I recently went on a de-cluttering spree. The real de-cluttering I wanted to do was in my mind, but this was a means to the end. Do you remember that nesting feeling you got when you were pregnant? Where you just wanted to make sure your house is clean, clear and spic and span for the arrival of your baby? I had the same feeling before the de-cluttering saga. Uh oh. No, but seriously it has worked wonders.
Let me tell you briefly about the benefits and then I can outline the steps I took towards achieving a tidier space.
- De-cluttering and tidying clears your mind, making room for the 5683952450809 mom-things you have to do. When you have less stuff, guess what – there is less tidying to do everyday!
- Looking at less “stuff” in your house makes your feel proud of your house, your mental hygiene is better due to less stress, helps you put more effort into maintaining your house, and actually prevents or slows down age-related memory loss! That’s not me making things up. Lynn Hasher from University of Toronto published through her research that indeed age-related memory loss is linked to the clutter at home.
- A tidy and de-cluttered home invites you to stay in and enjoy your home, and not feel as if you need to be outside to clear your headspace.
- A clean and tidy kitchen improves your eating habits, as per the study conducted by Lenny Vartarian et al. in 2017. True enough, upon seeing clean and clear bench space you actually feel like using the kitchen and not getting take-away or eating out all the time! Oh, and that’s a penny-saver too.
- When you are running your own business or working long hours in a job, you would ideally want a low-maintenance house so that you can relax when you are home and not spend more time and effort doing work at home too.
It is not to say that your house will not get messy – of course it will. And it is also not to say that you will always keep it tidy – of course you won’t. But that is absolutely fine! As long as we have a goal of what we want to achieve for the house and set realistic expectations of how to keep it that way, you don’t have to stress.
I have 2 kids under 2 and I know that no matter how much I tidy up the place, come 9pm when they are both asleep, the place will resemble a pigsty. But I do have an expectation that by the time I go to sleep, I will spend 5 minutes to tidy up all the toys so that I do not step on lego in the middle of the night. I also have an expectation that the dishes will be in the dishwasher and kitchen cleaned every night. Credit to the hubby – he takes care of the kitchen bit. Last night I did not fulfil my expectation but I am back on track. And that’s okay.
Here are tips for each part of your house.
Living Room / Lounge
I started with these rooms, because this is where I spend the most amount of time and probably the least challenging room for my house.
- Pick up everything off the floor and put it on the couch. Kids’ toys, clothes lying around, anything.
- Put everything on the couch in it’s respective room/ place in the house.
- If you have a little play area in your living room for your kids, tidy it to one side of the room every night, and pull it into place for the day. This gives you an opportunity to “touch” and keep an eye on the toys your children are playing with, and their appropriateness.
- Neatly tie up any wires or cables that are visible. If possible, arrange them so that they fall behind the television or other devices you may have.
- Add a little nature to your living room – a real pot plant, or a fake one if you do not want the maintenance.
There are three sections in my kids’ rooms – toys, clothes and miscellaneous. Miscellaneous includes things like their health record books, little backpacks, vapour machine etc. Basically anything that isn’t toys or clothes.
- Pull out all the clothes onto the floor, and fold and keep the ones that fit right now keeping the season in mind.
- Arrange these according to their use and should ideally fit on 2 shelves. Unless you have a baby like mine who requires a million bibs and wipecloths.
- Get a vacuum bag and put all the clothes that fit but are not for the current season, or clothes that are of a larger size into this bag. Vacuum, zip and put it away in storage.
- Donate the rest! Or have a memory-box like me and store some of the most used cute little pieces.
Gather all the toys in the house from every room including those that make their way into the toilet for some reason. Sort out each into piles fitting a category each – books, toys for Child 1, toys for Child 2, donation, and broken toys for trash (that cannot be fixed).
- Get 3 or 4 boxes or baskets.
- Equally divide toys from each pile (except donation and trash) into the boxes.
- Keep these boxes in the kids’ rooms to one side and take out ONLY one box per week so that they do not get bored of their toys, they play with all the toys, and the younger ones feel as though they are playing with new toys every week (while you save money on buying new ones!).
- Do not bother tidying up during the day as the toys are bound to be spread around until the kids’ go to sleep. That’s when you strike.
- You can ask your kids which box they would like to play with that week so that they remain engaged.
Store the miscellaneous items out of sight and into the wardrobes. Perhaps arrange the smaller items in drawers and the bigger items on shelves. I always ensure there is the next pack of nappies and wipes ready to go once the current one finishes, but just one pack and not few purchased because they were on special in the store.
The question to ask yourself here is – do you use it now? This goes to all your makeup, clothes, pillows, and every little item on your bedside table.
- Pull out all the clothes in your wardrobe and keep the clothes that currently fit you and that you will actually use. All shirts and tops go onto the hanger and skirts, shorts, scarves, caps and undergarments in drawers.
- If the season is not right for the clothes, in they go into the vacuum bag and off to storage.
- As women, we usually have a certain “look” that we like to have everyday and therefore use the same or similar makeup products every time. If products don’t make it onto this list, re-consider whether you will actually ever use them or is it better to give them away.
I dreaded this one, but once it was done I felt like I could breathe again.
- Pull out everything onto the kitchen benchtop and see what you can keep and what you can give away.
- Categorise each item and have dedicated spots of each category. Eg. Small cutlery in the first drawer, bigger spoons and ladles etc. in the second and cups in the third. Whatever and however your body and hands feel is the right place for them.
- Look at all the food products you have and keep those that are not expired, and vow to use the remaining sometime soon! Perhaps challenge yourself to use 20% of the products currently in the pantry each week so they finish?
- Empty out all flours, sugars and salt into glass jars.
- Keep the kitchen tabletop as sparsely populated as possible. This makes the kitchen look brighter and bigger. Perhaps a small potted plant would look good too.
I used these basic ideas to de-clutter each of the rooms in my house. Another important thing to do is to BUY LESS. Just because something is on special at the stores does not mean you stock up on them. Especially if you are paying with a credit card, you would wonder if the interest you are paying on the extra dollars you spend at the time is worth the savings you get! Specials come around all the time.
I hope these tips have helped or inspired you to start your de-cluttering journey. I watched the Marie Kondo videos after I de-cluttered, and was truly inspired by her thoughtful ways of keeping the house neat. Therefore I immediately went back to my bedroom and turned all my horizontally stacked clothes into little vertical slots. Happy de-cluttering!