A new year means new resolutions. I noticed a few common resolutions on my social media pages: get healthier, read more, and declutter/organize. I didn’t proclaim any resolutions this year because I’m still in survival mode as a married mother of two under two and working full-time, but I did decide to take advantage of the holidays to tackle the most cluttered parts of our home with the help of my mother.
There have been many late nights in which I organize the nursery and living room — both packed with baby and toddler toys and clothes — because I couldn’t sleep knowing the chaos which inhabited both rooms. Similar times have led to less sleep and a bad attitude the next morning. I have come to the conclusion that I have too much stuff to organize. Our home is filled with random junk that we’ve inherited over the years starting from when we moved from West Tennessee to Chattanooga for college. Add in years of accumulating more things and top it off with all things baby-related, I knew stuff had to go.
My mother helped me create a game plan and clear out my home — here’s what we did:
1. Pinpoint where to start and do it.
I identified areas that needed to be decluttered the most: our kitchen, kids’ toy areas, and my guest bedroom that was taken over with my eBay reselling side hustle. Armed with empty boxes, trash bags, and cleaning products, we started while my husband and dad watched the kids. In each area we worked in sections and laid out every single item in the area.
2. Throw away, donate, sell, or keep.
Once we had the items laid out, I picked up each item and decided whether I wanted to throw it away, donate it, sell it, or keep it. Items that were broken or trash were thrown away. If it was something we used on a regular basis and had a purpose, I kept it. All other items in good condition were either set back to donate or to sell on eBay or Facebook Marketplace. I would recommend taking emotions out the process. Of course I wanted to keep the 20 glasses we received from our wedding registry six years ago because they symbolize an exciting life event, but there was no reason to have so many for our small family. Clothes are hard for me to part with; I can justify keeping anything for a myriad of reasons. This time around however, I decided if I didn’t wear it at least once a month it had to go.
3. Do something with the piles.
Yes, you actually have to do something with your throw away, donate, sell, or keep piles. Don’t just leave them sitting in your home or garage taking up space. At the end of your decluttering session, drop bags immediately into the trash bin. Take a trip to the thrift store to drop off donations. Use the newly found space to organize your keep items in a way that makes them easy to access and use.
4. Keep it up.
The upkeep is the hardest part for my family. My husband and I have started to pick up and put away items in heavily trafficked areas like the living room and kitchen every night, and focus on the entire house on Saturdays when we are both off. Do areas still get cluttered? Yes, but it is so much easier to deal with the areas now that we decluttered bags of stuff.
Lessons I learned
1. Make sure your family is on board.
I specifically made sure not to touch my husband’s stuff, but was called out by him when I decluttered our koozie basket in the kitchen. This resulted in me digging through a huge donation box in the freezing cold because he was worried I threw out some of his favorites. Next time I’ll make sure we are on the same page. Double check with your spouse and family members before deciding the fate of their things — it will prevent arguments from happening.
2. Some is better than none.
I wholeheartedly understand that it’s not always possible to carve out full days to declutter and organize, especially when you have kids. I begged my mom to make the trip to help me because she can keep me on track and do a lot in a little amount of time. Now I’m back to the marathon, not a sprint approach. I do what I can when I can. This might mean staying up later than the kids or babywearing the infant while the toddler plays on her tablet, but once it’s done, it’s done.
Having a hard time organizing?
I recently read Emily Ley’s A Simplified Life and started following her on social media. One piece of her advice has really stuck with me. To paraphrase, she said if you are having a hard time organizing, you haven’t decluttered enough. I play this over and over in my mind every time I start getting overwhelmed with a certain area in my home or work.
My decluttering project.
In the haste of getting things done as quickly as possible, I forgot to take photos of my before and after of our kitchen. However, here are photos of the before, some during, and after of our guest bedroom and basement room I converted into my eBay room.