Today I am fortunate to be guest posting over at SITSGirls- offering my advice on a 5 Day Plan to Stay On Top of Housework! This plan gives you the low-down on how to stay ahead of the dust and dirt-removal game by spending just an hour a day on housework. But you can have a clean house that is still very much a mess… if you allow the clutter to get out of control. So here I am sharing a companion piece that offers my best tips on managing household clutter!
When your house feels like it is a mess- there are usually two things going on- clutter and dirt. The clutter is usually mostly paperwork- mail, school papers, catalogs, magazines, newspapers, and so on. The rest of the “stuff” is usually kids toys, clothes, games and so on. I have learned that if you set up a system for dealing with the accumulation of all of this “stuff”- you can manage it before it becomes “clutter”. Here are some ideas:
“Touch it Once and Deal With It”
With the daily mail, don’t just open the mail and then leave it on a pile on the counter where you will still need to sort it again. Instead, try the “touch it once and deal with it” method. Create a filing system wherever you open you mail (mine is in the kitchen), have a folder for unpaid bills, a folder for invitations (and add events to your calendar right when you open your mail, call or email your RSVP right then and there, and then file the invite in the folder for later reference, and a folder to file things that seem interesting to you now (a flyer soliciting donations of used clothing, a seed catalog) but you aren’t sure if you are going to use it. If you received a magazine, newsletter, or newspaper that you plan to read later, have a bin to keep materials “to be read” and then recycle won’t you don’t need- catalogs, envelopes, etc.
Handle School Paperwork the Same Way
When the kids open their backpacks and unload their school folder with all of its paperwork- we use the same “touch it once” approach- completed school work gets reviewed with the child, if it is special it gets taped up on the fridge, if it is not “fridge-worthy” it just goes into our school papers basket (which gets recycled every few weeks, once I am sure that nothing in there will be needed or missed), invites or notices of school events immediately are written into my calendar, and the notice or invite are added to my future events file for reference the day of the event. Homework that needs to be completed goes on the counter top until it is completed later that evening and then put back into backpacks for the return trip to school.
Clear remaining paperwork before bed
Each evening as part of the after-dinner kitchen clean up, I try to clear all counter tops of any stray paperwork that isn’t it’s proper home. I also have a place for my hubby’s communication (“his home inbox”)- so if there is any mail, magazines, or his latest Netflix movie, so he knows where to look for it when he gets home.
Create loading bins for stray kids items
Beyond paperwork, the majority of household clutter comes from kids’ belongings that haven’t been returned to their proper home. To make this easier to deal with, I keep a few bins around as temporary holding places for items that need to be returned to where they belong. I keep two bins near the kitchen- one is for kids’ toys that need to be returned to the playroom, and the other for items that need to be returned to places upstairs. So if the kids have left for school and I am tripping over a toy- I put in the playroom bin, I certainly don’t walk to that room ten times a day putting things away for the kids! As part of our evening after-dinner clean up, the kids are responsible for emptying those bins.
When it comes to household chores for my kids- most of them surround this aspect of keeping house- battling the clutter and returning things to their rightful home…. not the actual dirt-removal kind of chores that I prefer to do while they are at school. As they get older- they will start to take on these tasks as well…. but I feel it is far more important for them to develop life long habits of organization first.
I would love to hear how you stay on top of the daily clutter at your house! Do you have any ideas to share?