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When we moved into our current home I was about 30 weeks pregnant with twins. The idea of unpacking and finding places for all our things beyond clothing, dishes, and absolute essentials was not going to happen. We also had three kids ages 5 (almost 6), 4, and 1.5 years old at the time so the toys were unpacked fairly quickly. And it felt like the world exploded.
Every day there would be a level playing field of toys across the living room.
Every day we would try to get the kids to clean it back up.
I'm sure y'all know where this is going.
Kids can mostly help... but also get really bored of cleaning up after a bit. And if I sat down to help? I was not getting back up.
At 35 weeks along I developed pre-eclampsia and was put on hospital bedrest because the doctors wanted to be able to deliver the twins the moment it was needed. Thankfully they got an extra two weeks of baking while I got a two week "vacation" from cleaning. And my dear, sweet, incredible husband worked at home taking care of the other three kids.
Plus between driving across town to visit me he was trying to unpack boxes that hadn't yet been opened, do last minute prep work for the babies arrival, and try to keep up with the day to day stuff. Have I mentioned how much I love that guy, because for reals <3<3<3
After the boys arrived and we returned home it felt like the world exploded all over again! Not only were there toys every where from the big kids, there were now baby things EVERYWHERE. Big baby things like swings and rockers plus little baby things like pump parts, blankets, pacifiers, and tiny socks. Oh my goodness. I look at pictures and wonder how we didn't all trip everywhere all the time.
I was blind to the clutter, you guys.
I tried shuffling it around to different places thinking that if I only organized or displayed it differently that it would work this time. Um, no. That doesn't work.
Yes, it was a crazy season of life, but even looking at pictures of our old house the first thing that jumps out now is clutter. I look at pictures taken during the twins first and second year and all I see is clutter. We had SO MUCH STUFF.
We still have stuff. We will always have stuff. There are seven of us. We are toy collectors. And there are seven of us. Our house is right about 1800sq ft. It's not small, but the layout makes it feel incredibly cramped with all of us. But finally at the end of 2016 I was ready to make a change.
I decided that I couldn't possibly be the only person dealing with overwhelming clutter so I created a year long challenge - the Clutter Buster Challenge. Each week of 2017 was dedicated to a different area in our home and I shared the good, the bad, and the ugly. I wanted to inspire others to declutter and keep myself accountable at the same time. I couldn't believe the amount of stuff we got rid of from all over the house.
I wish I had taken more pictures of the van loads we brought to the thrift store. Of the bags I of clothing I offered to friends with kids younger than mine. Of the toys... oh the toys! So many toys that we said good-bye to last year. This is just a portion of what we donated.
And now when I take pictures? Oh sure, there's clutter. Hello, we live here! But it's not overwhelming. When my kids take some toys out we can clean it back up fairly quickly. I don't have medication from three years ago in my first aid area. I know where to find pens that actually work.
See to me, decluttering isn't about organizing. That's a whole separate beast.
Decluttering is a constant process of deciding what's worth keeping and donating or tossing the items that aren't used, needed, or working for you any longer.
I still need to declutter my trouble spots on a regular basis. The ledge in the living room, the desk in the kitchen, and the tops of our dressers are our worst spots. They are the places where we toss things we aren't sure what to do with at the moment. Or where we put things to look at later. But sometimes later doesn't come and we end up with piles and then I need to declutter. But now it takes a few minutes and the house feels so much better. I can breathe easier when I don't feel like the piles are going to topple on me at any moment!
Want to tackle your clutter? Try these three quick tips:
1. Don't try to declutter the whole house at once
Oh my goodness. If you (or me) try to declutter your entire house at once you are going to end up frustrated and probably feeling quite defeated. Don't do that to yourself, please! There is a much better way to start.
Pick a spot that is visible so you can see the difference decluttering makes. When I'm feeling overwhelmed by clutter I go for the living room ledge or the kitchen desk. Both are very visible spots and can make a big difference in the overall feeling of clutter in our home.
2. Use the pile system
I used to try and run items from where ever I was decluttering to the items home back and forth but I would often get distracted by other clutter in the new room! Nope. Now I use a pile system when I declutter: Keep, toss (or I'll bring the garbage over), donate, new home. The keep pile is for items that belong in that spot and I'll put back once I'm done clearing everything else out.
Toss goes in the garbage - again, it's helpful to bring the garbage over so I can't try and talk myself into keeping more things! We have a donation box in our garage at all times so once I've gone through the area I can immediately put it outside where I don't see it and try to convince myself I can repurpose or still use an item.
And the new home pile is full of all those things that don't belong in the spot I'm decluttering but I still want to keep. I'll run around the house returning the items once I'm done so I don't get distracted.
3. Set a timer
Some decluttering jobs seem super overwhelming when you look at them. I mean, go back through some of my Clutter Buster Challenge posts and look at the chaos I was dealing with in parts of my home. Ugh. But I bet the longest tasks took less than an hour or two and that was for the big jobs like the garage or storage area. Most jobs took thirty minutes or less.
Set a timer to see how much you can get done in the time you have. Only have ten minutes? Wouldn't that ten minutes be better spent decluttering than browsing Facebook? Or set a longer timer if you have it and see if you can beat the time and still get the job done. Who doesn't love a good challenge ;)