Staying Organized During Divorce-Home Edition

Maxine is owned by Hallmark but she likes to visit me here
Maxine is owned by Hallmark but she likes to visit me here

I wouldn’t have ever thought someone would ask me for tips on keeping the household organized during divorce ๐Ÿ˜‰ They obviously don’t know me, right? Well, to be fair I did learn a thing or two about correcting some of my own disorganization during divorce. I guess I am qualified to write this post, after all.

Just last week I got this comment on my previous post, Staying Organized During Divorce-Tips;

“Thanks for posting this article, Lisa. Iโ€™m currently going through a divorce, so I appreciated some of the tips that youโ€™ve shared with us. I hadnโ€™t thought of printing out bills and emails from my lawyer; maybe it would be a good idea to do that. Do you have any tips to keep the house clean and organized while going through divorce? Now that would really help! Thanks for sharing.”

We can thank my new reader, Lily, for inspiring this part II, focusing on staying organized at home during divorce.

Staying Organized During Divorce-Home
image by Ann Taintor sourced; Pinterest

First, what makes our households different during divorce than any other time in our life? I can think of a few things;

1) Our children are coming and going weekly with a shared parenting arrangement

2) We have more bills and expenses than normal plus we are solely responsible for paying them on time

3) We may be working outside the home for the first time in many years

4) Our household income is less than when we were married

5) The divorce sucks our energy. We have less time and energy for the housework and chores.

6) We are solely responsible for fixing things that break and malfunction around the house or apartment. (unless we’re renting in which case you can call the superintendent for assistance ๐Ÿ˜‰ย  a renting bonus)

With these points in mind, let’s take a look at how we can improve or simply maintain home organization during divorce.

1) Buy extra necessities for the children to keep at your house. Don’t allow them to pack them up when they leave to go to Dad’s house. For example; extra underwear, gym shorts for school, school suppliesย  (i.e. that pesky calculator they always forget but need for their exam tomorrow), extra socks, toothbrushes and anything else you can think of that they will need but inevitably forget at their dad’s house.

2) Maintain and update physical files of your household expenses and activities. Also, get on-line for as many bill payments as possible. This will reduce your risk of late payments and therefore reduce late penalty fees which can add up quickly. Continue to have credit card statements and any companies you have an account with send their paper bills in the mail. It is impossible to forget when you get a hard copy of the bill. If it’s on line, it’s easy to forget to check what’s due and when. The physical copy is a back up reminder. Works for me!

3) Re-booting our career takes time away from home. We might have to re-certify or re-educate first. We might find ourselves working for peanuts, trying to update our work experience. With less time at home, it helps to designate a day or days of the week to get certain household chores done. Instead of doing a little something everyday, which can be tiring and oppressive, maybe designate Friday as laundry and grocery day? Saturday is house cleaning day? Make the kids help. Now is not the time to let them slack off. Set up their chore schedule, too! Many hands make for light work…

4) Budget. While we have less income, it seems that life is costing us more and that’s because it is. The conundrum of divorce; it’s great for the economy but not our own economy. Set up your budget if you haven’t already. Most lawyers will have you do this anyhow as part of defining your support payment needs. Once you have your expenses and income in ink you can begin to analyze it. Figure out where you can cut back expenses and how much you can save. Even $5/month in an emergency fund is better than nothing. Less restaurant eating will certainly cut back expenses in a hurry. You’ll find you will make small changes in your lifestyle. You will come to realize you don’t need as much as you want. Cutting back doesn’t mean complete deprivation. It just means less. It can be a liberating part of the divorce process. Don’t underestimate the power of small changes. Being a conscious and mindful shopper can really help you stay within your budget.

5) Shop smarter and eat healthier. The fact is, our energy levels might be low. We’re emotionally drained much of the time. We’re on a roller coaster ride, not knowing for sure what’s going to happen next. Staying organized in this emotional state is a challenge. I recommend trying your best to nourish your body with healthy foods. It’s okay to eat junk once in a while but be careful about skipping meals. This will only drain you more. When you grocery shop, think about refueling your body as you put stuff in your shopping cart. More nourishing food in the refrigerator and kitchen cabinets, means more energy for you and your kids to balance out the emotional demands of your divorce. Don’t forget to use the coupons to save $, it’s all part of the mindful shopping experience. Keeping up with household chores on less time? See #3.

6) Things breaking around the house are inevitable but fixing them is another story. A broken ceiling fan can bring us to tears. Why? It’s the exclamation point on our being alone. No one to help. It’s only you…and you haven’t a clue how to fix it. Well, we can always learn. There will be some things like a broken gas fireplace or plumbing issue that we’ll have no choice but to call in a pro or a handy man(which is why we’ll need the emergency fund). BTW, I wrote a highly inappropriate post about the benefits of finding a good handy man here. On the other hand, we can learn to fix a few things ourselves via Google searches. I’d like to give a shout out to Vanessa at Heels and a Toolbox . She provides detailed, how to instructions for fixing things around the house, for the single woman. Brilliant!

The Benefits of an organized household?

Improved health

More time for fun things

Efficient bill payment

You can find things

You don’t always buy duplicates by mistake

Eating healthier

Better mood

Less tired/more energy

You won’t miss important events

Happier kids

With the each unique situation, our household needs for organization change. Whether it’s because of divorce or any other major change like illness, moving or downsizing, we need to take a fresh look at what’s working and what isn’t in our household organization. An organized home makes a happy soul, just ask Marie Kondo, author of bestseller The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up. You’ll find some inspiration from her Japanese decluttering philosophy.

How do you keep your household organized amidst chaos? Share your tips!

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32 Replies to “Staying Organized During Divorce-Home Edition”

  1. The tip to buy extra necessities is a good one because if a child is going back-and-forth between households, you can expect things to be forgotten during packing. Especially toothbrushes. I don’t know why, but those are the things always forgotten. Having those necessities at both households would prevent a lot of headache.

    1. Exactly right, Chrys and it causes them great distress to realize they’ve forgotten necessities or worse text books. In many cases we made trips back to dad’s house to get homework etc.

  2. Hi Lisa – thank you so much for the mention!

    I remember when I was first separated my house was actually a lot tidier. First I boxed up all of his belongings and then any gifts we had received while married from his family and friends. I continued to purge after that and for the first bit having so much less stuff really made a difference.

    For a friend of mine it was totally different though – she was afraid to throw anything away in case she needed it in the future and wouldn’t be able to afford to replace it.

    The paper was my nightmare, and still something I struggle with.

    1. That’s awesome, Vanessa! I think for most of us purging takes time after separation, divorce. Purging does help in organization for sure. I guess that could be a whole other post LOL. It’s amazing how much stuff we have that we don’t actually use/wear anymore. I love going through and donating or taking clothes to consignment every season change. It helps me stay organized (somewhat). Paper is a pain in the butt as it piles up so fast. We just get it organized and more comes in.

    1. Great point, Kim. Glad you found this helpful as a happily married ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m not single anymore and I need to continue taking my own good advice ๐Ÿ˜›

    1. Ha! Liv, that is too funny. That was actually true that one woman got rid of her hubby using the marie kondo method; which is to hold things and decide if they bring you joy. If not, out they go! LOL.

  3. Most often we don’t have the energy and the inclination to keep things organised when our own mind is cluttered. But I guess the crisis brings the best out of us. Even a divorce can make us smarter and organised! I could never think about this! All experiences make us learn more.
    Excellent tips Lisa!

    1. So true, Balroop. We’re actually forced to get a little more organized because it’s all on us now. Ya know? Not to mention the legal aspect of the divorce can really wreak havoc on our finances and that again forces us to be more mindful and set up our ‘budget’. I don’t like that word. I need to find a new word for that.

    1. That’s awesome, Karen. I haven’t tried it yet but I’ve watched many of the youtube videos. I have tried her folding method and it’s great because you can see everything in your drawer and find things easier. Only thing is, I don’t put stuff back the same way. I throw t-shirts on top and shut the drawer. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Well now I’m laughing because Cassidy is reading that Mario Kondo book. I hope he doesn’t find me to be cluttering his space!
    This is SO much food for thought. And mainly because Scarlet’s best friend’s two moms are in a bad divorce right now and I am friendly with both and just try to offer support. Things come up. Low energy. Food. Broken household things. Chores.
    I totally get it.

    1. I’m sure Cassidy feels joy when he holds you, meaning he can’t get rid of you LOL!! Yup, it’s the stuff of life—broken things, hungry for what, we’re not sure, needing an energy boost etc.

  5. I keep perfectionism out of it! I just do things as I am doing something else. Touch papers once, have recycle recepticles all over and two hand full whenever I go from one room to the next….I can think clearer when my house is neat, truly! Awesome post, Lisa!

    1. Hi Jodi! How are you? Perfectionism is impossible, so glad you pointed that out! Touch paper once, great house rule ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Hi Lisa,

    Loved these tips ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’ve seen people get more organized during and after divorce, or perhaps they now know it’s all upon them and they alone have to handle the front, and they do a pretty good job out of it, being single-handed at it. The toughest thing however is getting through the initial stage and clearing your mind to take hold of yourself in such a situation. Once you are through it, you are fully focused on getting organized, as you mentioned so well.

    Thanks for sharing. Have a nice week ahead, and see you once I’m back to the blogosphere now. Till then, take care and be well ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Absolutely true, Harleena. The initial stages are the hardest adjustment emotionally and logistically. Thanks for stopping over and i hope you have a lovely holiday with your family! See you upon your return.

  7. These are wonderful tips Lisa. I’m not going through a divorce but I could use these tips as well :). I keep extras for my grandkids in case my daughter forgets something, which is often, lol.

    I was reading through the comments and I love what Harleena said. I have to agree with her. I think people get more organized after a divorce because they know they will be the only one running the house. At least that would be my mindset.

    Thanks for sharing these tips Lisa. Hope you’re having a great week!


    1. Hi Cori, Yes, we have little choice but to improve our habits as the head of the household. I’m glad these tips are useful to you as well. You have a grandchild? Seriously? Too young… ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Hi Lisa, this is the first time I’m visiting your wonderful blog.

    You’ve shared some wonderful tips. Though I’m not going through a divorce, but one of my friends has recently been through it. She is finding it a tad difficult to come up with things. Will share this post with her. Thank you… ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Hi Maniparna, welcome to my little corner of the internet ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you so much for sharing and I hope my article helps your friend!

  9. Hey Lisa!

    I can see these tips would be very helpful in any type of decluttering situation. Thanks for sharing em. I’m passing it along!

  10. Great advice, Lisa!! Good lord I’m still figuring out how to organize my house. But at least i have the physical files down, the legal experience has trained me well on that. LOL! and um…only fellow divorcees would find that remotely funny, i think… ๐Ÿ˜€

    1. Ha! Jane, you’re right about the legal experience training us…and only us divorcees will find that remotely funny! Love.

  11. Fabulous advices Lisa. This time of our life can be scary and is so tough. We need to stay organised to keep our sanity!
    Stay well dear. xx

  12. Thanks for writing this article this will be very helpful to all those moms suffering after divorce and the same is the case with me where i got divorced and am sharing custody rights. also there are many fights for expenses.

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