One of the key benefits of living tiny is that it takes a fraction of the time to pick up and clean your home. The downside is that it gets messy just as quickly. Additionally, when you are living in a small space, that mess can quickly become overwhelming and stressful. We’ve been there-done that as a family of six, plus four cats, and a dog living in our skoolie. So I figured I’d share our top six ways that will allow you to get on top of the clutter, and keep your skoolie tidy and organized!
How it started
February 6th, 2021 we literally threw everything left inside our school bus conversion and hit the road. Out the window went the idea that the bus would be organized and everything put away before leaving. In fact, parts of our school bus conversion weren’t even finished. However, negative temperatures in the double digits for the very next day meant time was up.
When I say we threw, we literally shoved everything we needed for our family in this bus. Bins and stuff littered the floor, and our kitchen table and sink were full of items. In the back of the bus, personal items, stuffed animals, and bedding rose up from the mattresses to the ceiling.
The chaos that resulted as a consequence, was overwhelming, to say the least. The combination of a multitude of people in a small space, technical issues, and the mess created a stressful few weeks. Together this resulted in high anxiety for me and shorter fuses. It was at that moment I realized I needed to take control of what I could; and that was the mess and clutter.
How it is going
The solution to the chaos in the bus was to downsize and organize. After numerous trial and error, this is the method that helped us to maintain a tidy and organized bus.
If you would prefer to skip straight to the products that help us to keep our bus organized; then scroll now! Don’t worry, I won’t take any offense if you do this 😉
You can organize as many times as you want. However, if you have too much excess stuff, you will find yourself constantly struggling to stay on top of it. So before you even begin the process of organizing, the first thing you need to do is purge.
In fact, eliminating the excess is an ongoing process. I started utilizing this method in our house and it worked great! Knowing the process worked, I applied these same steps in our bus. The goal was to downsize our items in order to begin organizing the bus.
A space for everything
Having a specific place for everything is the most important component to keeping a tidy/organized bus. And I mean absolutely everything; all the way down to your bus keys.
The ability to customize your home on wheels is one of the many upsides of a skoolie build. This freedom leads to a home that exactly fits your needs and wants. Therefore, you have the ability to incorporate customizable storage for items that you will utilize on the bus.
Second, regardless of whether or not your build is “finished,” modifications can always be made. It is never to late to create space-specific storage.
Think of something common such as kitchen pantry storage. Rather than have a variety of boxes/containers cluttering a drawer; create specific storage for your pantry items. Then within that pantry, utalize uniform containers to make the most use of that space. Afterwards, empty your pantry items from the original packaging into a container and label. You will be left with a pantry that is tidy, organized and easy to maintain.
Or another big one; a catch-all basket. We all know that as soon as we walk through the front door; we have a handful of items that need put away. Rather than simply setting them down; utilize a catch-all basket it. This provides the perfect place to always drop your wallet, sunglasses and keys. Not only will it help by reducing clutter laying about, but this will also insure that you can easily find your items.
Having a specific spot for everything assists everyone in your bus to know where items go. Consequently, this make it easier for everyone to put items away the very first time.
This concept takes having a specific space for everything one step further. What makes this step important is that while you might have a specific drawer that houses an item, that doesn’t make something organized. It simply means it’s out of sight.
Think about kids toys. Instead of a drawer that toys ultimately end up shoved inside; try this. Take that drawer and using clear storage bags like these, and separate the toys. Creating compartmentalized storage within a smaller space will help you to keep smaller items organized. This results in a tidy bus and less work to maintain it!
Put it away the first time
Speaking of first times, this is a big one; putting something away the first time. In our house we call it the O.H.I.O method; Only Handle It Once. To put it simply, it means that as soon as you finish using something; put it back where it goes right away.
For example, take a daily task such as brushing your kiddo’s hair. As soon as they finish, it should be put back into the basket it belongs in. That way it doesn’t create clutter and makes it easy for the next person to find it.
It takes a village in order to keep a small space tidy and organized. In order for this to be a long-term solution and sustainable; everyone has to work together. Otherwise you will find yourself constantly frustrated and fighting an uphill battle.
Sit down with everyone that lives on your bus, and have a conversation about your expectations and needs. Interestingly enough, even though I initiated this conversation, everyone was in agreement. By taking the time to communicate from the get-go, we eliminated a lot of frustration ahead of time. And in the end; everyone was happier and more relaxed once we were living in an organized bus.
Being that a bus is a tiny house; it tends to get messy quickly! But, working together also means it can get clean just as quickly with everyone chipping in!
A daily routine composed of these 5 steps is what helped us to maintain a tidy bus. We would end every night with a family clean-up. That meant that collectively we would pick up/put everything away, vacuum, do dishes, dust, and a quick clean of whatever requires attention. That way each day ends and begins with a spotless bus. I can’t tell you how good that feels and how much it positively impacts our moods.
When you begin each day with a clean bus, this means that the only part left is to utilize the O.H.I.O method and work together. Combined, these allowed us to keep the bus tidy and organized. But simultaneously, this prevents the feeling that all we do all day is clean.
Before we implemented these firve steps, we always felt like we were cleaning. Small spaces get dirty quickly. So every time we turned around, we were cleaning again.
Now, instead of cleaning multiple times a day; we limit cleaning to 1x a day. Then throughout the day we simply pick up. This way we really get to enjoy the entire reason we chose bus life; to be present, spending time doing what we want to be doing.
My favorite organizational products!
I can talk and talk about all the reasons this method will help you to to maintain an orgazined bus. But at the end of the day, what you really want to know is what products will help you to do that more easily:) Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered:)
Listed below are both exact products I’m using in my bus, or a similar idea if I happened to purchase something locally. While these certainly aren’t are, they are some of my favorites!
I have included these affiliate links for your shopping convenience. I understand that you have lots of options when you shop. When you choose to shop using these links, it doesn’t cost you anything, helps support our blog and I appreciate it!
The entry way in a skoolie is all about containing the chaos of shoes and outerwear and keeping it clean!
You can never have enough kitchen organization! Don’t even get me started on all the options for drawers! However, here are a few of my favorites!
I love these amber bottles for the vinegar/water mixture we use in our DIY composting skoolie toilet. The metal baskets I use for all sorts of cleaning items such as swiffer duster refills, or vacuum attachments. And this vacuum…hands down THE BEST vacuum for bus life. Cordless means its easy and quick to use. The variety of attachments make it perfect for both cleaning the whole bus, or in small areas!
Organization for kids is all about compartmentalizing. I love these storage packs for separating kids toys. These wall hanging bags I put in the kids bunks to hold their tiny personal items such as glasses, the remote for their LED lights or chapstick. Then these shelves are perfect for kids bunks to put books, or other small items.
These packing cubes are the easiest method to keep clothes separated and organized in bus drawers. Each family member has a different color for all their clothes. These make it easy to find items without everything getting jumbled inside a drawer. These cubes also make it easy to do laundry and put away again afterwards.
I hope this helps to give you a few ideas on how you can enjoy the benefits of bus life while simultaneously keep your tiny home tidy and organized!
Looking for more organizational inspiration? Make sure to check out more organizational ideas below!
- DIY zippered bedding
- Organizing your kid’s toys
- The secret to organizing all your tea boxes!
- The best way to organize your laundry room
- How to keep your clothes organized in a skoolie (Coming Soon)
- The top 10 essentials you need for your skoolie kitchen (Coming Soon)