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Note from Lisa: The fabulous guest posts are continuing this week! Here’s Tara Dubiel sharing tips on how to declutter with kids in the house. Take it away Tara…
As a busy working mom I am very familiar with what clutter looks and feels like. It’s the dishes piled in the sink, the toys strewn across the living room untouched, the baskets of clean but unfolded laundry in the hallway.
These things are overwhelming to look at! I don’t know about you, but when I see these things in my home I start shoulding on myself….I should fold that laundry, I should clean up the toys, I should teach the kids to help clean up, I should do the dishes.
If you work from home all of this stuff and shoulds are impacting your focus and concentration on what you really want to be doing…tasks that move your business in the right direction.
But what if we didn’t actually have to live in all the clutter? What if, there was another way?
In this post I will explain the importance of maintaining a clutter-free home, especially for working moms. I will describe the steps I take to tackle any decluttering project as well as share some of the tips that have helped me declutter, even when I have kids at home with me.
Let’s dive right in!
The importance of maintaining a clutter-free environment
A cluttered home causes anxiety and stress, and there’s scientific evidence to back up that claim. An article on Psychology Today states:
“Clutter can play a significant role in how we feel about our homes, our workplaces, and ourselves. Messy homes and work spaces leave us feeling anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed.”
For women that work from home, this clutter can be incredibly detrimental to how you approach your work and family life. It can be more challenging to take care of your children as well as focus on your business.
Clutter takes time and energy to maintain. Instead of simply cleaning your living room, if you have clutter everywhere you first need to pick it all up or move it somewhere else. This adds time and probably frustration at all the stuff you have to touch.
On the flip side, a clutter-free environment will enable you to have more time and energy to focus on your passions and your business. When you have less stuff in your closet you will have less laundry to do and you’ll be able to get dressed quicker in the morning because you don’t have as many clothes to choose from. When your kids have fewer toys it won’t take as long to pick up and your kids will play longer and more creatively with the toys they do have [source].
Basic Decluttering Process
Decluttering is not really a complicated process, but it does help to have some basic steps that you follow for each area of your home.
These are the 8 steps I take when tackling a new area:
Step 1. Determine your why.
Having a clear understanding of why you are decluttering will help keep you going when you reach a point when giving up would be easier. Your why will help propel you forward and give you the extra motivation you need to accomplish your goals!
Fill in the blanks: I declutter and try to maintain a clutter-free home so that ______________.
For example, I declutter and try to maintain a clutter-free home so that I can spend more time with my family and working on my passion projects like my blog and reading.
Step 2. Choose your method:
- By area or,
- By category (aka the Kon Mari method)
Step 3. Clear a work surface.
I like to have a dedicated table or area on the floor to work from. That way if I get interrupted I can leave the stuff where I’m at and then pick up where I left off. Any flat surface will do!
Step 4. Get 4 bags or boxes and label them:
- Undecided – use this box sparingly!
Step 5. Remove everything from your chosen area or category.
It’s super important to touch everything at this step. If you just glance through a drawer the chances of you doing a thorough job decluttering are pretty slim!
Step 6. Go through each and every item and decided which box it belongs in.
Here are some helpful questions to ask yourself as you go through the items:
- Is the item useful?
- Is the item meaningful?
- Is the item beautiful?
- Is the item worth having around (given the cleaning, managing, etc?) – Is the item worth taking up space in your home?
- Does this item spark joy?
Step 7. Take care of the decluttered items right away.
Drop off donations at the donation center, take out the trash, drop off items to a friend that wants your stuff. This way you are less likely to go back into your decluttered items and take things back out. Or worse, have someone in your family go through the items you are decluttering!
Step 8. Put away the keep items and celebrate!
You did an awesome job, now it’s time to celebrate!!
So now that we know why a clutter-free home is important and the basic steps to declutter any area of your home, let’s talk about how to actually accomplish your decluttering goals when you work from home.
The methods below have helped me in our home, but keep in mind every home looks different and everyone is in a different season of life. Don’t feel like you need to do all of these tips to be successful with decluttering your home. I encourage you to pick one or two tips from the list and give them a shot. If they work for you, great! If not, pick another tip to try from the list and go from there!
Add decluttering to your calendar like any other appointment and honor that time. It can be 10 minutes every day, or a big chunk of time on the weekend. Whatever fits into your schedule at this point in time is what will work best for you.
Use Your Morning Time
This won’t work in all seasons, especially if you have young kiddos who still get up in the evening, but the morning is a great time to declutter! This is usually a quiet time before everyone else is awake. You can accomplish quite a bit in just 10-20 minutes!
Use Nap Time
This is another great time to tackle a decluttering project if your little ones still nap. If your children are older you could still implement a quiet time and use that time for decluttering as well.
Have a Plan
This is similar to the first tip of scheduling decluttering sessions, but it’s worth repeating again. By having a plan of which areas you want to tackle first, you don’t have to waste time wondering where you should start first. Make a list of the areas or categories from the Kon Mari method and just go down the list! This also helps keep you motivated by checking things off the list as well.
Enlist Your Kids To Help
Kids can totally help you declutter! Especially if it’s their toys or clothes you are going through. It may take a bit longer, but you have the added bonus of teaching them the importance of maintaining a clutter-free home as well.
Trade Childcare With Your Friends
If you are struggling to accomplish much or you really want to spend a big chunk of time on a decluttering project, swapping childcare with a friend is a great way to get a couple hour time slot as well as help out a friend as well.
Celebrate Your Successes
This is part of the basic process outlined above, but I want to reiterate that every little bit adds up! You may not be able to declutter every day and it may take you months to get through everything. And that is totally ok!! Keep reminding yourself of why you are decluttering, take a break if you need to, and then get back to it!! You’ll be so happy you perservered!
What is your best tip to declutter your home when kids are around?
Please share in the comments below.
Tara Dubiel is a wife and a mom to three beautiful and active kids. She writes at i Dream of Simple about her family's journey to declutter their space, time and mind with the hope of learning to cultivate a life with enough. Download Tara's free Trello Templates, and connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.