I am not educated as a professional organizer, but I feel like as a mom of three, there has to be some element of this specialty in your toolbox or you start to drown with all of the “stuff” that comes with having kids. Pictures, toys, shoes, (SO many SHOES) can start to pile up and get out of hand very quickly if you don’t address it on a consistent if not DAILY basis. Multiply that by the number of people you have in your home and this can start to become overwhelming. Add elearning or work from home with kids and you can get down right masochistic!
The sheer number of toys gets overwhelming and while that isn’t necessarily the focus of today’s discussion, it is a big part of keeping kids areas clean. I have an extreme dislike for small plastic toys from birthday party bags (and I try not to give them away myself) as well as the ever sought after fast food bagged toys – I avoid kids meals unless they offer me free ice cream with their meals!! This bin below is an example of a decluttering of an area – but I have yet to place each of these items in their home or choose to give away. Even if you don’t have kids, you still might need to thin out other items that accumulate, so read on!
I have done some reading about minimalism and Marie Kondo’s concept of “does it spark joy” is pretty compelling and can help to thin down on excess items in your home. I also joined a decluttering work shop held by Jes Marcy (her blog HERE) and for 30 wild and crazy days, I tried to follow along with her daily challenges. I paid for Jes Marcy’s work shop so I won’t share all her secrets here, but I do have a couple of key take aways from organizing that I have learned over the years that I would like to share.
- EVERYTHING NEEDS A HOME
- LIKE ITEMS BY LIKE ITEMS
- IF YOU KNOW WHERE THINGS ARE YOU CAN SAVE $$ AND HAVE LESS CLUTTER
These are three notions that I would like to dig deeper into, as they are great collaborative concepts that help you keep your space tidy instead of an impending disaster. Now first, a disclaimer. Your house will not always be neat and tidy, accepting this is the first rule of organization! No one expects this, and if they do, tell them Chelsea says to pound sand!
I write this because through out all of my explanation, there will always be things to get to if you manage your household yourself. Piles and shoes that need sorting, clothes to be donated or sold, items that need to be put away. Allowing yourself grace and tackling small tasks is the most important piece of this process! Rome wasn’t built in a day, and a neat tidy household is days on days of active engagement (aka constant WORK!). Since we are human beings, we require rest from our daily stress. Occasionally detaching from your to do list is a must since it will always have something on it! Once you accept this, you may continue on 😉
EVERYTHING NEEDS A HOME
As all of these three items are intertwined, you will notice similar themes in all of them! When I say everything needs a home, I mean – to put things away you have to have a place free to put them! Seems simple enough, right? Start thinking that junk drawer, or any basket full of stuff on any counter you might have. If these places are already filled with items, how can you use them to keep new items? Often these areas get full to the point of basically being long term unusable storage. Realizing that you are choosing to use your drawers, baskets, and shelving as dynamic USABLE spaces means you have to remove items to allow them to be used. Once you can put things back where they go – you can keep things more tidy and have a go to plan of how to straighten up. Figuring out where to put things and shoving bags or baskets in closets does two things – it wastes time ( both to put things away and find them later ) AND it creates lost items. You literally lose things since you have no idea where they went! So, all bags go to the shelf in the closet where you have a space for them. ALL OF THEM. And if you have too many, then you can start to thin them out!
That leads me to my next point as you can see a common thread in each above picture of a “home” – the items are all similar!
LIKE THINGS BY LIKE THINGS
How many times have you needed a reusable bag and not been able to find one, or grab a roll of tape only to use it, put it “away” and then not find IT again. I bet if you looked through your drawers and storage, you might find many many rolls of tape scattered about and those reusable bags can ADD up over time – people give those away like mints! Maybe tape or shopping bags aren’t the best example for you but you can substitute ANY item for the words and follow this rule. Once you have all your items together you can decide if you NEED all of them and you can knowingly reduce your stuff because you have an accurate picture. All your candles? Same cabinet!! Charger cords – a pouch under your desk or make a drawer free! This does two major things – it allows you to KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE and find it quickly! Note that those two things also coincide with everything has a home. These concepts build on each other and help you to create order with your house!
Finally, how do you save money if you can know where your things are and how many of them are in that space?
IF YOU KNOW WHERE THINGS ARE YOU CAN SAVE $$ AND HAVE LESS CLUTTER
When you know how many of any one item you have, and its all in one place, it is easier to have a mental idea of what you need. No more impulsive buying of items that you may never use, accidentally hording of t shirts or dog toys. It can literally be ANYTHING – future birthday gifts bags, candles, markers, yarn – if you know what you have, you can accurately account for what you do or do not need to keep!
When we hold on things we don’t need – those things need a home. This takes up the space for items we DO need and thus clutter starts. None of us wants to live in a storage facility, so stop keeping things if you don’t need them – and make sure you think about these three rules when you DO want to buy something OR if you are thinking about keeping something that you haven’t used in a while –
- Do I have a home for this item? (HOME)
- Do I already have enough of these and is this item special or important enough that I need it also? (HOW MANY)
- Am I aware of all the items I have so I can accurately decide on the top two questions? (WHERE)
When I moved into my house, I had 2 banana trees (don’t judge! We eat a LOT of bananas and its like science that hanging them instead of letting them lay is better maybe??). A friend looked at me and said – do you need TWO of these (HOW MANY)? I really liked them both, but my new counter space was smaller than my old home and storage is a premium (no HOME), so I gave one away (I knew the answer to the first two questions so this one was pretty cut and dry). Moving gave me the strength to rid myself of MANY MANY things but It isn’t easy to emotional detach from some items, you may have had it for years! I will say this, the number of years you have had something isn’t reason enough to keep it!
Heirlooms DO bring up a good point however, since the emotional attachment to these things can sometimes be overwhelming. So I revert back to the three rules. Have a HOME for heirlooms you don’t use but plan on re-gifting or handing down to your friends or family. Or be cognizant with how many you have around your house? Be reasonable about how MANY items you save or have on display! As an example, I have a large tupperware that I keep all of my baby knickknacks, and items I might give to my kids when they have kids etc and I know WHERE this box is when I have an item I want to hold onto.
This is all a process and thus, each part of my home is either recently decluttered, awaiting a fresh look, or starting to become a catch all as my attention is drawn elsewhere. We are fighting the battle of finding calm through the chaos and every small step you take each day brings you closer to finding that balance! Using these three rules is just a high level way to approach the constant chaos that is homeownership and inevitable struggle with every day STUFF, hope it helps you a little and if it does or if you have feedback, let me know!