Am I the only one who’s ever experienced this? You come home, kids in tow, tired from a day out. You would like to rest, but there is stuff everywhere and you’re not sure how it got there. Toys, trinkets, books, crafts and papers are scattered throughout the house. Closets are bulging with clothes, laundry baskets are overflowing, memorabilia and books are squeezing into shelves. And let’s not even talk about your desk!
Where are you supposed to begin?
Sure, we can start by giving thanks for all the abundance! But to be honest, seeing all this stuff everywhere makes you feel anxious, like you can’t rest.
Friends, you aren’t imagining it. Clutter causes stress in moms!
In a study conducted in 2009, UCLA researchers found that modern-day families are swimming in clutter and that the amount of stress a woman experiences at home is directly proportional to the amount of stuff their family accumulates.
Don’t get me wrong. When you’re bleary-eyed from those night feedings, let the house go. Sleep matters more.
And when the kids are wee ones, expect toys everywhere, a sink full of dirty dishes and baskets of laundry to wash and fold. It’s a season.
But once you’re back on your two feet, have a system in place to deal with the growing amount of stuff that kids bring home. Your future self will thank you, and your kids will, too!
Below are my top tips for taming the ever-growing clutter in your home:
Have a sorting system right at the door. Keep a trash basket at the entryway and junk mail will never make it into your home. Neither will empty juice boxes, throw-away crafts, or random papers.
Give each member of the family their own inbox basket to store personal items, paraphernalia and mail they bring home. This keeps everyone responsible for their own belongings, and keeps stuff from spreading throughout the house. Once each basket gets full, declare a sort and discard day!
Invest in organizational furniture. Create categories for all your family’s possessions using storage furniture. Learn the mantra, “A place for everything and everything in its place.” An easy, affordable and stylish way to accomplish organization is to use cube storage furniture like the Kallax series from Ikea. These pieces can store everything from toys and books to baby supplies. They also double as console tables, benches and room dividers. Coordinating boxes and baskets keep things hidden while styling your home – the key to a calm living space.
Teach the kids now (start early). Help your little ones put their toys away when they’re done playing with them. A place for everything and everything in its place. It took my youngest child years to get it, but she’s finally learned how to sort her stuff into categories and I rarely have to deal with her items anymore.
Enforce the “One Box” Rule. Once the designated box for that category fills up, purge. The goal is to live within our means. We don’t have an infinite amount of space to store our stuff so we have to choose what’s worth saving and purge the rest. This rule makes us more intentional about what we bring into the home, knowing that when something comes in, something else must go out.
Have an “art” wall. In our house our art wall is simple and easy: I use a string with clothespins to attach crafts the kids make. We enjoy their accomplishments for as long as we like, but usually old pieces are quickly replaced with new ones!
These tips are not deep spiritual lessons, but they are necessary in our homes for our own peace. They also teach invaluable skills to our children who are just learning how to keep a peaceful home life. Try implementing one tip this week!
Jean Kuo Lee is a writer and artist from California with a B.A. in English from UCLA, a former career in interior design, and a current calling to homeschool her children. Find her online at jeankuolee.wordpress.com.