Something about the influx of new stuff at Christmas and the optimism of New Years’ makes me want to get my house clean and organized every January. I feel even more desperate to declutter now that I have a child–sometimes I feel like I’m drowning in toys. A lot can change in a year with little ones and it seems like many of the toys I was making room for last January are now outgrown or forgotten. I’m excited to be doing some early spring cleaning by getting rid of all the clutter this month. Here are some tips if you’re wanting to do the same:
- Let it go, let it go! We plan to have another child eventually, and for the longest time I didn’t want to give away any of Jack’s old toys because I thought I should save them for the next kid. I’ve recently had an epiphany–we can get the next kid his own toys. It’s not that big of a deal. I went through last week and pulled out everything my two year old doesn’t play with anymore, putting only the toys that he loved the most or that I thought were particularly great into a plastic storage tub. Anything else got donated (or recycled/trashed if it was broken). I did the same with his clothes.
- Hit the hot spots. Does clutter tend to gather on your entry table, your kitchen counter, or your desk? Identify the “hot spots” for junk in your home and tackle them one at a time. Grab three containers and designate them for items to be put away, thrown away, or given away. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can clear out six months’ worth of emptied pockets and junk mail this way.
- Baby steps. Don’t try to declutter your whole house in one day. You’ll exhaust yourself and probably end up with a bigger mess than you started with. Work just a little bit at a time and after a few weeks you’ll see a big difference. Try clearing out a drawer or cabinet in the kitchen while your coffee brews, pulling out what you don’t wear anymore while putting laundry away, or sorting through the toys in the living room instead of fast forwarding through every commercial.
- Follow your heart. Pinterest is full of plans for getting your house into shape, but don’t force yourself to stick to a schedule of working on a particular spot each day if your heart’s not in it. It’s too easy to get discouraged and give up if you’re not motivated. Just look around and ask yourself what area in your home you feel like making a little more peaceful today and dive in.
- Make it fun! After you’ve tidied up an area, do something to reward yourself. Maybe it’s snapping a picture to share on Facebook or Instagram, maybe it’s taking some time to decorate now that you’re left with only things you use and love, or maybe it’s just popping your kid in front of Sesame Street for a few minutes while you admire your hard work over a cup of tea. Give yourself a pat on the back–you deserve it!
It always amazes me what a huge difference getting rid of all the extraneous stuff can make. Suddenly there’s room to put all the laundry away, my kid is actually playing with his toys, and I can find what I’m looking for in the junk drawer without wanting to pull my hair out. I’ve still got a lot left to do–my own closet is stuffed to the gills and my desk hasn’t been cleared off since last spring–but the progress I’ve made so far is so motivating! It’s easy to see the light at the end of the tunnel when I work on one small area at a time.