“Mom, have you seen my…”

20Mar2013

The CRUNCH:
“Mom, have you seen my…”

CRUNCH deets:
The toy bins won’t close because they’re too full. Hubby’s clothes are piled on the dresser because you’ve taken over the drawers. And what happened to the credit card statement? It was on the table, but now there’s only a stack of papers your son brought home from school for you to sign. That were due on Friday. Oy.

The Fix:
Purge, purge, and purge again.

Fix deets:
If you’re constantly being paged to find things for your lovely family, chances are they can’t see the trees for the forest. You’ve heard the saying “A place for everything and everything in its place”, right? Well, spring is in the air (at least… in theory) and it’s time to clean house.

It’s definitely overwhelming to think about, never mind to actually dive in! But if you let that stop you, you’ll soon need to upsize your house to make room for all the boxes you’re saving because, hey, what if you need one for your seven-year-old food processor one day? Um, you don’t. The boxes you’ve been storing ‘just in case’ are breaking down, releasing extra dust into the air or, worse, mould. So pick the spot that’s bothering you the most, be it a drawer, closet, or entire room, and let’s get started!

Remove everything from the offending area and separate the non-garbage into three piles: essentials, donations, and uncertains. Essentials are used every day. Donations you clearly don’t need any more. Uncertains are, well, less certain. Essentials go back, donations go out the door asap (don’t even think about kijiji – they’ll still be sitting there in six months and is it really worth the twelve dollars?), and uncertains get dumped somewhere in your house where you can’t see them. Then you ignore them for a month. Whatever you have to retrieve in that month can be moved back and the rest… you got it!

Once you’ve decluttered, you can organize smart without breaking the bank. Use 20Mar2013aplastic containers you’d otherwise recycle to separate the markers from the stickers in your craft drawer. Save shoeboxes to create a border between underwear and socks. You can even wrap them if you’re feeling fancy! Put separate clipboards/file folders/magazine boxes in the kitchen to store the mass of papers you need on hand for each child. Add one for your own essential paperwork: bills (yes, we’re old-school enough to be e-bill-averse), tax forms (ugh), recipes (but if you still haven’t bought the ingredients after a month, into the recycling box they go), and whatever else you need readily available. Hang hooks throughout the house for sweaters, towels, backpacks, kitchen utensils, and anything that’s used frequently enough it doesn’t need a more permanent storage spot.

Old habits die hard, so get in the habit of regular purging. Junk “mail” straight into recycling before it makes it inside your house. Keep a bag in a closet for outgrown clothes and toys that are tossed aside after five minutes, never to be played with again. When the bag’s full, put it in your trunk. The next time you’re passing GoodWill it’s a two-minute detour. Teach your kids generosity by having a family rule that when a new book/toy/piece of clothing enters, an older one is donated. And set an example by following your own rule.

So here’s the answer to that age-old question: Wherever you left it! Teaching your family where everything belongs and how to clean up after themselves teaches them self-reliance and saves you from being on-call for that missing colouring book/pair of mittens/math homework/car key/lunchbag/library book/iPhone/light sabre… sigh.

Remember this:
It’s time to let go. The only tools you need to get and stay organized are garbage and recycling bins. Releasing your home from its clutter releases your mind as well. So put on some mood music and inhale… exhale… namaste.

Email any questions or leave a comment below to let us know how this worked for you!

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