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By: Alison Jacobson
Posted on: Jan 13, 2020

Health & Happiness in 2020: Cleaning Up The Clutter

Our guest blogger Alison Jacobson, The Safety Mom, is back again this week with her top tips on cleaning up the clutter!

Cleaning up the clutter

I was talking to a girlfriend the other day who was disappointed that she didn’t get as much accomplished over the holiday break as she had intended. As a freelance writer she was stressed as to whether she should concentrate on an assignment that was due or get her house in order.

My advice to her was cleaning up the clutter first would make her happier and therefore more productive. Make no mistake, I’m the first one to admit that clutter piles up in my house in what seems like an instant. With 6 people under one roof it’s easy to have happen. But what I’ve come to learn is that I’m less stressed and far happier when my home is in order.

A big part of cleaning up the clutter is clearing it out. This is no small task when my mom lives with us and insists on keeping every memento since my kids were babies. I suspect it’s a generational issue as I hear the same complaint from many of my friends.

Cleaning up and clearing out isn’t just good for your mentally but physically. Dust, mold, and animal dander that collect in cluttered homes are all bad for allergies and asthma.

So, forget about losing 10 pounds, exercising more or saving money – start with getting your house in order and cleaning up the clutter. It will require getting the entire family involved. If you have teens (especially girls) this might be a battle as, for the most part, they are notoriously messy. It’s tempting to just close their doors and forget they’re a part of the household but training them to be neat and organized will set them up for success in life and as courteous roommates in college!

The biggest problem was clothes all over their room – on the floor, in the laundry basket, in the hamper, under the bed – everywhere but hung up or in the drawer. A first, simple step was getting them smaller hampers. This required them to do their laundry more often (yes, they do their own laundry!) but it prevented clothes from piling up and all-night laundry sessions. I also imposed a rule – if an item of clothing was left on the floor for more than 3 days it’s assumed that it’s unwanted and is put in a giant garbage bag to be donated. They can retrieve said item by demonstrating for a week that the floor can remain clothes-free.

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The other problem was all their toiletries in the bathroom that they share with their brother. Rather than cluttering up every surface in the bathroom I got a caddy for each of them that they could keep in their room rather than in the bathroom.

I also recognized that I needed to deal with my own clutter. Since I work from home my office tends to pile up with notes from meetings, business cards from networking events, various forms and permission slips for the kids, mail and personal items to deal with and – well – it seems as if a million other little things. I’ve now made it a habit that instead of trying to tackle an entire pile of papers I set aside 20 minutes before I start my day to deal with whatever I can in that time frame. I’ve also established a rule that if I touch it, I deal with it and not just shift it to another pile (something I’m notorious for doing!) In doing this over the past month I’ve been able to organize everything and I’m working hard every day to keep it that way. I find I’m more focused and calmer. I also have a diffuser with scented oil to really keep me Zen.

The last big area to tackle was the entryway where, especially in the winter, a pile of boots, gloves, hats and backpacks would pile up. For our family this is especially problematic as my husband is in a powerchair and this will prevent him from getting out of the house. I don’t have a big entry way but there is a closet nearby. I took out the rod to hang things and installed shelves for the boots and a bin for each person for gloves and hats. I added hooks for the back packs. Coats are hung on hooks by the door but that’s all that’s allowed there. It took some major reminders and nagging (along with boots and backpacks being confiscated if they were found on the floor) but everyone’s getting into the groove.

I’m honestly not sure if everyone in the family is as happy about our clutter-free home but I am and, a happy mom is all that matters!