|My kitchen clutter "hot spot" (ala FlyLady)|
These days I feel oppressed by clutter, stifled even, but still it accumulates... doo-dads in hidden nooks and crannies, baskets full of random items longing to be put away, and even stacks of mail and broken toys that dare to loiter in plain sight on my kitchen counters. The clutter has become so much more offensive now that I am acquainted with the freedom of shiny, clear counters and dresser tops that imply endless possibilities.
|Shiny dresser... ahh!|
So what is a girl to do? If only it were as simple as just putting all the clutter away... Is anyone with me here? A year ago or so I really got to work organizing and busting my clutter. Don't get me wrong, it is still an issue and I am working on it everyday, but when I realized that we were not going to be able to sell our condo (due to the economy) and move to a bigger home, I decided I was going to do what I could to be happy for as long as we end up needing to stay here.
Are you in a similar situation? Have you reached a point where you know Something Must Be Done (!) or have you learned to embrace the clutter and just go with it? Or maybe you are a champion homemaker and you don't have this problem... (?)
I can't promise that I can solve your clutter monster problem, but I can share what I did and what is starting to work for me.
|Ack! Another hot spot (office)|
Here's where I started: I looked at my clutter problem (which had me all antsy and irate about my perfectly lovely and comfortable condo, which we seemed to grow out of at an abominably quick rate) and decided to figure out what I could do based on where the clutter problems were coming from. I think we can classify some clutter problems as "out of our control" issues and others, well, it is up to us to "take control".
The "out of our control" issues:
- Apartment/ condo/ home is too small; there just isn't a "place for everything"
- Babies/ Toddlers/ Kids... need I say more?
- Budget- to a degree, you have to work with what you've got as far as furniture, organizing materials, etc.
- Tendencies to hoard certain items
- Priorities- If you can't stand the situation and there is something that can be done to improve it, then make it more important than browsing Pinterest, right?
|A little closet organization never hurt anyone.|
First, I addressed the "need to take control" issues. I am not a hoarder per se, but I love a good recycling/ upcycling project, and sometimes I tend to get a little carried away in the materials collecting process. There came a point that I had bags and bags of empty toilet paper rolls, boxes of glass bottles that I had washed and saved from various drinks or condiments, and containers of random pieces of junk that I "might use someday". I just had to realize that enough is enough. I used quite a few of those toilet paper rolls for various projects, but when those were finished, I had to just be done with them, and recycle the rest. Same with the glass bottles. I went through all my craft materials and recycled, donated, or otherwise disposed of several huge bags worth of junk. New rule for myself: I will not hoard craft supplies unless I have a clear plan of what I will be doing with them. As for my priorities, I didn't just try to organize the whole house in one day, I have been trying to pace myself a bit and work on one area at a time- and it is working, slowly but surely!
|My crafting supplies (not counting sewing stuff) all fit in these bins (at least now they do)!|
As a side note, one of my clutter problems stems from junk mail... half of it I can't throw away because I feel like it needs to be shredded, so it accumulates. Here is one solution I have found that seems to be working: Catalog Choice. Just save your junk mail, go to their (free) website and enter the information they ask for for each catalog, and they will opt you out of mailings and name sharing. It's pretty cool, and no, I didn't get paid to tell you that!
Next, I got to looking at the "out of my control" issues and wondering if there really wasn't anything I could do. As it turns out, there really wasn't anything I could do about moving to a bigger home yet, but I could rent a small storage unit and fill it with as much rarely-used stuff as I could possibly squish into it. So I did, and that made a huge difference in how spacious my home felt. Crib? Gone. Changing table? Gone. Unused furniture? Gone. Boxes of baby clothes too small for my kids? Gone. During this whole process I had to really ask myself "Do I want to pay to store this for x number of years?" each time I put something in a box to go to storage. Consequently, I donated or tossed a lot of stuff here too.
|Cheap shelf and baskets that add storage to our guest bathroom.|
As for the kids? Yeah, nothing I can do about the constant messes they make, but I did what I could to organize their toys, and I try to hold them accountable for at least picking up all the toys in the front room before going to bed (at a minimum). Last week I changed my routine for the morning, so that we all do some cleaning together. I have my 2 and 3 year old sons picking up items and running around the house putting them away. They help me clean every room in the house, put away laundry, throw garbage out, and pick up their toys. I pay them (mostly pennies and nickels) for each task they do, and they love putting the coins in their money jars through a little slot I cut in the lid (originally a small plastic peanut butter jar). Last weekend I was shocked to realize that every single part of my house was decently clean- not perfect- but acceptable. Today is more of the same. It is because of this little routine change that we have implemented.
Now the budget was a tricky one, but I got my husband on board with me and we made a list in a spreadsheet of all the items we wanted or felt like we needed to make our home more comfortable. That list includes things like smaller furniture for certain rooms, organizational materials like storage containers, shelving, paint, and a few home improvements that would add storage space. We save our money and try to check a couple of things off the purchase list each month.
It is working! I think I am always going to have to be mindful of clutter and work to keep it at bay, but for the first time in my life I am starting to feel like I am going to be able to conquer it!
What have you done to combat clutter from taking over your home? Changed routines? Are you a pro? Still working on it? I'd love to hear what you're doing!