Organization for Families

Being a minimalist and having a family works quite well, but just because the family owns less, doesn’t mean the house is a beautiful empty room. With kids running around, there are still shoes, toys and school books all over, it helps to have some organized ways to handle it.
With having 5 kids, we’ve had to come up with ways to make sure things get accomplished.
In General:

  • Have a chore list or chart. There are many methods to doing this. Charts can be posted on the fridge,  rotating each room/each week or have a chore jar.
  • Have the kids do chores and help the first 30 minutes after school. This way mom and dad aren’t overloaded trying to get dinner on the table, pick up the house and help with homework all at the same time.

In the Living Room:

  • Give each child their own toy basket, at the end of the day, they can carry their basket through the house picking up their toys and then they just have to put away their toy basket.
  • Have a shoe shelf by main entrance, where all family members place their shoes. This helps to keep the chemicals out of your home, and keeps the floors clean. (And if they are like my kids, they would leave their shoes by the front door regardless of where you want them!)
  • Have a hook for each person by the main entrance. When they come in the door, they can hang their jacket, purse, hat, etc. on their hook.

In the Kitchen:

  • Have color coded or design coded drinking glasses.
  • Wash dishes after every meal. Always run the dishwasher before bed. Even if that means a partial load. This way, each day is started with all the dishes clean. My kids have dishes as a chore, but they aren’t home to wash them after breakfast and lunch, so I do those dishes. It keeps the kitchen attitude fresh and doesn’t over load the “dish” person at the end of the day.
  • Have only cloth rags and napkins.  This dramatically cuts down on the amount of trash produced. The clear-table person can toss these in the washer after the dinner meal.

In the Bathroom:

  • Have color coded towels and wash them once a week. Have each person use their own towel to dry their hands, this helps spreading germs during cold and flu season.
  • Give each person their own space in a drawer with dividers. They can store their own toothbrush, deodorant, razors, comb, etc. just in their space.

In the Bedroom:

  • Get rid of the “grow in-to” box. Most of us aren’t as diligent about pulling clothes out as we imagine we will be when we set the clothes aside. So in the end we have an abundance of the same size clothes and the hand-me-downs don’t get worn. Either donate them, or take them to a resale shop and use the money earned to purchase the next size needed.

In the Laundry Room:

  • Mark a “dot” on the tags in birth order: Oldest child has 1 dot, 2nd child has 2 dots, 3rd child as 3 dots, etc. If something is passed down, you can just add another dot to the tag. This helps tremendously when husbands help fold clothes!!
  • Wash one load of clothes every day. As soon as it rings, switch the laundry out (hang it to dry or put it in the dryer), when the dryer rings, fold the clothes and put them away. We do this in the evening, so everyone can fold and put away their own clothes- it takes less than 10 minutes.
  • Consider purchasing a combo washer/dryer so it saves time of transferring clothes and if you forget about it there are no mildew smelling clothes.
  • Color code towels/wash clothes for the whole house. Example: White towels/dish rags in the kitchen, blue hand towels/wash cloths in the bathroom, brown wash cloths for cleaning rags.
  • Have a family closet. Some people have extra room in their house and can set aside a spare bedroom as the family closet. A combo washer/dryer is there (often these do not need vents) with racks for hanging clothes. The family can dress there and place their dirty clothes directly into the washer. No more hauling dirty laundry or clean laundry all over the house. The only laundry to put away will be the towels.

In the Garage:

  • Place hooks on the wall or ceiling for bikes to hang on, keeping them off the floor and from falling over.
  • Have a place for garden/yard tools like this corner organizer or hooks on the wall.
  • Refuse to store items in the garage. It should be home to the car, bike, outdoor tools, etc. Not a a place to stash .

About Rachel Jones

Hi there! I’m Rachel Jones, and I founded Nourishing Minimalism in 2012 at the beginning of my minimalist journey. If you're looking for encouragement in your journey, I go live in my FREE Facebook Groups every weekday- feel free to join me there: Nourishing Minimalism Facebook Group


  1. Jeannie Sweeney on March 11, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    Oh, this is great! I am having to contemplate moving the kids into the same room and wondering how to go about getting rid of toys. We just don’t need all of those darn toys and they do nothing but drive me crazy!! I love the idea of simplifying everything down to their own two baskets. So, now I’m really wondering how to keep down on all the gift giving the kids receive throughout the year.. That is where all my toy cluttering is coming from!

    • Anonymous on March 27, 2013 at 11:20 am

      Jeannie, I read an idea recently about how to handle this: each time the kid gets a new toy they have to choose an old toy to donate. I guess if they don’t like the new toy they could always donate that one 🙂

    • chris on October 26, 2014 at 6:51 am

      Ask family members or friends to gift an experience rather than a toy. It could be a day out or an hour in the bowling alley / soft play / or take the child out swimming or walking. This creates a memory that they’ll always remember rather than heaps of toys that get piled in a corner and collect dust.

  2. Rozy Lass on March 11, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    Just a note about cloth napkins. We each have personalized napkin rings and reuse our napkins until they are soiled, depending on our meals that could be one use or they could last all week. Just one little way we save on laundry. Lots of good ideas here. Thanks for sharing.

    • Rachel on March 13, 2013 at 7:25 pm

      Great point Rozy- thanks!

    • WentzKidz on March 26, 2013 at 6:54 pm

      We have napkin clips (made from clothes pins). Everyone has a name. We even have some that say “guest” on them for when we have a friend spend the night. For those family members we see often, we made them their own clip!

  3. Anonymous on March 27, 2013 at 11:21 am

    Love the clothing dot idea!

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