It’s easy to accumulate clutter. Sometimes we acquire things through the normal course of life…we start a family, pick up a hobby, or renovate a house. Other times we over-buy and end up with too much stuff. And there are even occasions where clutter enters our house because someone has given it to us or they haven’t taken their belongings with them. These are just a few examples of how clutter accumulates, but did you know there are numerous things you can do to help keep clutter away?
Clutter Free Mind Set
First, develop a clutter-free mindset. Give yourself permission to get rid of things. Personally, I’ve been guilty of holding onto things because they didn’t meet a set of pre-conceived criteria I had in my head e.g. they didn’t have holes or weren’t worn out. I could still wear them etc. After reading Marie Kondo’s book, “The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up”, I realized that if I didn’t like something and wasn’t using it by choice, I didn’t have to keep it. I gave myself permission to get rid of it. Boy was that freeing!
What criteria do you have for discarding items? Have you limited yourself? Do you need to give yourself permission to get rid of things?
Next, make a commitment to act quickly! The longer you hold onto something the harder it is to get rid of. My old room at my parent’s house is a prime example of this. They have my extensive stuffed animal collection from when I was a child. I don’t really care about those items anymore. My daughter has declared that she doesn’t care about my precious Cabbage Patch doll or life-size Raggedy Ann. So, why haven’t I gotten rid of them? Well, it’s hard to get rid of something you’ve had for 30 years. They become nostalgic. So, if you don’t want to end up with your kids stuffed animals someday (ha) make a commitment to act quickly and discard things as soon as they become obsolete to you.
Great! Now that you’re in the right mindset and committed to acting quickly. Let’s talk about some simple practices you can do on a daily basis to help keep clutter away. The more small things you do on a regular basis, the fewer decluttering events you’ll need.
Put New Habits in Place ASAP
The other day, we got a Chariot / Bike Trailer for my kids to ride in. My son quickly chose the right side and my daughter reluctantly got the left. The next time they got in the Chariot, can you guess where my son sat? You guessed it, the right side! It was now his side of the Chariot! Humans are funny that way. Often, what we do in the beginning, is the thing that sticks.
So, in order to keep clutter away, start with strong habits and solid routines as quickly as possible. Here are a few for you to consider:
- Clean off the kitchen counter every night
- Have the kids put away their toys after every play time
- Put outdoor gear up when you come inside e.g. hats, shoes, sunglasses
- Sort mail daily
- Hang up your clothes (or put them in the laundry) immediately after you take them off
- If clothing doesn’t fit one of your kids or is broken and unrepairable, take it out of circulation immediately
- Have a designated home for EVERYTHING
- Do the daily “Hive Five.” Find 5 things every day that you do not need or no longer want.
These simple routines are easy and don’t require a lot of time upfront. They are practical ways to keep clutter away!
Take Advantage of Little Chunks of Time
Clutter can easily accumulate in many places including your home, your car, or your purse. We just talked about a number of ways to keep clutter away from your home, let’s consider how to keep it away from other areas as well. The car…this is a total danger zone if you have young kids. I call my back row the goldfish graveyard. It’s easy to accumulate clutter and junk in the car- things I never brought in there, but by taking advantage of little chunks of time, we can stay on top of it. Every time you get out of the car, make sure you and every passenger grabs the trash, cups, backpacks, etc. Clear your car out after each trip.
To keep your purse, backpack, or bags sorted, clean them out while you’re waiting. Maybe you’re in a carpool line, waiting for a ballet class to end, or even at a stop light. These little chunks of time can be optimized to help keep clutter away!
Another great strategy for keeping clutter away is to never bring it in your house, to begin with. Think about your buying practices. Are you a sucker for a good deal? Have you ever bought some shoes because they were deeply discounted and then never actually wore them? Maybe, there’s a sale on toothpaste at the grocery store and instead of buying just a couple of packages, you buy 10, because, “hey, you’re sure you’ll need them someday…maybe.”
Thrifty shoppers and stock-pilers are at risk of over-buying. Buying things they think they’ll use, but then don’t. That stuff becomes clutter. Assess your buying practices. Before making a purchase or buying in bulk ask yourself these questions:
- Do I really need or love this item?
- For grocery items, will I use this before it expires?
- Do I need to buy it now or will it go on sale again in the future?
- if you really need the item and if you can use it before it expires.
Avoiding Clutter Traps
Finally, avoid common clutter traps to keep clutter away. Birthdays and Christmas are times when we can accumulate a lot of things. Reconsider your gift-giving strategies. Think about giving experiences instead of physical things. Make sure you’re really dialed into what family members want. If your child isn’t into Paw Patrol, then for crying out loud, don’t give them a Paw Patrol stuffie. If your husband is particular about his clothing, then don’t go and buy him a bunch of shirts. (of course, I’m speaking completely hypothetically here…this NEVER happens in my home 😉 (
Another common clutter trap is vacation swag. It’s easy to feel like you need to get something for family members every time you go away. The kids have come to expect it haven’t they?!? This stuff typically becomes junk in your house. Try not to get it at all, but if you’re compelled, think about practical things you can get. Instead of the keychain that will break in 5 minutes, can you get earphones they’ll use on their next trip?
Finally, promotional giveaways are the third common clutter trap we’ll touch on in this post. You go to the bank and they give you a coffee cup, your realtor gives you a calendar, and a family-friendly restaurant hands out small toys to the kids. All of this stuff accumulates in your house and rarely has a home. Before you know it, you’ve got clutter! It’s okay to say no to these freebies. Make a practice of not bringing them into your home in the first place and you’ll keep clutter away for good!
Keep Clutter Away
Decluttering does not have to be a regular event at your house. By having the right mindset, dealing with clutter quickly, and implementing daily routines, you’ll easily prevent unwanted clutter from accumulating. Keeping it out of our house, to begin with is even better! Changing your buying practices and avoiding common clutter traps will help minimize the number of things you need to get rid of and keep clutter away!