AKA: How to Seriously Impress Your Mother-in-Law
Let me guess...
Everywhere you look there’s a pile of stuff.
Every surface is covered with laundry, papers, and who knows what else.
You hate it….but you just can’t find time to declutter a drawer, let alone declutter your entire freakin’ house.
Mama, I’ve been where you are!
A few years back, my soldier-husband was in Afghanistan. I was working and looking after our wonderful but allergic-to-sleeping-through-the-night children. And dealing with my chronic illness too - hello, Crohn’s Disease, I didn’t miss you!
And the clutter started to pile up and I just sorta...gave up. Our home got a little bit disgusting - if I’m honest.
Can you relate?
If you can, I’m here to tell you there is hope! I fought my way through it and you can too.
So take a deep breath, give yourself a hug, and let’s do this!!
Make decluttering feel effortless....
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How to Declutter Your Entire Home - What NOT To Do
First off, here are 3 things NOT to do:
Don’t get up earlier - unless you want to. Decluttering takes energy and you work hard enough. Sleep, mama!
Don’t feel like you have to give up social media.Life is difficult enough without giving up the little pleasures. Keep on scrollin’, mama!
Do NOT for the love of everything chocolate ‘take everything out’. If you’re a busy, tired mom trying to declutter, the last thing you want to do is make a huge - were-we-just-burgled- kinda mess. The kids make enough mess - don’t join in their crazy!!
So, how do you find time to declutter your entire home when you’re so tired you’re hallucinating purple unicorns?
How to find time to Declutter Your Entire Home
1 | Find Out Where to Take Your Shit
I’m not even kidding.
Don’t declutter a single egg box or one of those 15 year old textbooks before you do some research.
Find out where in your local area you can take your:
hazardous materials (old paint cans, unused medications and the like),
unwanted furniture, books, and clothes.
Find out if there are any charities that will come to your home to collect your unwanted items - saves you a car trip. Where possible, try to find charities close to your heart - that’ll make letting go of stuff so much easier.
And of course, find out where you can sell any items you’d like to make a bit of money off.
The very WORST thing you can do is fill boxes and bags full of crap and then not know where to dispose of them. (You’ll be tripping over that crap for months.)
2 | Stop Thinking About Decluttering The ENTIRE House
How do you climb a mountain?
One chest-achingly small step at a time.
If you’re stood at the bottom of a mountain thinking, ‘shit, I gotta climb that MF’, chances are you’ll get dizzy and need a lie down with some cucumber slices over your eyes.
Same with decluttering.
Just concentrate on the next step: that drawer, table, mantlepiece, you’re going to declutter next.
Don’t look up at the big mountain.
Step by step, you got this mama!
3 | Where to Start Decluttering Your Entire Freakin' Home?
When I'm helping people declutter, I often find that, the problem is not ‘how do I find time to declutter my entire home?’ The problem is 'where do I start?'
And you do have time.
Little pockets of 2 minutes here and 5 minutes there. But if you don’t know where to start, you’ll spend all that time panicking and freaking out.
So make a plan.
What’s your priority?
Take a look around your home and pick ONE area to start with.
choose something easy: so you can rack up an easy win to encourage you to keep going.
choose something that’s been annoying you for ages: to finally be able to breathe a sigh of relief.
choose something just for you: it’s much easier to declutter an area that other people aren’t going to come and mess back up.
choose something that’s going to make you money: maybe your wardrobe is full of stuff you don’t wear and you can put some things on Ebay to make a bit of spending money.
choose something you have time for:OK, it would be great to declutter the kids’ rooms but if you don’t have time, forget about it. So start with a junk drawer or your sock drawer.
4 | Declutter Your Entire House with My Secret Zoning Technique
Dumbledore gave me this tip and it’s a secret so you better swear to Quidditch not tell a soul, OK?
Here it is…
Pick a room you want to declutter and mentally break it down into zones: small, manageable sections. Write down this list of zones or sketch them out if you’re artsy.
Tip: make the zones really small - tiny enough to declutter in the duration of one of your kids’ favorite cartoons or the length of half a nap.
Work on one zone until it’s decluttered.
And don’t declutter anything else in your home until that one zone is decluttered.
And don’t stress about anything else in your home - see tip number 2 about NOT looking at the big picture.
You got this, mama!
5 | Promise Yourself a Reward
Decluttering is hard.
Decluttering takes up physical, mental and emotional energy.
So be gentle with yourself: give yourself a reward every time you complete a small section or room of your home.
The reward is up to you. A glass of vino, an extra 5 minutes in bed, whatever makes you happy and doesn’t blow all the kids’ college fund.
The reward gives you something to work for and celebrates the fact that you’re making progress.
6 | Make a Decluttering Appointment with Yourself
Life is busy and decluttering can often get pushed to the back of your mind when you’rfighting the fires of everyday life.
So schedule short decluttering appointments with yourself and stick to them.
Go grab your planner or fire up Google Calendar and schedule an appointment this week to declutter one small section of your home. And most importantly, write in your planner what you’re going to declutter.
So your appointment should look something like this: Thursday 2pm declutter 5 books from kids’ bookshelves. Add books to donation box that I’ll take on Saturday when we go grocery shopping.
7 | Make Decluttering a Way of Life
You can’t eat a jar of Nutella every week and then frantically 'cardio' yourself half to death in a frantic bid to lose 25lbs right before you go on your summer holiday.
I’ve tried, and believe me, it's NOT possible.
So you don’t need a diet, you need a healthier way of life.
Same with decluttering.
Here are some healthy decluttering habits to start today, right freakin’ now, that will have your home shedding lbs of clutter effortlessly:
Get to mailbox zero everyday - don’t let paper pile up on kitchen counters.
Schedule a donation drop off every month - even if it’s just a handful of items.
Keep a donation bag in each closet for things that no longer fit or aren’t worn any more
Do a 10-minute tidy up with the kids before they go to bed (teaching them good habits and tidying up at the same time? Hell, yes!)
Use the basket technique: put a basket at the bottom of the stairs for all the stuff that needs to be returned upstairs. Grab it every time you walk upstairs and put stuff away.
Train your family to do the same - threaten to throw it away, give it away, or set it on fire if they don’t put it away.
Pick a charity that you can support as a family. And talk to the kids about donating things to people less fortunate than yourselves.
Donate a handful of toys before birthdays and Christmas.
These are going to feel like baby steps, but actually they’re giant leaps towards keeping clutter at bay.
How to Find Time to Declutter Your Entire House
There you have it - 7 painless ways to declutter your entire house even when you think you don’t have time for that shit.
If you’ve read this far - congrats! Now pick one thing you can do today and go do it.
But don’t expect fast results.
And don’t quit 3 months down the line when your home still isn’t decluttered. Just keep fighting that clutter, celebrate your successes hard, and enjoy the journey.
There is hope amidst the mess, mama!
Don’t forget to pin for later.