System Based Approach
The best way to keep on top of clutter and get your kids involved in the decluttering process is to take a system-based approach. Which just means do something in the same order on a regular basis.
Establish Your Timeline
What sort of timeline works for your family? A Saturday Morning quick declutter? A once a month deep declutter? One room a week? Decided what works best for your family. Our family has a weekly system where we do a couple things and then once or twice a month we do a deep declutter on a room by room basis.
Paperwork clutter is one of the first and easiest things to pile up. Every week we clear our surfaces of paper. For me file any receipts or important documents that end up in my physical inbox. For my kids clear the bulletin board from homeschool and their desks. File away anything they want to keep and recycle anything else.
Having a designated inbox for paper clutter on a day-by-day basis is so helpful. to keep it contained until you have a little more time to sort through. It also helps if for some reason you can not do the sort and declutter weekly that at least it is contained in one spot so it’s not all over the place.
For adults, this also includes emptying out your wallet or purse of any paperwork that has accumulated. Stay on top of filing your receipts so that when it comes time to consolidate your balances you know where everything is.
- Digital Declutter
Depending on the ages of your kids they may or may not be involved in this but if they have their own devices that they use for homeschool this is a great family reset time. Empty out your inbox – try to get to inbox zero. Empty your download folders, and back up your photos to an external hard drive or a cloud-based system. It can be quite surprising how much digital clutter plays a toll on our mental ability to work well and just stay on top of things. Download an organized desktop photo from a site like Canva and then create folders for each area of your life. This makes sorting through your files much quicker and when it’s time to delete things you already have a process in place.
There are other ways to stay on top of digital declutter that pertain more to adults so there will be another post on that coming soon! I want to keep this post focused on how to help your kids with decluttering regularly.
- Flat Surfaces
One of my biggest tips for leading a more minimalist lifestyle and staying on top of clutter is to minimize the number of flat surfaces you have in your house. A flat surface is just an invitation to have clutter piled. And whatever flat surfaces do remain, make it a goal to doa complete dusting every week where you have to remove everything from the surface and only put back what is absolutely essential there! Making sure that everything has a designated home is a big help to this. Use bins and labels. Find storage in closets and cabinets, but make sure those closets and cabinets aren’t holding a bunch of junk that is taking up all your storage space for what you actually need!
- Designate an “Upcoming” box – if you have something you know you need or are going to be using coming up but you don’t need it quite yet, or simply you just don’t have another system for it, put it in your “Upcoming” box – a good place for this is a closet near the front door or on a shelf in the garage. Keep it out of regularly used spaces. Think of things like a photo frame that needs to be hung but you need to order the picture first, or a birthday present for an upcoming birthday party, or a stack of cardstock invitations you have for an upcoming event at church. Anything you know you will need in the coming month or so goes in this box. It is a great solution to not only keep on top of these important items you don’t want lost or broken but it is a place to contain anything that will either be leaving the house or just don’t have a spot yet. Check it weekly and add anything to your to-do list so it can be empty, order the picture you need for the photo frame sitting in there and go to the office supply store to get the envelopes you need for the invitations.
- The one in, one out rule. This is a great boundary for kids when new toys are clothes are incoming. Remind them about it around holiday and birthday times when they might be receiving gifts from extended family members. This way they can already be thinking about things they can pass along to another child or sell. We must help our kids be managers of their stuff. They need to be able to take care of things in order to keep them. The one in, one out rule is a great tool to help them manage things. Asses weekly anything that has come in and decide what is going out.
- Garbage Bag Trick.
Everyone in the family takes a small trash bag and set a timer for 10 minutes. Go through the house and throw out/recycle anything that you see taking up space! Making it a timed game means it will go quickly, be fun and leave you with the satisfying feeling that there is no trash left behind.
- Catch-All Basket
Sometimes we can waste so much time running around the house putting things in their spot. After we do the garbage game bag we move into the catch-all basket. We just grab a laundry basket and go room by room and anything that does not belong in that room goes in the basket. You can then hand it over to your kids and have them sort out the items that need to go to each room and assign them a room to put everything away.
You need to decide how this will work best for your family but I encourage having some sort of focus each other. Whether its room by room or maybe its by a category of item like one month its clothes in the house, another month its all toys in the house, another month its all seasonal things. I like to pick a focus for each month. It really helps to keep on top of the clutter. For our family, I find that room by room works well, and often that leads to some overlap. If one month I am working on my oldest daughter’s room and decluttering some clothes, I often take a look through the other kid’s clothes and see what can be decluttered from there. I don’t worry about the rest of their room until the next month.
Another great trick to do monthly is simply to take some notes on whatever room you are working on. Note any housecare projects that need to be done or if you can move things around so the room serves its intention. This can carry over to the other rooms in your life and you can even make a project goal for any yearly projects you would like to accomplish.
Evaluate Your Spending Habits
The easiest way to keep on top of clutter is to simply purchase less. Think twice before you order something off Amazon. Stay away from window shopping and them temptation to buy something. Think of a reason you NEED something instead on buying out of habit. It is one thing to minimize and declutter in your home and it is a whole other thing to keep it that way. Your kids will follow your spending habits. If they see you give in to every want they will be the same. If they see you practice self-control then it will be passed on in their spending habits as well. When making a purchase I urge you to think what are the most common pain points when it comes to keeping your home tidy. Laundry mountain? Cupboards overflowing?
Simplify your home in any way you can. Use a capsule wardrobe if the closets and laundry are what seem to be the most overwhelming. Simplify your meal plan if you often find spices or ingredients past their expiration date. Implement regular inventory systems. Know what you have in your home so you don’t repurchase.
Use label makers so you and all the other members of your family know where things goes.
Identify any bad habits like dropping clothes on the floor instead of laundry bins or throwing bags on a table and not a closet or hook. Make small habit changes and you will soon find more peace and less stress in your home because your environment will not be overwhelming you with clutter.