8 Tips for "Take Back the House and Get Back to Routines Day"! | From Overwhelmed to Organized: 8 Tips for "Take Back the House and Get Back to Routines Day"!

Monday, January 6, 2014

8 Tips for "Take Back the House and Get Back to Routines Day"!

What?  You've never heard of "Take Back the House and Get Back to Routines" day?  With all the crazy holidays out there, I'm surprised Hallmark hasn't picked up on this one!

I love the holidays and the lack of structure.  It's often a little crazy before and during Christmas with everything that needs to be done and all the gatherings and events to attend.  But around here, the days after Christmas/New Year's were relaxing and fun.

But, I also love structure and routine, and an uncluttered house.  Which is what today's all about!  This morning I'm sharing what I did last night and what I'm doing today, to take back the house and get back into routines.  And along the way I'm sharing 8 tips to help you do the same! 

We had a great 2 weeks off school here!  We had some wonderful Christmas and New Year's celebrations with family and friends.  We played with new toys, games, gadgets, electronics, and puzzles.  We read new books.  We ate brunch a lot instead of regular breakfasts and lunches.  And we had our fair share of pajama days around here.  Not just the kids either.  I'm all for a pajama day during Christmas holidays.  Any day we didn't go anywhere or had anyone over we were in PJ's.  Even the days we were seeing other people, we were in PJ's until the last few minutes :)

But the kids went back to school today... despite their many prayers for a snow day :)  So it was back to our morning routine.  My hubby got a call to go in to work early today, so I was up early.  Which meant I was able to get a good load of caffeine in me before the kids got up.  I'm NOT a morning person but I find I'm much more patient with them when I'm up for awhile before they are.  I get my tea and breakfast and "me" time while it's quiet, and then I'm not as distracted while I'm getting the kids ready for school.

Tip #1:  Get up before your kids so your morning runs smoother

Our morning routine actually started last night... as all good morning routines should :)  I got their backpacks ready with everything that needed to go back to school and cleaned out their lunch bags.

I made sure their homework, library books, indoor shoes, etc. were all packed.  I forgot their indoor shoes last January.  Poor kids had to stay in sock feet all day at school.  Bad mom moment #486, but lesson learned.  Those indoor shoes got packed last night so there was no chance of forgetting them this morning!

Tip #2:  Start your morning routine the night before

Last night I also set out their clothes for today and made sure we had everything we needed for lunches for the next few days.  I also went through each part of our command centre and updated or refreshed it.

I need to get my new Mom's Ultimate calendar {affiliate link} because I got the wrong version for Christmas, and we're still working out our January family goals so I'll update them soon. 

But last night I updated our weekly notes, reviewed the kids' morning routines with them, cleaned out all the file folders on the wall, and filed a few schoolwork pages that came home in December but didn't get filed.

It all made this morning flow better.  The kids are pretty good with their morning routines and knew what they'd have to do this morning.

They remember to do all the upstairs stuff most days.  Except flush that darn toilet.  We let them not flush it during the night so other people don't wake up from it, but why can't they remember to flush it in the morning?

Tip #3:  Establish a morning routine for your kids

Having a morning routine established helps the kids remember what they need to do and make it second nature to them so there's no less complaining and grumbling about what they need to do to get ready for school.

What you include will depend on your kids' ages, but my kids use the toilet, get dressed, brush their teeth, wash their faces, and brush/comb their hair before they come downstairs.

Once they're down, my son gets out the breakfast stuff (bowls, spoons, cups, cereals, milk, and juice) while my daughter feeds the cat.  I make their lunches while they eat.  After they eat they bring their dirty dishes to the sink and I put the breakfast food away.

If everything's done then they have some time to play or watch TV and I can tidy the kitchen.  I've built in some cushion time for when things go wrong.  And thing will go wrong sometimes.  Like spilling milk all over themselves and the floor.  That's always fun.  But it's not as bad if you've built in a little extra time to deal with it, instead of having to suddenly rush to clean up and get out the door on time.

Tip #4:  Build some "cushion" time into your morning routine

I love our morning routines.  We got out of the house this morning on time, with everything required, and without having to rush through anything.  They still were disappointed it wasn't a snow day.  And I kind of wish I could have stayed in my pajamas :)  But it's good to be back into a routine.

The other part of today's unofficial holiday is taking back my house.  We put away all our Christmas decorations this weekend, and it's amazing how much more spacious the house feels today.

We got all our bins packed up by yesterday afternoon.  It was easier than usual because I'd de-cluttered decorations before Christmas and this year we didn't receive as many new Christmas items as we sometimes do.  So there was extra space in most of the bins.  Here they are piled up in my dining room.

{The Christmas ornaments bin (similar to this one) and the Christmas tree bag (similar to this one) are in the living room too.}

It was dinner time by the time we finished packing, and my hubby was tired {he had to work through the holidays... delivering mail and parcels in the ice, snow, and freezing cold... very tiring!}.  So he thought he might just leave the bins there for now, and put them up on the shelf in the garage another day.  Then he saw the weather forecast for the next few days and realized between the extreme cold and the snow and ice, it would not be fun to put these bins away any time soon.

And he might have seen my slightly less than happy face when he said it might be Friday before the bins made it to the garage.  {I tried not to let my disappointment show too much but didn't he know today is take back the house day?!  How can I do that with piles of bins and a giant tree bag in my living and dining rooms?!}

Plus my son loves being big enough to climb up on the big shelf in the garage to help take down the Christmas bins and put them back and he was disappointed that it wasn't going to happen yesterday.

So... my hubby being the great guy he is, bundled up, moved the van out of the driveway, the car out of the garage, and called my son to help put the bins up in the garage.  Love that man :)  And he knows me well!

Here's my son up on top of the big shelf at the back of our garage.  

And here are all the bins back in place!

I love having the house all Christmasy... for about 5-6 weeks.  But the tree takes up a lot of space in our small house, and even though I put away a lot of our everyday decor during the holidays, we have a lot of Christmas decorations, so the house feels a little "busy" during the holidays.  Now that everything's packed away, I feel like the house can breathe a little more again.

But, before it can completely breathe, some cleaning and tidying that needs to be done.  It's amazing what gets left in the wake of un-Christmasing a house {that's a real word right?!}.  Tables that were moved around have to be put back, extension cords need to be put away, tree needles have to be swept up (even from artificial trees!), dishes need to be returned from Christmas celebrations, gifts need to be returned/exchanged, etc.

So my to-do list for today is chock full of tasks to get my house back to "normal".

Tip #5:  Don't worry if you didn't stay on top of cleaning during the holidays - make a plan to get your house clean and tidy this week

I tried to stay on top of some cleaning tasks during the holidays.  My kitchen was a disaster for a few days, but I took care of that as soon as I could.  The bathrooms were used more than usual with the kids and I home so much, but we managed to keep them fairly clean.  And my hubby helped keep our laundry flowing so I just have a load to put away that was dried last night.

What I didn't do during the holidays was a lot of vacuuming or sweeping or floor washing.  We did enough vacuuming to make the house presentable before having guests here for my birthday (just before Christmas).  But with all the decorations, I didn't worry about doing any deep cleaning.  And with all the snow and ice we've had the last few weeks, I didn't wash floors by the front door because they'd just get dirty again right away.

So today, with all the decor gone, and no one home, I can vacuum the house and wash the floors and put everything back where it usually belongs.  I'm taking back my house :)

Tip #6:  Whenever you leave a room, take a few things with you that belong where you're going

I'll be doing lots of returning things to their regular spots today, as things were shifted throughout the house during the holidays.  I have a basket on each floor and as I see things that need to be relocated, I add them to a basket and take it with me when I go to another floor.  Then when I make a return trip I take the empty basket back along with a full basket of items going to the floor I'm heading to.  It saves time and stair climbing.  Although, after all the goodies and treats and special meals I've consumed in the last few weeks I sure could use the calorie burning :)

Tip #7:  De-clutter before holidays so you don't have to do it afterwards.  Mark that on your calendars now so you don't forget next Christmas!  

One thing that usually stresses me out after Christmas is finding "homes" for all the new gifts.  Often when we took down our tree we'd be scrambling to put away lots of gifts that were still hanging out underneath it because we weren't sure where to put them.

But this year, was different!

  • We put our new clothes away in our dressers/closets, which had space in them because we'd de-cluttered clothes before Christmas.  
  • We played with our new games, puzzles, and toys, and then put them away in the games, puzzles, and toys spaces in our house, which had space in them because we'd decluttered toys before Christmas.  {The kids even helped with a lot of this since they now know where their belongings "live"}
  • We watched new DVD's and played new video games and then put them on the entertainment shelves, which had space on them because we'd de-cluttered entertainment before Christmas.

See a pattern?  I can't believe the difference it made to have space to put away new things this year!  My kids are even finally getting the "one-in-one-out" rule... and asked a few times if they had to give away an old toy/book/game/puzzle because they got a new one.  But because we did our de-cluttering before Christmas, they didn't have to!   Happy faces all around :) 

Tip #8:  Put away gifts gradually throughout the holidays to avoid an overwhelming pile afterwards

This year it wasn't even like a full-out "it's time to put away all your Christmas gifts" push.  We just put away a few things every day, as we used them, or as we headed from the main floor to the basement or upstairs.  Much better than the overwhelming feeling of having to put everything away all at once.  There are just a few items in the dining room that we'll be doing something with this week and then they'll be put away too. 

You may not be able to implement all 8 of these tips right now, especially since some of them are things you'll need to do before next Christmas.  But, pin this post, and set reminders in your calendars for mid-November, so you can remember to do them early, which will make "Take Back the House and Get Back to Routines Day" easier next year :)

If you didn't de-clutter before Christmas and you can't find places for gifts received this year, apply the "one-in-one-out" rule now to make room for the new items.  If your home is feeling extra cluttered, you can even purge more so you start establishing de-cluttering habits early in the new year!  {You can even follow my 31 Days Easy of Decluttering series to start off the new year.}

If you've got a busy day today or week ahead, set aside some time each day to follow one of these tips and by the end of the weekend you'll have some routines set up and you'll have taken back your house!

And if you're snowed in or dealing with extreme cold today, enjoy your extended holidays and spending time with your kiddos.  You can take back your house another day :)

Which tip(s) will you use to get back to routines?  How do you take back your house?

Happy "Take Back the House and Get Back to Routines Day"! 

And happy organizing!