Thanks to Marie Kondo on Netflix, decluttering has become trendy these days. I appreciate how gracious she is with her clients on the show, even when they want to buck her system. (And she has a very specific system.)
But what works for some, may not work for all. And if there’s any certainty about decluttering methods, it is that there are many ways to achieve a less cluttered home. It all depends on you and your personality, ultimately. However, there are a few things I recommend NOT doing, no matter the method you employ while decluttering.
1. Avoiding decision making
Sometimes, it is helpful to delay decision-making, especially if a collection of items is particularly emotional for you to sort through, or if circumstances are unfavorable for a short period of time. But eventually, you’ll need to face the boxes in the attic or the piles of clothes in your closet or dresser that no longer fit. Don’t avoid decluttering because you’re afraid of making hard decisions.
2. Taking on too much at once
You get gung-ho about decluttering your home. You can do this! Let’s start right now! And then you pull everything out onto the floor and dive in (like Marie would suggest) … only to need to stop to pick the kids up from school or put them to bed. Or you try to declutter ALL THE THINGS, including your calendar, your inbox, your shoe collection, etc. etc. etc. All at once.
While it can be helpful to do one giant sort of all your things, so that you can discover and eliminate duplicates or worn out items, it can also be overwhelming. This is especially true if you’re juggling watching the kids and keeping up with the household chores at the same time.
If you need to, try a pile at a time. A drawer or cupboard at a time. Or … maybe a whole room. You can even sort like items (go through your whole house and find all the writing utensils, for instance. Or books. Or clothes.)
But if you overwhelm yourself, it will only slow you down in the long run. Gain confidence and build momentum as you prepare yourself to tackle bigger projects.
3. Getting stuck on the details
If you’re organizing all your blue pens in a pretty cup before you’ve tackled the office or desk as a whole, you’re wasting precious time. Sort big, and work your way down to the small things. By this I mean, get the framework in place to that will enable you to live tidier. If a piece of furniture isn’t helping your organizational strategy, or if the layout of the room is counter to how you really use it … change that first.
I learned this a non-traditional way, through writing fiction. For years, as a beginning writer, I would write a chapter or two and then stop to fine tune every word choice, every sentence structure, every pretty passage of prose.
I spent hours working on details and perfecting pages … only to lose them to big picture edits that ripped those pages and sentences and perfect words away from my story, because, while beautiful, they didn’t add anything to the plot.
Slowly, I learned to make those big edits first. I tackled the stuff that made the most difference. Then I focused on polishing it up.
Decluttering and organizing your home is no different. If you begin by focusing on detail work, you’ll waste precious hours. Start with the big picture by working on the places or things that make the biggest difference in your daily life. This will look different for everyone. And then, once you’ve figured out your natural rhythm and how each space should work for you, you can hone in on the details. Even organize those blue pens in that pretty cup.
4. Letting your emotions control the process
I get it. So many items in our homes hold memories, good and bad. Plus, just the knowledge that our house is a mess and needs help is enough to cause shame and other uncomfortable emotions that are hard to face. So sometimes the hardest part about decluttering is sifting through the emotions that accompany the clutter.
It’s not pretty.
If you start feeling discouraged at the rate you are decluttering your home, or if you are bogged down by anger with yourself or shame that things have gotten this bad … take a deep breath.
Don’t let those emotions rule you. All this stuff? All this clutter? It might be a symptom of a deeper problem, and facing that idea head-on is not an easy thing. Give yourself grace. It did not get like this in a day. And it probably is going to take more than one day to deal with it, too. If you need to, seek out a trusted friend or family member — someone will speak truth to you — to discuss your concerns. Or find a counselor or other professional to help you through the process.
On the other hand, it can be just as easy to rush into a decluttering project fueled by good intentions and sheer determination. You can steamroll your way through the project with little regard for the feelings of other people in your household (throwing out a prize trophy that means nothing to you, for instance). Give others grace, too.
Sometimes, you the problem is just that you’ve burned out too quickly and give up on your project.
Finally, the things themselves might hold strong emotions for you. Perhaps they were gifts from loved ones and you feel guilty about wanting to get rid of them. Or perhaps they remind you of a particularly happy–or sad–time in your life, even if the objects themselves hold little value for you.
If this happens, take a break. Try to get some emotional distance. Remind yourself that things are not people. And that perhaps the sole purpose of that thing that you are clinging to was for you to feel gratitude to the person who gave it to you. Or to use it for a season. And then to let it go.
The Bottom Line on Decluttering
In summary …
Don’t avoid decluttering because you want to avoid the decision-making process.
Don’t embark on more decluttering at a time than you can realistically handle.
Don’t get bogged down in the detail work.
Don’t let your emotions drive the bus.
The point of decluttering is not to guilt you into minimalism. The point of decluttering is to free yourself from taking care of so much “stuff”, so you can focus on the people and activities you love.
Finally, decluttering isn’t just purging your house of things.Look at it as making room for how you want to live. Keep items, as Marie Kondo would say, that bring you joy. But also those things that facilitate a better life for you and your family. Don’t feel guilty about hanging onto a vegetable peeler you don’t love, but use regularly. The point of decluttering is not to guilt you into minimalism. The point of decluttering is to free yourself from taking care of so much “stuff”, so you can focus on the people and activities you love.
For those who may not know, The 2019 Ultimate Homemaking Bundle is sold during a 6-day sale Wednesday, May 1st at 8 am ET through Monday, May 6th at 11:59 pm.
What is in The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle?
It contains 30 eCourses & Videos, 28 eBooks, 25 printable packs, 16 workbooks, 3 summits & 2 membership sites. The topics covered include decluttering, organizing your home, decorating, parenting, homeschooling, self-care, marriage, working from home, and more.
This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I might make a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you click on a link and make a purchase.
My goal with this website is to provide the most simple transformative methods I can for turning a disorganized and cluttered home into a place you love and to simplify your life to enable you to DO what you love. So I decided to purchase a copy and examine all of the resources to help you decide if it would be useful to you or not.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I do want to say I am an affiliate of the Ultimate Bundles program, so if you do decide these resources would benefit you and choose to purchase a copy through one of my links, I will receive a commission of the sales. If you buy through me, I’m grateful for your support of this website. If choose not to, I’m glad I was able to help you make an informed decision. It’s a win-win either way.
My bottom line: YES. However, this assessment does come with a caveat or two.
What I didn’t like about The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle
Overall, I thought several of the resources in each category of the bundle felt a bit lightweight in depth of content or could benefit from a more polished layout and graphics. In addition, the font size of the text seemed larger than necessary in some products, resulting in an artificially inflated page count.
There was also occasional overlapping of content, in particular, the printables. This could be considered both a pro and a con, though. If you don’t prefer the style of one, you might like the other and so be able to choose a favorite.
Finally, I have to admit that as much as I love a well-designed printable, I am personally unlikely to actually print them. So I wouldn’t use all those printed products. I like to stay simpler and more digital than that.
What I did like about The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle
These are my notes as of 10:46pm CST on 4/2/19. I’m still going through a handful of the resources and bonuses and will update as needed.
Resources marked with an asterisk (*) are my favorites in the bundle.
About the Cheat Sheets – The cheat sheets are essentially nearly 300 pages with a brief description of each resource (similar to what is in this blog post, actually). They also have the added asset of highlights from the resource for easy access. So you can see at a glance the key information from each product in the bundle.
Would I pay extra for them? Probably not. Only if saving myself the extra time of going through each one myself was a high priority for me. In that case, they could prove quite useful and might be worth the extra money.
Let’s dive in!
Decor & Creativity
*Embroidery for Beginners – Video instruction for how to embroider beautifully, even if you have never embroidered before! The videos are easy to follow and take you step-by-step. Also included is a calligraphy alphabet PDF so you can design your own initial letters.
Hand lettering – 177 Page printable practice book for various greetings, phrases, and hand-drawn icons.
*How to Choose Paint Colors for Your Home – A step-by-step guide for picking colors for your home with confidence.
Quote Decor – 10 Printable quotes for your home.
Simply Home Sewn – 7 sewing projects for you and your home, including step-by-step instructions and patterns. The mommy and me aprons are so sweet!
Swaying With the Wind – 6 knitting projects with patterns and step-by-step instructions. What’s unique about these projects is they are meant to be knitted for charities to disperse to their patrons in need. There’s also a list of charities that will accept your finished products.
ABC Memory Verse Workbook – Printable workbook with Bible memory verses for older kids to read, write out, and apply verses they memorize. Each verse has a “write it out” and “what does it mean” section. There are also activities related to the verse.
Balance – A 213 page ebook discussing the theme of balance in our lives, from a Christian perspective. It has worksheets to journal your response to the message of each chapter.
Color and Memorize – Printable patterned coloring sheets with Bible verses for kids and moms.
Encourage My Tween Child’s Heart – Discussion questions for you and your tween, encouragement notes, chore ideas, and scriptural guidance.
*Family Moments – A printable guide designed to help you grow together as a family as you focus on 12 character traits from the Bible, with activities, scripture readings, and suggested acts of service related the character trait for the week. I think this would make a great family devotional guide.
From Grouchy to Great – A 124 page ebook encouraging mothers of faith to examine their sources of anger and frustration as a mom and homemaker and to respond to them scripturally. Each chapter includes a response section with questions to guide you through the process of examining your own heart and offering suggestions for practical applications.
*Lies Moms Believe – Exposing 32 lies that moms might believe about motherhood, how God views them, themselves, their children, and their parenting choices, with gentle exhortation and encouragement based on scripture.
Love One Another Sibling Challenge – Helping kids learn how to love their siblings generously, with memory verses, compliment cards to fill out, random acts of kindness suggestions, and devotions.
*Positive Affirmations for Christian Moms and Kids – Printable cards in pretty and colorful designs that contain positive reminders for moms and kids.
*101 Screen-Free Ideas – A printable meant to be cut out, and put in a ring clip for easy access. Any time you need a quick burst of inspiration, you can find a screen-free activity your kids can quickly and easily do.
Complete Chore Board – Printable charts for chore allocation and tracking in your family.
*Happy Journal for Kids – A super cute printable with guided prompts for kids to doodle and draw specific things that make them happy, accompanied by some adorable illustrations and a soft watercolor border. It does seem to be more oriented toward girls, but I think boys could enjoy it as well.
Kids Command Center – Brightly colored printables for daily tasks and chores for kids. Seems to be geared toward elementary school students.
Kids Mindfulness Package – With mindfulness cards (images of nature objects with questions to describe what they see in the picture and how they feel when looking at it) and coloring sheets.
*Picture Word Cards – Gorgeous photography of objects, nature, and animals that begin with each letter of the alphabet, along with letter cards and poems to help remind children of the letter sounds. Truly beautiful flashcards!
*Printable Education Posters – Beautifully illustrated posters, two for doing laundry, and one with the fifty states of the United States. They are print ready quality and meant to be printed on 18×24 paper but can be sized to fit other recommended dimensions. Also a discount code for purchasing additional prints from Pretty Nerdy Press.
The Amazing Play Dough Mats – 50 Printable mats to encourage children to play with play dough. Alphabet, numbers, shapes, prompts, and even some monster faces.
*Kids Sorted – Over 200 pages of chore and behavior charts, habits and routine charts, labels for sorting toys, paperwork to keep track of, school information organization and lunchbox note cards, holiday, party, and miscellaneous printables. It’s really comprehensive and the artwork is well done, with clear and legible designs.
A Cleaner Home by the Holidays – While you might not use this RIGHT now (unless Mother’s Day is your holiday where you are hosting company!), this is a super practical 12-day guide to cleaning up all the areas of your home that guests will use.
*Clutter Free(dom) – A detailed, thorough, and step-by-step 86 page decluttering ebook that helps you put systems into place to keep the clutter to a minimum and really consider how you use the spaces in your home. It even includes a helpful idea list for non-“stuff” gift ideas.
*Declutter 365 – I really love this! It’s not a printable (and I’ve already mentioned how I feel about those), but rather a Premium Facebook group annual membership included with the cost of your Ultimate Homemaking Bundle purchase. This membership is normally $49, so buying the Ultimate Home Bundle will pay for itself with this product alone, and you’d be saving almost 50% of the cost of the group membership, to boot. If you are looking for a year-long decluttering group with daily reminders and weekly group coaching consider this private group led by Taylor Flattery of home-storage-solutions-101.com. Sounds like a fantastic resource, as she promises to leave no pile in your home untouched, and to provide regular accountability.
*Declutter Your Home in a Weekend – If you’re in the mood for something a little more sprint and less marathon, Abby Lawson’s Declutter Your Home in a Weekend Guide (with printable pages) takes you through one whirlwind weekend of intense focus and decluttering. It looks pretty comprehensive for its size and I think it would be a great kick start to a decluttering journey.
*Homekeeping & Cleaning Kit – I do love me a good checklist. And this is a great checklist! 39 pages of cleaning checklists. Daily, weekly, and rotationally, with focuses for different months. Very clean, simple design that appealed to my minimalist-loving soul.
Hostess Handbook – A 94 page guide for hosting celebrations and parties in your home, including pre-made themes, decorating guidance, helpful tips, and recipes. The design was a little less cohesive than expected, but the content seemed solid.
How to Create a Family Life You Love – A 98 page guide detailing ways to love your family, your life, and yourself. Filled with self-care tips and practical advice.
*How to Host a Crazy Profitable Garage Sale – Super practical tips for how to run your sale and get the most money for your items, including some things that I’d never thought about. And I’m a pretty seasoned garage sale person!
Journey to Clean 2019 – Cleaning schedules set up as daily, monthly, and deep cleaning schedules. Cheerful colors.
Making Peace With Downsizing – A concise guide for those going through downsizing of their households, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. Includes encouragement and advice on how to deal with your situation.
*Making Room – In-depth ebook that walks you through the decisions you need to make to decorate your home and create a welcoming environment for your daily life. I particularly liked the explanations about different decor styles, lighting choices (including a chart for the warmth or coolness of different lumens in bulbs), and reminders that home is about much more than just fancy furnishings.
*The Swap – great tool to help guide you through the decision making process of decluttering and organizing. I love her simple approach.
Five Senses Letter a Week – Each letter activity sheet includes a supply list with letter-related objects, a library list for books containing the week’s letter in the title, and hands-on sensory activities and STEM activities.
Home Management for the Homeschooling Mom – A podcast-style audiobook about how to manage daily life and homeschooling.
*Homeschooling With Confidence – A 100 page manual to instill confidence in your ability to homeschool your children. Topics covered are setting up a homeschool notebook, crafting a homeschooling mindset, studying your kids and their natural strengths and weaknesses, planning the school year, unit planning, teaching with younger kids in the home at the same time, and homeschooling resources. Even though I am not planning on homeschooling right now, I LOVE being part of my son’s educational experience and I’m excited to implement some of these things in our home.
How Do You Want Your Homeschool to Feel? – An audio file with accompanying transcript and workbook. It discusses how your home environment affects your children, and that your relationship with your kids is the most important thing to nurture.
Science in the Kitchen – Teaching science at home. Topics covered include developing a course, chemistry, biology, physics, safety, labs, and lists of supplies.
Student Planner – Printable planner with year-at-a-glance calendar sheet, along with monthly and daily planning pages in both August – June and January – December formats. Two different design options for both.
Teach Your Child How to Think With Mentoring – A 90 page eBook that discusses the benefits of mentoring from parents, books, Socratic discussion, and real-life mentoring such as classes or apprenticeships.
*Tracing Fun – 90 pages of printable filled with tracing activities for small fingers to develop fine motor control. This is one printable I will definitely use with my son.
Fabulously Festive Printable Pack – Menu planning and pantry printable, as well as monthly gratitude charts.
The Humbled Homemaker’s Meal Planning Printables – 2-Week Aldi menu and shopping plan, gluten-free menu plan, a menu planning printable, and a kids eat free list printable for local restaurants (my favorite part!)
Pantry Labels – Label Printables in multiple designs and colors.
Old Fashioned Recipe Binder – Printables for organizing all of your hand-written recipes. My favorite part of this was the bonus spice mix recipes for common spice mixes.
Finding Joy – Part memoire of an army wife, part devotional for inspiring a closer walk with God and your spouse, even during the hard times.
Giant Date Night Bucketlist – An oversized printable chart with ideas for different date nights.
31 Ways to Love Your Husband With Purpose – An ebook with printable journal pages to help wives be intentional with showing love to their husbands in 31 different ways over the same length of time.
31 Ways to Love Your Wife With Purpose – The companion ebook with printable journal pages to help husbands be intentional with showing love their husbands in 31 different ways over the same length of time.
Surprise Heart Attack – Printable hearts with affirming and loving messages for your spouse.
Habit Tracker – A little on the light side, for me. But it does appeal to my deep love of checklists, and I particularly liked her example of just picking ONE habit to track for 4 weeks, even something as small just ONE exercise.
List Plan It – Most of the sheets would take me too long to use simply, however, there is a suggested weekly cleaning routine, monthly cleaning routine, room by room purge list, and spring cleaning list that could be quite useful for inspiration in your own home.
Purposeful Printables – Clean design, simple habit and routine trackers to help you live with purpose. While I probably would not use most of the printables offered, I liked the goal setting sheets, and birthday tracker, in particular.
*Time Blocking 101 – I’m excited to try this out! It appeals to my visual nature, and is actually how I plan Disney World trips, where time is of essence, and it always takes longer than you would think to get from one attraction or park or resort to another. So I’ve visually created blocks of time assigned to each “task”. But here it is daily tasks that get blocked, and the “brain dump” idea (to get everything out of your mind and onto paper) is excellent. Plus she adds a brain dump “trigger list” to help you remember all the stuff floating around in your mind.
Mom’s BFF Planner – A collection of printables to help with daily life. Everything from a debt pay-off planner, babysitter instructions, to weight loss tracker, and weekly schedule. I’m going to print off the 2019 calendar at a glance for my home binder, and maybe the babysitter instructions and goal setting sheet. (I love that it has space to list specific steps and deadlines for each.)
Vacation Planner – Black and white OR color printing options (so useful! As I only have a black and white laser printer at home.) Printable to help you daydream about potential vacation locales, and then drill down to specifics and even keep a record of your accommodations and daily plans for the trip. My family and I are currently thinking about a short beach trip this summer, so this will come in handy as I begin to collect information.
Burning Bright Not Burning Out – An honest, raw look at motherhood, with advice on how to weather the difficult seasons of parenting young children, and encouragement along the way.
Discipline that Makes a Difference – A 117 page ebook discussing how to calmly enforce rules in your home and discipline effectively.
Online Safety Handbook – A guide for cyber safety, screen time effects, and setting rules for electronics usage. Also a lengthy section describing various apps and their potential risks to kids and teens.
Sleep Training Your Reluctant Toddler – Step-by-step instructions from one mom’s personal experience gently sleep training her toddler who had a hard time going to sleep by himself.
The Postpartum Plan – A printable designed to take you through the thought process of how you plan to be supported after giving birth. It has places to write down important information, motherhood support groups you’d like to join, and a section on planning in advance who is responsible for different tasks that will help you feed and take care of your baby and yourself in the weeks after birth. I wish I had thought of some of these things when I was pregnant!
*Ultimate Guide to Creating a Successful Playroom – Comprehensive guide, filled with child-led learning and learning play principles, on how to set up your child’s play area to facilitate an optimal place for them to play, learn, and clean up after themselves. I loved this guide and I’m planning to use it to inspire setting up my son’s room in a better manner. I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of some of the tips before.
7 Simple Days – A workbook with seven days of challenges for how to simplify your life right now.
Courage Amidst Uncertainty – A workbook with guided meditations and reflections when encountering uncertainty in your life.
Intentional 21 – A 21-day guided journal with affirmations that focuses on intentional living.
*Lean Fit 1.0 – A 4-week weight training fitness plan, with photographs to help you have proper form.
Work at Home
Begin Your Biz – A start-kit ebook for starting a freelance business out of your home in only 15 minutes a day. Topics include business plans, marketing, client retention, and reducing overwhelm in business.
Etsy Quick Start Guide – How to open and run a sustainable Etsy business. Topics include setting up your storefront, researching your item, making listings, photography, shipping, and other tips.
*Mom to Mompreneur – How to survive your first 30 days blogging, while also parenting. Topics include branding, social media, content calendars, email lists, and sharing your blog. I’m past my first 30 days of blogging, but I’m still looking forward to reading this.
Work From Home Made Easy – How to find your target audience, set up sales funnels, track finances, create a brand look and identity, and handy business tools to know about.
Want even more inspiration? Join over 127,000 women who have said YES to the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle since 2012. Get 104 eBooks, eCourses, and printables (all new for 2019!) designed to help you declutter and organize your home, balance your many roles, meal plan and serve healthier meals, plus resources for parenting, marriage, working from home, self-care, and much more. 98% off. 6 days only.
Scroll through Instagram for home organization inspiration and
you’ll likely be inundated with images of trendy baskets, bins clearly labeled,
color coded vertical files, and picture-perfect pantries.
It’s all so pretty.
Who wouldn’t want to open their pantry door and see something worthy of a Real Simple photo shoot? Dreamy, right? Except … let’s face it: it’s also expensive.
Even if you only purchase matching dollar store baskets, you’ll still be shopping for supplies and spending money you might not need to spend.
Don’t Focus on Making Storage Solutions Pretty (at First)
If you are trying to organize the stuff in your home by stuffing all your things in matching buckets and baskets and bins (oh, my!), you will not see a permanent improvement in your home or life. And if you are picturing how pretty it could look, but avoiding changing the reason it looks so messy in your home now, you’ll miss the whole point.
So what should you
do? Well …
This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I might make a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you click on a link and make a purchase.
Assess Your Organizational Needs
Start with an honest assessment of the constraints of your living space, lifestyle, habits, finances, and personality.
If you take inspiration from a photo you see online or on social media, and try to force that method of organization on yourself and your own home, it might backfire. For instance, if you like the idea of keeping all your cleaning supplies in your laundry room, but keep finding yourself reaching for them under your sink instead, it’s time to reevaluate your arrangement.
Continue by thoughtfully (and prayerfully) considering the purpose of your home. It’s there for shelter for your family, of course. But what else?
How do you use your home currently? How do you want to use your home? For me, I’ve come to begin to see my home as a place of ministry. Right now as a mom of a young child, it’s the easiest way for me to share God’s love with others.
Your home is so much more than just a decorated living space. Having it organized in a way to support your lifestyle will simplify your life.
Declutter BEFORE you organize. There is no point in organizing things we don’t need or use. It is a waste of time and money.
Don’t even think about buying things to organize your “stuff” until you’ve edited your household items down to what is only truly needed, used, and/or loved.
I repeat: do not go out and buy containers before you’ve decluttered a space.
When you are ready to begin organizing with containers, use and/or repurpose what you already have before going out to buy new.
Even a simple cardboard box from an Amazon (like mine from my stockpile closet, above), or a cereal box, could be turned into a divider or container in the interim. Then, as you save money, you can buy more attractive replacements if you find that type of storage works well for the space.
Give yourself time to figure things out. True change doesn’t happen overnight.
It can takes up to two months to form a habit. Live with your “just for now” containers and organization for a few weeks before committing to a method. Be okay with the messy middle. And don’t compare your beginning with someone else’s success further down their journey to an organized home.
If you get stuck, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Seek the advice of a friend or family member who enjoys organizing. Join an online community.
When you’ve figured out what works best for you, and have
set aside some money to invest in better containers, THEN it is time to go
Measure Your Spaces So You Know What to Buy
Take measurements (height, width, depth) of all your spaces
where the organizers will go. This will save you time, money, and frustration
if you know ahead of time if a container you find will fit or not.
Stay in Budget When You Shop for Storage
If you shop carefully, you can find containers that fit your
budget and style. Consider:
Buy Storage Furniture and Containers in the Order You Need Them
Take the time to think about which items you need to purchase will have the BIGGEST impact in your life. Unless it is completely cost-prohibitive, invest in those first.
Think of this as kind of the reverse of Dave Ramsey’s debt snowball effect. (Where you start small paying off your smallest debt first and gain momentum as you pay off more debt.) For organizing purposes, start with big changes and work down to small ones. Lay a strong foundation first, and build from those successes.
For instance, at our house, having a place to put paperwork and odds and ends behind doors in our living room made a huge difference in the pleasure I took in my home. I’d been waiting two years to find just the right piece for this function. So when I found the armoire below on Facebook Marketplace — and it was in budget — I was thrilled!
Take Your Time
Once you’ve gotten to know how you use your home, sit down and make a list, in order of importance and usefulness, what storage you want to buy to fill those needs.
Work your way down the list, slowly replacing your freebie and just-for-now furniture and containers with items that work well for your situation and your home.
Have patience with the process; don’t rush it and buy things you will regret. I promise it is worth it in the long run.
Ever wonder how some moms do it? You show up after an impromptu play date invitation and somehow they have effortlessly maintained their houses. They aren’t even worried. Come on over!
I envied those women for so long. Was there a secret skill set I had not yet unlocked as a human being? Even now, after forming better habits, I would rather read a good novel or get lost browsing social media than vacuum. It’s a constant challenge.
But nine years ago, I decided enough was enough.
How I began decluttering
Back then, my husband and I were newlyweds. We lived on my customer service job salary and his new consulting business income and were on a tight budget. Our favorite frugal hobby was to crash on the couch and binge watch sci-fi shows. Then we discovered the show Clean House, and that inspired a massive decluttering of our possessions. You can read more about that journey here. (Pro tip: watching decluttering shows as a couple is excellent for starting conversations! And with Marie Kondo on Netflix, what better time to start than now?) But once our son was born, our progress came to a screeching halt. It took several years to bounce back.
The habits that make a tidy home possible!
Since then, I’ve renewed my quest to find how to be a better household manager. Over and over I’ve found there are some common habits tidy people have—ones they do without thinking—that magically keep their houses looking clean with minimal effort. Y’all. Since I began implementing what I’ve learned, the following six daily habits have changed my life.
This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I might make a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you click on a link and make a purchase.
1. Clean the Kitchen Sink
Every morning, unload the dishes in the dishwasher. During the day, load the dishwasher as you dirty dishes. Then at night, before bed, turn on the dishwasher. Finish the handwash-only items or any stray random dishes that don’t fit in the dishwasher. Then clean the sink.
The magic here is the sink has to be empty to be cleaned. By emptying it you complete the circuit and set yourself up for success the next day.
2. Put Away the Laundry
Every day, do a load of laundry. And every day, take the dry clothes out of the dryer, fold them, and put them away.
Don’t pile them on the laundry seat (you know what I’m talking about!) Don’t pile them on your bed. Don’t leave them in the dryer to deal with later. Wash them. Dry them. Fold them. Put them away. (If you can’t put them away that night, at least do it the next morning.)
The magic here is that emptying the dryer and putting the contents away immediately makes it easy to keep the cycle going. If the dryer is full, you can’t put a new load in. If you can’t put the wet clothes in, they start to stink and you have to begin all over again.
So empty that dryer. You’ll have a chance to do your next load and won’t get behind. Then, fold and put away the clothes. Then you won’t have a pile that collects dust on the floor and has to be cleaned all over again. (Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything. Ahem.)
3. Wash the Kitchen Counters
This one is so simple and very satisfying. Once or twice a day, take a microfiber cloth (I like to use my Norwex enviro cloths for their bacteria-removing ability, but any microfiber cloth will do) and wipe down the kitchen counters. Or use your favorite multi-purpose cleaner. If you haven’t made a mess early on, just wait until after dinner. But if you’ve cooked or used the counter for a kid’s activity, try to always wipe it down.
The magic here is in the necessity to declutter the counters before you can wash them. It’s a sneaky way to force you to put away the things on the counter and throw out any trash. But don’t focus on that part. Focus on how pretty your counters look after being washed!
4. Sweep the Kitchen
This is a simple task that is easy to ignore once a layer of crumbs has made its way to the floor for the umpteenth time. After all, it’s just goin to get dirty again, right? But if you sweep even once a day, after dinner, it will keep the dirt to a minimum.
The magic here is that the kitchen usually gets the heaviest traffic of the house. By sweeiping it you can feel good about this minimal effort having a maximum effect. Dirty footprints everywhere, crumbs from snacks and meal prep, trampled pieces of forgotten Play-Doh, you name it, it’s probably there. By sweeping it at least once a day, it helps to refresh the house as a whole.
5. Clean the Bathroom Sinks
Once a day, run a microfiber cloth over your bathroom sinks. All of them. It’s amazing how such a simple act can improve the overall impression of your home. Treat yourself to shiny faucets and toothpaste-free basins.
The magic here is if your sink is clean, the whole bathroom feels cleaner, even if just that one part of it has been wiped down daily. It sounds strange. But it really is true.
6. Do an Evening “Reset”
This is a catch-all tidy that includes, but is not limited to, several habits on this list. And it’s where the magic really happens.
Every evening, at a convenient time for your family, insist on a quick tidy of all the living spaces. We do this right before bathtime. Then we can finish up while our son takes his bath and relax after he goes to bed. That down time is sacred in our household.
Have your kids grab their toys and take them back to their rooms. Help pick up family toys or activities, like board games or blocks. Grab any laundry from the day that needs to be put in dresser drawers or closets. Throw out trash. Shelve books. Stash papers in their appropriate spots. Clear homework and put it in easy to access spots for the next school day, if applicable. Fluff couch pillows. In other words, put the room back the way you found it in the morning.
Fair warning … the first time you do this, it will feel like a lot of work at the end of an already exhausting day. But the second time will be easier. And the next even easier than that. Before you know it, it will be a natural habit.
Note: For stay-at-home moms who have a young child at home, consider implementing a mini-reset earlier in the day. In our house, if my son has had a particularly enthusiastic morning of play, I will do a mid-afternoon reset. This way only the new mess will need to be cleaned up during the evening tidy.
The magic here is you get to walk into an already tidy living space every morning. No matter what chaos happened the day before, you get to start fresh! You won’t be backlogged and start behind the game from the beginning. You’ll feel empowered to keep the ball rolling and continue your new habit for each day after.
And that’s the secret that tidy moms know. A little bit of work each day—just a handful of consistent habits, really—is all it takes to stay on top of things. You really can do it.