Clutter. Is there anything more annoying than clutter? I am not sure that there is, and I know I’m not the only one because the things I write about clutter and helping kids with their clutter are well received by readers. I am guessing this may mean that you dislike clutter as much as I do. The interesting thing is, however, that living with kids does not mean having to live with clutter. There are some pretty simple clutter organization ideas, tips, tricks, and hacks out there, and I’m sharing my best ones with you today.
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When it comes to clutter, it’s just a matter of having a game plan and working on it a little at a time. Kids can help, and there are things you can do to make living with less clutter a reality.
The amount of clutter that appears in my home – and then multiplies – baffles my mind! We have nine people living here, so that doesn’t help with the clutter at all, but I am still amazed at how there is always clutter around.
As much as clutter makes me crazy, I will also admit that a houseful of happy children whom I am not constantly fighting with to tend to their clutter does trump my neurotic tendencies when it comes to order. A peaceful home is more important to me than a house that looks like it’s ready for a magazine shoot.
In an effort to find a balance between my sanity, stepping on something with every step I take, and choosing which battles to fight, these are the five things I have come up with to find the best in all three of these camps.
Here are the decluttering tips and tricks you need to know to finally have less clutter in your home (even if you have kids!)
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1. Choose which common clutter hot spots are more important than others
As much as I would love to have everything “just so” all the time, this is not reality in my home. If it’s not your reality either, choose the areas that do matter most to you. For me, these are the living room, the kitchen, the bathroom that gets used the most, the upstairs hallway, and the steps since having them a cluttered mess is a safety hazard…not that I have slid on random clothing littering the steps while nine months pregnant or anything 🙁 This means that the kids’ playroom, our schoolroom, the other bathrooms, and bedrooms are not a priority every single day. When life is busy and something has to give, these are the things that have to give. Since my life is busy nearly every day, this is where closing the door just comes in handy at times.
2. As I mentioned in Encouraging Your Kids to be Tidy, it is important to give your kids the proper tools needed to actually keep their clutter under control
This advice would apply here, too, and not just to your kids. Make sure that throughout your house, you have systems in place that actually work. As our family has grown, we have had to get rid of some “showy” furniture for more functional pieces like shelving units since there is just more stuff around. Your expectations also need to reflect the ages of your children. With this in mind, not everyone will have the same responsibilities and expectations when it comes to controlling their clutter around the house.
3. Establish and enforce the rule of ownership to control clutter
If your kids want their stuff to be theirs, they will need to keep it in the appropriate areas as you have laid them out. If someone leaves their stuff in the hallway in my home, they can’t get angry when someone else picks it up to use it or play with it. If it is in an open area or someplace where it doesn’t belong, it must not be something they are interested in keeping at the moment. This also means that when things get tossed into my bedroom or other areas, these things often become mine for awhile. I hold my kids’ things hostage for cashola…or they can work it off with manual labor. I love extra help cleaning toilets, cleaning the fridge, or cleaning out the garage among other jobs that aren’t my favorite things to do.
4. Schedule regular decluttering times throughout your day based on when the clutter interferes with your life most
For me this means while I am making meals or during nap time or at bedtime since when my kids are out of my sight, their stuff should be too. Set up a time frame for the tidying process, and set the timer for that amount of time. Everyone needs to work efficiently during this time, too, since some kids loafing around picking up a few things while others are working hard is simply not fair and will never fly in the real world. Don’t let it fly in your happy little world, either.
5. See to it that however you store your clutter, they are ways that you feel happy with & that work!
This means things that look nice to you. Baskets, bins, containers, and even totes can be so cute these days. They come in all different shapes, sizes, textures, and colors that can work with anything. Shelving and storage are also endless these days. IKEA is a personal favorite of mine for any and all storage and many pieces of furniture in my house. Relatively inexpensive, nice looking, and functional, I have something from that place in every room of my house.
Here is an important decluttering truth to keep in mind:
Having a clean home that is not overrun by clutter does not mean that you have to be a drill sergeant ordering your kids around to pick up their things all day any more than it means that you will have to live in chaos that drives you crazy because you want your kids to be happy.
That I mean is, there is a compromise that can be made. By deciding which areas are priorities, choosing when decluttering is your family’s focus, and making these areas functional with all hands on deck in whatever way is age appropriate, you have everything you need to establish that compromise.
This also means being willing to give on these things that you’ve established every once in awhile.
For instance, it can be a good thing to set aside your tidying up times to go for a walk around the block or to play a game at times. This only further illustrates that sometimes, being flexible is needed, which is an important realization for your kids, too.
Also keep in mind that controlling clutter is a good thing, but there is such a thing as having a house that is too clean, too. Often, this is a house where your kids feel like they can’t really live. I don’t know about you, but I also don’t want this kind of life for my kids.
To me, having a balance between a clean and clutter free home and having kids who are content, well adjusted, and happy means that I have a home that I can be proud of and that keeps me sane, but this is also clearly a home where people truly live.
If a balanced approach is your desire, too, working your way through these five tips is a great place to start while also keeping in mind the appropriate balance between having a clean home that you can be proud of and having a home where your children feel happy, comfortable, content, and free to be kids.
Looking for more on clutter tips? Try these: