A cluttered home is a cluttered mind. Time to sort all your crap out for good and you can forget the KonMari method.
Yes, even if you have kids it IS possible to live more minimally to create less chaos and more serenity (and moola). You’ve just got to be more practical about it.
The world’s gone nuts for clean queen Marie Kondo right now, but for real decluttering inspiration, we should really look to people like Brooke McAlary. Author and creator of the award-winning Slow Home podcast, she takes a completely different approach to chucking out stuff. And it’s a clutter-free method we can actually get on board with.
1. Go slow
The first thing Brooke recommends for a clutter-free life is to forget about sorting by categories because it’s way too overwhelming. Especially when you have little kids who inevitably interrupt your serious sorting session. This leaves you with huge piles of crap out in the living room. And usually in a bigger mess than before and completely deflated.
Instead, go super slow and break it down simply. Start off by throwing ONE piece of paper out from the kitchen junk drawer. The next day clear out your handbag, or the car glove box department, or one shelf in the bathroom cupboard. The point is to think small and do it regularly. You’ll be so chuffed at your minor efforts that it will give you the motivation to keep going and tackle the bigger areas (garage anyone?). You’ll be clutter-free before you know it.
2. Stop accumulating unnecessary stuff
You can’t expect to banish clutter for good if you keep bringing more stuff in. So slap that No Junk-mail sticker on your letter box. Don’t buy Happy Meals that come with plastic toys or accept kids’ party bag favours, and say no to freebies or second hand items friends and family think you might need.
While we’re at it, don’t buy the two pack of torches because they’re on special and you MIGHT need an extra one someday. And walk away from the silly trinkets and t-shirts while travelling. Going clutter free might take a bit of retraining, but you have to learn not to buy or accept ANYTHING you don’t really need.
3. Share, borrow, hire, fix
Why buy a book you’re only going to read once, when you can borrow it FREE at the library? Everyone is way too obsessed with having their own things these days. If you apply yourself you can avoid buying a lot of stuff to save on cash and junk taking up space in your place. Why not go halves with your neighbour in a lawnmower, borrow your mum’s punch-bowl, or hire a GoGet car (if you don’t drive very often)?
Fixing things when they’re broken is also another great way to stop the buying habit – plus it’s much better for the environment. Just be careful not to upcycle every clapped out thing you own or you’ll never get ahead. Leaving things in a corner to fix “one day” won’t help your clutter-free quest one bit.
4. Buy quality and care for it
When you do buy stuff that you really need or want, go for quality to ensure it’s going to last for a while and not need replacing every few months. This is true of anything and everything we buy – from clothes and shoes to appliances and tools.
This isn’t just about the money or environment. Some people find it REALLY hard to throw out stuff – even things that don’t work or fit anymore – so you can avoid this by buying well in the first place. And then make sure you take care of it. Get shoes resoled. Leave fast fashion on the rack. Don’t leave your garden tools in the rain. Well-kept items can last for ages.
5. Get a clutter-free system going
If you haven’t already got your bottle and paper recycling system sorted at home then get to it. Once that’s established, move on to other areas. For example – a place to regularly put things you’re going to donate, a container for used batteries to take to Aldi, a spot for clothing and fabrics you can’t donate to charity to take to H&M (who will recycle it for you) and a shelf for things you’re going to sell on eBay or give to family and friends.
Then make it a regular thing to actually go and offload your recyclables and charity donations or sell online. Some people feel sick about sending stuff to landfill, so by having these recycling, selling and re-homing systems set up it will make you more inclined to part ways with items lying around. The key to being clutter-free is to remove the item as fast as you can once you’ve made up your mind to let it go – and the same goes for things headed for the bin. Once you know it’s trash, put it there.
6. Never waste a trip
This is a tip that all mums can relate to, because we probably heard it from our mothers. If you’re going up or down the stairs, or from the car to the house – whatever you do DON’T go anywhere empty handed.
Take up those toys or shoes the kids left lying around. Bring down the empty toilet roll and put it in the paper bin. Grab those empty water bottles from the car floor before you close the door. If you get into the habit of doing this all the time you’ll be surprised at how much less clutter and rubbish is around.
7. Teach them well
The last tip is to get the kids on board with your devious decluttering ways early. Teach them to pick up their clothes off the floor, pack away games and toys, and take care of their things. Say no to useless cheap crap and make it an outing to go to the charity shop with donations. You can even go as far as declaring a ‘one in, one out’ policy like Brooke McAlary does. If her kids want a new toy, they have to decide to part ways with an existing one. Sounds pretty brilliant to us!
Good luck clever mummas on your decluttering journeys! And don’t forget to share any of your cool clutter tricks with us on Facebook!