simple living

10 Organization Tips for Moms Who Want to Live More Simply

When people come into our house, they usually comment on how minimal it feels. They tell me they hope our closets are full of all the stuff I stashed away before they arrived. 🙂

I’m not saying that’s never the case… I mean, we do live with three wild animals er, kids… But generally, our surfaces are clear and our living area straightened.

The thing is, we all have different strengths. I’m the first to admit that I’m not the most creative, go-with-the-flow mom out there. When I visit a friend whose house is full of the evidence of kids and art and a life well lived, I love that friend for it. I usually even wish I were a bit more like that.

But I’ve gotten to know myself over a decade of marriage and motherhood, and I know I’m almost incapable of feeling calm and of engaging with my family when I’m surrounded by clutter.

Years ago I stopped trying to hide from that part of my personality, and my life has been much better for it.

For me, a calm house equals a calm heart equals a calm life. 

And that’s really all I want.

Related: 52 Ways to Simplify Your Life

So today, let’s just imagine that I’ve invited you over to my house {Home Tour here!} and we’re going to exchange all our secrets on how to stay organized so that we can focus more on what really matters to us.

10 Organization Tips for Moms Who Want to Live More Simply

1. Buy less in the first place, so you have less stuff to manage.

For inspiration, read this post on where our donated clothes really go. It created a huge brain shift for me.

2. Designate a permanent place for donation items.

Clear off one shelf and let everyone know what it’s for. This is a great way to make editing your belongings an ongoing part of your life.

3. Maximize over-the-door, task-oriented storage.

Over-the-door storage is possibly my greatest obsession. Backpacks, gift wrap, art supplies—I’ve got it all. I love that these solutions make items so accessible while also keeping them out of sight.

10 Organization Tips for Moms | For women who feel like a calm house equals a calm heart.

4. Charge all of your devices at night—every night.

Small thing, big impact. 🙂 Save yourself the pain of picking up a nearly dead device by charging those devices every night. Consistently.

5. Store shoes next to the door.

The last-minute scramble of “where is your other shoe?!” is far less likely to happen when your family keeps their shoes right inside the door. Ryan and I keep our extra shoes upstairs in our room, but our most frequently worn shoes live in a narrow unit in our entryway, along with all of the kids’ shoes. (They each own tennis shoes, sandals, and church shoes at any given time.)

6. Keep a small laundry basket next to the washer for miscellaneous items like socks and dish towels. 

Especially if your washer and dryer are on a different floor than the bedrooms. This way you do less shuttling, and your laundry room still feels neat.

7. Streamline your makeup routine with smart storage. 

Most of us don’t have an hour to get ready. More like five minutes. If you want to get ready quickly, streamline your beauty products and storage.

I swear by these magnetic makeup organizers that I keep inside the mirrored unit in my bathroom. They let me see everything at a glance, grab what I need, and quickly return them to their places.

Home Organization

8. Buy building / imaginative sets for your kids—and little else.

Train tracks, magnatiles, legos, gears, doll houses, circuit kitsfort-building sets… These are toys your kids will come back to over and over and engage differently with each time.

At our house, we rotate sets in and out of the kids’ closets. They rarely have more than one set out (two if they’re complementary, like wooden blocks and army guys) at a time.

As long as we’re keeping this rule, making beds every school morning, and trying to keep clothes off the floor (our boys need a LOT of reminders on that last one), I don’t sweat having them pick up the floor all the time. They pick up as soon as they’re ready for a different toy set. (Plus, I can always close their door!)

9. Throw no-gift birthday parties for your kids.

We almost never have gift parties; we just don’t need the extra stuff. I also think it takes some of the materialism out of birthdays and reinforces our family’s emphasis on valuing our relationships and experiences over things.

10. Use visual boundaries to your advantage.

If you have more than one floor, keep the majority of kid stuff upstairs, and work on training your kids to do the same. If you have a single step that separates your living areas, show them that step and teach them that toys don’t go beyond it. Visual cues help kids.

I use painter’s tape to tape off the entryway and closet of their bedroom. No toys inside the taped area means I am less likely to step on a lego!

All right, friends! I’ve shared ten of my sanity-savers. What’s one of yours?

I suspect the fact that I crave order is related to the fact that I’m an introvert and a highly sensitive person (which, by the way, is a thing). Order on the outside soothes my need for CALM in all areas of my life. That said, CALM and kids don’t really go together, which is why I’ve created an ecourse for other introverted moms.

If this struggle is especially real for you, I have an ecourse called Talked Out, Touched Out: Learn to Thrive as an Introverted Mom.

You’ll finish the 8-lesson series with more acceptance of who you are and with the tools to help you feel much more calm and centered as an introverted mom!

Our next session will open in the early spring, but until then feel free to grab a PDF of 12 tips for introverted parents—from introverted parents. Just sign up here, and be sure to check the box that says “Printable: 12 Tips for Introverted Parents.” You’ll also be first to know when the course opens again. All the best!

  • Tina @AMindfulFairytale
    February 3, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    I feel the same way about clutter but I am finding it very hard to get away from with a 3.5 year old and a 10 month old. I love the over the door organizer for craft supplies! We also love gift free bday parties!

    • Erica Layne
      February 3, 2016 at 4:39 pm

      Yes! With little ones, it’s super hard. Babies and toddlers just need quite a bit of gear. Burb clothes, blankies, pacifiers, bottles, toys—not to mention the bulkier stuff like strollers and swings and carriers! It DOES get better in some ways at they get older…. But then you trade in the baby gear for paperwork that they bring home from school! 😉

      Man, it’s tough!

      Thanks for the sweet comment, Tina!

  • Rachel T.
    February 3, 2016 at 3:17 pm

    I love seeing these glimpses into your life! The photos. So gorgeous. I wish I could come visit. 🙁 I admire your simplistic way and these are great tips! I love organization.

    • Erica Layne
      February 3, 2016 at 4:42 pm

      Thanks for the nice words about the photos, Rach! I’m trying! 🙂 I want you to visit too. I’m serious about this leave-the-kids thing! I could help buy your ticket! We just need to get Chady-Chad on board!

  • Jules
    February 3, 2016 at 5:12 pm

    Great tips and I was excited to see more pics of your “new” place!
    I too love the shoe door hangers, esp as we move all the time! In my current place my favorite place to put one has been in my pantry- it has really increased my storage space. In my previous place we had one in our bathroom closet that worked out great. I love the idea of using one for arts/crafts things. I’ll have to remember that in case it works in our next place.

    • Erica Layne
      February 4, 2016 at 5:10 pm

      Hi Jules! I was excited when I saw your name pop up! How have you guys been?

  • Katia
    February 4, 2016 at 7:21 am

    Great post, and you have a beautiful home! I follow the ‘one in, one out’ rule to stay on top of children’s toys, clothing and other items. I have been letting go of my old habit of holding on to sentimental items. I do keep one box for special items that my children have made, and my rule is to only keep what can fit into that box. This reminds me to carefully discern what we get to keep and what we give away. Organization is so much easier when we acquire less in the first place! 🙂

    • Erica Layne
      February 4, 2016 at 5:09 pm

      YES, that is a good rule. Definitely makes it a part of your regular walk & talk. Thanks, Katia!

  • Julie @ HappinessSavouredHot
    February 4, 2016 at 11:40 am

    Thank you for this inspiring post! I have been decluttering for a few years (slowly but surely). What makes a real difference now is that I don’t acquire much anymore. Only what we really, really need. When you think of it, that is actually very little stuff.

    • Erica Layne
      February 4, 2016 at 5:06 pm

      Amen to that, Julie! It’s surprising, isn’t it?

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. Good luck (to both of us, really!) on your decluttering journey!

  • Lisa
    February 5, 2016 at 12:38 am

    Great post! I love the visual cues idea. I think my girls would really benefit from that and I wouldn’t have to tell them so many times to not put that there, or please take that back! Thanks!

  • Allison
    February 5, 2016 at 6:52 pm

    What a beautiful home environment you have created. I love your organization tips! Where did you purchase your shoe organizer by the door? I desperately need something slender like that!

    • Erica Layne
      February 9, 2016 at 11:00 am

      Hey Allison! So sorry I’m late getting back to you, but I wanted to say that we inherited the shoe organizer from the previous owner of our townhome, so I’m not much help! I want to say that I’ve seen something just like this at Ikea, though! I do adore its slim profile. Good luck!

  • Amy
    February 9, 2016 at 2:16 pm

    Glad to have come across your blog! Always fun to read about other moms/wives pursuing a life that can answer “why”. Thanks for sharing your story with us!

  • Leigh W.
    February 10, 2016 at 11:09 am

    Erica, you are truly a master at minimalism and keeping your home neat and beautiful. I love the photos–they look straight out of a magazine. I was admiring the shoe organizer, too–I like how it hides the shoes. Our most commonly worn ones are on a shoe rack downstairs, which also works, but hiding them in such a neat storage device looks even better! One really must swim against the flow in this country to keep clutter in check, but you are most definitely succeeding! I feel inspired.

    • Erica Layne
      February 10, 2016 at 1:33 pm

      Girl, you are way too nice. Thanks for making my day! Obviously, the house doesn’t always look that neat, ESPECIALLY the kids’ rooms, but I really love our place. Our years at Scenic Way make me treasure most every second here.

      It’s so fun that we’re both fulfilling the decorating dreams you and I talked about all the time when Chase and Clara were babies. 🙂

      PS. I’m still hoping you make it back to California someday for a visit!

  • Amy
    February 26, 2016 at 3:31 pm

    Wow! I’m really loving your blog. I plan to spend lots of time here learning from you. Thanks for sharing your gifts and talents!

  • Sue
    March 16, 2016 at 6:10 pm

    Once a week trip to the local thrift store to donate SOMETHING, no matter how big or small. This idea came about from my daughter’s gymnastics class taking place exactly 1/2 mile from a thrift store!

    • Erica Layne
      March 17, 2016 at 11:19 pm

      I’m a bit late saying so, but I couldn’t let another day pass without saying—AWESOME! Love that, big or small, donating SOMEthing has just become part of your life.

  • Aimee @ Whispers of Worth
    April 8, 2016 at 3:09 pm

    These are great ideas! I know that charging my phone in the kitchen at night has the added benefit of keeping me from taking it to bed:) I’m going to have to consider how to make better use of the over-the-door storage, and we definitely need a collection bin for donations. It gives the kids a chance to make decisions independently about giving away things they are done with, rather than having me always forcing their hand. Oh, and by the way, I love your living room! Ours is similarly sparse, and I love it that way. With five crazy kids, I need a minimalist room to retreat to:)

    • Erica Layne
      April 10, 2016 at 1:48 pm

      So smart, Aimee!

  • Joy
    January 17, 2017 at 11:19 am

    Hi Erica! What’s that shoe organizer that you use? It looks very sleek compared to the bulky ones I’ve looked at.

    • Erica Layne
      January 23, 2017 at 4:38 pm

      Hi Joy! Sorry it took me a while to get back to you, but I think our shoe organizer is from Ikea. It was here when we moved in. 🙂 I do LOVE how streamlined it is. Obviously we have a very small entryway, so it makes a big difference in saving space.

      Here’s the link to the Ikea one:

      Good luck!

  • MrsD
    January 19, 2017 at 8:42 pm

    Oh my goodness…could you please elaborate on the no gift birthdays. I am over the top overwhelmed with all of the gifts people give my kids. It’s so kind of them….but I’m having trouble with teaching them to be happy with enough when they are showered with toys. I just hate it and people get offended if you tell them not to. Thanks!!

    • Erica Layne
      January 23, 2017 at 4:35 pm

      Hmmm, this isn’t a problem I’ve really run into, MrsD! In my experience the people who really want to bring something do anyway, and we just take it graciously and with gratitude. (Usually off to the side so no one feels bad for not brining something.) Good luck!

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