Guest post by Mary Colwell
Clutter… I hate it! It drives me nuts, and seems to self-multiply like a monster having babies. Piles on tables, toys spilling across the floor, and useful items that have no home…they all make me want to scream. I don’t know about you, but I feel like I can’t really relax when my house is full of clutter!
Perhaps because it bothers me so much, I tend to make a special effort to eradicate disorder from my home. I’ve tried a variety of “systems” over the years, but I’ve found that in the long run, following a few simple rules tends to keep my little corner of the world the most well-groomed.
So without farther ado, my “rules”…
- When in doubt, throw it out!
This is something my grandfather used to say when I was a child. I didn’t really understand the usefulness of it until I reach adulthood. Now, it is perhaps one of my favorite sayings. You see, we live in a consumer world, and this world is constantly telling us we need more stuff. I don’t know about you, but the clutter in my home often comes from simply having too many things. They may be nice things, even useful things, but there are too many of them! This little mantra helps me keep my “stuff” in perspective because it reminds me that the things are there to serve me, and if they aren’t doing that, then I need to get rid of them. Getting rid of all the extras will make keeping the rest of it organized, much, much easier. So, take a look around your home and if you find something that you “doubt” you need or will use, than throw that sucker out! Yes, even if it’s a gift from Great Aunt Ethel! And if trashing it makes you feel guilty, than donate it, but either way, get it out of your home. It’s not worth your peace of mind.
- Love it or lose it!
Now that we’ve gotten rid of the things that aren’t really useful, we are left with stuff we use, but it still may be things we don’t actually like. I find this little ditty is helpful to remember when I have to deal with things like decor items, or kitchen ware, things that I want/need but sometimes don’t really love. You may have things in your home that are currently in use, but that you really don’t like. If that’s so, slowly, as you can afford, replace them. That picture frame that you hate? Replace it! That baking pan that is rusting? Buy a new one and trash the old. Useful things that we don’t love, aren’t actually useful. As I noted above, we live in a consumer society, and that is a blessing and a curse. The blessing part of it is that we have choices in what we use. So if you aren’t in love with the things in your home, then they are clutter, and need to be reassessed.
- A place for everything, and everything in it’s place
So, we have gotten rid of our “doubts”, and we are slowly whittling down/replacing whats left to be just what we love. What now? Organizing those loves and those necessary evils (like bills) so they don’t turn into piles on the counter. That means making places so things can be quickly and easily put away. In some cases, this may mean paring things down even farther. A big area for many (us included) is often kids toys. They might not be broken or out grown (the doubts), and they might be very well loved (aren’t all toys!?!), but if they can’t fit where you need them to go, then they are still definitely clutter. This sometimes means being strict with yourself, or your kids. You might find yourself really wanting to keep more than will actually fit in your house, but trust me, it’s not worth it. An item without a place is a pile waiting to happen. And those piles of useful, loved, things will destroy your hard fought organization. Just bite the bullet and “Let it go…”
You will be glad you did!
- The 10 minute tidy
Okay, we now have no doubts, have lost our less then lovelies, and made a place for what’s left. The last thing I have found to be incredibly helpful in my quest for order, has been my morning and evening “ten minute tidy” routine. Every night before I go to bed, I walk through my home and pick up everything that is left out. Usually this does not include toys, as my children have a place for all their items, and know that if I find them left out they will be losing those toys for the foreseeable future. But for other things, like misplaced cushions, coffee cups, and left over items from the day, I take this time to replace them. I also make sure my kitchen is clean, and the dishwasher running it’s last load for the night. This way I wake up to a house that is tidy and ready for the day. I also have a morning routine that I try to do after breakfast. (Things like load the breakfast dishes, wipe off surfaces, and start a load of laundry.) This time of tidying means that the house (usually) doesn’t get out of hand, and I’m not tempted to make piles. I find that if my house is neat, than I am more at peace (even if my floors are still in desperate need of a good sweeping!). Now, do I always do follow my routine perfectly? Heck no. I wish I did…my life would be easier. But it IS what I aim for, and that makes all the difference.
Well, there you have it: my personal set of rhythms and rules that help me keep the clutter monster at bay. These may not work for everyone, but I can tell you from personal experience that for our home they have been lifesavers. They allow me to minimize what’s in my home, love what’s left, and generally keep things off the counter and out of the dreaded “piles”.
So, here’s to keeping a tidier home! I hope my tips have helped you a bit. Now, go forth and conquer your own clutter beast! It’s worth the time and effort…good luck!
Mary is the happily ever after wife to her husband and loving mom to her two children. She homeschools, gardens, and runs her home with efficiency and grace. She enjoys bubble baths, good books, and time with friends and family.