Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Use it or lose it

I'm currently waiting for my husband to make up his damn mind decide which job he's going to take. One choice will require big changes around here, so in lieu of throwing up, I'm posting more cleaning tips! These tips have saved my bee-hind more times than I can tell.

Tip #1: If you haven't used it in a year, throw it out, or box it up. Listen, you want to get rid of clutter? You have to be ruthless. Clutter is lurking just behind the cupboard door, peering out of every nook and cranny. It will take over your house if you're not ever vigilant.

When you're going through a box, pile, or closet of stuff, ask yourself: "Have I used this in the last year?" If the answer is yes, put it away. If the answer is no, ask yourself the next qualifying question: "Does this item add to my quality of life?" If the answer is no to both questions, throw it out, sell it, or give it away, but get rid of it.

If the answer is no to the first question, but yes to the second, chances are the item is of sentimental value only, and can be stored out in the garage, where it won't have to compete for counter space with your bills and medication. The second question also allows you to keep your great grandmother's candle snuff, but gives you the freedom to pitch little Johnny's clay pot without feeling guilty.

Tip#2: Have a walk-thru at least twice a day.
A walk through is when you walk through each room in the house, and pick up everything that belongs to you. Likewise, all the other members of the family pick up and put away all the stuff that belongs to them. Our walk-thrus are after school and before bed. It really keeps messes from getting out of hand. At first these may take quite a bit of time, but before long you'll be able to do a walk-thru in 10 minutes or less. Promise!

Tip #3: Have one smallish toy bin, and one stuffed animal bin, per kid.
I'm a minimalist when it comes to toys. That's because my kids mostly play with a few toys, and instead play a lot of "pretend" games. If you have a kid who has 8 million Legos, loves each one tenderly, and knows them all by name, maybe this method won't work for you, but I think it's still employable.

If your kids are old enough to evaluate which toys are their favorites, have them fill the bin with toys. When the bin is full, that's it, all the other toys are bagged up and put in the garage. If your child is too young to really differentiate, and it's ALL his favorite, then sometime when he's at school, or at a friend's house, fill the bin with stuff you know he loves and plays with, and bag up the rest of the toys and put them in the garage. As your bagging up the toys, tell them that if they want to play with a toy, you'll get it out for them.

Now here's the dirty, rotten, sneaky trick. If two weeks or a month goes by, all the toys that still remain in the bags? Go to the giant Goodwill in the sky. I can almost guarantee that if they haven't asked for it, they're not going to miss it one iota.

Each of my kids has a small bin similar to this. Not very big, and nice and wide at the top. There's no point in buying them a big honkin' Rubbermaid monstrosity that they can't find anything in. They do have a large Rubbermaid bin to keep stuffed animals in, because they take up a lot of room, and my kids have a jillion ( I swear they procreate!). We keep larger toys, like play microwaves, and laptops on the bookshelves, but we try to keep those to a minimum.

You can tailor this idea to suit your own needs, but the point is your kids won't miss all the toys they don't have, and for the orderly challenged you've got to keep it simple, if you want a clutter-free house.

1 comment:

Belinda said...

We're toy minimalists, too, especially since Bella started reading. BOOKS, yaaay!

I really like the idea of everyone being responsible for their own "walk through."

And in our family, it's Alex who tends to cling to things. It's really hard for him to "let go" of the past, including "stuff," and he's actually come a long way with that the last couple of years. Baby steps, I guess.