My house is the cleanest and best looking right before we have company. Those few moments before guests show up, I always wonder why my house can’t look like that all the time. The answer of course is the never ending clutter of daily life. The junk mail that piles on the kitchen counter, the haphazardly hung coats and mismatched gloves in the entry, the desk papers and pens that seems to multiply overnight.
It doesn’t help that my kids, husband and I are all pack rats. I am too sentimental to get rid of things; my husband is convinced that he can repurpose every broken electronic gadget or appliance we have; and my kids have the worst of both of our traits.
So what do we do?
I don’t have all the answers but here are 5 things that work for me:
- Donate clothes. Marie Kondo says “discard anything that doesn't spark joy.” Great advice except for the sentimental ones like me who has kept the running team t-shirt from high school. Then there’s the advice to throw out anything you haven’t worn in a year. But what about that high school t-shirt? What worked for me is finding a local charity that has a list of high need clothing. They post pictures on their website of how donations of clothes help abused women looking for jobs. While it won’t get me to give up that high school t-shirt, I will let go of that super expensive suit that I haven’t fit into for 4 years but really hope to squeeze into someday.
- Kids toys. If you have young kids, the toys take over your house. A simple rule has really helped us get things under control. For every new toy my kids get, they must donate 2 old ones. They don’t even get to open Christmas presents until the requisite number of toys are in the donation box.
- Kids art work and Adult post cards and keepsakes. That beautiful masterpiece created with love…times 400. Yes it’s adorable but there are lots more like it. I have an “art wall.” When it’s full, the kids have to take something down to add a new piece. If it’s really special, you can keep it or better yet take a picture of it for permanent keepsake. This works for all the postcards and other keepsakes adults have a hard time disposing of too.
- The desk. I don’t understand where all the pens and papers come from but I send the pens to the kids school PTA. They often need it for crafts and events. Or throw them out. Especially the ones that don’t work. The papers—I can’t say I’m good about it but I have a triage system. Each piece must get filed, trashed, or dealt with by the end of the week. Coupons go in the car because I’m rarely walking to the store.
- The entryway. We all do it. While we have one coat we usually wear, there are at least 2 jackets and 3-4 pairs of shoes per person in the entryway closet. Enforce the limit of 1. Yes I know, easier said than done. Try requiring the offender to pay a $1 per day fine for going over the limit. Then you can buy even more stuff to clutter your house. Just kidding.
At the end of the day, also remember to embrace the clutter. I remember life before kids when my house was pristine and looked like a model showpiece. Now it looks like a home. The clutter is what gives it the lived in warm and fuzzy feeling. Do what you can and cut yourself a break if you don’t get through it all.
I hope everyone has a great thanksgiving. Please don’t forget to check out the amazing November and December heartwarming releases and for those who want a little bit of themed reading, check out the thanksgiving anthology—at $0.99 it’s a heartwarming bargain.
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So tell me, do you have a clutter nightmare or a decluttering tip for all of us?