Clearing the Clutter

Homeschooling, managing a home, working, and trying to control clutter can seem like a nightmare. The piles of things creep up on us and soon we are overwhelmed with stuff surrounding us. When your house is cluttered with material things, it creates for a cluttered mind too. Everything feels out of control. Being overrun by the mess can make the best of us feel defeated and like we’ll never conquer the mountain of stuff accumulating around us. I have 4 Tips to Get Rid of the Clutter, that will help even the most persistant procrastinator to become organized and junk free!

Supplies to Get Started

To begin your journey to a clutter free life and homeschool, you will need;

1| A trash bag.

2| 3-medium size boxes.

Getting Set Up to Declutter

Mark each box with a sharpie pen with the following labels.

  1. Donate
  2. Put away
  3. Needs attention


Your goal in the decluttering process is three easy steps.

1| Sort for 10 minutes every day.

2| Plan to get rid of 50% of the piles, clutter or junk.

3| Sort room by room.

You may decide to sort longer than 10 minutes each day, but if you struggle with organization, 10 minutes is a good place to start. You can also sort by numbers of piles or areas to declutter. For instance, you can set a goal to sort through 6 piles of clutter in one sorting session or tackle a closet for sorting. Do what works best for you, but make it realistic. You don’t want to self-sabotage your new habit by setting yourself up for failure.

Here are my 4 tips to get rid of clutter.

1| The First Pile – Trash

Trash is really an awesome thing. Nothing feels better than purging bags of garbage and it’s the quickest way to feel accomplished and back under control. It’s shocking how often we find garbage shoved in our closets, drawers, purses, and cabinets. Look in the bottom of your purse. Moms tend to be the keepers of all things and we tend to accumulate everyone’s stuff (including garbage!) in our purses and diaper bags. Gum wrappers, clothing tags, ancient receipts, maybe even a banana peel from that lunch on the run. Clearing your purse is an easy win in a small manageable area.

Begin every decluttering process by getting rid of the garbage first. This includes expired food in refrigerators and cabinets, empty boxes, packaging, broken items, half empty cartons, torn clothes, ratty shoes, etc. Move stuff to the recycle or trash bin as needed. And when it comes to food storage containers, do you really need the 50 Chinese food containers, or hundreds of margarine tubs? Recycle them or invest in reusable storage containers. Throw out lids that have no matching bottoms.

2| The First Box – Donate

If you are like me, you avoid getting rid of items because “they may come in handy someday.” I blame my mother for that.  Stop living for that day to come for an item you will likely never use. My husband and I recently started purging things we no longer need. After almost 30 years of marriage, we accumulated hand-me-downs, duplicates of most everything, and so many dishes that we will never use. I found 3 crockpots and 6 bean pots. I don’t even eat beans!! I kept one of each and the rest went to donation.

Just because an item has no further use in your home, doesn’t mean that someone else can’t use them. But be realistic, is it just garbage or will someone get some good use out of the item? If you decide to have a yard sale, make sure you set a firm date and put all the items in one spot. It’s too easy to move the items or piles into another large pile and then never follow through with the yard sale. Start creating good habits with your new purging skills. Local charities, shelters, churches, and thrift stores are all good places to donate materials.

When deciding when to keep or give an item away, ask yourself these important questions…

  • Have you used the item in the last year? If not, you likely won’t use it during the next year.
  • Are there any plans to use it again within the next month?
  • Would you buy the item again if you threw it out?
  • Does anyone even like it? Grandma’s candlesticks may be old, but do you like them, or are you holding on to them for sentimental reasons?
  • Has this item earned space on my storage shelf?
  • Make fast decisions when sorting. The longer you contemplate where the item belongs, the longer you are likely to hold on to it.

If you have an item and you’re having a hard time deciding what to do with it – don’t spend too much time on it. Put it to the side and come back to it at the end of the decluttering session. Sometimes giving yourself some space from the item can help you see it with fresh eyes.

3| The Second Box – The Put Away Box

The items that go in the put away box are all those things that have migrated out of their assigned place in your home. Sometimes, this box will be much larger than the garbage and donate box combined – at least at first. This box is for the loose socks, shoes, schoolbooks, legos, magazines, and all those things that seem to find their way onto your kitchen counter or coffee table. Just gather them up and leave them in the box for now. We’ll address what to do with them later in the post.


4| The Third Box- The Needs Attention Box

This is the box for anything that needs follow-up;  bills, invitations to respond to, receipts to be filed, permission slips, and letters to be mailed. Instead of sorting through these immediately, just put them in the box. I’ll show you how to sort through them later in the post.

Evaluating Your Stuff

Trying to decide what items you need to keep isn’t easy for some people. Seasonal items are not usually part of this equation, that is unless your collection of Christmas ornaments has become larger than your wardrobe! And if Great Grandma’s crystal punch bowl makes an appearance at every family event, certainly keep your prized possessions that serve your spirit as well.

Things like knick-knacks tend to get put in storage. We may have loved them at one time, but tastes and styles change, and it’s okay to get rid of things that no longer serve you.  In evaluating whether you want to keep an item or not, use the airport method. Would you pay an extra $50 to take this item to a new location? Do you love it that much, or will you get rid of the clutter?

Let’s Get Back to the “Needs Attention Box”

Take a look inside the “needs attention box.” Begin by sorting through the bills and arrange them by due date. A three tray paper sorter works well for keeping daily mail organized. Label each tray and sort the mail as it comes in each day rather than throwing it another pile on the counter or your desk. You can label the trays with, “due now”, “follow-up”, or whatever works for you. Get rid of any advertisement immediately.

Next, file any receipts that you may need for tax purposes or major purchases.This will have cleaned up a good portion of the needs attention box. Finish going through the box and file, purge, and sort any remaining items.

What About The Put Away Box?

The put away box is the one in our house that ALWAYS is filled to the brim. I’ve had screwdrivers, measuring tapes, pens, markers, Rubik’s Cubes, and books filling out the majority of my box. Pick up the box and make a quick run through every room of your house, replacing the items in their correct spot. Kids can help with this method too. Socks, shoes, school books, toys that migrated to other rooms-put it all back where it belongs.

Baskets, decorative photo boxes, wire baskets and plastic lidded bins make great storage containers to hide personal items.

Feel Good about your accomplishments. Decluttering does take time, but soon your new habits of staying organized will seem like old school.

What has worked for you in decluttering your homeschool, home, and mind?


Happy Homeschooling,



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