers and textbooks – and you get a lot of Mom saying, “Arrrggggg, why do we have so much CR*P!!!!!”

  5. On Living By Learning Says:

    I recently counseled a mom who is considering homeschooling, but is afraid that she isn’t organized enough. I’ll be sure to forward this article to her.

    And, I’m going to take #1 to heart. Really, no one can put maximum effort into everything. Not everything is worth the effort.

  6. Gina Says:

    Thanks for posting this. I had just ask a similar question on a homeschool group I just joined. I’m getting ready to pull my kids from public school to be homeschooled. I was wondering how everyone organized and scheduled there days. I know everyone does things different but maybe something they do, would help me. I do agree less is more.

  7. sunniemom Says:

    On the surface we don’t appear to be a ‘less is more’ family, because we collect scrap metal for recycling, we ‘dumpster dive’ and do free junk hauling (which also mostly ends up being recycled). Our garage is our sorting area. It is almost always full. 😀

    But for our home, we don’t have ‘collections’ of stuff we don’t *use*. My decorating scheme is Rustic Library. :p

    I definitely agree that paring priorities down to about 5 is good. It is amazing what one can accomplish once the necessities are taken of.

    Our educational focus is always on math and language arts. We apply math concepts, critical thinking, and communications skills in our daily lives, and the kids are free to pursue their interests, with me ‘coaching’ them to see the connectivity between subjects like science and history.

    When it comes to keeping the house orderly, we do a 15 minute ‘patrol’ of the house twice a day, the second time before supper. If I have to pick something up so that I can use a table or a chair, it becomes MINE, and I hold it for ransom. 😀

    We haven’t been going out enough lately- I needed that reminder, Tammy. Thanks.

  8. Medieval Affaire » Pre-Spring Clean Up (A Challenge) Says:

    […] “5 Ways to Get Organized…” by TammyT at Just Enough is a great list of things to remember about getting organized. If you’ve been just thinking or like me, dragging your feet, about tidying up, reducing and simplifying, I highly recommend you pop over and give it a read. […]

  9. John McLean Says:

    Tammy, great list this. Well done!

  10. Tammy Says:

    Candice – Decluttering feels good. But kids (and some adults) have an attachment to things that makes it hard to let go. Do you ever watch Clean House?

    Tasha – Totally. I like how you say that a little bit of disorganization isn’t going to kill us. So true, yet so hard sometimes to see.

    Jessica – Short term and long term goal synchronicity – right on!

    Sheri – Is that kind of like the curse of a clean table? Where there is a clean table, stuff will be put upon it.

    On Living by Learning – Organization is probably one of the biggest worries of soon-to-be homescholing parent. Personally, I wonder how school-parents stay organized. I can’t imagine the pressure to make sure everything gets done on time, especially for multiple kids. And especially in elementary school when kids don’t have a concept of planning for the future yet.

    Gina – Thanks for stopping by. It’s a learning process for everyone to find their rhythm. That’s true for school parents too, but since school isn’t really a choice, school parents don’t worry about that part. It’s the same thing, different context.

    sunniemom – I like your 15 min. patrol. A lot can get done in 15 minutes if everyone pitches in!

    John – Thanks! 🙂

  11. candaceclayton100 Says:

    Tammy,
    Yes! I love clean house! My family thinks I am mean and have started to hide things when they see me coming with the collection boxes! But I am harder on myself than I am on them.

  12. tobeme Says:

    Love your tips! Less is so much more and so freeing!

  13. Eric Novak Says:

    Thanks for your submission to the Homeschool Carnival. You can find your post at http://ericnovak.com/?p=145

    Eric Novak

  14. Medieval Affaire » Stage One Complete - Mostly Says:

    […] really have to thank TammyT again for her post about getting organized which started this whole ball rolling.  It’s amazing how something small like a few tips […]

  15. Shawna Says:

    I just posted about this article. You might find it kind of funny as I miss read your original intent, but it lead me to great insights http://thehomeschoolingexperiment.blogspot.com/2008/03/five-things.html


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