Organizing Advice From Clea And Joanna Of 'The Home Edit'

We Asked Clea And Joanna Of ‘The Home Edit’ For Their Best Organizing Advice — And Here It Is

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JENNA PEFFLEY/NETFLIX

Every night, I wind down with a Netflix show. The kids are in bed, and it’s my bonding time with my wife; even if we don’t talk, at least we’re sitting side by side without our kids begging us for something.

I heard her yell up one Thursday night, “Nik, there’s this new show on,” and I responded with, “Is it about Queen Elizabeth? Because I don’t want to watch it!”

“NO,” she said. “It’s your kind of show, with Khloe Kardashian and some home organizers … it’s right up your alley!” She watched the trailer in full before I made my way down, face washed and pajamas on. That’s when it happened: We hit play to begin my binge on the new series Get Organized with The Home Edit, with founders Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin leading us through normal people, like us (and celebrities, like Khloe) to a contained, edited, better version of ourselves — or at least our homes. I was hooked from episode one and finished the entire first season that very weekend.

Scary Mommy got a chance to talk to (via email), and learn a little more about the women making waves on Netflix and changing how we (I, most certainly) can make our own space more organized.

My wife, a hospital chaplain, and I, a writer (and full-time staff member at a heart health nonprofit based in NYC) are saving more money in case our economy takes another turn for the worse, but according to Clea and Joanna, we don’t have to shell out the big bucks to keep our space organized.

“At the end of the day, all that matters is that you contain your items. It doesn’t matter what kind of container that is. Everything just needs a home,” the duo told Scary Mommy. “Containers create zones, and zones create systems! They not only give items a designated space, but they also hold you accountable for not exceeding that space. When editing your items, stick to the 80/20 philosophy, meaning your home should be no more than 80% full, with the last 20% reserved for breathing room. If you don’t need it, want it, or love it, it’s just taking up valuable space!”

And can’t we all use a little more breathing room?

As moms, we are juggling so much most days (okay, every day) that I often ask myself how I’ll make it to the end of the school year with my sanity intact. Every space in my house is a mess, and that begins at 6am when my twin daughters wake up. They silence our house alarm, make their way downstairs, and turn on the television, all before my coffee is made. The dishes are piled up, there are three baskets of clean laundry waiting to be folded, their school laptops are sprawled on the dining room table, their little pink headphones still attached. It’s not even 7 o’clock in the morning, and I am already tired.

Clea and Joanna have a solution for us busy moms, even in our own homes: “It all comes back to creating smart and efficient systems. When systems are in place and they are customized to our needs and our families’ needs, it takes little effort to maintain them. Sure, it may take some time to create the systems in the first place, but it’s well worth it!”

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She chose to climb up on two step stools in our pantry/medicine cabinet/storage area (aka the most confused space in my house) to find God knows what. I snapped this photo to capture the insanity of it all, the stubbornness of my middle child, then I got caught up looking at all of the mess… What is happening in this room? I recently watched the @netflix series #thehomeedit and y’all, I need to do something with my disorganized mess. I also need to get a leash for my kid (who broke her left arm 24hrs before I snapped this photo) so I can keep her from climbing and breaking her other arm! #netflix #thehomeedit #mess #contain #edit #minimalist #clean #cleanerhome #pantryneedshelp #amess #motherofdaughters #motherofmultiples #mydaughter #strongwilledchild #motherhood #quarantinelife

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We take inventory all the time as moms: How many snacks are left? How many meals can I get out of these items in my fridge? Can we manage with mismatched socks for a little longer? We are always checking and rechecking the systems we have for our families, so though getting organized may take some initial effort, we’re already pros at it – and it will pay off in the long run.

The point is to start somewhere. We are all capable of organizing our mess; we can edit our spaces and toss out the Tupperware without tops or that chipped mug (like in the Brooklyn episode), buy containers that fit our budget, and create a space that gives us peace of mind.

Clea and Joanna say, “Right now, we want to get people to understand that organizing can be a form of self-care. Just having a little bit of order and control in your life can feel very meditative. We want people to be excited about that, and realize that they’re going to feel good. Organizing is not just a chore. It’s not just like, ‘Oh, I have to clean the house today.’ It’s like an opportunity!”

JOHN SHEARER/NETFLIX

I don’t know about you, but I certainly need to reframe (thank you, Clea and Joanna) how I look at cleaning my house, especially right now when we’re living in it 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. We have more laundry, more garbage, and more stuff. How wonderful it will feel to get control of the place my family and I call home when everything else seems so unmanageable!

As we are all in varying degrees of COVID-19 craziness, between juggling our kids’ distance learning schedules, our spouse’s conference calls, our work schedules, and struggling (well, I am) to keep it all together, it gives me hope that Clea and Joanna are equally in this with all of us. They shared with Scary Mommy, “We’re both adjusting as well as we can be. It’s still tough. Honestly, we’re lucky that we have our husbands to pick up the slack. Our main priority has been setting up systems to get everyone on a routine. Kids thrive on routine and so do adults.”

In terms of setting up these systems, Clea and Joanna advise, “We always start with the areas that are providing us the most frustration and go from there. For us, setting up separate rolling carts with supplies for virtual learning and working from home has helped. It gives these items a place to live and can be easily adjusted when necessary.”

DENISE CREW/NETFLIX

And for all of the husbands/partners out there who just don’t see the point, they have some advice for you too: “For starters, they need to understand why the house should get organized. It’s not just because you want everything to look pretty in a rainbow order. Creating organized systems streamlines daily routines and honestly, saves time and money in the long run. We’re very aware that many husbands don’t see the point in organization until they experience it for themselves. Once the systems are in place, it’s also important to set realistic expectations. We don’t expect them to keep their clothing in color order; just to hang things where they belong.”

So let’s not lose hope in our mess-oblivious partners’ role in keeping the space they too call home organized.

Considering I look at the same walls day in and day out, we are currently painting our home, giving it a fresh new look. Thanks to the advice of Clea and Joanna, I’ve contained my kids’ toys, their coloring pencils, and the like in repurposed wicker baskets and then hidden them (in another wicker basket) giving me peace of mind — a kind of mental clarity I’d been seeking since March. It’s an “out of sight, out of mind” approach to containment. I’ve even edited out their teddy bears and broken Barbie Dolls (let’s hope they don’t look in the garbage). Next up, I’ll try to figure out what to do with my wild pantry.

Once my wife realizes I’ve created some “breathing room” in her pajama drawer and thrown out some items she’s had since our first date thirteen years ago, I’m fairly certain she’ll be looking forward to season 2 of Get Organized with The Home Edit on Netflix as much as I am!