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Three Keys to an Organized Home
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Three Keys to an Organized Home

By Cheryl R. Carter
Guest Columnist

CBN.comAs I have struggled to maintain a household, I have discovered that managing a household well involves an understanding of two key elements: inventory and maintenance. Everything we do falls into one of these categories. Inventory items keep the family moving and spontaneous. These items are their needs. Most times these things cannot be delayed without some dire consequence. They include food, clean clothes, etc. I have to feed my children. They need to wear clean underwear. I have to pay the electricity bill, because I need lights. These things simply cannot be delayed or ignored. Maintenance items can be delayed. The kitchen floor may be adhesive, but the family will still function. Your windows may be full of grime, but you can still see out of them. I do not advocate sticky floors or grimy windows but I hope you get my point. Inventory items should be taken care of first in your home. This will free you to address maintenance issues.

One important inventory item is the laundry. This is a job with various steps. Often we neglect to think through the whole process; therefore, we do not complete the laundry in a one-time segment. Reduce the steps you take when doing laundry and you will see what I mean. I hate doing laundry therefore I do it everyday. No, its not some redemptive character building spiritual exercise, I simply hate dealing with the volume of laundry so I try to do it everyday so it does not pile up. With a husband who goes to the gym daily and three active kids, this is actually quite easy for me. Also, get help from others.  Train little ones to sort the laundry and older ones to help. Teenagers should definitely be doing their own laundry. My kids have their own laundry baskets, so they fold and put away their own clothes. We have had only one flood in the basement when the kids wanted to surprise me for Mother’s Day by doing the laundry.

The other area in the home that is of major concern is meal preparation. This too is a multi-faceted task. It involves shopping, planning, preparing and cooking. The time spent in this area also can be reduced. You should only be going to the grocery store once a week or less. This can be easily accomplished with some planning. First, visit the store you frequent the most and write down the items in each aisle. Next, type it up, if possible. Photocopy it. Write your grocery list on it; it will reduce your shopping time. You can post the paper in the kitchen when you notice you are low on an item you can simply write it on the list. This will keep you from running out of items and from going to the store so frequently. It also speeds up the time when you are in the store. You should also write out tentative menus for a week and go shopping for these items at one time. There are so many great cookbooks with simple meals that do not take long to prepare. Take time every Saturday to plan the next week's meals. I try to plan for two weeks worth of meals. Do not forget the kids’ snacks and lunch foods. You can also cook double portions when you cook; freeze the second portion. You may also cook for two weeks, or even a month at a time, if you have the freezer space. Usually I purchase prepared foods when they go on sale. This helps at times.

Paper Management
As I share in my home management workshops, managing the mail saved my marriage…only joking! Seriously, though, every family should have a paper management plan.  You may get colored folders from an Office Supply Store, or Wal-Mart –they have it for only $4.00. It usually goes on sale right after Christmas, which is usually when I replace my worn folders.  Every piece of mail should be placed immediately in one of the following folders, or tossed in the trash immediately! Label your folders as following:

Red:  To Pay
White:  To Do

Yellow:  To Hold
Green:  To File
Blue:  Spouse
Orange:  To Read

Red — Your fiscal folder holds all your bills, which need to be paid. A calendar should be placed inside the folder so that you can see when a particular bill is due.

White — This action folder contains those things you will take immediate action on.

Yellow — This pending folder is to put things on hold and you will eventually use but do not need to be filed away such as a wedding invitation directions, trash schedule, etc.

Green — This filing folder is for all those items that should be filed away at a later date in your household file cabinet.

Blue — The spouse folder is for correspondence relating to your spouse. Now the mail is in one uniform spot for him to read.

Orange — The reading folder is for any mail that will take over ten minutes to read

These are just a few ideas that can help you to run your family more efficiently. Household management involves developing good habits. A habit is something you do without thinking. Good thinking forms good habits. We as moms set the standard for our households with our habits. It is not so important that are homes are spic and span clean but they we are constantly working to improve our home management skills to serve our families.


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Cheryl R. Carter enjoys serving her family. She is the author of Chasing God and the Kids Too, Balancing a Mom’s two Most Important Pursuits (Baker Books 2006). She is also the founder of Organize Your Life, and is committed to helping Christian mothers. Visit for more organizing tips.


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