Drowning In Clutter – Tips From Readers

Last week I sent out the monthly Planning With Kids Newsletter and it was titled Drowning In Clutter (you can click on that link to see the full email.)

For those of you who haven’t read it, I talked about how due to a busy end of year and then the school holidays, I felt overwhelmed by the clutter that had accumulated in my home (see evidence in above photo taken of our “drop zone”). I then went on to share how I was overcoming this one step at a time.

Towards the end of the newsletter, I invited readers to send me their tips / strategies for controlling the clutter beast in their home. The response was AMAZING! I received so many fabulous tips, that it would be greedy not to share them! It is great to see what others do – not all of these tips maybe right for you, but they may inspire you to think of new ways to manage clutter in your home.

As well as this compilation post of de-cluttering tips, two readers sent me such detailed responses, that with their permission, I will publish them in full on the blog later this month.

Thanks so much to everyone who replied to the email. It did take me awhile to respond to all of them, but I am pretty sure I have made it through all of them now 🙂 .

Tips On How To Declutter Your Home

Making a list
[Clutter] is such a familiar problem for me – and with my elder child starting preschool for the first time last week I now have a couple of hours when she’s there and the younger one is sleeping when I can really tackle some clutter!

Last week I did our house’s version of the drop zone and began sorting out the sewing/craft/stationery cupboard a shelf at a time. Then, with five days of no preschool ahead of me, I sat down and made two lists: one of things I can do on preschool days (like decluttering, getting in and sharpening the kitchen knives with no small fingers around, researching family friendly outings in Sydney, etc); and one of things I can do when my husband takes both kids for me (like pulling out the lounge, extracting all the tiny toys that have collected there from under it and vacuuming the carpet and the lounge!).

Now I know that whenever I have some spare time I can tick something off one of my lists before sitting down to a quiet, HOT cup of tea and drinking it in one go!!! I feel like I have used my time effectively as well as given myself a break. And it feels good!

Tip courtesy of Jai, who is a mum to 2 living in Sydney.”

A place for everything
[K]nowing what you want that space/cupboard for and then making sure nothing else invades that space. Also I have a rule for that my kitchen bench is to be cleared before I go to bed. It helps a lot – even my 6 year knows that he can’t leave anything of his there – it has to go to his room.

Tip courtesy of Janelle from Nellbe Gluten Free. A mum to two boys living in Melbourne.”

The timed approach
I made a little list (actually it is not that little if I am completely honest) of all the areas that need work at the end of 2011. I have discovered this technique called Pomodoro.

You set yourself the timer to 25min and take on a task during that periods avoiding all distractions. So as soon as both kids are in bed that is what I do for 25min. Then I have a 5min break (water, coffee, fruit top up). If I am up to it I do another 25min lot and it is amazing what one can achieve in that period of time. So I have decluttered my little one’s desk, decluttered my own desk, decluttered the study floor, one filing cabinet and the kids bookshelf last week.

It definitely feels like a great achievement. This week is ebay week so I will be spending 25min every day taking photos, listing things and hopefully selling some of our unneeded possessions.

Tip courtesy of Vesna, who is a mum to 2 living in Sydney.

Reducing the “stuff”
For the last year or so, we have enforced a “in-out rule”. When ever we buy something new, other than food and that type of thing, we need to get rid of an old something or something we no longer need or use. So we have to find something to throw out, donate to charity or give to someone else.

It makes me think twice about buying something new, but it has worked best for the kids. They find it hard to let go of things, but know they have to if they buy something new.

Tip courtesy of Chrissy, who is a mum to 4 living in Brisbane.

The right storage units
Reader photo - toy storage
My kids toys were a problem until I got a cabinet (just a thing with 9 holes) that could hold nine black plastic boxes purchased from Bunnings. I now have cars in one box – blocks in another box – animals in another box etc etc. Kids know they can get one box out and play with it – then pack up and get another box.

Tip and photo courtesy of Michelle, who is a mum to 4 living in Wandong.

The “Big Box”
In our garage we have what is called our “Big Box”. When I find items lying around that don’t really have a home, they go out into the big box. Once every three months, I sort out the stuff from the box into two piles. One for the bin and one for charity. If it hasn’t been used in three months then it can’t come back in the house.

Tip courtesy of Lisa, who is a mum to 3 living in Melbourne.

The “spring cleaning” method
The other de-cluttering method is the “spring cleaning” method. You remove all the stuff from a surface or drawer in order to dust and clean it. Then only return to that newly cleaned place what really needs to be there. The rest goes in the bin, ragbag or the labelled handing down box.

I also have an op shop bag and “pending decision” bag with a date for disposal on each one. As you say, if I haven’t changed my mind or needs within 6 weeks, off it goes.

Tip from Kate in Melbourne who has 3 small children [and works full time].

Thanks again for to all these lovely women for sharing tips on how to declutter the home.

If you have a decluttering tip you would like to share, please feel free to leave it the comments below.