Friday, March 10, 2006

Deniece Schofield: Confessions of a Happily Organized Family

Confessions of a Happily Organized Family by Deniece Schofield is a must-read for any family. This book comes from the experiences Schofield had with getting herself and her family organized, and it is an off-shoot of her original book, Confessions of a Happily Organized Homemaker. Schofield tells her story to readers. She and her husband had four boys. When the boys were getting older, she got pregnant again and was distraught. They were too disorganized to bring a baby back into the picture.

Schofield spent six months getting her family organized, and she is now sharing those ideas with her readers. Confessions begins with a family sit-down. When a family is disorganized, the members must get together and discuss it. If you are a large family, consider using an easel to take notes. Otherwise, just sit back and listen. Talk about what bothers you. Dad may be bothered by the shoes always in the middle of the floor. Mom may be bothered because she cannot ever find the keys. The children may be bothered because they often go to school without their lunches. Listen to everyone and then begin forming a plan of attacks.

Schofield warns against trying too hard in the beginning. Taking on too many new organizing ideas at once will be a disaster. The family will fall apart. Instead look at one thing and fix it. Then move on. Using the examples above, you may want to focus everyone on putting away shoes for a week. It will take some retraining, but you can do it. You could put a key rack near the back door. The children could begin helping get their lunches together the night before school. There are simple ways to fix many organizational problems, Schofield argues. Doing it is the hard part.

The rest of the book includes advice Schofield wants to give families on very specific parts of the house. Her basic principle is the point of first use principle. Put things where they are used first. One funny example is underwear. With four boys, Schofield and her husband were constantly running back and forth to bring someone in the shower underwear because the boys would forget to grab them when they went in. Schofield solved this problem, not by yelling as many parents may do, but by adding a set of drawers in the bathroom. They are opaque so that guests cannot see what is in them, but they have underwear. The underwear are most often used in the bathroom first, so it makes sense to store them there.

Schofield also talks about creating places where you can do tasks and getting multiple items. Some items, such as scissors, are used everywhere. They are used in the bathroom, the bedroom, the office, and the kitchen. They are cheap. Buy four pairs instead of trekking all over the house with them. Making your organizational scheme easy is the key for Schofield.

My family has taken much of her advice. After reading Confessions, my husband and I sat down and determined what we thought needed to change. Our son is too young to participate in the discussions at this point. We looked at several issues and then tried to find out how to solve them. We found that in most cases, Schofield was spot on. We were able to solve problems with just a little work and readjustment.

We also reorganized our home according to the advice Schofield gives. We went through everything, getting rid of items, and then putting the house back together based on her principles. We have adopted some of the tips she gave, such as hanging a tension rod in the doorframe when we are folding laundry. We can put clean laundry there to keep it wrinkle-free and out of the way.

This book really is something that any Mom or Dad who is trying to get the house together should read. Unlike other organizational books, which try to encourage readers to make organization part of their thought process every minute of everyday, Schofield shows how to be organized without having it take over your life. The happy family is organized without knowing it. They keep their things in place so that they can focus on what is important.

By Julia Mercer

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