Institute in Basic Life Principles

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How can I maintain an orderly home?

In the Muddle of a Mess
keys for organizing the home

The house was a mess. The kids had made toy creations with the babysitter the night before, and now they were strung from one end of the house to the other, awaiting my admiration. The girls’ new Christmas dolls had joined us for school and were sitting in their basket beds, lined up on the couch. The breakfast dishes just didn’t get done before it was time to start school that morning, and they were all piled up in the kitchen. To top it all off, I had decided to help lower the electric bill by not using our clothes dryer, so the wet laundry hung in front of the wood stove. School was in full swing, and each child’s schoolwork was spread out around her. In short, the house was in confusion!

Suddenly, an unexpected ring of the doorbell interrupted our concentration. Thinking it to be a neighbor at the door, I casually went to answer the bell. I had good relationships with all my neighbors and had no problem letting them in to see the mess. We all knew each other and had seen each other’s homes in many different states, from remodeling to immaculate and everything in between.

When I opened the door, my heart sank. Standing there in the cold fog were smiling strangers. These strangers turned out to be some of my husband’s relatives who happened to be in town and had decided to stop by for a short visit. I was trapped—there was nothing I could do but invite my unexpected guests into our chaotic living room and make the best of the situation…dangling laundry and all!

Help Needed!

Like most people, I prefer to live in an orderly, organized environment. However, I am not a natural organizer, and I had to work to establish order in my home.

Before my husband and I had children, keeping our home neat was no problem. Even after our first child, I still had things under control. By working at keeping things neat, I could maintain the level of order that I liked. After our second and third daughters came along in close succession, orderliness became more of a challenge. No longer did I have extra time on my hands to spend cleaning, and no longer could I sweep through the house and have it clean in a short period of time. The methods of house cleaning and organization that I had grown up with were no longer working as well for me, and I couldn’t keep up with things.

A few years later, we acquired a much-appreciated larger house and received our fourth blessing—another daughter. I now also had two daughters being home schooled, which further complicated my household tasks. I started praying and searching for help.

One day someone shared a house-cleaning system with the ladies at our church. Several of us tried this system and found that it streamlined the house cleaning chores. With this system working so well, it caused me to think that there must also be a more efficient way of organizing closets, cupboards, and time, etc.

Developing a System

I discovered organizational books and began reading them to gather ideas and get help. I combed the libraries, reading every book I could find on the subject. Little by little, I began to implement different tips in our home. Some of them worked and others did not, but gradually I began to develop a system of organization in our home.

It wasn’t easy, and it didn’t happen overnight. It was something we all had to work at, and we had many old habits to break and new ones to learn. It took time to get my closets to the point where putting things away in the proper place was easy to do. It took time to develop both a cleaning and organizing routine. However, God was faithful to lead us. One habit and routine at a time, we settled into a system that allowed our home to stay neat and orderly.

To our joy, we discovered that once we organized the closets and cupboards efficiently and developed correct habits, our routine maintenance for keeping things neat and tidy took only a few minutes. My interest in organizational books has developed into a small library, and my early attempts at an orderly way of housekeeping have blossomed into a schedule of cleaning and organizing that keeps our house neat.

Two Keys to Organization

Because God has been so merciful, embarrassing moments like the one above are rare, and He has given us good success. However, we do still have our days! I would love to say the story of our unexpected visit from relatives is an example of what our home was like before we were organized. Truthfully though, that event occurred well after God brought His answers to my dilemma, and I had let things slide. God is faithful to bring reminders of my weakness and of the need to be faithful in the little things. Letting a little slide soon leads to big chaos. Organization requires diligence, and no system is a once and for all “fix.”

In the end, organization isn’t about making your home picture-perfect. It’s not about being ready for the unexpected relatives who drop in at any hour of the day and avoiding the embarrassment of displaying your family’s laundry in front of them. Instead, being organized is about two things: depending on the Lord for His strength and answers, and then receiving and implementing those answers one step at a time.

Related Command of Christ

This testimony illustrates the command of Christ to Receive God’s Power. (See Luke 11:13 and 24:49.) When Fayrene sought God’s direction for gaining workable ideas and received His grace to implement them one at a time, she found the keys to organizing her home.

About the Author

Dana and Fayrene Dickey live in northern California. They have four daughters, three of whom are married.


The views expressed and information given in this article are those of the author and are not necessarily those of IBLP.

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Alex T

Oh, man, i have been there! i wait and i wait and i think, "i'll get to that room soon." and then my in-laws drop in for lunch. ouch. your suggestion is a good one: take it one tip at a time. we have implemented a simple set of rules for daily and weekly cleaning. it's amazing what a few minutes each day can do for the tidiness of the home. thanks for the article.

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