We strive to live as much of our lives as we can intentionally: conscientiously including our Family Values in our daily rhythm, intentionally attuning with and connecting with our children each day or intentionally creating a simple, clean living space that contains items which are both practical and aesthetically pleasing.
For me, the key to a simplified home is making sure that each and every item has it’s place. That nothing is put down and left unintentionally.
Of course living in the Western world many “things” come streaming in each day and need to be put away, sorted or filed so that the clutter does not begin to build again.
Maintaining a Clutter-Free Home
Check “Clutter Zones” Daily and Re-Home Items
- For us the front door- where we put our keys, coats, shoes, place the mail, egg baskets, stuff to go to the barn, recycling to go out… etc. This is the place where things build up quickly if you do not stay on top of it. I usually do a quick sweep of these areas in the morning and in the evening. If I find some things here that need to go back to their homes on the first floor I bring them there, if I find some things here that need to go back to the second floor I usually put them in the basket with the clean laundry which I will be taking upstairs anyway to fold later on.
- Other clutter zones include tops of dressers and chest of drawers, bathroom counters, kitchen counters and sometimes even kitchen tables!
- Remember in the first exercise you created a “home” for everything- house tools, keys, spare change so these things should easily go back to their homes.
- I mentioned last time that I use Evernote to digitally file and some of you asked how I do this.
Very simply: I use a scanning app (Genius Scan) on my phone to scan the docs, I label them, then export to Evernote. In Evernote I have a “Stack” called “File Folder 2017” with “Notebooks” in it labelled with things such as “Health Insurance” “Taxes” “Receipts” “Electricity” etc. When I get a bill or invoice I don’t throw it out until it’s paid, then I write the date I paid it with the receipt number on the actual physical paper, then I take the photo and send the scan to Evernote and file in the right place. Then I am free to recycle the paper.
Assign Age-Appropriate Tasks for Each Child to Help with the Cleaning and Tidying of the Home
- children aged 6 and up can make their beds
- children aged 4-6 can “help” make their beds
- children aged 6 and up can help unload the dishwasher
- all children can take their coats, shoes, (hats, gloves) off when they come in the house, hang them on a hook (low enough to reach) put their things in a basket and place their shoes neatly below
- school-aged children can bring their lunch containers to the kitchen, empty left-overs into the compost and place the containers in the sink or dishwasher
- school-aged children can help to pack their own lunches the night before or the morning of
- younger children can pick flowers and find “nature treasures” to decorate the table and other areas of the home
- for other examples of “Meaningful Work” see this post.
Animate and Lead TWO “Clean-Up-The-Toys” Times A Day
- If you’re home most of the day with young children two tidy ups are ideal: one mid – late morning before lunch and rest time and one in the late afternoon/evening before bedtime
- Sing a “clean up” song like the one here to help you with the transition
Ask for Minimal Presents When it’s Gift-Giving Season
- ask for only books or a magazine subscription or an “experience” or art supplies for children
- write a little poem in birthday party invites specifying that you don’t need anymore toys
Try to Mindfully Buy New Things for your Home, for yourself and your Children
- This is definitely an art in itself and takes a lot of practice but before buying a gadget, accessory, appliance or other item ask yourself: What is it’s purpose? Do I have anything else that can also perform the same tasks already? Is it beautiful? Will it continue to serve it’s purpose for a long time? Is there something that is of higher quality that would be better? If so, can we wait to buy the more quality version instead of buying the cheaper version faster?
- Try to make buying things at the grocery store or shops for your children the exception to the rule. Try to avoid bringing children to the shops all together and if you have to and you know you will likely end up buying something for them set the ground rules before you are in the shop. For example, “We’ll buy a set of markers for you and your sisters to share while we’re in the store buying the …”
- Ask yourself if a “kid-version” is actually helpful or useless. We are often marketed useless things like “toy vacuums”, pretend baking sets, cartoon animated plates, cups, clothes, knapsacks etc that are specifically made for kids but are they truly more functional than the regular versions? Children don’t need (or want!) to be overwhelmed with “kid stuff” they’d much rather have meaningful and purposeful toys and tools. They are also not walking advertisements and deserve to be dressed with the same respect an adult might dress themselves with.
If you’re interested in reading specifically about creating an Intentional and Beautiful Playspace for your children please you’ll love this post. If you’d like to remind yourself of what the benefits are to living in a clutter-free environment (for both children and adults) head to my post summarizing Chapter Two and Three of Kim John Payne’s Simplicity Parenting.
I hope this series has inspired you to begin to get rid of the clutter and to live more aligned with your family values with clear intentions.