Clutter Free: How To Shrink The Mess

Here’s the truth; if you have kids, you have clutter, there’s just no getting around it. There is good news however: with just a few simple tips and tricks anyone can minimize the clutter in their home, with lot of kids or just a few, and maximize space as well as create a stress-free easy-to-clean home.

There’s no doubt about it, Americans like our “stuff.” We like to accumulate and surround ourselves with material things. Some things we buy because we need them, other things because we want them. Some of our ‘clutter’ consists of items we use often, and if you have older children into sports and other after school activities, the piles of daily or weekly used items can become very large.

We collect other items just to make us happy, to add to the beauty and comfort of our living space, and some things we hold onto are gifts and/or have sentimental value. Whatever the reason, most people have homes that don’t adhere to the law of household physics. This law essentially states that your home has a finite amount of space, and in that space, a certain number of things will fit comfortably without adding to the appearance of clutter. When we exceed the number of things in a space that the space will comfortably hold, clutter and overwhelm inevitably follows.

The late George Carlin summed up our desire to collect items and store them in our homes when he quipped, “A house is just a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff.” The problem is that stuff creates a mess, and the more kids you have, the more ‘stuff’ you have, and the larger and more overwhelming the clutter can become. It’s also true that most people like to be neat and organized. Unfortunately, the two concepts do not necessarily align, which is why so many companies like The Container Store boast close to billion-dollar bottom lines. This is also why off sight storage facilities pop up all around us. And when you have kids? Fugehdaboutit. The potential for messiness multiplies tenfold.

The good news is with just a little time, some planning and forethought, and a few basic supplies, anyone can have the organized easy-to-clean home they desire without tossing all the things they need and want. For those wannabe organized families who would like to declutter (or at least keep the overwhelm at bay), look no further than the tips below:

  • First step; decide what to keep. This step is often the hardest as it requires everyone in the family to participate and can sometimes take the most time in the decluttering/streamlining process. The very best way we have found to tackle this first often daunting step is to go at it very simply. Get 3 large bins or boxes and label them: ‘put away,’ ‘throw away,’ and ‘give away.’ The put away box/bin must be the smallest if the goal is to reduce clutter and streamline the home for maximum space and ease of cleaning.
  • Buy bins. Plastic tubs can be a lifesaver for parents whose kids either refuse to throw (or give) anything away, or who want to try and teach their kids to organize their things at an early age. They are also very helpful in the sorting, organizing, and storage of all the various sports, school, and craft supplies and equipment of a busy family. Bins keep the mess to a minimum and they make cleaning simple for all.
  • Save space with cubbies. Multiple-drawer organizers can be found in most home good stores and are wonderful when used in the closet, corner of a bedroom or office, and even in a pantry. They don’t take up much room and allow kids to store odds and ends that might otherwise be everywhere but their bedroom.
  • Papers in a box. A parent of any school-age child knows the amount of paperwork that comes home is obscene and overwhelming. Papers need to be signed and homework needs to be turned in; at times it can feel like a never-ending stream of paper to keep track of and follow up with. To help keep it all straight and to make sure papers get taken care of in a timely manner without getting lost, tossed away, or crumpled at the bottom of a backpack and forgotten, have one place to keep all incoming papers. This is crucial.
  • Use hangers and hooks. These minimally priced inventions that hang on the backs of doors helps keep backpacks, scarves, coats and other items off the floor. Shoe racks and craft organizers can also be hung on hooks to help organize everything from snacks to pencils, pens, erasers, rulers, and all manner of school supplies. Also, for younger children it helps keep craft items organized and easy to find.
  • Consider once again the law of household physics. If you have more ‘stuff’ thank your space will hold, it’s time to declutter and streamline various areas and rooms in your home for maximum efficiency.

When you have a busy family with parents who work and children in school, sports, and other after school activities, keeping a handle on the clutter and overwhelm can be a dauting task. However, once you decide how organized and clutter-free you want/need your home to be, have a family meeting, set a plan, get your supplies, and let every member of the household be part of the reorganizing and streamlining of their space.

Use the steps above as a guide, get creative, and then get to work! With a little planning, and a few hours of scheduled decluttering and organization work, your home can become the stress-free, easy-to-clean oasis of peace and comfort it was meant to be. Happy decluttering!