Keeping your living quarters clutter-free can be especially difficult for those of us who have children. Developing a practice that is orderly and routine to address this issue can be challenging due to conflicting schedules, time restrictions, and flagging energy. The demands of work, preparing meals, doing laundry, attending to your children’s physical and emotional needs as well as their activities and the ups and downs of life can often leave us feeling overwhelmed.
However, maintaining a clean and clutter-free home is important to our mental health. Studies have shown that people who live in a clean uncluttered space are actually more active, are healthier and happier, and can, therefore, cope better with life. This applies to people with or without offspring.
Time to De-clutter
If you or your children are not using it, throw it out or donate it. Why collect more things that need to be maintained? Try to keep the unnecessary things to a bare minimum. Having less stuff naturally means there is less to clean up. It also means that when you are looking for something, it’s easier to find it, saving you energy and time. Don’t we all wish we had more time?
A few things to consider: the age of your child, whether you have more than one and how many children you have, how much de-cluttering needs to be tackled, the attention span of your offspring, your schedule and your own energy level. It’s time to plan.
For those of you with babies
Your first inclination may be to use your baby’s nap time to tackle your task list. However, having a baby to care for is most often exhausting and naps provide an opportune time for you to get some much-needed rest. Instead of trying to get work done while they nap and burn the candle at both ends, try getting to your list while they are occupied in their baby swing or bouncer. Pick a small task, not too daunting and you will see that after a few sessions, you can make a proper dent in what needs to be done.
For those of you who have toddlers
At this age children are naturally inquisitive and ready to explore every aspect of their environment; they move around so quickly that it can be even more challenging to do the things that need to be done. During this stage, we recommend 15-minute slots at a time. Prioritize, choosing which tasks are most important for that week; write them down and assign them to different days and time slots that align with your toddler’s active periods. Then find something interesting that will engage their inquisitive sensibilities for that 15-minute time slot and go with it.
Children over 4 years old
This is a great time to start involving your child in the de-cluttering process. Teach them what they need to know so that they can actually start helping you in the process. If they have lost interest in something, explain why donating that item can help them and contribute to someone else’s happiness. This can be a delightful activity for both of you, so turn on the music, making it a shared experience to look forward to. Know also that you are helping your child to make pleasurable associations that will last a lifetime.
We love lists. Why not start teaching your children to use a list system. Assign daily tasks that they get to tick off with you at the end of each day. If every day is scratched off at the end of the week, give them a small prize; they will soon feel such a sense of accomplishment and take great pride in their ownership of taking responsibility for tasks well done.
We recommend assigning 15 min. a day to de-cluttering. This is an attainable goal and a formula for a happy and peaceful lifestyle.