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How to Calm Clutter

Clutter is certainly a beast that must be tamed for us moms to ever have enough energy to homeschool. You already know that, so I won’t spend a lot of time repeating why we need to get rid of clutter. Let’s get right to the how!

  • Calm the clutter in only one room at a time. (Don’t ask me how I learned this!) You’ll just make a bigger mess if you try to do the whole house at once.
  • Before you start, look around. Why is there clutter? What isn’t working in this room? What systems ARE working? (Please don’t change these!) What’s causing the big problem anyway?

For instance, I was trying to clean up the little pass-through between my dining room and the hallway, where we happen to have a computer, a printer, and a bookshelf with all our school books. As you can imagine, this is a BUSY part of my house! To clean it up, I had to realize that my preschooler couldn’t reach the spot where I wanted her coloring books to be, so she kept plopping them all over my desk. Once I realized what was causing a problem, it wasn’t hard to figure out how to fix it.

  • Plan your solution. I know we’re all homeschooling, but take yourself back to kindergarten for a moment. What did your teacher do to make the classroom look good? (I got these ideas from Julie Morgenstern’s great book, Organizing from the Inside Out.)
    • The room was divided into activity zones.
    • It was easy to focus on one activity at a time.
    • Items are stored at their point of use.
    • It was fun to put things away, because everything had a special home (color-coded, pretty, etc.).
    • When you looked around the room, you had a visual menu of what was important in that room.
  • Now that you know what each room’s purpose is, you need to list each activity on a piece of paper. List what supplies that activity uses and what storage units could hold these supplies. Finally, map out the space on paper. (My husband loves helping with this part.)
  • On a day when you have time to finish the job, pull everything out of the room. Sort everything into piles (give away, belongs elsewhere, needs repair, etc.). If it should go back into the room, assign it a “home” in the room.
  • Finally, to be sure it doesn’t get cluttered again, be sure to set aside a daily time to put things back into their “homes.” If you skip this step, you’ll be back to clutter again in no time.

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