Join me every Monday for Family Happiness Tip Day, when I share tips that have been helpful for our family, and you’re welcome to try em out with yours.

Today’s tip is: put stuff back in an established place when you’re done using it. Isn’t it positively aggravating and frustrating to do a wild-goose chase for your keys or the kids’ mittens when you’re on your way out the door? Searching for that last-minute item can set you behind for the day, and send you on your way filled with angst and stress. Instead, take the time to establish a place to put those frequently misplaced items, and try to get the whole family into the habit of returning things to the right place when they’re done using them.

With four kids, this has been one of our family’s tried-and-true time-saving methods since they were toddlers. Scarves, gloves and hats always go into baskets or drawers, and coats get hung in the closet. Homework gets put right back into backpacks, and backpacks gets hung in cubbies or placed by the bedroom door. Keys, sunglasses and cell phones go on the kitchen counter. And library books, which used to be the bane of my existence when the boys were young (“Is it in your bedroom? The playroom? The family room? In your backpack? On your desk? In your bookcase? Under the sofa? Under your bed? Under the seat in the car?”) eventually got a designated basket in the kitchen where they were returned when they were done being read. Does it always work? No, not every single time, but when you’re in the habit of putting things in a set place, at least you know where to begin looking!

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