Photo by Sean MacEntee
Spring cleaning is in the air, and it seems that everyone in the blogosphere is talking about it. A big part of spring cleaning is clearing out the clutter--something we all can relate to (whether or not we actually do it!)
Conventional decluttering advice goes like this: You should dedicate 15 minutes everyday to one room in your house. Go through each possession and decide whether to keep, toss, or give away. Only keep the things you believe are useful or beautiful.
When you've completed one room, continue to the next. And so on. Until you reach the finish line--and your whole house is clutter-free.
I've attempted this exercise on a couple of occasions, feeling pumped and ready to tackle my home top to bottom. But somehow, I've never made it completely to the finish line.
I've finally decided that I was in the wrong line to begin with. So I've developed a few alternative ideas that make the decluttering process work for busy mamas like me.
Maybe these four points will stir thoughts of your own.
1. Instead of decluttering each and every room, declutter your areas of greatest need.
I tackle like I do my cleaning method, which I discuss in this post. Busy mamas, especially of young children, will not find huge blocks of time for spring cleaning. Even 15 minutes a day could be a stretch.
Instead, I keep a list of the top areas in my home that need a little TLC. Right now this includes the toys in the basement and the hallway cabinet. So when I have a bit of free time, I know I'll be devoting it to the most important areas.
2. Declutter when you have the time.
If you don't have the time, you can't declutter your attic. And unless you're moving, that's okay. Accept where you are--if something really is important to you, you'll find or make time to do it.
If you don't, then maybe it's not important to you. Providing your clutter isn't impeding your family's peace of mind, that's okay too.
3. Reframe your feelings--and keep some stuff.
Recently I was in my garage, feeling frustrated by the slight disarray within it.
Suddenly the idea came to me to reframe my feelings--instead of looking at "junk," I was reminded of the generosity of friends and neighbors who had passed on tools to us. I was struck by memories of life seasons we're no longer in as I looked at our old infant car seats.
When I have time, I'll pass that stuff on. But stuff isn't the problem, only our attachment to it. I'm all for a sense of order, but you don't have to be a minimalist to be happy.
4. Let go of perfectionism.
Sometimes our desire for "the model home" comes from the heart of our recovering perfectionist. Our homes do need order, of course. If your stuff blocks you from having a peaceful rhythm to your days, then by all means do something about it.
But occasionally, a little mess is good for you. For example, a month ago I commented to Steve about how messy the bookcase in our bedroom was.
"Aren't you proud of me?" I said.
It isn't in my nature to have a messy bookcase--I'm a naturally organized person.
So to me that bookcase reflected an intentional choice to let go, and I got so much joy from looking at the slight mess on those shelves. Then a couple of weeks ago I tidied and organized it, and you know what? I haven't got the same pleasure from it since.
I may go and create a little mess right now--just to make a point.
**So how do you manage clutter in your home?**
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Jamie is founder of this little spot called Steady Mom, editor of the blog Simple Homeschool, mama to three cute kids born on three different continents, and author of Steady Days: A Journey Toward Intentional, Professional Motherhood.
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