I have been itching lately. And I mean itching. I feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff in our home. I see those lovely Scandinavian homes and I straight out yearn for a clutter free home. And then I look around and quite honestly get a bit overwhelmed.
Not only is it my stuff. And my husband’s stuff. Those are actually fairly manageable. But the kids’ stuff. That’s a lot. And when they were babies? Even. More. Stuff.
But it’s a new year. And that seems like a good time to give a run at a fresh start. Let’s face it, with the weather the way it is in Seattle in January, I might as well hang out inside and get some work done.
Good news? I know how to declutter. I know the cycle. Even better news? I’m going to share with you, so that you, too, can have a clutter free home, even with kids. In fact, let’s start with their rooms.
A note before we begin
You’re not going to get your whole home, or even maybe a whole room done in one sitting. Don’t put that pressure on yourself. Start with a project you’re confident you can tackle given your energy level and the amount of (uninterrupted) time you’ve got. You can always start another section of the project, but having small, “Aha! I did it!” victories are way better than looking at what you haven’t done or having small helpers wade through your progress.
Clutter Free Home With Kids Step 1: Divide...
Start by sorting your project into three piles: "keep", "donate" and "recycle/garbage". Everything goes into one of these piles. And don't go making other smaller piles or overthinking things. Try to look at things objectively (I know, this is hard with kiddo stuff. Do your best!).
The keep pile should be good condition items that you use often and love. No doubt in your mind, “keep”. Donation stuff is great for duplicates, or things you loved when you bought but just never think to use. You can donate to neighbors, charity, etc. Keep in mind that who ever receives this will want it in good condition, which leads me to…..recycle or pitch it. Some of the stuff will end up here, and it’s sad. Kids are hard on things and sometimes those things will just be done. They did their job. No use holding onto them.
Everything sorted? Great! Now take the piles that you aren't keeping and physically remove them from the space. Garbage? Bag it up and put it out for garbage day. Donation? Bag it up and put it in your car so that it's ready when you're free to drop off. The point is to lessen the amount of stuff you're looking at. There, don't you feel better? It certainly looks better already!
Clutter Free Home With Kids Step 2: Conquer!
Phew! Now that you've tackled that mountain of stuff (and, give yourself a HAND for that!) and have a smaller mountain of stuff you're ready for the next step. Conquer that pile by dividing even more. Clothes? Sort them into tops and bottoms. Toys? Bedroom toys and bathroom toys. The point is to make things pleasant to look at and obvious what’s where.
If your kids are old enough to help with tidying, this will be essential. Working with babies? You’ll be happy to know where the extra sheets are when there’s a blow-out in the middle of the night rather than hunting through drawers.
Clutter Free Home With Kids Step 3: Repeat!
That's it! You conquered that project! Don't you feel better? Now, take this plan and tackle another project. Or better yet, take a break, put your feet up, have a cup of tea and plan your next steps. You just did a lot and you deserve it!
Clutter Free Home With Kids footnote
I want to put something on the table. Decluttering is hard. It’s hard when it’s my stuff; I get super attached to things even when they no longer fit/work/have room in my home for them. It’s hard to let go.
But when it comes to my boys’ things, it can be even harder. I have so many memories of them playing with these things, wearing these small clothes, being…..littler. And to me, it feels like I’m giving away something of their childhood. I’m not saying it makes sense, but it does make it harder to part with these things sometimes.
I say this to give yourself permission, grace even, to take it easy on yourself. Go in short spurts, walk away if it gets icky feeling, take care of you. A clutter free home can feel great, but you have to feel great about what’s in it.
I sat in the middle of the kitchen and cried last month when I was trying to declutter it. I had a set of Care Bears glasses that I hadn’t used in forever, that I knew I wasn’t likely to use any time soon, that I knew logically should be donated. But I just couldn’t do it!
And it’s fine!! I wrapped them up and they’re in my closet now. Who knows? I might bring them back out and put them in regular use. Or I might feel better about donating them in a few years. But for now, they’re safe and I know where I can get them if I need them. And that was the right decision for me at that time.
Be kind to yourself when it comes to decluttering. It can be an extremely personal experience.
Now keep your eyes peeled, because this will be a month of organization blogs! Next up is organizing a nursery, followed by tackling teen rooms and finally getting those big kid rooms ship shape.