28 answers

House Clutter Out of Control!

Hi all! We just returned from a 10 day vacation to our cluttered house. I discovered how much this clutter affects our moods while we were gone - we were much more relaxed until the moment we walked back into the house. I have always worked full time and since my two children (now 5 & 3) came along, my house has become out of control with clutter, toys and just stuff. Really it's too small for us but it is what we have so we have to make do. I've found myself unemployed due to a layoff and had great plans to overhaul our whole house. Well, so far, I'm just overwhelmed. The amount of work and lack of space has me kind of paralyzed and depressed. When I feel like I've made progress during the day, everyone comes home and everything comes out again. I know it's because no project I start gets finished because of time or because I'm overwhelmed.

I'm looking for any suggestions anyone might have to make some progress and enjoy my house. Some way to not dislike being home!!

Thanks in advance for any advice!

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Hello! I want to thank everyone for their great advice. I have signed up with the flylady and can see how this really is a great help. I'm one of those people who always looks at the big picture and wants it all done now. I will take everyone's advice and just take it one corner at a time. Thanks again for taking the time to offer your advice!!

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Like so many other moms have suggested...try flylady!
I've just started and I can already see such a difference. And my boys (10, 7 and 2) have so much fun doing a 27 fling boogie! It's all about the babysteps.
Good luck!

I have the same problem. It has really helped me to write a chore list of what I need to do that day. Also, just concentrate on one room at a time. And don't be afraid to throw stuff out; everytime I go through the same box of stuff I find more stuff to throw out and wonder why I didn't do it sooner.

Start small, maybe have a to-do list with no more than two areas to tackle a day... as you do have the youngsters with you, right? I would separate items into "keep or give away" if you don't have time for a yardsale or craigslist. Then I'd contact Habitat for Humanity or GoodWill and give, give, give!! Not only tax-deductible, but it really helps people out who have too little. That's the way to free up clutter. Organizing only works short term when you've got tons of stuff - it may overwhelm everyone to have to remember where to put it all back once their done playing/using it! After you give away some of the bulk - then start to organize what you have left over.

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I have lived with what I call "the slob gene" for decades now - my mom is a total clean freak so I was brought up in a routinely (daily/weekly chores) cleaned house but 24 years ago I married someone (unfortunately) with the complete opposite background. I found that the library has some great books - I read "the complete idiot's guide to de-cluttering" - it has some really helpful hints and ideas and it's pretty easy (quick) to read - the hard part is actually finding time and motivation to complete the task of totally de-cluttering the house/room - and then keeping that way - but if everyone in the family participates it is a lot easier. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

start with one room at a time. devote a set amount of time each day and do it, no more no less, say 2 hrs. go through everything . i usually take everyting out of a closet for example and put it in the middle of a room. or a dawer. then i go through everything and make three piles. if you havent used it in the last year, dont keep it. one pile to throw out the other for a yard sale or to donate. if you find yourself keeping more than in the other two piles dump it out all again and start over. with toys i used to allow my children only what could fit nicely in their toy box. all other toys were put in storage and rotated monthly or given away. clothes are the worst. also find a place for everything and put it there after you finish and teach everyone in the house to do the same. containers for everything and by a label maker so you dont have to search for anything they are about $20 at target. also everything in the room where you use it. like all bathroom stuff in the bathroom. i use ziplock bags a lot. i put bandaids and bandage stuff in one and then into an organizer basket or tub, combs and hair stuff in another. when you get to the kitchen just keep the pots and pans you really use. stuff you need like roasters and want to keep , you can store other stuff that you need but dont use often in them. i go through my dishes about twice a year and find i acummulate a lot of tumblers and i get rid of them. when my kids were small i bought cheap plastic tumblers in different colors as well as towels in different colors for each member of the family. that way i could see who left stuff laying around. bills and paper work, get a filing cabinet and put stuff in there that you really need to keep. when you bring the mail in deal with it right away and trhow stuff out you dont need, write checks for bills and place them in order of when they need to go out in a accordion file somewhere near the door. check the file as you go out the door so they get mailed on time or do it electronically. throw out magazines or take them to the doctors office or nursing homes as soon as the next one comes in. get rid of furniture you dont use it also allows you to redecorate periodiacally. i take my furniture to a consignemnt place and after it sells i either save up for new stuff or take everyone on a special trip.

1 mom found this helpful

Laura, I have the solution to your clutter problems. I am a single mom of an 8 year old boy in NW Albq. I clean and organize homes. I am quite talented at what I do and can teach you how to maintain. My name is M. ###-###-#### or ____@____.com

1 mom found this helpful

Check out www.flylady.net Her systems might really help you find peace in your own life like it did for me. Routines really help, and little bits at a time. It really helps me keep my house clean and keep routines and have a healthy attitude towards it all. Less really is more. It is SO much easier to keep my house clean and organized and the pick up the toys, etc, because we don't a ton of stuff. Also enlist the help of your husband and children. Let your husband what you need him to do in a nondemanding way and without coming across like complaining. Hopefully he'll want to help ease your exhaustion.

My 3 year old takes his hamper full of clean clothes from the laundry room and puts them away into the labeled (with pictures and words) baskets. He also puts away the silverware and empties his own dishes out of the dishwasher into his little cupboard. He also puts his dirty dishes into the dishwasher and has been doing most of this since he was about 2 1/2. It takes time to teach, but it helps me out in the end, plus it's teaching him an important life skill and the value of responsibility and pitching in.
P.S. I work occasionally as a Professional Organizer on the side, and I still have my struggles keeping up with everything we have to balance as moms. But the first thing I ask potential clients is if they are ready to let go of stuff, because I can't work with them unless they are willing to declutter. Clutter is such a hindrance to order and organization. I know it's hard to let go of stuff sometimes, but I really encourage you to. What you keep will become more valuable to you when you have less stuff. Good luck! If you want, I can email you the outline of a presentation I give on organization that may have some ideas that help give you motivation and guidance.
Also, here is a similar request on Mamasource that may have responses that you may find useful: http://www.mamasource.com/request/859561067011899393

1 mom found this helpful

Your free online coach, cheerleader, and fairy-godmother for decluttering and organizing your home and life! Find out how daily reminders can help you clean!! Here is the link sign up for the daily emails. They will change your life!! Good Luck :)



This sooo sounds like something I could have written. I thought w/ my youngest going to kindergarten this year that I would have sooo much time to hit all the clutter and mess, wrong.... I was looking at the big picture instead of taking smaller steps to tackling things. Your house didn't get the way it is overnight, so don't expect to declutter and clean overnight. What helped me was the Flylady, flylady.net I believe is the site. It's free and gives you great ideas to get back on track. Even if you just focus on a task for 15 minutes a day, you'd be amazed what you can get done. You can even sign up for her newsletter to get tips and encouragement every day. I'm still not where I want to be, but things are definitely getting better. One nice thing is that I can clean, declutter, and get rid of things while the kids are in school (I've boxed things up and if it isn't missed w/in a week I donate them). Best wishes to you and let us know how it goes!

Try just working on one room at a time!

The Fly-Lady will be a good start, also start small.
Set a goal for something you can achieve in one day. i.e. one kitchen shelf and apply the "Clean Sweep" principles of "Toss-Sell-Keep" to it's contents.
Then it is probably also time for a family chat to develop rules every one can follow, i.e. no new toy out until the previous is cleaned up or a penalty box for left items that have to stay there for x amount of time until they can be accessed again, or from x to x o'clock it is clean up time for everyone. Even if it is just 15 minutes, 4 people can get a lot accomplished in that time, even if 2 ofthem are toddlers, try to make it a game.
Also write down your accomplishments - it will not take long for the list to get long and longer if you and the gang are committed!

Best of luck and joy in the process!

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