While a child enters the world naked and with no possessions, that doesn’t last long. But there are easy ways to declutter any room in the house, even if your children often have enough toys to fill a warehouse…
and sometimes it seems like those toys multiply on their own. Decluttering can be easy with some simple steps to cut back the amount of stuff in your house. There are easy ways to make your house look more streamlined, and most can be done in five minutes or less.
1. Clear off flat surfaces.
Junk mail piled on the dining room table makes it easier for the table to become a receptacle for schoolwork, bills and all the stuff you mean to take upstairs. The coffee table, the desk, the counters—all are magnets for clutter. Go through your house (or even just a room) and get rid of everything on a flat surface that doesn’t need to be there. If you’re looking to sort mail, get some folders and a nice-looking holder and leave them near where you drop off your mail; that way you can file as you sort.
2. Families, to your corners
Corners are another place where clutter tends to accumulate. If you don’t have time to clean an entire room (and who does?) attack just one corner. Pick the messiest corner in the room and pull all the Legos, Hot Wheels, DVDs and puzzle pieces out and put them where they belong (this is where having multiple kids comes in handy—give each kid a corner and have them race.) Run a dust mop or a vacuum cleaner on the floor and wipe down the baseboards with a damp cloth. You may get inspired to do the entire room!
3. Create a “donation station.”
Have piles of clothing, toys and other stuff you really mean to drive to Goodwill? Consolidate. Put a large garbage bag in a closet and when you run across something you mean to donate, put it in the bag. When the bag is full, into the car it goes. For an easier tax time, staple a piece of paper to the bag to keep track of what goes in. You can even use separate bags for items meant for the consignment store, or if you’re planning a yard sale in the future.
4. Declutter digitally
I’m sure the CD collection you’ve had since high school is very impressive—but you just don’t need the physical CDs anymore. Spend five minutes a night burning your CDs to your computer and onto an MP3 player—you can sell the CDs easily on Amazon.com. Just be sure to back up your music on an external hard drive in case your computer crashes. You can do the same thing with kids’ artwork, or with photos people send that you don’t want to display but can’t bring yourself to throw away—scan those graduation pictures and Christmas cards from relatives, then toss the pictures with an easy conscience.
5. Set limits
First, set limits on how much time you spend decluttering—if you know you’re only going to work for 10 minutes, you’re less likely to feel overwhelmed. So work for only 10 minutes, and then stop (without feeling guilty that there’s more to do.) If you work for 10 minutes every day, you’ll be surprised at how much you get done.
Also set limits on how many things you’ll allow in your house. This goes for toys, clothes, movies, anything. Make it a rule that if something comes in the house, something else has to go out. More stuff doesn’t make you happier; it just makes your home messier. And that doesn’t make anyone happy.
You don’t need a sparkling clean house to be happy. No one is going to notice if there’s a little dust on the living room lamp or if your DVDs aren’t in alphabetical order. But shuffling through papers so you can eat dinner or shoving toys off the couch so you can watch TV isn’t relaxing or comfortable, which is what a home should be. Little steps can make a big difference.
By Kristen Page-Kirby