Several years ago, I started to write an ebook entitled The 5 Day Declutter. Back then, I decluttered in a frenzied flurry. I moved through the house quickly and the results were amazing. I wanted to share my methods with my readers, but as I began to write the book a strange thing happened…
My system no longer worked!
The last time I had done the 5 day declutter myself, I had 5 children, with only 2 of them homeschooling. By the time I tried to write the book, I had added another little one, we had moved, and 2 more of the children had joined our homeschool.
But, I didn’t see this as a hinderance to my efforts. I jumpted into writing the book, and as I wrote, I attempted to do the declutter exactly as I was spelling it out in the chapters; however, I couldn’t seem to actually get my house decluttered with my own methods! My every day workload was such that I could no longer afford to take an entire crazy-paced 5 days to go through my house and purge it of the mess it had accumulated over the previous months. I worked in fits and starts, getting nowhere fast. Every time I tried to work, my kids needed me, and after a day or two of this, I was too exhausted to continue.
5 Day Declutter?! What was I thinking?!
I’ve since given up the idea of finishing that ebook. I’ve moved on to learning how to declutter in bits and pieces rather than one great big clean sweep. (And no, I don’t plan on writing an ebook about that.)
But, I will share a few of the things I’ve learned over the years about decluttering while homeschooling a houseful.
1. Get your every day chores out of the way first. If it’s a day to homeschool, I need to homeschool. If I need to get a load of laundry started, a meal cooked, a bed made or dishes washed, those things need to be done first. I will not be able to give decluttering my full concentration if I have my every day chores looming over me. I won’t be as effective in my decluttering either.
For instance, imagine trying to declutter your bedroom with the bed unmade. You’ll just be adding chaos to clutter and you won’t feel you’ve actually accomplished anything because you won’t be able to see the full fruit of your labor. Getting the usual day to day things out of the way will give you the space you need to actually get the decluttering done.
2. Stick with smaller projects. Because the homeschool mom’s life is super busy and super fluid in nature, it’s not a good idea to dive into major projects that you cannot button up in a flash. I am currently following along with the 91 Day Declutter Challenge on Mary Organizes because her daily decluttering challenges are very doable and easy to fit into my day. In fact, I’ve already completed all of this week’s challenge because I had some extra time yesterday before I needed to start supper.
3. Work systematically. Using a declutter challenge like the one linked above is a good way to work systematically, but I have found these types of lists to be inadequate when it comes to fitting your unique home. For instance, Mary Organizes has a list of places to declutter in your laundry room, but I don’t have many of those places in my own laundry room. I was able to work through my laundry room quicker than the 1 week allotted because of this. But, the extras on the list could have gotten me sidetracked if I wasn’t careful. So, use decluttering lists if they help, but you might consider making your own lists as well. However you choose to work, work smartly and in some sort of order.
4. Keep track of where you are. This goes hand in hand with #3. As you work in order, keep track of where you are so you can easily pick back up again. Don’t move on until you have finished the spot you are working on. I also don’t think it is a good idea to move to a different room until you have finished the room you are in. The only exception to this is addressed below…
5. Do big projects only when you can afford to take a big hunk of time. This might be that one closet that requires you to dump out all the contents, or it might be the one room that has been the catch all for far too long. For me, it was our garage. We live in a 3 bedroom home without a basement or a usable attic. Our garage is our storage place, and ever since we moved here it has been a mess. This past weekend, we had friends come for a visit, and we worked on the garage for several hours getting it into tip-top shape! (By the way, everyone needs friends like these! When they come to visit, we always end up doing tons of little projects we’ve been putting off. It’s actually become part of the fun of their visit!)
So, if you have an overwhelming place that needs to be decluttered, save it for a time when you can dedicate more hours and energy to it – such as a day you are not homeschooling or a day when you know you will be ordering in pizza or have a babysitter lined up (even if it’s one of your big kids!).
I do want to take the time to address one very important detail –
Most decluttering plans assume you are not living in an enormous mess. I used to have a very messy home. Nothing was ever clean because I was overwhelmed by it all. And there have been times when I’ve reverted back to that mess (years ago I wrote about getting rid of half my stuff – the photos from those posts are appalling!) Decluttering plans are hard to follow through with when you are beyond overwhelmed. If this is your state, might I gently suggest these resources:
This ebook was written by a self-proclaimed slob (and friend of mine). She anonymously started a website to hold herself accountable in her “deslobification” process. She writes from the perspective of slow and steady. Check out her other ebook, Drowning in Clutter? (you can buy these two books in a bundle deal too!) These books are not for the slightly messy home, and precisely why I suggest them (ever so gently) to those who feel like traditional decluttering methods just don’t work.
This is how I originally got my home in order. You can read the book, but I needed the emails from the website to keep me on track. You can sign up for those emails in the upper left hand corner of the website; however, be aware you will get A LOT of emails.
FLYlady’s approach is baby steps piggy-backed onto each other to finally create a comfortable and clean home. Her methods became such a major part of my routine that they continue to be the basis for my weekly Home Blessing even today.
Are you decluttering in 2016? Where are you starting? How’s it going so far? If you’re on Instagram I’d love to see your progress! My username is @amyraisingarrows – leave your username in the comments section so I can follow you!