Decluttering: A Mama-Approved Guide to Un-Junking Your House
Whether you are expecting your first bundle of joy or a seasoned mama, it has happened to you.
You wake up one day and realize that they have taken over. The school projects, the baby paraphernalia, the toys, and that dang unfinished wood dresser you found at Goodwill that you swore you would DIY finish…has officially taken over the house.
You’ve tried to keep up with the clutter. Or maybe you are nesting. And doing the “big declutter” has been on your to-do list for months. Honestly, maybe years. But remember one thing: decluttering is not one event, a system.
If you’re like me, sometimes you just need a step-by-step, “tell me what to do and WHY” kind of guide.
Welp. Here you go.
PART ONE: GETTING READY
1: Ok, but why?
- Understand that decluttering is a marathon, not a sprint.
Set realistic expectations for yourself
- Do you want to declutter the whole house?
- Attack it room by room?
- Set a timeline and don’t be afraid to stick to it.
- Is this to make more space?
- Is this to start fresh before or after a move?
- Are you nesting?
- Just looking for peace of mind?
Pro Tip: Knowing what your goals for the big declutter are makes it more of a priority for you. You are less likely to give up halfway through.
2: Fearing the Disposal
- This is a common one. Disposing of our junk is the hardest part. It’s often the reason we hold onto stuff for so long.
- Consider having a yard sale for more valuable stuff
- Consider your favorite charity for all clothes, shoes and useful household items
- Consider a junk removal service for everything else
Pro Tip: Junk removal services haul away junk, recycle and waste right from your home, making disposal the least of your worries and worth considering.
3: Put a Stop to the Shop
- During this project, encourage yourself and the family to put a stop to any unnecessary shopping
- The goal is to get rid of stuff, adding to it makes that null and void. At least until you’re done, in which case read ahead on how to keep the clutter away.
4: Prepare your arsenal
- Have a box of all needed cleaning supplies
- Trash bags
- All-purpose cleaners
- Dust rags/paper towels
- Laundry basket(s)
Labels (painter’s tape, sticky notes or black sharpie for quick–and necessary!– labeling)
- Create Toss/Donate/Keep/Sell/Repair labels using sticky notes
Pro Tip: Have this arsenal boxed up and ready to move to any room. This saves time when you have a few spare minutes to clean, saving you time collecting everything.
5: Plan it in Specifics
- Productivity experts say that dividing larger projects into smaller, planned events keeps us more motivated. The idea of decluttering the hall closet on Friday and the spare bathroom on Saturday, seem more realistic in our planners than “declutter the house this weekend”.
6: Just Get Started
- The longer we wait, the quicker life will come at us. If you are at a place right now where decluttering seems doable, start now! Don’t wait until summer when you’d rather be at a BBQ or park with the kids and you really don’t have time.
Take your time to separate your junk into useful piles and act accordingly
- Toss – using recycling bins, waste bins or junk removal service for everything else
- Donate –to your favorite local charity or recovery center
- Keep — the things you cannot part with. Sentimentality is good for the soul
- Sell — nice functioning items in a summer yard sale for a few extra coins
- Repair — items that still have a good use, just need a little TLC
Pro Tip: Use color-coded labels for these piles (sticky notes are life!) It’s a bullet-proof system. Trust me.
Part Two: Stop the Return of Clutter
You’ve done it! Congrats and you should be proud of yourself. Remember, decluttering a marathon, not a sprint. And maintenance is a big part of that as well.
Here are some bulletproof pro-tips to keeping that clutter at bay.
7: Give Things A Home
Meaning, make sure that your everyday essentials have a home, a place in the room where they live and must be returned to daily. A lot of my excess shopping has to do with replacing lost or misplaced items. Don’t be afraid to announce it either! Surplus toilet paper lives *here* folks! And the vacuum lives *here* and ALL of your clothes live *here* and *here*. Don’t be afraid to regulate this sternly to the spouse and kids. These are all changes for the good.
8: Systems, Systems, Systems
Still unclear? Create a system! And it doesn’t have to be extravagant. Just a gentle nudge to all those living under your roof, that yes, cleaning supplies live *here*. They are to be used. Then *put them back* right. Back. Here. Same goes with clothes in the closet, craft supplies in the designated drawers, shoes in the rack, etc, etc, etc.
If you have always had a “system” in place and are afraid to change it, DON’T BE. More than likely it wasn’t working anyway, and how you got to a cluttered life, to begin with.
- Set Good Examples
Our kids are our little sponges and rearview mirrors. They absorb what’s around them and reflect back what they see. Seeing you declutter a room responsibly sets them up for talks about the importance of charity, recycling, and hoarding. The last thing we want is our kids to become hoarders or people who don’t recycle in 2019 (kind of joking but not really). But seriously, these systems of cleaning set good examples to the little ones and keeps you honest about your clutter, too.
- Consider Going Green
Get a larger recycle bin and/or invest in a compost bin for your daily waste management. For your decluttering project (on any scale), consider that junk removal services are eco-friendly, “green-practicing” professionals that separate and haul your junk to the appropriate facilities. Don’t be scared to toss old refrigerators, mattresses, even that old piano!