green and orange rope baskets side by side on floor with gray wall

Inside: Is your family chronically disorganized and messy? Do they seem to disregard every organizational system you create? It’s time to stop organizing in a way that makes sense to you. Organize in a way that makes sense to them

Have you ever spent hours rearranging and organizing your home only to have it be a disaster the very next day?

You think angrily to yourself, our house could be clean and orderly if everyone else would just get on board.

messy pile of clothes on white with text overly "must have advice for when your disorganized family is driving you crazy"

Perfect Storage Solutions…For Your Habits


That perfect IKEA storage case with drawers – one for each LEGO® color? One child always empties every drawer onto the floor to find what he wants, and they need to be resorted all the time.

The laundry hampers that fit perfectly under the bathroom sink, one for darks, one for lights? Your husband’s clothes still end up on the bathroom floor every day, no matter how often you (kindly) show him the system.

That bench you hunted for all day Saturday, the one for shoes with those adorable, sturdy baskets? Every family member consistently drops their shoes next to it. The baskets sit unused.

You work really hard…for nothing.

You see a need (organization), spend hours on Pinterest to find perfect storage solutions, spend time and money implementing them, and…

They flop almost instantly. What the heck?! It’s an exercise in frustration.

The problem isn’t you, you grumble; it’s all the other people living in the house with you. If only they would change, you could finally have a clean house.

I felt the exact same way…until I read The House That Cleans Itself: 8 Steps to Keep Your Home Twice as Neat in Half the Time.

Related Posts:
The Cheapest, simplest LEGO storage solution
Overwhelmed by Kid’s Artwork? Try this.
How to Stop Obsessing Over a Clean House

Work Smarter, not Harder

Author Mindy Starns Clark spent years trying to get organized. She read every possible book on organization but nothing worked long-term. One day, she realized why the books’ strategies didn’t work for her: they were all written by people to whom cleaning and organization come naturally.

Her book approaches organization and cleaning from the perspective of people like her – or those with family members like her: the naturally disorganized (if that’s you, get the book here, and check out this blog).

Work with their Habits

Oftentimes as moms, we feel an “us vs. them” dynamic, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The home functions much better when everyone is on the same team, designed with everyone’s personalities in mind.

Now, you could waste hours contemplating how to change the disorderly habits of your uncooperative family members. But habits are difficult to change, especially when they’re someone else’s.

Your husband’s habits are pretty much set – there’s no retraining him especially without his full awareness and cooperation. And kids? Well, some have a natural inclination towards order and others just don’t.

Stop wasting time choosing storage solutions that will never work.

Instead, take the time to observe instead, and “design a house that fits the behavior.”

Clark recommends looking at every room from a ladder in order to see things with fresh eyes. While this seemed like a great idea, I opted to be lazy and started discreetly observing my family in action for a few days. With time, I started to see behavior patterns and habits I never noticed before.

You Might Also Like: 5 Easy Steps to an Organized Minimalist Pantry (No Decanting Required)

book shelf with books and decor, with text overlay "the smart way to organize a disorganized family"

Organizing the Disorganized Family

The old me bought baskets and bins impulsively, driven by an intense urge to organize all the clutter. Now, I grit my teeth, muster a little patience. and take the time (sometimes quite a bit) to study the problem before wasting money on a hasty storage solution that won’t work.

Storage Solutions for Your Disorganized Family

Example #1

yellow, red, black and gray legos strewn across floor LEGOs, LEGOs, LEGOs

The Problem: My daughter loves to organize LEGO pieces. My son, on the other hand, searches methodically for unique pieces to craft his ships. Every time my daughter sorts by color, he dumps them all out. Back and forth they go, and everyone tires of constantly cleaning up (and stepping on) them.

The Solution: This beautiful rolling cart I had my eye on? Admittedly a bad choice for my kid’s combined habits. Thankfully, I realized with time that an inexpensive under-the-bed storage container would work much better.

Because the length and height of the container makes the layer of bricks shallow and easy to sift through, the kids never feel the need to dump them to find what they need. The container can also now be moved from room to room easily. Another small container with compartments for the people and accessories meets my daughter’s need to sort and organize.

Related: The Cheapest, Simplest LEGO Storage Solution

Example #2

The Problem: My husband comes home from work every day, takes off his dress shirt and hangs it on the banister at the bottom of the stairs leading to the bedrooms. It doesn’t occur to him to bring it up with him to hang up (literally, the thought doesn’t even cross his mind – I’ve asked).

I get frustrated that his shirts get wrinkled, and either spend time making the extra trip to hang them up or end up having to iron, a task I hate.

cloth and wire laundry hamper on wooden floor

Dirty Clothes…Everywhere

The Solution: Stash extra hangers in the front coat closet, where I can easily hang it up and bring it back to the bedroom at a convenient time.

Example #3

Problem: Laundry baskets fit perfectly in the bedroom closets, tucked away behind closed doors. But the kids constantly drop their clothes in the same spot on the floor at the foot of their bunk bed. I show them repeatedly where the laundry basket, but their habits don’t change.

Solution? Pull the laundry baskets out of the closet and put them at the foot of the bed, exactly where they drop them every day. While I’d prefer the baskets be in the closet, I like when the clothes end up in baskets instead of on the floor. It’s a compromise that I can live with.

Final Thoughts on Organizing a Disorganized Family

It is possible to have a home that works for everyone, saving you time and energy tidying up every day. You just have to get over your stubborn self and work with the rest of the people who live in your house.

It’s not easy! I know, but the more you work with their habits instead of against them, the easier it will be to organize your disorganized family.

While I love the book I mentioned earlier, sometimes you need more in-depth organization help. If that’s you, I highly recommend The Organized Home from Hilary at Pulling Curls.

She walks you through the entire organization process step by step and addresses so many common problems beyond what I’ve mentioned here and offers the best suggestions that actually work!

You can check out her organization course here.

P.S. Organizing clutter isn’t going to get you anywhere. Get a decluttering book from this list and start decluttering today!


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  1. Where has this been all my life? My six-year-old cannot pick anything up to save her life. We have tried every single thing, talked with OT, read every book, and live a minimalist lifestyle to help. Nothing works and it has caused so much stress and anger for me. (My 4-year-old cleans up no problem.) I’ve been debating having one big toy bin instead of a more organized system. I feel like the organized toys invite more play, so I’ve avoided it, but it would make it so much easier. Even if my 6yo won’t pick up, at least it would only take me a few minutes instead of sorting through toys to go into individual bins for half an hour… This is definitely a new way to look at it, I’ll be pondering this for a while. Thank you!

  2. i had to laugh when i read where the husband dropped the clothes on the floor. i was married to one of those guys. his mother cleaned houses – so i know he never did that at home. however, i’m not that tidy now.
    i worked 20 years for a dealership in accounting, raised 2 kids & cleaned our house. it was classified as “women jobs” he never helped with the kids, never paid much attention to them until they were potty trained. he would sit in the car waiting until i came out with the kids, diaper bag, if we were going on a family outing.
    the kids were close in ages and i had a diaper bag big enough to have items they both might need.
    my problem now is health related, still trying to maintain a healthy body with more energy. my house is a mess with neglect, too much stuff, & 3 cats that love to scatter my paper piles. my accounting job is the result of my piles. paying bills/statements in huge filing cabinets – all neat & tidy – doesn’t fit in here. when i do have energy, i tend to do things, that i like to do – not cleaning, organizing stuff without a “home” to go to. i’ve read through many pages of information and following you now. i can only hope! your information is the only one of many blogs that finally made sense to me. 78 yrs old & living on social security. thanks!

    1. Author

      I’m so glad the blog has been helpful Janet!

  3. So true. I have spent my fair share on organizing materials that just don’t work for us. I’ve come to realize that just a large container to put the toys in is better than asking my kids to sort out the little pieces.

    Now, any ideas on a husband that puts his dirty clothes on the floor, right in front of the open clothes hamper??

    1. Author

      lol. the husband dropping clothes in front of the hamper I haven’t figured out with our current house. The bedrooms are tiny, as is the bathroom. Ideally, I would have a hamper in the bathroom because that’s where he tends to drop his clothes. Oh, and the banister is where shirts get hung (but at least it’s not on the floor!). Good grief, maybe I would move the hamper to the exact spot (even if it’s in the middle of the room) to make a point? Annoying for a while, but potentially habit building. You have my sympathies.

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