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7 Tips to Organizing with a Messy Family

I had a friend recently ask me how I keep my home so organized with such a messy family. Organizing with a messy family is beyond frustrating, right?! I mean…

No one puts anything up (after what I just cleaned up today, seriously, they are all pigs! lol) and I’m an organized fiend. How do I maintain balance in my home? Sanity even! Although I’m far from perfect, these are the things that help me the most…

Although my family was not raised in a barn, they sure act like it! I'm the only organizational one in the house. How do I deal with it, and more importantly, how can you survive without pulling your hair out? Read this article and it'll really help!

7 Tips to Organizing with a Messy Family

Pick Your Battles

The first thing I would say is to chose your battles. Is it really THAT important your spouse put the cap back on the toothpaste (they make pumps you know. haha!) or that the dishes are done every single night? But when you find a can of molded food under someone’s bed, okay, now that’s a battle to fight for. Mold can lead to some serious health risks.

Related: Organizing your home can be so difficult. You have no idea where to begin or how to organize your home in a way that makes sense. This organizing essentials guide is the perfect solution. With real life advice, this go-to guide covers almost everything you own! Get started now and say goodbye to clutter forever!

I always like to think in terms of Jesus coming…

So, if Jesus came tomorrow, would it matter if the toothpaste cap wasn’t on or the toilet seat lid was up?

If I had one week to live would I really care if the dishes were done every night?

But, I would be concerned of the molded food, because my kids could get hurt. It could lead to asthma, allergies, and respiratory problems. So, that would be a battle I would chose, for their best interest. And that is really the point. When you are living for someone else with their needs ahead of your own, then all the little petty stuff doesn’t really matter, does it?

Regarding Children

1) Teach them young

Teach them early the way that you want them to go. The quicker you start teaching them how to clean and why it’s so important, the easier it is when they get older.

My kids have been doing little things since they were two. I’d have them fold washrags or brings me dishes from the table. The earlier you start, the better!

2) Have clear consequences

If you don’t do this, this will happen. If you do what I ask, you will be rewarded. After all, as a Christian, does not the Lord do that with us? Chastise His children when we fall off the wagon and go our own way, bless us when we are in full obedience to Him. Today, I just got done cleaning my daughters room, uh yeah, thus the inspiration for this post :). Her room has been messy for a little while and I’ve asked her to clean it several times. She played, I think, more than cleaned because you still couldn’t see the floor, much less walk in there. It was so messy, you couldn’t tell the clean clothes from the dirty. I don’t know how she gets dressed every morning.

Maybe there’s some system to the madness and I’m immune to it. It took me an hour an a half to clean her room. Some of her toys ended up in the trash, and everything was sorted, and cleaned to my standard. When she got home I expected her to be really upset with me and she asked about a few specific toys, but after a little while in her room for homework, she came out and said “THANK YOU. Thank you for cleaning my room.” Now, some mom’s might really be offended by that. But I wasn’t.


You see, I see it. That spark inside her that LIKES a clean room…and if cultivated, she will be a clean girl just like her momma. I told her that she was welcome. That I love her and I’m not trying to just be mean, but that God’s rules are that we clean up after ourselves. That we work hard, are not lazy or live like pigs. That the rules are for our good, and that since He put me in charge, it was my job to enforce HIS rules. She can argue with a lot of people, she can argue with me, but when it’s right there, black and white in Scripture, it’s hard to argue with the God who created it all. 🙂

3) If all else fails, do what my mother used to do

Take away toys. When MY room was messy as a child, my mom would go in my room while I was in school and clean it. The difference is that she took away EVERYTHING that was on the floor! I mean, everything. Clothes, toys, anything that was on the floor I had to EARN it back! You can easily start out small. They pick up after themselves when you ask, give them something back. If they are still not getting the hint, take away their better toys, the ones they love. Every child has SOMETHING they REALLY love. If they don’t have something they truly love, buy it for them with the purpose that you can train them.

For my daughter, that was an iPad. The reason she has one is because it’s really important to her. So, when she is in trouble, I can take it away and she gets the message loud and clear and it helps straighten up her behavior. You see, every child is different. Whereas my son responds better to spankings, my daughter with toys. You have to find what is important to them to get the message across that cleaning is important to God and to you. It’s as simple as that.

4) Slow and steady wins the race

They are not going to change overnight. It will take a long time, years. Be prepared to work with them in establishing new habits. Being a mom is not for sprinters. It’s a L-O-N-G race. Think 20k marathon. Consistent actions, consistent punishments/rewards will get you there….and prayer, lots of prayer for your children’s hearts. Because changing an action is easier…than changing a heart.

Regarding Your Husband/Spouse

My husband was probably the messiest person known to mankind, let me just say that upfront. He never cleans anything, never helps clean anything, never helps take care of the kids, it’s all me. You see, I came to Christ AFTER we were married. Some time after. And it was a constant daily struggle to maintain peace in our home because well…he’s on one side of eternity, and I’m on the other. And while God has given me such a love for him, I know that I personally cannot change him. It would have to be God.

So, not only did I live with a messy husband, but I had to endure the last several years since giving my life to God, a hostile situation where my husband deliberately makes a mess and does things to upset me and try to cause me to stumble in my walk with the Lord. With all that as a precursor…every marriage is different, and while you CAN encourage your spouse to be neater, you cannot try to control, manipulate, or change him. Changing him is for the Lord.

5) Think service

It’s a hard balance to be in, I get it. Trust me, I get it!! But, I also know that the Bible has a lot to say about our relationships with our spouses. Like putting them ahead of ourselves, doing things in this world as unto the Lord, and treating others how we want to be treated, how nagging is like a leaky faucet dripping and it’s better to live on the corner of a roof than to live with someone like that. Pretty strong words. But applied practically, you can expect to suffer for Christs’ name sake. You can expect to just clean up the mess, and know you’re doing it FOR and UNTO the Lord, NOT your husband. The rewards are in Heaven, my friend!

Related: How to Survive a Loveless Marriage and The Biggest Lesson I Learned In 14 Years of Marriage

6) Be in prayer

Constantly and consistently pray that God will mold, shape, and change his heart. If something is important to you, it should be important to your spouse, but like in my case, it was the exact opposite. As a Christian woman, although under the authority of someone wicked, God is my supreme court and He will only allow what is to my benefit. When it is not to my best interest, God will change the situation, and as an update to my story, He has.

7) It’s not over yet: sanctification

Focus on your pitfalls. Focusing on what you WANT: I want a clean home. I want my husband to help clean our home are your desires. Be sure that your desires line up with Scripture. No where in the Bible does it say that it is a man’s job to clean the home. In fact, just the opposite is true. Is is a woman’s job. And let me tell you, just in case you think a man’s job is easier than a woman’s, I can tell you from experience now, that it is MUCH harder! Simply put, focus on what the Lord has YOU to do, don’t focus on how someone else is not keeping YOUR standards. I say that in love, only because I was there myself. I was so focused on HIS failures, that I didn’t take a look at my own. When I stopped caring how he was sinning against the Lord, how he wasn’t a Christian, and started focusing on my own sin and how I could be a better wife, mother, Christian, and so forth, my life drastically changed!

Although my family was not raised in a barn, they sure act like it! I'm the only organizational one in the house. How do I deal with it, and more importantly, how can you survive without pulling your hair out? Read this article and it'll really help!

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  1. I think sometimes the hardest thing to realize is that we need to get rid of the sin in our heart before we can look at the sin of our husbands. Wonderful post!

  2. Any suggestions for a similar situation with a messy teen, cannot see the floor and cannot tell what’s clean and dirty, trash can overflowing with trash, including empty bags that had food?
    She is 17 and my stepdaughter. I’ve tried to express to my husband the need for her to keep her room clean and take something away, if she does not do it within the guidelines given. After all, we enforce the two younger boys having to keep their room clean. I cannot go in an clean it, like you said and have her earn things back because it becomes WW3 with her reaction. We can do that with the boys; they get things that are not picked up taken away and have to pull a chore card to get them back. This is supposed to be the case for all of the kids. My husband will not enforce these same rules with our daughter. He will tell her to clean her room and 3 days later it’s still messy because he does not follow through. It’s very frustrating for me; it’s teaching her she is above the rules and no respect for authority. I’ve tried to talk to my husband about this; nothing changes. I would appreciate any good counsel.

    • Wow Rebekah, I’m sorry to hear what you’re going through. It’s a hard situation really. In essence, the Bible calls us to submit to our husbands unless he asks us to sin or commits sin. I’m not sure that not making your guys’ daughter clean her room would fall under the category of sin, however, it can lead to sin. Here’s the thing. Your boys may very well be perfect gentlemen now, but over time, seeing her behavior and her manipulation of the situation (you referred to it as WW3) and getting her way by displaying those bad traits, they will figure out sooner or later exactly what they have to do to get their way (WW3). At the end of it, you could very well find yourself in a situation where all 3 are unruly because one has gotten special treatment. It can also lead to jealousy and bitterness in the kids that obey, seeing themselves as following the rules and your daughter gets away with it. If you have brought the whole entire picture of the ramifications of what can very well happen to your husband, and he still does not wish to change his behavior, I would strongly encourage you to do what YOU can. Again, you can’t change your husband, you can’t change the kids, but GOD CAN. Pray that God take care of the situation, giving you wisdom and help when you need it. Tell Him that you feel alone in your endeavors but that you wish to keep the peace in your home. Pray fervently and bring it to the Lord often. He answers every single one of our prayers. It may be no, maybe, yes, or wait, but they are ALWAYS answered.

      I will also encourage you in this…when you go to meet the Lord, you will stand alone for your actions only. Not your husbands, your daughter, your sons, no one but yours. Make sure YOU are blameless. The teen girl may also be rebelling and acting out of spite or just buying time until she moves out, since she is so close to 18 years old. Is she used to you being her mom? No matter what the situation, it’s gotta be hard on her. School is a nightmare for teens these days. They come home and just want to rest from all that. On the same hand, she should respect you, and I wonder (as I don’t know) if you can show her more love. Maybe she is acting out because she is dealing with some emotional issues of school and a new parent, etc. None of which your fault and I’m sure you’re doing everything you possibly can.There’s an article I wrote with similar ties through it and there’s a parenting DVD that I highly encourage at the bottom of the post. Maybe you could check it out. Praying for you my dear and standing with you in love!

      Likewise, the video below, The Joys of Parenting, if you look closely at the end of the video, my daughter makes a little snide comment with an attitude. At that time, I had to cut the video, in order to tell her that that’s not how she should talk to me. After seeing the video, she was embarrassed of her attitude, but we kept it in there. I want to make sure that people know that our family is not perfect, and that I deal with many of the same issues that others do. You are not alone!

      Sorry that was long. I’m a blogger. I can’t help it!!! LOL

  3. I was looking for cleaning tips but found much more, thank you for letting God work through you to reach others! I was baptized 12 years into our marriage & now at 20 years my husband still is not, I have been slipping up lately & concerned that I will never be the Godly wife that God wants him to see in me, thank you for bringing my focus back where it belongs, on God, not me!

    • Cassie, sorry to hear about your husband. I know that it can be tough. I’ve been there too. You’re absolutely right, just keep your eyes on Christ. Don’t worry about how your husband is not living up to God’s standards and how he gets away with stuff you don’t, here on Earth, just keep praying for him. One of the main concerns I hear in those types of situations is that the wife is afraid to BE who God wants her to be. You can’t. I couldn’t wait for my husband to come around, it may never happen. I have to just BE the woman and wife God wants ME to be, full throttle, on fire for Christ. If I suffer for that, and I did (my husband asked me to give up God or he would leave; I said NO! He left) so be it. Better to be persecuted for doing following God, then to shrink back and live like my unsaved husband. Praying for you deeply, my friend!

  4. So much more than cleaning tips!!! I feel blessed to have come across this, thank you! I am trying be closer to God and also have a husband unwilling to either be cleanly or closer to God as well. It is difficult at times but this is a beautiful reminder of my duty-pray, be a good wife and also to teach my children to be clean! Thank you again!!!

  5. I am in this EXACT position. Trying to raise my two girls 4 and 6 in the ways of the Lord while dealing with my ‘I don’t give a rip’ husband. I love him. Pray for him daily but it can be mentally, emotionally, and physically EXHAUSTING. Reading your post is encouraging to me. Thank for you sharing your heart. You have no idea what kind of hope it gives to others in your same position. Xoxo!!!

    • I’m so glad you came across this blog. I hope it encourages you and inspires you along the way. Yes, it is very taxing emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and physically. Let Christ be your strength. Cling to Him like never before. I will be praying for you as well Sabrina. 🙂

  6. I never comment on the articles I read, but this is such a treasure to read! Thank you for your encouraging words, your blessed thoughts, your faithful spirit, and shouting out your love and loyalty to Christ!

  7. I don’t know how long ago this was written, but I read this to help with the organization of my home and didn’t expect to read such a story of a Christian fighting such a battle. I am praying for you my Sister in the Christ and your husband. Sending you encouragement and love and thank you for being so transparent- I know this is a blessing to many ( :

  8. Sarah, I enjoy a lot of your articles. You are a beautiful gal with such a loving heart. This article on messy family and husbands, I love it……Ive been married to the same man for 26 years…….and it has been a test of my faith frequently. My daughter, 24, is still home finishing nursing school and my son is married and has a baby. My son is a lot like me, my daughter as she gets older is more like her dad. I have learned I have to let the anal things go, but at times, Im at my wits end! You have to work at it and pray pray pray. My walk with Christ has grown……over the years, but, still a messy family and house 😉

  9. Thank you so very much for this post! Not sure how long ago it was posted, but it is very eye opening for me.
    You see.. I was “raised” as a Christian (Baptist from the “Bible Belt of the South”!), but with an alcoholic mom & step-dad who NEVER went to church I still feel like I know so very little, have so many questions & have been upset and feeling as though I have been going thru a “spiritual battle & depression” for the last couple of years.
    My husband and both of my boys all 3 have close relationships with God with a strong Faith. I want nothing more than to have that too. Although my boys are not aware of my battle within.. My husband is. For the last few months, on his weekends off (he is a police officer who works shifts) he and the boys have been going to a new church they love. While I have been trying to win this struggle on my own – which I now know is not possible.
    Just last night I truly spoke out to God for the first time in a while. I WANT SO badly to have a strong Faith with him and feel so terribly guilty for not – that I don’t ever discuss it. (The one time I did with a few friends many many years ago, they ridiculed me for “doubting God”. And that has stuck with me since). Anyways after speaking with God, I then Googled a few of the questions I had.. And was immediately brought to tears in astonishment at the results I was given by God (I know it was God.. Not Google lol). I have now found a new website for info that I love and feel as though it speaks to me. I already feel stronger and more confident in my walk with God and have hope in knowing that it will continue to grow as long as I allow it, nurture it & keep Satan away.

    Thank you so much for your post!! & your enlightenment on a little of what my husband has been going thru!!

    • Thank you for sharing. I encourage you to be completely and utterly honest with your family and with God. Your family knows. They know mommy’s actions and words. It’s like there’s a big elephant in the room and we try to hide it from our kids. It can’t be hidden; they are incredibly smart. The best thing to do is to be honest. Cry out to God and ask Him why you don’t have a strong desire for Him. Usually that is a result of two reasons.

      One is that when we are entangled in sin, God is far from us. When we are walking in the Spirit, He is close to us. He never leaves us, but our unrepentant sin makes Him farther away. The other reason, is true salvation. It is okay to doubt. In fact, it’s better to doubt than to be wrong. I tell you from experience. I was raised in a southern Baptist home myself, my mom shows no fruit of salvation and is most likely not saved. Going to church or just believing in God, doesn’t make us saved. 5 years ago, right after I got out of the homeless shelter, I realized that all my life I thought I was saved, but wasn’t. I accepted Jesus as a kid because it was the thing to do. It wasn’t my heart. That was really hard for me to admit. I went on not WANTING to be saved. I wanted my sin, my selfishness, and at the same time, I wanted to be saved because I knew it was right. So, I prayed for God to help me to want Him. He did and I truly, for the first time in my life, gave my life to God. I’m not saying that’s you, but I am saying it could be possible for anyone and you want to be sure.

      On a side note, it’s okay to doubt God. It’s okay to feel mad, angry, hurt, bitter. But we can’t stay there. We must deal with those emotions and God is the only one that can help….if you let Him. Praying and sending lots of love! 🙂 Feel free to reach out anytime you need a friend to listen. <3

  10. Thank you so much for that .. I am going through some of those things also I will keep you in my prayers..

  11. I started reading your post because I am on a mission to get my home organized this year. What a more inspiring and eye opening experience I received as I read along. We (hubby and I) are going through this time in our lives right now. Medically it is difficult for me to clean to the standards that I am used to and finding myself kind of resenting that he is gone working all week and not around to help with daily tasks. I know that God has given me a great man to provide for our large family and that in time it will all be fine. Thank you for sharing your story and allowing me to see that others struggle in many of the same ways that I do.

    • Absolutely Tina. He is working to provide, as is his job. If your home is not able to be cleaned to the standards you are used to, I think you want to show yourself more grace. We all go through times where we can’t keep up with certain tasks. It’s okay. If God comes back today, right now, do you think He will say….”Hmmmm, Tina’s house is not really all that clean. Sorry Tina, can’t get into Heaven”? I’d encourage you to read the story of Mary and Martha. Sometimes, we are just limited in life. Your heart is there, not trying to take advantage of the situation, so don’t let it become bitter toward your husband. 🙂 He is doing his job….show yourself more grace and let some things go for a time, focusing on what’s important to eternity. Lots of love and prayers sent your way. <3

  12. I really need to work on the clear consequences. Consistency is the key and I fail miserably in that respect. Great post and ideas here! Thanks!

  13. WOW! After an argument with my husband this afternoon of my feeling of being overwhelmed and his lack of pro-activeness in lots of areas, I found your blog and logged in. It was amazing reading this after asking the Lord earlier today to give me a sign if my marriage was worth saving, asking to be a better and stronger wife/mother, etc…. It’s always nice to read something inspirational such as your message. Thank you!

  14. Thank you so much for writing this article!
    It really spoke to my heart. My family is extremely messy. My husband being the worst. While he is a Christian, your coments to focus on my relationship with Jesus is more important than his short comings, reminded me that I am indeed more joyful and growing in my walk with the Lord when I look towards my own improvement.
    Thank you again.

  15. Total organization is my goal for this summer! I think part of our problem is just the fact that we have too much stuff. We started by donating toys and misc items to Goodwill. I also got some junk drawer organizers which I didn’t even know existed. Lol. Now our tape and scissors and random little items like thumb tacks actually have a place that they go. It has helped. Baby steps. Lol.

  16. Have you ever known a person who cannot throw empty food cans, boxes, etc. in the trash can. They just leave them on the counter or stove or table. I mean empty cartons never get tossed in the can ever in many years.

  17. Here I was just trying to get my family of 5 organized and you took me to church. Thank you for letting God use you to reach little old me. This is my situation exactly, my kids are not so little slobs and my husband doesn’t help at all. It’s hard, tiring, and physically draining sometimes. Your encouraging word about just cleaning up the mess as unto, and for the Lord because my reward is in Heaven, really reminded me of the bigger picture. Thank you again! Blessings to you and your family.

    • Sometimes, for me, seeing the bigger picture really helps. It can be exhausting, I know, but serving is a reward and I’m so glad this article helped. I am praying for God to give you joy through it, even when it’s tough. <3

  18. I really, really needed to hear that, regarding a messy husband. It’s driving me crazy that he is sooo messy. You would think that he was raised in the wild! I obsess everyday about him being such a slob. Some days I lived by myself! After reading this article, I was able to take a deep breath and take heed to what you said and I thank you!