Turn Chaos Into Organized Chaos


Drawn from my archives

Dear Darlene,

Hello, wonderful blog, very encouraging. I have a question, if you will.

My home is over 3000 sq. feet with 8 children who are homeschooled, so lots of motion all day. I do fairly well keeping up with it at times.

I am wondering just how much home do you have, to take care of? I hope I am not getting too personal, sometimes it is good to hear how other people take care of their size home. Very inspirational words on your blog, keep up the good work.




Dear Kim,

Our home is 3200 square feet, and I have four children, two birds, three hamsters, and one barnyard spider living near my back door. So while our homes are similar in square footage, I don’t have quite the same size crew as you have. I applaud you for homeschooling eight children! Only those who have homeschooled truly know what a blessing it is.

Now about the cleaning; while I do my best to keep my house clean and presentable for guests, I must add that perfection has never been my goal. I’m often one to have a group of girls over for tea, but any one of them can tell you that my house looks lived in—and that’s okay with me. It’s a home first and a house second.

You can’t expect perfection, but you can turn chaos into organized chaos, and that’s where creative solutions help a house stay ordered. For example, we have a lot of shoes, and so instead of having twelve shoes lining the front entrance, we have bins in our front closet that look organized at first glance. I’m blessed with a 7 x 7ft cloak room which houses a bin for each member of our family. That bin contains their outer gear like mittens, scarves, and hats in the winter, and items like flip flops and roller blades in the summer. Sweaters and jackets are hung on hangers, but if I’m in a rush I might toss a hooded sweatshirt into a bin.

It looks good, but we still need to search through bins to pull out shoes. My ultimate hope is to buy six lockers for the room, but since they are pricey, the bins will do for now.

We also have a sock basket—an idea I got from my older sister, Betty. It saves time on laundry day when I pull out the basket and quickly toss socks into a pile. Since my feet are small, I share a basket with my three younger kids. I try to purchase similar socks anytime I buy new, so that they can be matched up easily when we are searching for a pair.

It’s the concept of a place for everything and everything in its place. If you have congested areas, that’s where you need to get creative. I’ve had a long standing problem with mail being put on the ledge by the door. So I picked up a small-sized wicker basket at Wal-Mart which sits in its place. It looks cute but it’s always packed full of mail. I have two junk drawers in the kitchen. One is for stationary items, and the other hardware related.

I’m also a big advocate on children doing chores from a young age. Even a two year old can slip a sock over his hand and dust a coffee table. It’s not a matter of expecting a young child to do a good job, but rather teaching the child to be a good steward of his or her home. Older children have a heavier homework load, but I still expect all of my kids to pitch in and help.

I have assigned a work station to each of my children. The ultimate goal would be to have the children tend to the station throughout the day, but since I’ve returned from Wonderland I realized that doesn’t happen. I gather everyone together for chore time, and while they are working I move from station to station helping as much as they need. If they are diligent, chore time takes about 15 minutes/day. But when they are slow poking, it can stretch out to 30 minutes.

Music is a stimulant that helps distracted children to focus. When I discovered that, I started to put music on during chore time, and noticed that my youngest, Nathaniel, worked at record speed.

In the links bar above I have posted a Home Maintenance Schedule, which you may or may not have seen. I’ll be adding more cleaning tips and creative ideas to the schedule whenever I can so if you like it, keep checking back.

Hope that answers your question. Keep in touch!

You are loved by an almighty God,

Darlene Schacht


  • Yana S.

    I love all the tips! I hope when my kids are at the age of helping, I have the wisdom to help them to participate in chores and grow as a responsible person. Our first boy is on his way, so right now I am absorbing all the smart tips for organizing 🙂

  • Davonne Parks

    I enjoyed this article!

    I just want to say that, while I don’t have eight children (I have two), I do homeschool and I have SO been there with the disorganization! I did a full house declutter last year and it’s made a huge difference in our home.

    Just today, I started a “Clutter Free in 2014” series on my blog. I’ll be posting updated, projects, and how-to’s every week until March.

    Kim, that may be a helpful series for you to read and do in your own home. My goal is to help people be able to work quickly enough that they see progress and stay encouraged, but to work slowly enough that burnout doesn’t happen. The first article is here: http://davonneparks.com/clutter-free-in-2014-part-one-preparing-your-home-and-mind/

    Darlene, I love your blog!

  • Linda

    Interesting post, but I must admit that I am confused. My mother had 8 children and we lived in a house that was about 1/3 the size of both you women. We never had messy bedrooms like the one in this picture – it just wasn’t allowed. Beds were always made, dirty clothes put in the laundry, etc. and it was not all done by my mother. She had 3 daughters that would make sure this job was done. Her house was always spotless and you could eat off her floors any day of the week. She had a schedule she stuck to and taught her children the same and we were made to help during summer vacation. I thank God for a very hard-working mother who maintained these values right up until her 80s and taught them to her children who carry on in the same fashion today.
    I like your comment Darlene about teaching children today to be good stewards of their homes in the future. This is something that is lacking in today’s society. We need to get back to the basics of life. 🙂

    • Darlene Schacht


      My mom was like that too. Anytime I look back on it, I realize how hard she worked. The house was immaculate and she home cooked every meal. I was the youngest child, so I never really got to see what things were like when she had babies.

      This is actually a stock photography image so they might have messed it up for the photo.

      But with that said, I know that every family is different and some are struggling to keep up with the chaos. Some are balancing more than just housework, and for others it’s a full time job.

  • Trish

    A great tip for cleaning the bathroom. I keep a big bottle of Germ -X sanitizer from Sam’s of Costco under my bathroom counter – I use it on a paper towel to get the sticky grime of hair spray off the counter & floors with no effort. It comes right off with one swipe, a time saver & keeps your bathroom looking new.

  • Elissa P

    Hi Darlene
    Thanks for the tips. I have two children ages, 6 and 4 and I always encourage them to clean up their toys after playing. I find that if I clean up daily it helps with not having a big mess and fusses children.

    I like that you said you assign each child a chore. When I was growing up my brothers and I had areas of the house we had to clean daily. On the weekends we had to give the house a big cleaning so it would be easier to clean-up in the week.

    Yes, children should be assign jobs that fit their ages and staying on top of mess is much easier then trying to do it all at ones.

    Thanks again for sharing and blessings to you.

  • Susan McCurdy

    Thanks for this….as a homeschooling mom in a 3500 square foot house with eight children (well one is married now) I am grateful for this post. It encourages me. Thanks for sharing your life and tips with us. I also have been grateful for your practical book “The Good Wife’s Guide”. I can’t live it but it’s nice to have a practical, down to earth encouraging book to give to newlyweds. It seems our culture doesn’t teach the “how to’s” anymore. I’m glad you took the time to put it in a book. It is a blessing.

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