My goodness – clutter.
With my busy life and seven kids, I thought I was just going to have to accept and embrace all the clutter that’s come into my life. But then I realized that wasn’t a very healthy – or spiritual – way of looking at the world. After all, I’d never stand for letting my spirit become cluttered with things that could stand between Jesus and me. Why should I allow my family’s physical space to be so cluttered with worldly possessions? Taking this more spiritual approach to clutter helped me begin to get a handle on it, and I’ve started making decluttering my newest home improvement project. Here are some secrets I’ve discovered so far:
1. Label everything.
Labels! I don’t know why I didn’t realize sooner that labeling things would help make the clutter disappear. Isn’t it enough that I just know what goes in that basket on the counter? Turns out it’s not. As the saying goes, “A place for everything and everything in its place.” And once the place for something is labeled, no one (as I’ve lovingly but firmly explained repeatedly to my children) has an excuse for not putting something where it belongs.
2. Organize drawers.
I get so frustrated digging through a drawer to find an item. Amazingly, I found that just by buying some inexpensive drawer organizers and dedicating a little time to sort the “junk” in our junk drawer into them, I’ve eliminated that surprisingly significant source of stress from my life.
3. Focus on your entry.
Taking advice from the experts, I looked around the house to see where our clutter accumulated most. Sure enough, I found that our entryway was a mess, with the kids tending to drop stuff in that area on their way in or out of the house. By placing a nice big tub or basket by the door, you give the whole family a place to drop their belongings that keeps them contained and looks nice, too.
4. Create a mobile office supply station.
Tape, pens, pencils, scissors, and other stationery supplies tend to take up a lot real estate in our home – and with all the kid working on different projects all the time, things get misplaced a lot. A pretty, little wheeled cart gives these supplies a home of their own, and since it has wheels, the kids can move it around to wherever they happen to be working at the time – instead of grabbing a pen from the kitchen and then leaving it on the sofa, which drives me nuts!
5. Donate regularly.
I encourage my children to go through their closets and toy chests regularly, selecting what they no longer want or need and compiling a family donation bin, which we then drop off at a nearby charity. Not only does it help purge our home of unneeded clutter, it teaches my children the Christian value of giving to those in need.
6. Buy one, give one.
I adopted this policy for books a long time ago, because I love them and I had a problem. Now I help my family apply this idea to of all our belongings. Around the holidays, we purge and donate toys we no longer need, knowing that my children will be getting new ones. The same holds for clothes: If you’re getting a new pair of shoes, for example, an old pair gets donated. And I try to be honest with myself about this policy, as well, applying it to things like craft supplies and kitchenware.
7. Don’t get overwhelmed.
Decluttering takes time, so be patient with yourself and your family. Every time you get rid of something, consider it a step toward a life less cluttered, and allow yourself a small congratulatory celebration – even if it’s just privately in your head. The key is to slowly get rid of what’s unneeded, and avoid taking in more clutter. If you think about it, that’s a wonderfully Christian way to approach your life, as well: Purge your life of sin, slowly, by taking small steps toward grace – and avoid giving into temptation in the future.