If ever anyone had an Achilles heel…
This is the time of year when many of us begin looking around wondering where all this stuff came from. And where should we put it all? First, let me say organization is
just about my biggest challenge. There are days when I live in fear of the doorbell, because our house looks a bit like, well, THIS:
I have never been well organized in my personal life. I do, oddly, manage to stay organized at work where I don‘t keep much stuff. Also there was a period of about six months a few years back when everything had a home and lived in it. Unfortunately this was the result of a house fire which left us with almost nothing. Its easy to organize and tidy just a few items. Which brings me to my point. I’ve realized that there is no number of neatly labeled storage totes or cute shelves that can tame the beast named Too Much Stuff. So I’ve started a three part campaign against the accumulation of unused or otherwise annoying items in my home.
First, I’ve set the goal, and stuck with it so far, that one box or bag of items we’re not using gets given away each week. So far I’ve sent about a third of my clothes, a tiny dent in the toys, and a bunch of kids clothes and shoes to thrift stores or directly to new homes. The kids clothes are a bit of a sticky subject since I try to run most of them through both kids before I send them away, and I buy for the biggest kid a couple sizes ahead if I find a great deal, so we use a bunch of storage on waiting clothes. Still, I plan to stick with sending things away until all the clothes and toys can be put away at the same time. Do any of you always have clothes in the laundry room because there isn’t enough closet space for it all to be clean and put away at the same time? Are you truly short on closet space, or do you just have too much stuff? The same idea could apply to kitchen cabinets or basement storage spaces.
Second, I’ve started to get just a little ruthless about which items come into the house. Let me explain. My kids currently own, oh, about a million or so toys which they may or may not play with. I’m not sure. The toys are certainly making their way out of the toy room and into the rest of the house, I just never actually see a child in possession of any of them. As a result I’ve decided that the majority of gifts I purchase for my kids and others will be consumable, not toys. I try to buy things that get used up and don’t add to the clutter. I love crayons, paper, paint and coloring books for this purpose. The kids love them, use them up and they can always use more, but since they do get used up there aren’t a ton of them lying around. As an added bonus these things encourage creativity. I’ve also adopted this pattern in buying for adults. For instance, I’ll be getting my husband ammo for his birthday (which he’ll love, and will magically disappear) instead of yet another funny tee shirt. Obviously there will be times when this doesn’t work, but even half time it makes a difference.
Third, I’m trying to eliminate accumulation bottlenecks. Simply put, if there isn’t a coffee table, there won’t be a stack of mail, drink cups and magazines on the coffee table. Same goes for that table I thought I’d use to fold laundry in the mud room. It turned into a place for us to dump whatever we needed to get out of the car in a hurry. There were coats, backpacks, and basically anything we didn’t want to actually put away. So one day I dug in, cleared it off and got rid of it. Right now we’ve got a major bottle neck in our back hall, which I’m slowly whittling down. It started as a coat rack and baby-changing table. Now it’s a massive heap of junk, all of which has a home somewhere else in the house, but which we were too lazy, busy or impatient to put away. This one is also a matter of changing habits, UGH…that’s another post.
Also, while it doesn’t get much out of the house, I’ve started asking my husband and children to spend ten minutes tidying up while I cook dinner. It is amazing how often they fail to realize it’s been more than ten minutes and keep cleaning until I call them to the table.
I’m sure there is plenty more one could do, but this is a start and often a start is just what we need to reach the finish.
What do you do to eliminate clutter and stay organized? Seriously, I need the input!
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