If you're a young mother, chances are your life feels overwhelming, at least part of the time. Regardless of the size of your house, the number of kids you have, their ages, your employment status, and how you and your husband have worked out the division of labor, you have a lot on your plate--making sure everyone has clean clothes and semi-regular meals often feels like too much to deal with because that's never all there is. You're dealing with requests from your husband, work, family, and social obligations, school forms to sign and return, activities to get your kids to, and little details like diaper changes and tantrums.
It may seem a bit much to ask that you also stay on top of dishes in the sink, the clutter that seems to generate itself, and actually folding and putting away laundry. At the same time, you know how good it feels when your house is somewhat tidy; it feels more peaceful, it looks better, and sometimes you can actually find things you're looking for!
Having your house in order provides an added benefit you may not be aware of: It helps with your kids' ability to focus and self-regulate. It's true! When your house is more orderly/less cluttered, your children will sense this and be less inclined to bounce off the walls. So, as overwhelming as it sometimes seems, it's in your best interest and that of your children to do what you can to stay on top of clutter.
Here are some things I've found helpful--and it has nothing to do with dumping everything in the middle of the room and asking yourself if each item "sparks joy." Don't get me wrong--I've read the book, and there are some really great ideas in it, but for most of us that approach takes way too much time. I'm going to give you an easy way to very quickly gain the upper hand in four categories: clothes, laundry, kitchen, and toys. Here goes!
Deal with the clothing of one person at a time. and only one per day; set a timer for no more than 45 minutes--you want to make quick decisions, not agonize over every piece of clothing.
Choose five casual outfits (top and bottom)and two dressy outfits that you really like for that person and that you know fit them and their lifestyle needs; set them aside.
Set aside the five to seven best pairs of underwear, and only the socks/tights/etc. that are in good condition. Get rid of any stained or sad-looking pairs of underwear or socks, and definitely any with holes, rips, or that are too small; buy new ones if necessary.
Choose one or two pairs of sneakers, a pair or two of sandals/flip-flops/beach shoes, and depending on the kinds of things you usually do, something like a pair of nicer casual shoes and a pair of dressier shoes. Again, set them aside. These are the basics--you can re-adjust later.
Bag up everything else--nobody needs 35 of anything. Nobody even needs ten of anything. Fold or hang the "keepers" and close the closet/drawers--you're done for the day!
Wait at least a week before re-considering any of what you have chosen. At that time, honestly (but quickly!) assess how well the wardrobe you've chosen has served you or your family member during the week, and make adjustments as needed--you may want to switch out a couple of things, or maybe add something you use often, but keep each person's wardrobe to no more than 7 casual combinations and three dressy ones. If the five you originally chose were sufficient, leave it at that. Find a clothing drop or call Salvation Army pick-up to donate all of the rest.
Look at your closets and drawers! Enjoy the freedom of fewer choices! Enjoy less laundry! You're welcome!
That's enough for today!
REMEMBER: Be sure to limit your endeavors to only one 45-minute session per day. You're going to focus on small steps as you address any of these potentially overwhelming aspects of your daily life! By taking a couple of small steps every day, you will reach your goal: staying on top of stuff!
Next installment: The Laundry