They say the best way to keep a tidy house is to never let your kids, your husband (or the dog) in. That might be true but it’s a little drastic to say the least!
It’s hard to keep on top of the clutter when you’re raising kids and all too soon the mess can pile up to the point where it starts to drag you down.
Everywhere you turn you see piles of boxes or items that you have to go through. Your to do list keeps growing and it seems that you will never keep on top of it. But we’re here to remind you that you can!
Two stages of living clutter free
The key to tackling the clutter and keeping a tidy house is two-fold. The first step is to have a BIG declutter. And that can be done by clearing 1 free day.
Be ruthless and get rid of all the stuff you’ve accumulated over the years that you no longer need (or want).
The second step is to work out easy ways to keep on top of the mess and keep your home clutter-free.
Why decluttering matters
Decluttering is a lot of work and effort but it’s also incredibly cathartic. It can change the energy and feel of the home you’re living in and make it lighter and airier.
It can get rid of old frustrations and help you to enjoy living in your space.
Sometimes you just need to rip the bandaid off and take that first step to get going.
Once you’ve started you’ll feel the rewards and find the motivation to keep going and get your house clutter-free once and for all.
Our top 10 steps to declutter your house in one day:
There’s a reason why Marie Kondo is a big name right now. Her Magic Art of Tidying (both in book form and in her recent hit Netflix series) has taken the nation by storm and led to an influx of charity shop donations and tidier houses.
The reason why her method works is her unique approach to tackling the clutter. We take on board some of her sage advice to help tackle that clutter in just one day:
Carve out one full clear day
As busy parents we do a million and one things every single day: early mornings, school pick ups, activities, laundry, shopping, cooking, as well as errands and other jobs.
Clear one day of all your usual to-dos and dedicate it to decluttering the house.
It helps if you can palm off the kids to Grandma or to a babysitter.
Clear your schedule of all your usual jobs, so that you’ve got one uninterrupted day to focus on the task and getting it done once and for all.
Declutter by ‘category’ not room by room
The key to Kondo’s method is to ditch the traditional method of tidying. We all tend to declutter room by room.
We carve out some time to tackle one room and make it spick and span. But by the time we’re ready to tackle another room the first one we tidied has started to clutter up again and it feels like a losing battle.
Kondo’s method is all about tidying by ‘things’ rather by room.
So you start with your clothes in the morning. And you get EVERY item of clothing you own and drag them into an almighty heap. And then you pick up each and every item of clothing and decide which to keep, which to chuck and which to give to charity.
In the afternoon you can then move onto books, toys and kitchen equipment.
Paperwork and sentimental stuff such as photos and keepsakes are left until last so that you can find the right way to treasure and display those things.
And by the time you reach these items you’ll have made such a headway into decluttering, that letting go of the stuff you no longer need or don’t really treasure, will have become much easier.
Take out every single item from each category
Be focused and get EVERY item you own of each category out and pile them in a heap. Work by category:
Clothes, toys, kitchen equipment, books, bathroom items. Then sort through each and every item that you own.
Take on the 4-box challenge
As you are sorting, one idea is to have four boxes (or piles) and place every item into one of each.
They must be designated for things to KEEP, SELL, DONATE, or TRASH.
If you wanted you could add a fifth box: STORE. The store box is a bit outside the Kondo method as it’s a halfway house between keep and trash.
They might be things you know you’ll use again one day (but not for a while) and don’t want to have to buy again. They might be things you’re just not ready to let go of. They might even be things that you want to keep and pass onto your children.
The trick is to store only items that you value, rather than hoarding everything just in case. And to store them tidily and in an organised fashion. You could put them neatly away on a high shelf in a cupboard, or in an attic or shed.
Move stored items and anything that you don’t use everyday away from your main living space. That way they won’t add to the clutter and the stress that it causes seeing items everywhere you turn.
Does it ‘spark joy’?
Kondo is all about feeling each item and deciding if it sparks joy. It sounds a bit strange at first to think of the feeling that items give you, but if you focus on it for a moment it does work.
Hold each item and ask yourself
‘Do I love it? Have I used it recently? Will I use it again?’.
If not – let it go. Kondo recommends thanking each item before you bung it in a bag for charity.
Thank or not it’s up to you. But – whatever you do – be ruthless.
A great rule of thumb is to ask yourself if you’ve worn/used/loved each item in the past year? If not – let it go.
If you have multiple items of the same thing – pick the ones you love most and give away the rest.
Do you REALLY need 36 mugs? 27 plates? 5 umbrellas and 6 handbags? Choose your favourites and giveaway the rest.
You’ll feel great when you do and the items that you do keep will now fit nicely in the shelves without being stacked on top of each other.
3 rules for TOYS
The very moment your children get half a glimpse of the fact that you’re bagging up some of the toys they’ve never played with for ages they will suddenly declare that they are their very best favourites and they can’t bear to be parted from them.
So as many a parent will know, it’s always best to sort the toys when the kids can’t see.
Apply these 3 rules for putting toys in the ‘DONATE’ or ‘TRASH’ boxes:
- Anything they’ve grown out
- Anything they haven’t played with in a year
- Any toys that are similar to toys they already have
If you’re a bit worried about their reaction to missing certain toys, then bung those toys in a bag in a cupboard.
If they don’t notice they are missing after a few weeks then take them to the charity shop.
Get rid of them NOW
For all other items in the SELL, DONATE and TRASH piles, immediately bag them up and pop them in the car.
Don’t leave them lying around the house as time can go by and you could end up forgetting what was in each bag and having to go through it all over again (not fun, we can tell you).
Then take them to the charity shop or the tip. Tomorrow. If not you may well end up driving the round in the boot for another 18 weeks.
Make a place for everything and everything in its place
Turn to your ‘KEEP’ pile of items and put each one away tidily.
Since you’ve emptied your drawers and wardrobes, you’ll now have empty spaces to fill with the items you actually use and treasure.
Give each item its place. Later on, when you see that object lying around the house, you’ll know where it belongs and you can easily return it to its place.
A great tool for keeping these spaces tidy, is to use drawer organisers or drawer separators. That way each item can be kept in its designated place neatly.
Can’t bear to give things away? Sell them
It can feel pretty brutal to give away so much of your stuff. Especially if you still love it but won’t use it anymore.
If you can’t bear to give it away to charity shops then you can boost your income by selling it on auction sites, such as eBay, Gumtree or Zoolift (for books).
Filtering your unwanted goods by selling them takes more time and effort but can seriously boost your coffers.
Don’t give up
It’s all too easy to start a big declutter with gusto and then give up halfway through when you start lagging in energy.
If you stop halfway then you’ll soon find the clutter creeps up and takes over again. Keep going for that 1 full day.
Assign each half hour to making another dent in the clutter and try to keep on keeping on.
Picture a clean and tidy house, put on some motivating music, even put on the Marie Kondo show in the background to inspire you, and keep whittling away until you reach your goal!
Keeping your house tidy after the big declutter
You’ve Marie Kondo-ed the hell out of your house. You’ve cleared the clutter and have found a place for everything and everything in its place. High-five for all your tidying efforts and revel in the clean spaces and new energy you’ve given your home.
Now you need to put in a few simple systems in place to stop the clutter creeping back in. Systems that are easy and everyday and that the whole family knows and can join in with.
Pause and congratulate yourself for getting through the big declutter with your sanity intact and then read on to find out the secret to keeping your newly minimalist house tidy.
Decluttering takes time and energy but can be hugely cathartic and make you feel awesome.
Once you’ve made the effort to have a big clear out then all it takes is a little planning and organisation to keep on top of the clutter and keep your house (and your mind) tidy and organised.
It sounds boring – but – we promise you – it really can spark joy.