Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Controlling the Clutter

Clutter.  It is the silent enemy that so swiftly sneaks in and takes control of a home.  I hate clutter.  It makes my chest feel tight and my armpits itch.  When there’s too much clutter in our house, I am prone, unfortunately, to transform into a snorting, raging mad lunatic with long angry tusks and drool in my beard not very nice person.  I'm working on that though!

Newspapers, school papers, Sunday school papers, papers, papers, papers!  Bouncy balls, assorted lego pieces, ink pens, receipts, birthday cards, magazines… need I say more?  Socks with no partner, shoes in the corner, coats on the table and bags on the floor.  Clutter, clutter and more clutter!  It’s everywhere!

I learned a long time ago the only way to maintain the threat, is to counter attack!  So here’s the plan I’ve put in place in Carpenterville to fight the war on clutter.

1.        Everything must have a home.  The hardest part about cleaning up aforementioned objects, is when you’re not quite sure where to put them.  I made a rule for myself that if I can’t find a place for everything we own – or we will no longer own it!  No matter the shape of our economy, we as Americans still have too much stuff and it doesn’t hurt a bit to thin out the toys box and clothes closet.

Over the years, I have accumulated quite a stash of Rubbermaid organizing bins.  I use drawers for the toys – those bouncy balls, Nerf guns, doll clothes, toy cars and Legos are divided in there – my goal is to label each drawer with the name and a picture of the item.

A basket or file box at an easily accessible location is perfect for all those papers.  Each week on Throwaway Thursday (or whatever day you choose) grab your basket and sift through the papers while your husband sits beside you watching the Cubs lose (I’m such a fair-weather fan).  Decide what papers can get pitched, which ones need to go in the basket by the toilet, or need to be filed.  All those precious scraps of paper your two-year old colored in Sunday School with a John Deere green crayon have two options – 1.  Pitch it.  Don’t leave me now -there’s another option!  2. Keep it in his Treasure Box!   What Treasure Box you ask?   I have a large Rubbermaid container for each of my children stored down in our basement.  Their names are posted on the side in large letters and my kids are so proud of them!  Inside the box, you can find their coming-home-from-the-hospital outfit, favorite blankie, baby book, and all those extra-precious papers.

Use drawer organizers to keep your desk or cabinets neat and orderly.  I personally prefer the little storage baskets you can find in the (where else) Rubbermaid aisle at Walmart.  The baskets are perfect to custom fit your needs – whether it’s the silverware drawer or for separating the pens from the paper clips in your desk.

I also keep a file for each person in our family in my filing cabinet.  In there, I keep schedules, immunization records, papers that will eventually be sent to the Treasure box, etc.  These are great because it keeps the information I need close at hand, but still off the top of the counter.

2.       Don’t put it down – put it away!  -Emilie Barnes

I like Emilie Barnes.  My kids probably don’t like what she said, but they hear it anyway!  Hers is a phrase I use often, and it’s a good reminder for myself.

To keep the clutter at bay, get in the habit of taking the extra 15 seconds to put your shoes in the closet, or sort through the mail rather than adding it to the pile on your desk.  Have your children join ranks and ask them to put their toys away before bedtime and toss their laundry in the hamper – rather than on the floor by the tub.

There are so many different ways to keep every room in your home organized and I hope to look at more ways in the future.  What else is cluttering up your home?  If clutter has taken over your house, pick a small area, set your timer for 5 minutes and see if you can have the area cleared by the time you hear the ding!

Walking into your home after a long day to see a cleared table with a bouquet of flowers in the center is one of the nicest gifts you can give yourself – and your family.  So don’t give up!  Stay at it and soon, you’ll have your home clutter-free!

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