Three Magic Words for Constant Tidiness

Hey there. It’s been a while. And yet this is still going to be short and simple so you can get back to being the glue that holds your family together.

Today I want to introduce you to a rule of thumb a wise mom of eight (yes, eight) shared with me that helps her keep order in a house full of ten peoples’ things.

Ready for Laura’s family’s rule (or reminder, or way of life, or whatever)?

Here it is:


Three magical words that essentially mean “don’t put your crap down somewhere only to pick it up later to put it where you should’ve put it the first time.”

Or something to that effect. (“Crap” is an affectionate term in our house that encompasses anything from school paperwork to clothes, toys, backpacks, dishes, etc.) Think about the cumulative time that could be saved if a family internalized and followed these words. If you don’t want to think about it, just know this–it’s a lot.

So, naturally it follows that if your family adopts the “touch it once” mentality, your home will be a crap-free haven because everything will be promptly put in its rightful place after each use.

I hope you laughed.

I did.

That would definitely be ideal, but if you and your kids are like me and mine, it won’t go like that. As parents, we’ll make ourselves insane expecting perfection.

But what if introducing your family to that phrase, spouting it off consistently, and even making a few visual reminders in your trouble spots could make the “crap” situation in your home better than it is now? Even just a little bit better?

I’ve been throwing these words around since I heard about them over six years ago, but have recently used them more than usual with one son in particular, in regards to how much time he spends attacking his cluttered bedroom.

I personally don’t make my kids clean or pick up their rooms everyday. I’m cool letting them get as messy and gross as possible…until Saturday. Then, as part of their family team “Expectables” (as described in our book), they’re required to get those rooms whipped back into shape so they can sense the difference between how it feels to live in a disaster, versus live in a tidy room.

I’ve told my kids a hundred times that if they just “touch it once” and put something away rather than down, they will never ever have to use their precious time on Saturday to tidy up their room. It’ll be in a constant state of tidiness. A few of my kids have this “touch it once” rule figured out when it comes to their bedrooms–it takes them roughly thirty seconds to straighten their room each Saturday. Then, I of course have a couple other kids that need…more practice.

It dawned on me today that my one son in particular would benefit from a visual “Touch it Once” reminder (aka: sign on his closet door). Then maybe, just maybe, those dirty clothes will hit the hamper right outta the gate rather than take a detour on the floor. Or maybe those wrappers and unwanted papers will make it directly to the trash can rather than rot on his desk for days. Or maybe I’m kidding myself and he will always spend Saturdays digging out of his disastrous bedroom. Haha.

It’s such a simple thing, I’m willing to give it a try. Wish me luck…

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