Ask Done and Done : How Can I Organize My House With My Disorganized Family?

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Family Organization

Dear Done and Done,

I hope you can give me some advice. I love your Instagram account and am so inspired by all the beautiful organized spaces. It would be my dream to have my home look like that!

woman on bed with books flying around

Photo by Lacie Slezak on Unsplash

I have tried to make some changes and have read your blog posts to get some tips. However,  I have three big obstacles known as kid #1, kid #2 and dear husband. My home isn’t in terrible shape, for the most part it works fairly well. But there’s nothing pretty about it and it definitely could function better.

The problem is, my kids and my husband couldn’t care less. They don’t have any interest in how things look, it’s just not a priority for them. They will put things away if I ask, but that’s about all I can get them to do. It’s a constant battle.

How do you help your clients if some of the family members aren’t on board? I know if my home were better organized it would make my life easier, but right now it feels like the effort is just making everything harder.

Thanks in advance,

Frustrated in Fresno

You Asked, Ann answered!

Dear Frustrated,

I hear you. You’re not alone with this problem as you probably know. But that doesn’t help much when you’re dealing with other people’s stuff messing up the Instagram perfect home you have in your mind’s eye. Before I tackle your basic underlying question, which is more about relationships and less about stuff, I need to clarify a few things.

organized pantry

Photo: Done and Done Home

People pay us the big bucks to organize their homes and there is a separate category for what we call “Insta-worthy”. This is a look that is difficult to achieve and takes a tremendous amount of time and effort. It can be done, but don’t beat yourself up if you are unable to take a picture of your pantry to proudly display on Instagram. A home can be highly functioning without being the envy of the entire internet.

Family Organization

Now on to the problem of wanting something the other people you live with don’t seem to want as well.

woman screaming in frustration

Photo: Gabriel Matula via

There are a couple of different ways to handle this problem. One strategy is to endlessly, constantly bitch at everyone. The hope with this game plan is that they get so sick of listening to you, they will suddenly become like those helpful mice and birds in Cinderella. Since the objective is a lovely home, why in the world would a loudmouth woman screaming at her loved ones be the solution?

Be Honest

The second method is to be both honest and generous when it comes to running your home. Honesty will help when you sit your family down and say, “I don’t want to live like this. I have higher standards for all of us and I want our home to represent who we are.” At first, they will laugh at you and roll their  eyes, but eventually, with all your honesty showing, they will stop laughing and begin to listen.

Be Generous

Cinderella in front of a castle

At this point, you will introduce generosity. You will offer to work alongside them in their rooms, the family room, the garage, anywhere there is a problem. Under no circumstances will you say, “go clean your room” or try to guilt them into doing things without you. This is your vision after all. Put on the music of their choice and help declutter for as long as it takes. Offer rewards! Bribe your teenager! You will do what is necessary to get a handle on the mess and then you will cheerfully keep handling it as if you are Cinderella herself because here is the thing – they don’t care and they don’t want what you want.

Be The Adult

Because you are the adult, you do get to set a few ground rules. One that made my house peaceful when I had children living at home was that they had to keep the common areas (kitchen, living room, family room) up to my standards. They could live like little piglets in their own rooms if they chose to, but not the rest of our home. Additionally, I was generous with digging them out of their styes when it got to be too much even for them.

The Bigger Picture

One parting thought…there comes a time when your children no longer live at home, and it will be here sooner than you could ever imagine. They take all their messes and all of the noise and all of their friends with them. Your home will be cleaner but it will also be quieter. I have a feeling if we were to consult an older woman who no longer has the problem of dear husband’s dirty socks in the living room because he died before her, she might tell us to focus on the good fortune of running a full house. She might also say what the hell is Instagram and why do you girls care so much about it?

All the Best,


PS.  If you need some extra help, we have a course that can assist get your family organized, you can find it here.

elderly couple walking towards pasture and cows