Inside: 9 ways to clear the clutter for the stressed-out who hates to clean. No guilt, no comparison, just easy decluttering. Check out the 5 part series here.
Last January, I set upon the goal of decluttering my entire house.
I had a check sheet for every room, closet, and drawer of my entire home. I began in the kitchen, with the junk drawer. Clearing out one junk drawer took me a full Saturday afternoon to declutter the junk drawer alone.
The next weekend I woke up before my kids and tackled the pantry. I organized their school treats, got out the lazy susan for my canned goods, and even had an empty shelf to spare.
Things looked pretty good.
Then Boredom Set In
As a single parent, all decluttering comes down to me doing the work and two kids to clutter the house up. Plus, I find decluttering tedious.
Instead, I choose to spend time with my kids when they are with me or going for a hike when they’re not.
Within three months, the junk drawer was back to normal, and my son spilled Captin Crunch all over the pantry when trying to get his daily snack.
In January, storage solutions, organization challenges and before and after pictures of HGTV-like living spaces bombard our feeds.
And while I love a fresh start. I can’t live up to the perfection in my single-mom home. Trying to implement these challenges, storage solutions, and magnolia home ideal brings on feelings of inadequacy.
I’m not advocating that we never clean, organize, or declutter. Instead, I’m suggesting maybe there’s a better way to spend our free time rather than organizing for days (months?) on end every new year.
This is For You
These tips for clearing the clutter are for those mamas out there who hate to clean and organize but can’t relax because there’s so much clutter in her living room she can’t find a seat.
These tips are for the single mom who stressed out every morning because she can’t see her daughter’s school uniform, simply because there are so many clothes, books, and shoes on top of the dryer.
We clear the clutter because we need to find a little bit of margin in our house and our lives so we can breathe a little easier.
9 Simple Ways to Clear the Clutter for the Stressed Out
1. Think Areas, Not Rooms
Think of six of your favorite areas in your home.
- Where do you hang out the most?
- Or where do you want to hang out or relax but have trouble doing so because of the clutter?
Focus on these areas — not the whole room.
My favorite area in my house is my bed. Next to my bed is a little table but it’s often overrun with books, cups, and all the things tables attract.
Last year when decluttering lost its sparkle for me, I instead decided to clear the clutter from this table next to my favorite spot in my house. Now it holds my books, a diffuser for refreshing sleep, and my essential oils. These items together are a peaceful environment for me.
Scroll to the bottom to get a free printable to help you implement this tactic.
2. Start and End Small
After clearing the clutter from my favorite spots in the house, I felt calmer and no longer felt the need to declutter anything else.
You may be surprised to discover although you wanted to clear the clutter of your entire house, you don’t need to. Start with the areas that bring you the most unrest then see how you feel.
3. It’s All For You
Often we look outside of ourselves and how everyone else’s homes look and think our homes must look this good too.
Throw this notion out.
When you have guests over they aren’t judging your “stuff. ” Your friends are over to see you – not to take stock in your faults.
4. Clear as you go
Instead of embarking upon one big decluttering day (or multiple days) work systems into your everyday life.
- As you cook open up the cupboards and see what you can toss.
- Keep a tub in your closet and your children’s. As you decide you no longer want an article of clothing, throw it in there. Your children probably won’t do this but as you put their clothes away or they tell you they don’t like something anymore, have a place handy to put it aside. Or designate a drawer or shelf in the laundry room.
- When looking in the pantry for something to eat, grab an older food item that’s expired or one you’ll never eat before it goes bad. Throw it in the trash. We do this all the time when looking in the fridge for something to eat, treat your pantry the same.
5. Box it Up
Until you move from one house to another, you have no idea how much stuff you have.
Years ago after my divorce, I moved out of my house of 10 years. While the house was on the market, I filled my garage with boxes of items. These boxes stayed in the garage for a month.
When the time came to move, I realized I didn’t need any of it. I dropped it all off at Goodwill. Had I been sorting through these same items trying to decide to keep them or not, I would have kept them all.
To this day, I have no idea what any of the boxes contained.
One effective and quick way to declutter is to take a whole drawer and put it in a box, label it “kitchen junk drawer” or wherever it came from. Put the box in the garage, basement, or your car. If you don’t touch it for 30 days, either throw it in the trash or drive it over to Goodwill.
6. The Less You Buy
One valuable lesson I learned when moving was all the junk I had unknowingly accumulated over the years and how I didn’t want to end up in the same situation again.
I vowed to be more conscious of what I allowed into my home.
Being conscious of every purchase meant no more garage sales, shopping the clearance at the craft store, or bargain hunting for clothes. The fact is, most of this stuff ends up in piles or forgotten in a drawer.
The less you buy today equals, the less decluttering you’ll have to do tomorrow.
7. Involve your children
Most kids will find decluttering difficult. They don’t want to give up their suddenly precious McDonald’s minion from 3 years ago with the missing eye.
One tactic that can work well is to involve your kids to give out of compassion. Ask them to help you clean out the linen closet so you can all go to the dog shelter and donate. While they donate they can see the dogs.
Have them clean out their small toys and stuffed animals for Operation Christmas Child. Once they pack a box and learn the story behind it, most kids are excited to give.
Cleaning out toys and clothes can sometimes be effective with your children’s help if done before their birthday or Christmas, explaining they need to make room. Put a box under the Christmas tree and involve the kids in a reverse advent where they add an item to give away each day is a great tradition.
8. So you have kids
When you have kids, you’ll always be clearing out the clutter. The kids receive a new toy and discard the old, you save the clothes to hand them down to siblings, and most days you don’t’ have the energy to even look in the playroom.
Be at peace with this. From one overwhelmed mom to another: toys everywhere is what a house with kids is supposed to look like, regardless of “they” say.
If you have to, shut the door when they aren’t in it, so you don’t have to look at it. I do the same with my garage. Who wants to organize a room you don’t spend time in when there’s reading to do, TV to watch, and kids to enjoy?
9. Declutter 30 in 30
Designate one box for donations and one bag for trash in a central location or your garage. Then each day for 30 days, find one item in your house to throw or give away. If you have one room that needs to be cleaned more than any other, chose to do the 30 in 30 in that room only.
This activity should take you about 30 seconds a day.
This year I’ll be concentrating on six new areas of my house to declutter, so I don’t get overwhelmed. For each area, I look around and decide what would help this area be more peaceful and calm?
I won’t be clearing the clutter from the entire house. Maybe when the kids move out.
But for now, I’ve made peace with clearing my little corner while I snuggle with my youngest.
Get your printable to help with your declutter from the resource library.
To use the printable think about your favorite six areas of your home that need the most space and peace. Next to each one write down the date you plan on clearing it out. Decide if you’ll need any supplies to organize and if you can donate any of the extra items to an organization.
You may find clearing out these areas brings you enough peace.
Or you may find after decluttering and organizing these areas, it gives you the confidence to tackle more.
If so, I invite you to check out this series of organization and decluttering. This post is part of a decluttering and organizing series with four other bloggers. We all joined forces to give you different ideas for organization and decluttering. You can find their ideas in the links below.
Single Girls DIY: How to Get Organized: Six Steps that Work Every Time
Busy Creative Living: How to Get Organized When You Don’t Know Where to Start
Busy Lifestyle Gal: 5 Best Storage Tips for Christmas Decor
Love Our Real Life: Five Week Organizing Challenge for Your Entire Home!