I’ve always considered myself an organized person, but reading Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up gave me the spark of inspiration I needed to finally complete my lengthy minimization project (and keep our house in order once and for all).
Our house isn’t big, fancy, or even traditional, but it’s tidy and clutter-free. And in that I’ve found magic. I’m no Marie Kondo, but I have some of my own ideas for tidying up. First, get rid of every single possession that you don’t like, love, need, want, or use. Then…
1. Wash dishes on the spot
It’s tempting to fill a sink with dirty dishes, but with a little extra effort they can be rinsed and put straight into the dishwasher or washed by hand right away. It’s easier said than done, but looking into an empty sink is always a relief.
2. Get rid of your laundry basket(s)
Our dirty clothes go straight into the washing machine and I run the load when it’s full. This way I never have a basket -or baskets- of dirty laundry (although I do stockpile my own shirts for a special load because I don’t want them mixed in with the grubbier clothes of the boys in my house). Cloth napkins and rags are another story.
3. Give stuffed animals a sleeping bag
My boys each have a “sleeping bag” (pillow case) for their stuffed animals. All their cuddly friends stay inside when not in use. They are welcome to acquire as many as can fit in the sleeping bag (not having to abide by my rule unless it fills up!).
4. Open an in-home “toy shop”
Our living room, kitchen, and bedrooms are totally toy-free! We keep our kids’ toys in a closet/pantry that we call “The Toy Shop”. They can choose one item at a time and trade it in for another whenever they want. This ensures that our house doesn’t become cluttered. Legos are accessible anytime in the play room, but need to be cleaned up completely when they want to (or have to!) change activities.
5. Keep everything in its place
Getting the kids to follow this rule can be a challenge. I’m the one making sure it happens for now, but I can see the good habits slowly forming. Putting everything back where it belongs, every time, is the most important piece of the clutter-free puzzle.
6. Clean out the car daily
It’s so easy to let stuff pile up in the car each day, and by the end of the week it’s a 30-minute job to clean it out. To avoid this, I keep a milk crate in my car and use it to bring my things in when we get home from school. (The boys are responsible for theirs.) Of course, once inside, things go back where they belong and my empty crate is ready to transport things to the car in the morning.
7. Keep horizontal surfaces clear
We have a bookshelf and a “seasonal shelf” where we display pictures and keepsakes, but everything else is put away. The top of our TV stand is clear and the kitchen counter doesn’t have anything on it (besides the compost bowl, usually a pot of bread, and sometimes our water bottles). Same goes for the table beside my rocking chair and our desks. My weekly dusting is so much faster when I don’t have to clear the surfaces I’m wiping.
8. Don’t put anything on the floor
Just like tables, dressers, and counters, I like to keep our floors clutter-free. Everything has a home on a shelf, in a drawer, or on a hook, so when I sweep I don’t have to spend time picking things up off the floor first.
9. Keep dirt outside
We take our shoes off outside and leave them by the entry rug. (Shoes that won’t be worn the next day go back in the closet.) This keeps most dirt out. I shake the rug regularly, which helps as well. I use a washtub and the hose if my kids’ feet are dirty before they enter.
10. Make the nightly rounds
Every evening after dinner (okay, *almost* every evening) I sweep the living room and kitchen floors, wipe the table after my boys have cleared their plates, clear and wipe the counter top, and wipe around the sink. There’s nothing else to clean up because everything’s been put back where it belongs throughout the day. In ten minutes tops, I’m ready for a restful evening and a new day.
I find a cluttered house stressful and unsettling. I’m just not at ease when my house is out of order. Making tidiness a way of life has freed me from the angst I used to feel about having stuff everywhere. When things are tidy, I can sit back, relax, and enjoy the things that matter most.