I am not quite sure how we accumulated so much stuff but here we are with rooms overflowing with toys, papers, and miscellaneous items we may one day need.
Clutter is such a sneaky thing. Pre-kids I had my method done to a science. (OK, it wasn’t perfect but it worked good enough!) Every school break or holiday I’d tackle our little 2 bedroom suite and clean the whole thing. Since I moved frequently (apparently I hold the family record among my sibling for moving a total of 10 times in my adult life thus far), it was easy to toss things out that would not be worth the move. Then when my oldest daughter was 4 months old we bought our townhouse. 6 1/2 years later, my old methods of dealing with clutter have failed me.
(Exhibit A: Our staircase to the bedrooms on a daily basis. These little piles that just seem to form…)
The problem I have encountered is with always having a baby, a toddler, another baby then toddler who have now grown into children is that those magical “breaks” of days off or holidays in my schedule are no longer free for a giant purge and deep clean. I have realized that this wait until I have a large chunk of time is not working so well. My old method of binge cleaning did not work so well with a busy family, working, and in a larger home that takes more than 2 hours to clean from top to bottom. I came to this conclusion about 4 years ago when I had my second daughter and we went through a year of about 2 hours of sleep (yes, that is consecutive for the whole year). Needless to say organizing and de-cluttering was not my top priority. Now my kids are a little older and I get a bit more sleep so I am feeling a bit more ready to tackle this clutter monster.
Over the past 2 years or so, I have been chipping away at it but as soon as on I get one stack of papers cleared I find another source of clutter. My kids bring home junk faster than I can get rid of it (anyone else despise those party goody bags full of little trinkets that will be strewn about the house?!)
I have not conquered this thing yet but I have found a couple methods that keep us from drowning in it completely:
1. I keep a give away and a sell box going at all times.
So for example, as soon as we have a clothing item that is outgrown or no longer going to work for us, it gets put in one of the boxes.
2. I try to get rid of things as soon as I can.
I used to hold onto items to give away to someone I knew, to sell, etc. Now I may try to sell it but after 1 or 2 attempts I just donate it. I would prefer to give it to someone I know will appreciate it, but unless it is really sentimental, I won’t hold onto it for more than a week or two. So if I am not seeing that person any time soon and they cannot come pick it up-donation it is. If it is garbage, I throw it away immediately rather than trying to sort through items over a few hours or days. Because usually I get interrupted and I never finish sorting.
3. I say no to a lot of items.
It is so easy to collect items. I have started to buy less things we do not need. We borrow more books from the library rather than buying them. We wash clothes more frequently rather than collecting more. I still welcome hand me down items from friends but try to pass on items right away that my kids will not wear rather than holding onto them “just in case.” We put art on the fridge and a bulletin board. When there is no more room, they either get recycled or the special ones get filed away.
These three strategies have helped us to maintain our current level of clutter and make an effort to making things more manageable over all but now I am delving into a more organized home-or so I hope!
A friend of mine who is much more organized has given me a few tips. She says what works for her is starting one room at a time and thinking about what belongs in that room. If it does not belong in that room, it has to go (either gone completely or to its’ proper home). Then once she has everything that belongs in that room, she creates proper storage options (which is easier when you have only the items that need to be in that room). Once this system is started is a matter of continuously maintaining it. She is also pretty ruthless at getting rid of anything that they do not “need.” (I may still be working on this part.)
Sounds like a great plan, doesn’t it!? We will see how this goes…stay tuned for part 2 if I do not get buried in this clutter during the process…