10 Ways to Cut Clutter

Clutter makes me crazy! It eats away at my inner peace and hard-earned zen, and my loudest wish since day one of motherhood has been that my offspring (and husband) would understand how much clutter- not only clutters my home, but my mind, my patience and honestly, my love for them. But, I have had to learn to cope, and with some practical life strategies, maybe you can too!

  1. Children’s toys and games: Keep pretty wicker or leather bins (with lids) around the house to hold toys and games. These bins are decorative and provide easy access for the kiddies pre- and post-playtime.
  2. Photos: With three kids, I love to frame snapshots of them in action and mugging for the camera. But over the years, these framed photos are piling up and creating clutter. Each framed photo holds a special meaning and I’m not always ready to pitch them simply because they’ve been ‘hanging’ around for a bit. So I placed a big container in my basement storeroom where I put each framed photo with date and place of when each shot was taken. This way once I’m ready for new and updated mug shots for the family room mantel they are right at my fingertips.  Also, My kids can pick and choose the photos they might want to keep, and when needed we’re ready for a trip down memory lane.
  3. The mail: Most of us are inundated daily with more or less useful correspondence, and my countertops could easily get buried in a sea of print. But I go through the mail every day, throw away most, and put bills into a wicker basket (with a lid) and file invitations, coupons and other useful information in special file folders.
  4. Kids’ schoolwork/artwork/fieldtrip forms/sports applications: I have placed a color-coded hanging file folder system for each child on a shelf in my kitchen for easy access and filing. This way, I can get rid of the clutter without losing important information.
  5. Artwork:  My door to my garage serves as an art wall where I hang all of my 8-year olds wonderful artwork, spelling tests and “at-a-boys” from his teachers. When the door is full, I (quietly) edit (read and pitch) older items to open room for new and improved ones. This way, my refrigerator is clutter-free, as are all kitchen cabinet doors.
  6. Trinkets and accessories: With little extra storage space, I keep a box on hand for accessories I no longer want, and when the box is full, I donate it to Arc. This way, my gently used accessories have a chance to be recycled and enjoyed by yet another family (which makes me feel good).
  7. Buy less: I am so much more cognizant of material excess today than only a few years ago, and I try hard to buy conservatively and prudently. I don’t need three soft blankets for my family room, nor do I need candelabras of every size, color and texture. It is freeing to be able to resist at least a few calls from the material world!
  8. Keep dirty laundry in bins in each kids’s room until laundry day. With a small laundry room on the main level it takes planning and coordination to stay on top of the growing mountain of dirty clothes that my children accumulate. I bring down one basket of laundry (e.g. whites) at a time to keep my laundry area clutter free.
  9. Less is more: This saying is also true when it comes to keeping your home clutter-free. I don’t jam-pack my built-in bookcases with books, photos, trinkets and stuff, but rather leave the shelves airy and open with only a few books and trinkets to adorn each shelf. This way, each piece gets a chance to shine, and the end result is a modern and updated clutter-free look.

10. And here’s to the most important advice I can give a clutter-free fanatic like myself: DO NOT ENTER YOUR TEENAGERS’ ROOMS. My 18-year daughter’s room consistently looks as if a tornado came through (I think she takes pride in this fact), and the best way for me to hang on to my zen-like state (if only by the hair on my chinny chin chin) is to NOT enter her room. I guess if there has to be a clutter-crazy zone in every home, it’s my prerogative not to cross the threshold – ever!

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