Oh Give Me a Home…

A tried-and-true way to save time, cut frustration, and have a tidier home.
©istock.com/CarlaNichiata

How many hours do you spend every day moving your possessions from one place to another?  How much time do you spend searching for misplaced items—either yours or those of someone else in the family?

Everyone needs a home. And every item in your house—all 300,000 of them1—needs a home, too. One of the most effective organizational actions we can take is to follow Grandma’s advice: “A place for everything, and everything in its place.”

Think about it: we seldom misplace silverware or frying pans. This is because they have assigned “homes” in our kitchens. Most of us can find our toothbrushes before bed each night—they reside in a cupboard or on a counter in our bathroom.

But what about all of those other things that constantly keep disappearing? What about your car keys, Hubby’s reading glasses, Son’s sneakers, or Daughter’s math workbook? Unlike cookware and dishes, these are items that are used in more than one place, so without an assigned home, trying to find them is an ongoing battle.

Do They Have a Home?

Take some time to think about articles that are often misplaced or simply left out to be put away by someone else. Do these items actually have a home where they belong when not in use? Or are they currently just floaters?

Think about it: we seldom misplace silverware or frying pans. This is because they have assigned “homes” in our kitchens. Most of us can find our toothbrushes before bed each night—they reside in a cupboard or on a counter in our bathroom.

Marcia Washburn

Articles that don’t have homes will usually be left sitting around someplace, lost in a pile with other homeless outcasts. They clutter up your kitchen counter, your desk, or almost any other flat surface, making the house look messy and aggravating whoever is searching for them.

Round Up the Strays

Every possession in your house needs a home. Begin rounding up the strays and place them in a box. Decide the most logical home for each item and let the family know what its new address is.

Here are a few tips and ideas:

  • Put each of your children in charge of certain items until they know where each one belongs. Teach them to pick up hitchhikers when moving from one room to another. A hitchhiker is an item that is resting someplace besides its home address. They can deposit the misplaced items in the proper place as they pass by.
  • If you use an item in several rooms, consider purchasing duplicates. An example would be bathroom cleaning supplies; keep a set in each bathroom. If there is a wastebasket in each room, family members are less likely to leave trash on tables or on the floor.
  • One woman’s husband could never find his reading glasses although he bought them in six-packs at the big box store. Tiring of helping him search for them, she established homes for them in several locations—his desk, next to the couch, and near his bed. Whenever she found his glasses anyplace else, they always went to one of these three homes, cutting their search and rescue times in half.

Don’t Give an Inch!

Perhaps you’ve noticed that one stray magazine left on a coffee table soon multiplies to ten. Move items to their homes as soon as you notice that they are out of place. If you don’t do this, they will proliferate.

Spend a few minutes assigning a home address to each of your floaters and you will save many minutes of frustrated searching, as well as having a tidier home.


1According to professional organizer Regina Lark. Quoted in the LA Times by Mary Macvean. (http://articles.latimes.com/2014/mar/21/health/la-he-keeping-stuff-20140322)


Marcia Washburn

Marcia K. Washburn homeschooled five sons for nineteen years and lived to tell about it. Request your free copy of her Mommy Tips: Strategies for Survival from marcia@marciawashburn.com. Visit her website at MarciaWashburn.com.


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