Dear stressed out Mamas. This one is for you.
We raised 4 kids and it was fun and wonderful, but oh so hectic! The tide of mess each day could be pretty stressful. One day I read this sentence in a book on surviving motherhood; ‘Never underestimate what you can do in a 10 minute window of time.’
Since I am passionately interested in simplifying life and have worked with helping others to de-clutter and organise, I have had countless conversations with people on this topic. Most people say: ‘I am desperate to de-clutter and get my house under control but I am waiting until I have two or three totally free days.’ However if you have young kids you could wait quite a decade to get two or three free days! There is another option. Read on…
The best habit and strategy I have found in getting on top of things is to attack one drawer, shelf or category per day. One victory per day. It might just be the cutlery drawer, or the collection of drink bottles, or the socks. It is not about tidying up, it is about scaling back in each area so it never gets bad again. And it can be done fast, in a 10 minute window. Fast means it is less painful. 10 minutes means it actually gets done. And the fact that I actually made some headway makes a big difference.
HOW TO HAVE ONE VICTORY A DAY
Firstly. For the ongoing de-cluttering and simplification of your home, get a laundry hamper or deep box, and line it with a garbage bag. Write ‘DONATE’ on it. Give it a spot in the house and tell the family about it. Anytime that bag is full, put it in the boot/trunk of your car. Pass by a charity each week to take a deep breath and drop off any bags.
1. Choose a category or a drawer. Each day when you are going about your life, you will come across a category of stuff, a drawer or a shelf that is driving you crazy. Stop. This is obviously the area to attack today. If you have time, go grab any more items of that category from around the house so you have the whole collection. Some socks on the line? Mugs in the lounge room? You do need to see all of them to realise just how many there are.
2. Choose keepers. Take a few minutes to pull out your keepers: the ones you LOVE, or the ones you most NEED and set them aside for keeping. The faster you do this the better coz you are busy and first instincts are usually spot on.
3. Donate. Pick out any good items and put into your donation hamper. Don’t hang onto good things you don’t use regularly. Donate them so they can go to someone who actually needs them and can’t afford new. (Don’t donate stuff that is stained, chipped yuk or useless.) If your donate bag is full take it out to the car boot/trunk right away.
4. Trash the rest. All the rest (stained, chipped, yuk, useless) goes into the trash. Put out the trash.
5. Put away misc. Any items you found that belonged somewhere else you can quickly put away or maybe assign it to another family member to put away!
6. Put keepers beautifully back in place. Give the shelf a wipe and put back your most loved and needed items with care in the drawer or shelf. Stand back and admire. How good does that feel? There is new space around them! That drawer just became much more functional and beautiful. Everyday life will be that little bit easier and that drawer will NEVER get that messy again as you just got rid of 20/50/100 items that clogged it up.
7. Stop the inflow. This is vital. If you want a more manageable home, you gotta stop bringing items in too. Don’t buy any new items unless you have assessed what you have and are convinced you need it. It is SO freeing to walk in and out of a department store, reminding yourself you don’t need that stuff. It is a very good lesson to our children too. Lets celebrate not buying stuff as we walk out, rather than celebrating coming home with a hoard (having been sucked in).
So. You just took control over an area. You can enjoy how functional it is and how lovely your favourite items look on that shelf now. Do this most days and your home will change significantly. Some days you might do two or three shelves. In a month maybe you have blitzed 30 parts of the house! How airy and calm your house will become! If you parted with 500 items over the next weeks that’s 500 items you would never have to tidy up or maintain ever again. That means loads of time freed up for people and activities you love. Maybe even a moment of rest in your favourite spot.