These days it’s not only the typical “messy” child who’s overwhelmed with excess stuff. Even the most organized offspring may have a tough time keeping their things in order when there’s so much to maintain.
Here are some clutter control tips to help you manage the mess and also train children of any age to be more organized.
1. Categorize. Putting similar items together is one of the basic rules of organization because it’s the simplest way to keep things in a semblance of order. Typical categories of kid stuff include toys, games, books, art supplies, computer-related, music-related, school-related, clothing, accessories, hobbies and collections. Categories with the largest number of items can be subcategorized.
2. Make it easy. The easier it is to do something, the more likely that thing is to get done. So make it easy to:
- Put stuff away — by having accessible containers and appropriate furnishings that are easy for your children to use. For example, shelves with colorful plastic bins provide easy-access storage options and simple solutions for getting toys and other items up off the floor.
- Hang up clothes — by putting up clothes hooks at kid-friendly heights in thoughtful places, making it easy for children to hang frequently used items of clothing instead of dropping them on the floor. This also helps discourage the habit of putting not-yet-dirty clothes in the laundry, something that many kids — and adults — do because it’s easier than putting clothing on a hanger or folding it. (Safety note: Avoid locating eye-level hooks on the back of doors that swing open.)
- Throw things out — by placing trash receptacles in convenient places, making it easy for everyone to discard wrappers, tissues, junk mail and any other detritus that tends to get dropped on the floor. Treat your wastebaskets like babies — keep them within close reach at all times, feed them frequently and change them often.
Spring cleaning just isn’t what it used to be. A more accurate term might be “spring clearing,” since uncluttering is often what needs to be done before cleaning.
But whether you live in a tiny apartment or a spacious house, clearing out clutter isn’t just a springtime ritual. A clutter-free home requires an ongoing commitment to staying streamlined. Here are five key ways you can get — and keep — your household organized and uncluttered.
- Make it easy. Put frequently used items in convenient places. Instead of storing supplies only where they fit best, locate them close to where they are used most often. Get rid of things that don’t work well and replace them with products that are easy to maintain and a pleasure to use. To help discourage messes, make it easy to discard things quickly–keep at least one wastebasket handy in every room.
- Establish an “In-Out Inventory Rule.” For each item that comes into your home (such as books, videos, CDs/DVDs, clothing), another item of equal type should go out (to charity or resale). If you can get in the habit of following this maintenance rule for even one of your “clutter categories,” your stuff will be less likely to reach the stage of critical mass (or critical mess, as the case may be).
- Let go of clutter daily. Each day, make a conscious effort to let go of at least one unit of clutter. The “unit” can be one item or one container-full. As long as you do it consistently, you’ll see results. Remind yourself that the more stuff you choose to let go of, the less time you’ll need to spend maintaining it.
- Keep the positive, let go of the negative. If your clutter includes sentimental objects, here’s a rule to remember: Let go of anything that doesn’t touch you in a positive or poignant way. Don’t keep anything that makes you feel stressed or upset (unless you’re legally required to keep it).
- Turn “can’t” into “can.” The most important piece of clutter to let go of is the apostrophe and t on the end of the word can’t. When you catch yourself saying, “I can’t get rid of — ” change it to “I can!”
Clean out cabinets by asking yourself which items really deserve to live in your cabinets and which ones are unwelcome guests. Let go of things that have been taking up space for so long you can’t even remember acquiring them. (This includes all those cute little hotel toiletries you’ve stockpiled from every trip you’ve ever taken.)
Set limits by deciding what quantity of certain items is reasonable to have on hand (do you really need 80 grocery bags or six types of moisturizer?) and resolve to make a conscious effort to stay within those limits.
Choosing the right cabinet organizers can help you maintain orderly kitchen and bathroom cabinets.
Three types to consider:
- Slide-out or roll-out organizers, also known as pull-outs, are good options for deep cabinets since they provide easy access to supplies that might otherwise get lost in the cave-like far reaches.
- Over-door cabinet door organizers let you utilize cabinet doors for storing frequently used items.
- Shelf organizers such as the Adjustable Shelf and Basket Organizer allow you to effectively use vertical space for stacking supplies instead of piling them.