I would consider myself a fairly organized person and yet still find myself somewhat overwhelmed by the condition of my home with three young children home almost all the time. As a stay-at-home mom I don’t have time to remotely keep up with the chaos and can’t even wrap my brain around the extra time challenge that moms who work outside the home face – regardless of how old their kids are! I often find myself wandering aimlessly through the house knowing that I should be doing something and yet paralyzed about where to start because, let’s be honest, when you have kids in your house you don’t ever really get to complete a task all at one time.
A while back I read the book Living Clutter-Free with Kids in the house by Mike Burns. I remember liking it so in some random Kindle scrolling last night ended up peek at the highlights I made in the book. The highlights were so encouraging that I ended up reading several chapters again to ‘reset’ my thinking! Here are some of the highlights that might be helpful for you too….
“Before you start decluttering, determine what’s really important to you. You have to know what your focus should be on before you can determine which things are distracting you from it.”
This idea is huge because just wanting a clean house isn’t enough to keep you motivated for the long haul! Wanting to raise your children to be responsible adults or not feeling like as the mom you are solely responsible for everything required to keep a house functioning are good places to start. Truthfully my biggest motivation is my sanity – I don’t function well amongst a cluttered house and thankfully my husband (who don’t notice clutter even if he trips on it) tries to follow one of my clutter-taming rules…when you are done with something put it away!
“You have to refuse to allow your limitations to stop you from progress. You have to break your projects down into smaller, doable chunks.”
It’s easy to look at a whole mess and be frozen by not knowing where to start! Even small baby steps are better than no steps at all! Here are some ideas of simple places to start (some from the book and some of my own ideas)
- Start with one desk drawer or one kitchen drawer. See this blog post for ideas about how to tame a small space without feeling totally bogged down.
- Take out the trash – literally. Start by emptying all the trash cans in your house. Then walk thru each room and pick up the things that need to be dumped, and do it! Sadly you might be surprised how much trash (wrappers, papers, dog hair, etc.) are just messing up the spaces in your home causing anxiety.
- Turn all the hangers in your closet (and your kid’s closets) around the opposite way. Then when you wear an item place it on the hanger normally. It won’t take but a few weeks to see what clothing items you really aren’t wearing and can get rid of.
- Box up half your kids’ toys (this is from the book and I love that it’s so easy). Don’t spend time sorting, just put them away. If your kids ask for certain toys you can just grab those, but in the meantime they will learn to enjoy what they have. And a couple months from now you can swap out the garage toys for the ones in the house and it will be all brand new again!
“If you determined that you don’t have enough time to sort through the messes you have, you can at least stop adding to them or making new ones. It doesn’t take any extra time to start saying ‘No.”
This one for me is a little tougher. I naturally like to be busy and stay involved with things. However, about six months ago God called me to give up everything that took me away from my family. Literally, no more working, no more blogging, no more volunteering. God knew that the most important ‘job’ I needed to take on was caring for my home and family. Let me tell you it hasn’t been easy, but it’s been good! I’m not hard wired to be still, but have found in our much emptier family schedule we are all still very blessed. If you find your family running around like crazy with too many sports or buried under mountains of new clothes or toys start by saying NO. People might not like it, but ya know what, that’s their problem not yours.
“If you get one new (or new-to-you) item, you get rid of one of the same type that you already had.”
The piece that goes right along with saying ‘no’ is the One-in-One-out Rule. Just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean you need to buy it (or at least that’s what my husband tells me), but if I find myself with something new on a killer deal I have to be committed to getting rid of a like item. This is the ONLY way to stop having more to take care of. You can’t have less if you only ever bring things in without sending anything out!