For Day 6 of this 30-day series, we are organizing the family room. If you’re just discovering this program, you’ll find the series overview here. The overview also contains links to previous days’ missions to help you catch up.
Every day’s mission has four parts to it:
Keep It Clean
Organizing the Family Room – Day 6
By “family room,” I mean the room where you and your family sit down together to watch TV or hang out in the evening. Some of you may call it a den, rec room, media room, or lounge.
If you have a formal living room in addition to this more casual space, don’t fret — we’ll get to that space tomorrow!
Gather Your Supplies
- Trash bags
- Boxes for items you’ll donate
Remove clutter starting at the entrance to the family room and working your way around in a full circle. Open cupboards, closets, and drawers and go through them. Organizing the family room well depends on being ruthless when removing clutter.
- Anything that’s broken
- Dead houseplants
- Empty soda or water bottles
- Food wrappers
- Scratched CDs or DVDs
- Burned-out candles
- Games that are missing pieces
- Dead batteries
- Other obvious trash
Rehome the Remaining Clutter
Gather up anything that doesn’t belong in the family room. This includes an overabundance of kids’ toys, their school backpacks, and dirty dishes. Put it all in a box and set it aside. We’ll be addressing these things at the end of the mission.
Box up things to give away or sell. Work your way around the room again, starting at the door and going through everything. Things to give away include:
- DVDs your family no longer watches or which you can stream
- Books you’ll never reread
- Unused exercise equipment
- Games your family no longer plays
- Toys your kids haven’t touched in months
- Scratchy throw blankets
- Scented candles you don’t enjoy smelling
- Décor and knickknacks you no longer like
- Houseplants you find too high-maintenance (give to a green-thumbed friend ASAP)
Organizing the family room requires thinking about how your family uses it. For instance, if your kids like to play while you’re watching TV, you’ll want to create a play space for them that’s not directly in front of the screen but which you can still monitor.
Keep kids’ DVDs and games separate. Small children tend to grab several movies or games while searching for the one they want. By keeping theirs on a separate, lower shelf — or even in a basket — you can prevent them from messing up the rest of your collection.
Keep flat surfaces clutter-free. Your family room’s coffee- or end tables aren’t the place for framed photos of your spouse and kids. (If you want to know what they look like, you can just glance away from the TV.) The less stuff you have on the room’s flat surfaces, the neater it looks and the easier it is to clean.
Stash remotes together. Hunting for the remote when your show is about to come on is no one’s idea of fun. So, while you want to keep your flat surfaces clear, remote controls are an exception. Keep them neat by storing them in a divided caddy.
Make storage easy to use. “Netflix and chill” with your significant other doesn’t have the same vibe when you’re surrounded by kids’ toys. An upholstered storage ottoman adds attractive extra seating and makes putting away toys (or stashing extra blankets) a breeze.
Need more storage? Think vertically. Floating wall shelves can turn unused space into convenient storage. If you don’t have wall space, or live in an apartment where you can’t install shelves, consider using a vertical storage tower as a side table. Or put a row of them between the back of your couch and the wall to serve as a sofa table.
Cleaning the family room is much easier when you’ve purged the clutter, cleared the flat surfaces, and made putting toys away an easy task. So, if you’ve got the time and energy today, consider following my printable weekly family/living room cleaning checklist.
Otherwise, at a minimum you should take the time today to clean the following:
- Dust the walls, windowsills, and wall art.
- Dust and polish hard furniture.
- Clean the TV screen and remotes with a microfiber cloth lightly dampened with a 50-50 mix of rubbing alcohol and water.
- Use the rubbing alcohol and a microfiber cloth to get food stains out of upholstery.
- Dust the baseboards.
- Sweep or vacuum the floor and then mop if you have hard flooring.
One thing you might want to find a spot for in your family room is this printable list of 101 Commercial Break Cleaning Chores. (I taped one inside a cabinet door.) Doing a chore or two whenever an ad comes on is a great way to make sure you’re not sitting still for too long.
Keep it Clean
Keeping on top of areas we’ve previously ROCKed is an essential part of this program. By taking a few minutes every day to check out and reset areas we’ve already worked on, we’re breaking that clean/clutter cycle.
As we progress through the series, you’ll find that spending 5-20 minutes going through your home to tidy up makes it look freshly-cleaned all the time.
Don’t skip this step!
Entryway: Sweep or vacuum debris off the mat, or shake it outside. Throw away trash. Gather anything that doesn’t belong there.
Coat Closet: Is everything hung up? Throw away any trash and grab anything you find that doesn’t belong in the coat closet.
Dining/Kitchen Table: Toss the trash. Process paperwork. Gather anything that doesn’t belong on the table. Wipe the table and tuck in the chairs.
Kitchen Cupboards: Check for open food containers. Toss empty boxes. Give the handles a quick wipe.
Kitchen Counters: Throw away trash. Put away items that belong in the cupboards. Give the surface a quick wipe. (You don’t need to move anything, just wipe up spills.)
Boxes to the car: Put the boxes of items you’re giving away into the trunk of your car. Next time you’re out, stop by your local charity to donate them.
What to Do about Clutter Creep
You’ve noticed I’ve repeatedly said: “gather anything that doesn’t belong.” Those things you’ve gathered are “clutter creep.”
See, although you are learning a new system as you R-O-C-K your house, your family isn’t picking up new habits unless you’re having them help, in which case good for you!
To teach kids to stop leaving their things strewn around the house, have them do some chores that kids can do to earn back their stuff.
What if they balk at earning their things back? Toss the stuff in the trash. It may sound harsh, but you won’t have to do it more than once or twice. Besides, if they don’t feel the need to take care of their things it’s a sign they have too many things in the first place.
I wouldn’t recommend the chores-for-stuff approach with your significant other, though.
If you can’t get your spouse or partner to put away their things, box the stuff up and wait until they look for it. An “Oh, I figured it was junk since you didn’t seem to want it” can get the point across. If they don’t need to use the stuff in a few months, it is junk, so donate it.
See You Tomorrow!
As mentioned, on Day 7 we will be rocking the formal living room if you have one. (There are a number of different steps for that room, so be sure to check back to follow the day’s mission.)
If you don’t have a formal living room, use tomorrow to catch up on prior missions or do laundry. Or grab one of my printable cleaning checklists and give some room in your home some serious attention.