We’ve been talking about how to declutter our homes; now let’s tackle keeping them that way!
Here are some things I’ve noticed about clutter:
Homemaking can reveal my heart.
In my own life, clutter has taught me that my heart is not quite as pure as I’d like to pretend it is. First, I’m very quick to give up. I’m also lazy. I’d rather sit here online and read Facebook!
You see, it’s relatively easy to declutter a house. Keeping it uncluttered requires character and discipline. Ug!
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).
“Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth” (Proverbs 10:4).
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:23-24).
If you find that the root of clutter in your home is actually your heart, then do what I did. Write verses like these on small cards and post them in the cluttered places of your home. (No, these cards won’t count as more clutter!) Read them over and over until you’ve memorized them. God’s Word certainly has the power to change you!
Decluttering is a daily job.
I can’t emphasize daily routines enough! Yes, your children need morning chores, but how many of us mothers need to be reminded to do our chores, too?
- Have you made your bed this morning?
- Have you dressed in clean, attractive clothing?
- Did you put away your pajamas and dirty clothes?
- Did you eat your breakfast?
- Have you washed the dishes?
Don’t forget the power of basic routines. Set up simple, easy-to-remember routines that will guide you through each day. Again, if you’d like to keep it really simple, just write your routines on small cards and post them around your home. You could also create a homemaking notebook that will guide you through your day.
- There is an excellent list of monthly cleaning rituals, including spring cleaning, in the It’s All Too Much Workbook by Peter Walsh.
- Each day, clean out your purse and car. When those are neat, you’ll feel neat all over!
- Each afternoon, walk through your house with someone else’s eyes. What things would look like clutter to them?
- Aim to do chores for no more than 30 minutes a day, 6 days a week (Exodus 20:8-9). Don’t let housecleaning take over your life.
Your children must join you in your routines, though, or they can quickly destroy any order you’ve created. Inspect their rooms twice a day (after breakfast and before supper work well for me). My husband is famous for saying, “Don’t expect what you won’t inspect.” He’s right! Kids have got my lazy streaks all figured out.
If they do well, consider rewarding them. Our verses above reveal that God rewards us, too. I especially like the “Blessing Chart” from Doorposts.
Clutter is in the eye of the beholder.
Yes, I often tell people that my husband is neat and I am not. Most days I clean for his sake. But it’s true that others are looking at my home. I’m not the only person affected by my clutter. I need to remember to think of others and not just myself.
For our family, scheduling times of hospitality was a huge help in conquering clutter. If I know that a family is coming over for dinner Friday evening, I’m very likely to clean up the mess! If all the ladies at church are having Bible study at my home Thursday morning, then I’m likely to get off my bum and get working!
In addition, hospitality will give me a balanced perspective on cleaning. If I have many children, young babies, or health problems, I may not always be physically capable of getting my house as clean as Martha Steward might. Regardless of whether my house is “perfect” or not, when I invite others in, I’m forced to focus on people rather than possessions.
Sometimes clutter is just a stage in my life that I know will someday pass. As author Jackie Wellwood states,
“I can see now that due to the sheer volume of work represented by the pile on the desk and the finite resource of my own energy, I will have some degree of clutter on my desk at this stage of my life” (p. 131, The Busy Mom’s Guide to Simple Living).
Don’t let clutter get too comfortable.
I have seven children. Does that mean my house should be seven times bigger than the average bear’s? No way!
Possessions are like bunnies; they keep multiplying! If you want to conquer clutter, put a limit on how much room they have to grow.
For instance, a small kitchen is more likely to stay neat than a large kitchen. A small space for homeschooling is less likely to get out of control than an entire room. A small purse is less likely to fill with junk than a tote bag.
For our children, we keep their toys in a common place and out of their bedrooms (for the most part…). Each child has a “treasure box” (a plastic Rubbermaid container) under his or her bed, and feathers, rocks, birthday cards, and bits of string must fit inside. If the box gets too full, the child has to decide which treasures will stay and which must go.
The same principle should be applied to me as mother, too. Just because my “treasure box” is house-sized, doesn’t mean that I should keep truckloads of junk.
Here are some good rules:
- One in, one out. Buy a new pair of shoes? Give away an old pair.
- Only handle things once. Sort the mail immediately. Put things away immediately.
- Don’t put things down; put them away.
- Don’t walk past a mess. Stop and pick it up right now.
Make your home a priority.
No, homemaking isn’t your top priority. (God, your husband, and your children come first.) But your home is definitely important, God says. Make it a loving, peaceful sanctuary, where clutter doesn’t distract from the most important things of life.