Working parents and stay- at- home parents all know about CLUTTER. It is the ever- present, never- ending THING to get done. And we know it NEVER ENDS, especially with kids in the house. It might be dishes, or laundry piling up. Maybe you collected too many modern farmhouse signs and walking through your house is like swimming in a thesaurus. Thanks, Joanna Gaines. So, what do we do about clutter? How to fight it? Where and how to even start decluttering at home?
Why is decluttering at home important?
When we are surrounded by chaos, we internalize it and thus we become it, the chaos. Someone important probably said that, or maybe it was just me. In any case, it rings pretty true. Who doesn’t feel overwhelmed and defeated by piles of laundry, emails and Joanna Gaines decorative signs? Especially those ones that scream in capital letters “LAUNDRY”. Bringing more attention to the thing that needs to be done, hush now laundry sign. Sorry, Joanna, nothing personal, you’re really beautiful and I love your Target line.
Generally, we know that clutter breeds discontent, but most of us don’t have the time or the bandwidth to really take care of it once and for all. Clutter is like an angry bridge troll and knowing it’s there is scary and stressful. It can even manifest into anxiety. A 2012 article from Psychology Today states, “Clutter can play a significant role in how we feel about our homes, our workplaces, and ourselves. Messy homes and work spaces leave us feeling anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed.”
I said to someone earlier who I know was having a bad day, “Hey, it’s ok to not be ok.” I think we all need to be reminded of this sometimes. If something like your environment is causing you stress and anxiety and you can’t figure out where and how to start, it may only amplify the problem.
It is a vicious cycle.
An angry bridge troll. (I recently read The Billy Goats Gruff to my daughter, so I have bridge trolls on the mind.)
Clearing clutter takes time and energy (mental and physical). All precious commodities. Clutter typically isn’t just in one space- it might be the mudroom, the kitchen, the kids rooms, the laundry room, or maybe it’s just everywhere. In that case, WHERE do you even begin? You might start tidying one space only to simply move the mess to another space. Raise your hand if that makes you want to give up? Probably most of us. The frustrating double edged sword is that a clutter free environment allows for peace and calm and more time for ourselves and our families.
Again, an evil bridge troll of spite.
Baby steps to decluttering at home
My best advice is to take things slowly and one space/ room at a time. Have some boxes or bins on hand so you don’t unintentionally create more mess while in the midst of tidying.
Before you start, get some clarity on what you want to achieve. This will help you determine where you should start and where you can reasonably stop and take a break. Can you answer the following question:
“My end goal in decluttering at home is to achieve ________?”
What did you fill in the blank with? I’ll give you an example. For me, My end goal in decluttering at home is to achieve an organized space so I know where things are and am aware of what I have.” As someone who often accidentally buys things I already have (like cake mix), when I know what is already in my home, I make less impulsive purchases and thus save time and money. This is just one example, there are many reasons for decluttering at home and the impact that can have.
- Choose your approach– Will you focus on a specific area OR go by category (ie. The Kon Mari method)
- If going room by room, we created this awesome Decluttering Checklist for you to use. I love this because I am a list lover. It also helps to give you start and stopping points for decluttering at home!
- Dedicate a workspace– This may be an entire room OR for things like organizing papers or clothing, you might set up shop on the dining room table or in the garage.
- The Fab Four is key- You will need 4 categories to separate things into. You can use bags, boxes, whatever works for you.
- Trash/ Recycle
- Donate/ Sell
- The “not sure” pile (Use this one sparingly!)
- Guiding questions to ask yourself if you are struggling (You’ll be able to tell that Marie Kondo speaks to me):
- Is the item :
- worth having around (given the cleaning, managment, etc?)
- worth taking up space in your home?
- Does this item spark joy?
So, let’s say you’re done at this point and all your bags and boxes are packed up. I’d say raise your hand if you’re someone who might drive around with the donation items in your car for months. But, I won’t come for you. But we’re all guilty of that one. (Cough, cough)
Best practice to being a successful decluttering queen is to GET RID OF IT RIGHT AWAY! So, block off a space in your calendar to take it to the donation center and ACTUALLY DO IT. Take the trash out and if you have large items to toss, schedule a time to visit the dump (I know, fun, right?). This might involve finding that friend with the truck, so make sure to treat them to celebratory ice cream or drinks!
Maybe some of your donation items can go to friends or centers, make sure not to over book yourself. Sometimes you just need to get rid of it all at once and move on. This also limits the temptation to dig through the piles again and pull things out.
A clean and organized space feels and looks awesome. Once you’re done, celebrate, enjoy! Make sure to enlist the help of your family and get them on board. While you might want to accomplish the larger of the tasks on your own, have your kids focus on their spaces, ask them about which toys or clothing to get rid of in their rooms. Make sure everyone is involved and on the same page.
Let us know how your decluttering at home goes for you and your family! Leave us a message in the comments. Happy Friday MTTES fam!
Courtney is an MTT tutor, academic coach, and blog contributor for MTTES. If you check out our FB and Instagram pages, you might see her giving a storytime with her son Jack through the company’s Facebook Live service. Courtney’s love of the English language, learning, and creative writing inspired her to contribute relevant content to teachers, tutors, parents, and homeschoolers seeking support across an array of trending topics. She and her teacher husband have two small children and reside in Baltimore, MD with their dog Lottie May.