There are days when I feel like a salmon swimming upstream. It seems that no matter how much I tidy, the family can mess faster than I can clean up. We do try to take some time each day to tidy as a family, but I noticed something strange. Each time I would ask the family to tidy, they seemed to be able to find other people's things that were out of place, but never their own. They ended up blaming each other for the mess that the house was in. I want harmony in our house and I don't want a house of blaming and fighting. I needed to come up with a solution.
I finally found the solution that works for me and my family. We have a "Toss Bin". The bin is the largest bin I could purchase and it sits out all the time. I decided that having one thing sit out was better than having fifty things sit out because "This isn't mine". So when a family member picks up an item and says, "This isn't mine, but it's out", it goes into the Toss Bin. When we are finished tidying up the room, each person goes through the Toss Bin and picks out his or her things and puts them away. If something remains in the toss bin, it gets tossed or donated. If no one cared enough to find it a home, it doesn't belong in our home.
I was amazed. I can now take a few minutes during the day and place things into the toss bin and the kids put their things away without being asked. I no longer hear, "This isn't mine" when I am asking them to help out and in fact, they will bargain with each other to get things finished faster. Just yesterday I heard one say, "I will take all this stuff to the garage if you put my books on the shelf upstairs".
At one time, I had a bin for each person at the garage entryway, but I had too many problems with, "This isn't mine". To my family, if they don't claim it, they don't have to help put it away, so by creating a place where things are tossed if not put away, it united the family to help find homes for things instead of just leaving them sit.
Another thing I do to make my house run smoothly is called Close the Kitchen. If you want to read about it, the article is here: Close the Kitchen