Monday, January 30, 2012

De-Cluttering and How to Involve Your Kids

Do you feel like you are drowning in clutter? Do you feel like every time you turn around, you are picking up random things on the floor ranging from those teeny tiny Barbie shoes, puzzle pieces, matchbox cars, crushed crayons to dirty clothes that have not been put away properly? Then, don’t even get me started on the car. It doesn’t matter how hard I try to keep my car de-cluttered, or how many cute containers or bags I buy, I somehow manage to add more and more “stuff” to it…extra snacks, Sippy cups, diapers, wipes, jackets and umbrellas. You name it; I probably have it in my car.
Have I mentioned how much I despise clutter? I admit it, I am a de-cluttering addict. There is a multi-billion dollar industry that targets us. To name a few, The Container Store (heaven!), Bed Bath and Beyond, TJ Maxx Home Goods and then there are your professional organizers that you can hire to de-clutter your home. Hmm...Maybe that could be my next career. Sorry, I digress.
This weekend, I had it with all the clutter in my house. Tripping over the toys or getting hurt on a lonely dress up shoe that forgot to be put away, as I am on my way to check on the girls in the middle of the night.  So I got on a mission to get this house more organized and the people in it too!
I am constantly trying to organize my kids’ toys (especially after the holiday), their closets, my own closet, our pantry, linen closet, laundry room, etc. I cannot stand piles or even my laundry basket to get too full. I know, kind of crazy, but so true. At times, I selfishly say, “If we only had a bigger house, or I wish our house had a “play room” where we could just throw all the toys in there and shut the door. “ Not the answer, as you all know.
As cliché as it sounds, “less is more.” You don’t need to keep buying more bins or color coded baskets to just store more stuff in. You don’t need to hire a professional organizer to just shuffle your things around or get you to buy more bins. Nope, you need to purge, donate to a good cause and just stop buying the unnecessary items. Like the latest toys your kids had to have or maybe the dolphin souvenir  your child had to have at the aquarium and that is now lost at the very bottom on their toy chest.
I really don’t know one mom that loves to constantly feel like they are cleaning, picking up things around the house or that they just can’t keep up with the madness. We want to be more “hands-on” with our kids, to be present, not just someone cleaning behind them as they are playing or getting on to them about how messy their room is. Now, I am not saying all of you moms out there do this either. I am just recognizing what I do and what I have learned to do, instead adding more clutter (or stress) to my life.
So how do you keep your spaces in your house clutter free with kids, a dog and a sweet hubby that doesn’t mind piles at all? Well, let me share with you a few secrets and maybe some of you already do this.
·         Don’t be afraid to share the responsibility of maintaining your house and the chores that come with it. Delegate- and when you delegate the responsibility, don’t just say, “oh it will be faster it I just do it. Hello! By doing this, we are saying, “It’s okay, darling, you be lazy and Mommy will do it for you.”
·         Get them in the habit!  After playtime, get in the habit of putting the toys back in their designated area. For toddlers, get baskets or bins (that you already have), put pictures on them so they know where the items go. Make this a learning experience. For example, ask them “where does the truck go?” and let them find the proper container. For older kids, have them sort their toys by type.
·         Make cleaning up fun! Other ways that I have found helpful in getting my girls to help with the chores is making it fun. I turn on their favorite tunes, and we see if we can get all the toys put away before the next song starts.  
·         Don’t overwhelm them with one big task. For example, don’t say, “Go clean your room!” Big mistake! Been there and have done that. Try to challenge them to do one task at a time, like pick up all their books and put in book basket or pick up stuffed animals and put on shelf.
·         Praise, praise! Congratulate them after they have completed each job. Same goes for the hubs too! They love to get praise just as much as the kids do.
As you might have seen in my last blog, cleaning can be a form of physical activity for your kids, you and your hubby too. So my lesson to you busy moms, let your kids help you keep their rooms and common areas clean and organized. Believe me, kids love to help and they really thrive on the positive reinforcement they get from you once they have completed their task or chore.  They will also take better care of their things when they are responsible for keeping them in order.

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