Get Ready for School! July is “Calm the Clutter” month, and August is “Multi-Level Homeschool” month.
Summertime is here, and while vacation or gardening might make life a little crazier at times, generally life is also more laid back. In our home school, we have cut out extra subjects for a few weeks and are just focusing on the basics — Bible, reading, math, and writing. I have a little more time to play with the little ones or do a special project with the big kids (or potty train!).
As we pass into the middle of summer, I wanted to start a series of blog posts on clutter and how to calm it. As I see it, you might have a little more time or energy right now to step back from your daily routine, to evaluate what’s not working in your home, and to clear out all the junk. As we approach fall, we’ll take a look at daily scheduling in a larger family, to help us all ease back into the tighter routines of school.
First, let’s look at the basic principles of decluttering. You see, whether you’re cleaning out your purse or organizing six different grades of homeschooling, the principles are the same. Mull over these this week, then next time we’ll get more specific. First, let’s look at how I declutter a room.
Take stock before you take out
Sometimes I get frustrated by the clutter surrounding me in a room, so I dig in with a vengeance to clean things out — without ever taking stock of the situation first. I might be able to make quick cosmetic changes, but without addressing the real problem behind the clutter, it will all return again.
Yes, sometimes it’s important to get rid of clutter quickly, but if I can just take some time first to make a plan, I’ll experience a lot more success.
First, I walk around the room and analyze what is annoying me in the room. What isn’t working? I make a list of these things. If I can figure out why things aren’t working, all the better.
Second, I write down what I need the room to do. What activities happen here? What equipment is used? What mood are we going for?
(Sometimes, with nine people and a dog in our family, we simply ask our rooms to do too much! However, I can’t buy a new house. I have to be content with what God has given me and come up with a plan to make it work efficiently anyway.)
A place for everything, and everything in its place
Now that I know what the room must do, how it must perform, I need to make sure that it contains all the tools I need for it to function correctly. Each item must have its own home. I also have to have a system in place to ensure that each item gets back to its home.
The old saying, “A place for everything and everything in its place,” really does tell me how to declutter.
- A place for everything — As I look around at my still-cluttered room, what do I see? Things that don’t have homes. So my first job is to make a home for each item. Again, this often happens on paper first, as I brainstorm solutions that I already own or make a shopping list for containers that will get me closer to my goal.
- Ideally, the home for each item should be as close to its point of use as possible. Otherwise, I’ll be too lazy to actually return it to its home when I’m done with it. If I don’t come up with a strategy for returning things to their place after use, then any attempts at decluttering will be short-lived. (I’ll also waste my time and money.)
I’m asking my room to be functional and easy to maintain. Can it also look pretty? I sure try! The feminine side of me longs for beauty in my home. It’s very important to be functional, but if it’s ugly, I won’t want to be in the room. On the other hand, if it’s pretty but impractical, it won’t stay pretty for long.
3 steps to cleaning out
Now it’s time to actually do the work! By this time, if I’ve analyzed my room and found a solution to the problems, I’m chomping at the bit to make it happen. This is the fun part. I touch each item in the room and make one of the following choices:
- Give it away — In a box by the back door, I put things to be given away. Who could use this more than I could? I don’t often give my things to another homeschooling family, because I’m just creating a big decluttering job for another mom. Goodwill and Salvation Army get most of ours, but sometimes I can bless a local crisis-pregnancy center or a single mom on a small income. Just be sure that you’re really blessing someone, not dumping junk on their door step.
- Throw it away — Recycling and garage sales also fall into this category. I’m trying to learn not to hang on to things too tightly. If I have trouble getting rid of things, I’ll invite a friend (with a different personality than mine) to join me. We listen to some fun music and do it fast. Ahhh, now doesn’t that feel better?
- Put it away — The only things left in my roomare the things I planned to keep, and I rounded up all the containers for these things earlier, right? If I missed something, I’ll make a quick decision about it now, then settle down to enjoying my beautiful and peaceful new surroundings. Mmmm…
Okay, I showed you how to declutter a room. Can you imagine how you would use these principles to declutter anything? Your purse, your time, your homeschooling routines, or your kitchen cupboards? Next week, we’ll examine more about decluttering rooms in your home, but keep these principles in mind this week. Begin looking at everything with new eyes. Let’s clean out that clutter!