What steps can I take to get rid of clutter?
Real Mom Problem
“The clutter is killing me! Help me solve this annoying problem.”
- 1. Consider throwing away, or donating, anything you haven't used in the past six months
- 2. Enlist the family's help in keeping things neat and organized
- 3. Make sure that everything has a place, and that you put things away as soon as you're done with them
- 4. Make organizing a part of your daily routine -- don't wait until things get out of control
Real Mom Solutions
Tired of the clutter but don't know where to start? Let the moms of CafeMom show you some baby steps towards getting more organized.
Our Expert Mom Says...
At The Clutter Diet®, we have a lot of fun with the metaphor of weight loss as it applies to getting organized, so we talk about Prevention, Reduction, and Maintenance. Prevention of clutter starts with reducing your "clutter calories" by simply being mindful of what you're allowing into your home. Think twice before buying something or accepting things from others. Reduction is like working out -- you want to reduce the accumulation you already have. Start with the areas that are bothering you the most that will make the biggest difference to your daily routines once they are improved. Usually for most families those areas are the kitchen, laundry room, and home office. Maintenance refers to the set of habits required after you reduce to ensure that your spaces don't gain all of the clutter back. Taking a few minutes to straighten and maintain your space daily and weekly will help. Clutter is created by delayed decisions and delayed actions, so catch yourself saying, "I'll put it here for now" and make the decision to put things away in logical places.
Lorie Marrero is a Certified Professional Organizer® and the bestselling author of "The Clutter Diet: The Skinny on Organizing Your Home and Taking Control of Your Life." She is also the creator of ClutterDiet.com, an innovative program allowing anyone to get expert help at an affordable price. Lorie is the spokesperson for Goodwill Industries International, and she is a sought-after expert for national media such as CNBC, "Family Circle," WGN News and "Woman's Day." She writes regularly as an organizing expert for "Good Housekeeping." She lives in Austin, TX with her husband, two human sons, and 30,000 bee daughters in her backyard beehives.
The Moms of CafeMom Say...
Use plastic bins instead of cardboard boxes for storage. They are easier to stack and look nicer if you have to have them sitting out. Also, I have found that even if a room is trashed, just making the bed or vacuuming the floor can make a huge difference.
My house is not very big and sometimes I get overwhelmed with all the stuff. I make frequent trips to Goodwill. If we don't need it or use it, I give it to someone who can. That's my motto. I keep the kids' toys and stuff confined to the playroom. They don't have toys in their rooms. And they help clean up. Maybe you could set up a chore chart for your kids. My boys love when we do the seven minute clean up. Usually before bedtime I set the timer for seven minutes and we have a race to see if they can clean up before the timer beeps. Sometimes I'll bribe them with a sticker, but usually they just do it.
I'd suggest getting tubs with labels on them for each kid. Have them keep their toys, shoes, etc. in their own tub. This way when it's clean up time, it may be easy to sort through.
Have a designated place for everything. I would start with papers...because that seems like my biggest problem. Have a place for mail/outgoing/to-be-read etc. And what also helps me is picking up anytime I go into a room. It seems like a never ending battle sometimes...and I get stressed out too. Good luck!
If you haven't used it or even looked at it in six months, throw it away or give it away.
What really helped me and all my clutter was FlyLady. She helps you see how you can handle cleaning your house over time and get rid of all the clutter. I like having her daily digest emails because it reminds me, and keeps me motivated to keep cleaning. She has weekly and monthly challenges. But she really teaches you to take baby steps and realize your house won't get clean in a 24 hour free-for-all cleaning spree. It's going to take time, and in that time you will learn a cleaning routine that will come almost automatically to you, and cleaning the house won't be such a chore.
Here are some things I do to try to help with the clutter:
- I weed out 2-3 times a year, and I make it a family event so my kids learn what donating and giving means too.
- I have specific bins for everything in the kids' rooms...books, toys, movies...etc. I also have bins for all the animals' stuff.
- I make sure EVERYONE (minus the animals and the infant) is responsible for cleaning up after themselves. A house should be a team effort. I make a list of everything that needs to be done...daily, monthly, weekly. Everyone helps out, and it gets crossed off the list when it's done.
- I also clean and organize once a week. That helps. It doesn't get overly bad before I try to do it.
- If you have closet space, make the most out of it. Get those space saver bags, so worth it.
Try to figure out the main thing that becomes clutter...is it mostly papers? Or is it just that you have too much stuff?! I think we all could take a good look in every room in our houses and ask...what are we actually using here? We have so much junk! And junk leads to clutter!
One trick is to move! Or at least do a renovation, or rearrange your furniture and you will end up sorting through stuff. Everything just needs to be toned down, and you have to have appropriate places for things so you know where to put them.
I have three kids, and I'm facing clutter on a daily basis. I put up bins in the hall with their names on them, and folders for all their school papers, and I'm going to put up hooks to hang their book bags. It'll help some.
Mostly, you just have to take a day a week, at least, to commit to organizing all the stuff that gets dropped at the door when you all come home!