Ten tips to maintain the clutter-free lifestyle

JMJ101  *I’ve heard it said that up to my age, let’s say about 50, we tend to collect stuff, (or hoard in some cases!) and then after 50 or so, we just want to rid ourselves of it.  We start questioning the purpose of everything in sight.  Why do I have that closet full of undone projects? Is it necessary to keep those buckets of yarn and scraps of fabric?

Ring the School Bell 101/180 days

After the regular course of academics, I gathered up the bags in the garage, to be donated to Goodwill.

A new inventory of clutter, seriously, I don’t know where it all comes from, resulted in four more large bags.  It’s not junk, but stuff we don’t need any longer.  I like to think that ultimately it will bring a little help to someone else, rather than continue collecting dust in my closets.  I’ve heard it said that up to my age, let’s say about 50, we tend to collect stuff, (or hoard in some cases!) and then after 50 or so, we just want to rid ourselves of it.  We start questioning the purpose of everything in sight.  Why do I have that closet full of undone projects?  Is it necessary to keep those buckets of yarn and scraps of fabric?  Even those boxes of sentimentality are scrutinized.  So funny how life is.

I need the following advice as much as anyone else.

Ten tips to maintain the clutter-free lifestyle

  • 1.  Get rid of the kids.  Kidding!  My kids are convinced that there will be so much more work for me to do when they are gone, because they will not be here to help with the chores.  They don’t realize yet, that they are creating most of the work!  I just let them believe this fallacy as I don’t see the harm in it.  Anyhow, be realistic about it if you have children.  A reasonable amount of clutter is completely okay. My first tip is to get them involved in picking up after themselves.  Have some systems in place that become habit.  For example, after they load the dishwasher, they should rinse out the sink.  Or, after they fold the towels, they should stack them and put the laundry basket back in the laundry room.  Anything that becomes an automatic behavior will reduce the clutter in your home.  And no one is too young to start cleaning up after themselves, once they can walk.  I remember cleaning up to the tune of the PBS Barney, first in my primary classroom, and then with my own kids. Anyone remember the tune, “Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere, clean up, clean up, everybody do your share.“? It might be faster to clean up after the kids, but resist the temptation to do it all yourself.  You are not doing yourself or the kids a favor if they don’t learn this skill early on.

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  • 2.  Sort the mail and Amazon packages as they make their way to your home.  It is amazing how quick these are to cause mini-piles of stress after just a few days.  At least have a basket for the mail, if you have to wait a little to go through it.
  • 3.  Look at the size of your home and let that determine the amount of stuff that you have.  Downsize your stuff until you are comfortable.  The cupboards don’t need to be bursting at the seams.  Share what you have.  Offer things to friends you know first, then find a good charity to offer your goods to.  Less stuff, means less stuff to organize.
  • 4.  Find a place for everything and then routinely put everything in its place.  It may be time to save those shoe boxes for extra storage.  I have stacked decorative boxes in almost every room of my home.  I would suggest to put labels on them, to remember what is where.

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  • 5.  Do a final sweep through the house after dinner each evening, to pick up stray items.  If the house warrants it, enlist the children to help.  For me, a tidy house is equivalent to a tidy desk at the office, and a great way to start the next day.
  • 6.  Don’t let more clutter in to your home before evaluating its worth.  Before buying something, think about where you would put it, or what you need to get rid of to make room for it.  This forces me to reconsider many purchases.
  • 7.  On the other hand, realize that life is more important than a tidy house.  As a rule, strive for a tidy house but when exciting things happen and preparations are taking place, relax and laugh about your messy home.  For example, party preparations can temporarily turn your house upside down.  If it gets really bad, for example, if there is nowhere to sit down for a meal, make a game of it.  Round up the kids, blow a whistle, and tell everyone to pick up and put back 12, 22, or 32 items, whatever your room survey dictates.  See who can finish first.
  • 8.  Have two boxes or baskets for giveaways.  Mine are in the garage.  Use one as a definite giveaway box.  The other use as a  “limbo” box, filled with things you haven’t used in a while, but are not ready to give away.  After a month or so, ask yourself again if you really need these things.  Chances are you don’t.

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  • 9.  To encourage you to de-clutter, get some cash for your gently-used items.  There are many consignment shops out there who will sell your goods for you, and others that will actually pay for your clothing by the pound.
  • 10.  If you are in the beginning stages of de-cluttering your home, start slowly, or it may quickly overwhelm you.  Set 10 minutes aside each day at the same time, like first thing in the morning or right after lunch, and choose something to organize and de-clutter such as a drawer.  Don’t take the whole house on at once, or you may want to quit before you begin.  Slowly, a little will make a big difference over time.  If you need a little encouragement after a few days of doing this, go and look at that organized drawer and it will give you the motivation to move forward.

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Maintaining a de-cluttered home is a reward in itself!  I love waking up in the morning to a tidy house, ready to start a new day.  It is definitely worth the daily effort.

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** Note to the Reader- Today’s narrative is an excerpt of our family’s school journey from a few years ago, during my eldest daughter’s senior year in high school, a rather emotional year, with its many ups and downs.

May God shower blessings on your family as he has on mine.    Annette

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Sarah

 

 

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