The year 2020 has been overwhelming for parents as they juggle remote learning, working from home, trying not to contract COVID-19 and taking care of their family’s mental health in this time of emotional hardship and behavioral regression. So the idea of keeping the home tidy and organized on top of all that may seem laughable at times.
But the women behind the popular home organizing company The Home Edit say that investing even a small amount of time on this endeavor can go a long way toward keeping families sane.
“First, acknowledge this is a challenging time, almost an impossible period in most people’s lives right now,” Home Edit co-founder Joanna Teplin told HuffPost while promoting the company’s partnership with Philips Sonicare’s electric toothbrushes. “People are trying to balance work and kids and home and trying not to get sick and not expose others. It’s just a lot for everybody. So I think acknowledging it and feeling like you have the right to be overwhelmed is the first step.”
Once you’ve acknowledged and validated those feelings, you can move on to smaller tasks that might make things a little easier day-to-day, she added.
“If you can steal away one or two hours on a Saturday or Sunday as kind of self-care to get some systems in place, I think that can go a really long way while we are in this crazy period,” Teplin explained. “Setting up even the smallest of systems, even something that takes only 10 or 15 minutes, can really go a long way. I think it really bodes well for your mental being to feel like you have something together.”
The other Home Edit co-founder, Clea Shearer, echoed that sentiment, noting that the work you put in at the front end can pay off “tenfold.” She pointed to the parents who are working from home with kids in remote school who are all at the same dining room table.
“There are a lot of moving parts there, but even just having a rolling cart you can put all the school supplies on and then roll away at the end of the day to reclaim your dining table makes a world of difference,” Shearer said. “That one little thing is a small system but can be massive. Even if you aren’t on our obsessive level, no one likes to look at a cluttered dining room table. It doesn’t feel good when you’re living in a mess, and I think right now, more than ever, people want some order and calm in their home.”
The organizers suggested starting small when it comes to tidying up your home and creating systems.
“Don’t just rip everything out of your closet!” Shearer cautioned. “A bathroom is a great place to start. Or even just a bathroom drawer. I think that’s super manageable because the categories are relatively consistent ― dental care, eye care, face care, whatever you have ― so it’s pretty easy to wrap your head around.”
The Home Edit process involves four steps: edit, categorize, contain and maintain. If you have a bathroom drawer you’d like to organize, they advised taking everything out of the drawer and deciding which items you want to actively put back in the drawer.
“Edit out the things you don’t use, love or need,” Teplin said. “Then you go to the organizational step ― creating categories and containing them, maybe with drawer dividers, and placing them back in the drawer.”
Once you’ve tackled these self-contained spots and followed the process from start to finish, you’ll have a sense of how long it takes to do a small space and what would go into a bigger project. Shearer offered more advice for tackling the bathroom as a whole.
“It’s really critical in a bathroom to corral your daily items ― your toothpaste, floss, cotton rounds, toothbrush. Have those things together in one spot, whether it’s a daily drawer, a daily bin underneath the bathroom sink, a medicine cabinet or a countertop solution,” she said. “It just helps for the efficiency of your day. I have a bin where I separate my AM skin care from my PM skin care. It starts the day off on a positive note when I’m not rummaging through a drawer or knocking over things to get to something else.”
The items you don’t use on a daily basis are what they refer to as “the backstock” or “ancillary supply” ― like extra lenses, extra floss, face masks, etc. It’s best to organize those things separately from the daily items.
The Home Edit ladies said they don’t like clutter on the bathroom counter, so they only allow hand soap and their electric toothbrushes, which can sit on a charging stand and have protective caps for hygiene. Shearer also puts a little basket with folded washcloths on her children’s bathroom counter because the kids tend to make a mess in the sink area.
“I don’t know what they’re doing to get toothpaste literally everywhere,” she joked. “I imagine they just have a mouthful of toothpaste they spit at the mirror. I’m not clear on that. But whatever they’re doing, they need to clean it up. It’s just a common courtesy, and I don’t think it’s an unreasonable expectation to make wiping down the countertop and sink part of their routine.”
They encouraged fellow parents to implement similar small measures into their kids’ routines.
“Joanna and I always say you can’t fight the tide,” Shearer said. “If you clearly see this is a pattern that’s developing, you’re probably not going to change the pattern, so you put a system in place to counteract the pattern. If you see consistently that kids walk in the house and put their shoes down and their bag down in the same spot, you’re probably not going to get rid of that habit, but what you do is place a basket right there, and they put it in the basket.”
Shearer and Teplin believe the coronavirus pandemic has opened more people’s eyes to the power of home organizing.
“We were all racing around so much before, but now we have to be in our physical homes so much more than we’ve ever been,” Shearer said. “I think that a lot of people are realizing they have to change their relationship with home. They need to put some systems in place, get their home to work for them and function at a higher level. And I think people are organizing their own homes to bring some calm and order right now. I think it’s refreshing to them, it invigorates them.”
Teplin added that home organizing can feel “addicting” as people see the returns they can get from even a small amount of time on a small space.
“It’s a form of self-care and really paves the way for your day,” she said. “From our own lives and what we see in our clients’ lives, we see a link between organizing and mental health.”
After their Netflix show, “Get Organized With The Home Edit,” premiered in September, the duo gained more than 2 million new Instagram followers in less than two weeks. They said they’re grateful and excited to see so many new people discover and embrace their approach to home organizing. Shearer noted that they also look up to their fellow home organizing wizards, particularly Marie Kondo.
“Marie Kondo is such a hero to us in a lot of ways, and she’s definitely more spiritually connected to the process and so zen about everything, whereas Joanna and I are like ‘Ahh!!’ when we come in,” she joked.
“I apologize to everyone for all the screams in the show because we just get very excited about it,” Shearer added. “But I think what we love so much about organizing is how much the energy in our clients changes when their space is completed and organized. We’re not that peaceful, but we hope to create some peaceful spaces.”