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A decluttered house is a fantasy for so many of us Moms. Once we have kids, the clutter seems to accumulate overnight. If you know where it comes from, please let me know so I can stop it at the door!
What makes it worse is that kids love to keep trash. They love empty boxes, leaves, broken toys, old plates, empty canisters. If it looks like trash, they are pretty much guaranteed to hoard it. Right now I have a cup with rocks in it in my living room, under the end table. I wouldn’t dare throw it out because the rocks are “food” for their stuffed animals. Adorable, right? I want my kids to use their imagination. But the clutter also makes me crazy!
While there’s some stuff I wouldn’t want to get rid of because the kids use (heaven forbid we throw away an empty tissue box!), there’s a lot of items that we can get rid of. Unfortunately, the stuff no one minds if we get rid of is usually the stuff we actually paid for.… There’s a lesson in this somewhere….
Making Peace In the Household
Before we discuss how to make decluttering easy, I want to stress that in my opinion, it’s never a good idea to “sneak” things out of the house without your family member’s knowledge or permission.
Besides the moral implications, when you do this, you’re losing the chance to teach your kids about decluttering. Although they are sometimes resistant and refuse to give up something that you KNOW they’ll never use, going behind their back and getting rid of it is a temporary solution that will backfire in the long-run. When they discover that their items are gone, not only will they be (justifiably) angry, but in the future it will make them resistant to decluttering. Instead of teaching them the skill, you’ll actually be teaching them to hoard things.
Two ways to get rid of things
- All at once, and
- Slowly, a little at a time
Which Method is Best?
If you’ve read Marie Kondo’s popular book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” then you know there are HUGE benefits of decluttering in one fell swoop.
Some benefits I’ve seen when doing this method:
1. It actually gets done. When you dedicate the time and energy to doing a task (especially when it involves putting it on your calendar!), the task gets done. ‘nuff said.
2. It’s a great feeling. Seeing an area entirely decluttered brings indescribable joy. You feel empowered and accomplished.
3. No more nagging. Unfinished jobs tend to nag at us, don’t they? When we least anticipate them, they come crawling into our minds, disturbing our peace. By taking care of a nagging clutter problem, you finally put it to rest so you can focus your energy on something else. Phew!
Decluttering all at once
If you’re able to declutter all at once, you’re going to be thrilled with the result. Here are some tips to get you started.
1. Schedule time to do it. Choose a day and time and actually put it on your calendar. If possible, give yourself a nice chunk of time. Give yourself at least twice the amount of time you think it’ll take. If you finish early, you’ll feel great! If if it takes longer, you’ll still have time to get it done.
2. Start with the easiest thing to declutter. For me, this is my own clothes. When I open my drawers and see the few remaining items folded nicely with breathing room, it inspires me to keep going. What’s easiest for you? Start there so you see progress!
3. Don’t do too much at once. Although you’re chunking your time, keep it doable. For example, stick with all of your drawers for the first session. For the next session, do your closet. If you do both on the same day (depending on how many clothes you have), you may become overwhelmed.
4. Schedule your next decluttering session right away. Don’t wait to put your next session on your calendar. As soon you sit back to enjoy your decluttered space, grab your phone and set up your next appointment with yourself!
Decluttering A Little At a Time
Although the ideal way to declutter is in big chunks of time, for most of us, it’s not going to happen. We either don’t have the time or we feel too overwhelmed?
So how do we make decluttering easy so we can get it done and get rid of the nagging jobs?
1. Keep a donation box. Somewhere in your house, keep a box of items for donation. As you come across something that you no longer need, toss it right in. This is my method and I’m always amazed at quickly the box fills up. The kids know this system, too, so when a shirt is too small, they’ll ask me for permission to toss it in the “giveaway” box.
2. Do little jobs. If you have a few minutes, declutter just one drawer. Spend a few minutes and go through your clothes. Even a few minutes of decluttering adds up.
3. Schedule a donation pick-up. This always gets me going! If I know that a charity is coming to pick up our unwanted items, it forces me to get busy and gather things! I usually grab a bag and go from room to room, looking for things we no longer need. The kids love to help with this and are amazing at finding books, clothes, and sometimes even toys to donate. As mentioned above, I never force them to give something away. This keeps things fun for them!
Since this method is so effective, I recommend doing it at a minimum of every three months. I know you’ll thank me. LOL.
4. Set a timer. I use this method for all types of cleaning tasks. It’s amazing how much more we get done when a timer is counting down. Even just 10 minutes can make a huge difference in your house, especially if done regularly.
5. Set a yearly goal. Set a goal to donate a certain number of boxes or bags a year and make it a game! Can you make your goal? Can you exceed it?
Good luck with your decluttering projects. I want to encourage you that even doing a little bit adds up. As the clutter leaves your house, calmness and joy enter it. I know you’ll enjoy the benefits of a cleaner, roomier house.
Let me know in the comments what your favorite method is for clearing the clutter.