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Rivka Caroline
BY Rivka Caroline

6 Simple Tips for Decluttering Your Home and Your Life

With all the special needs-related items that us special needs parents spend so much of our time on, it would make sense that we get a free pass when it comes to keeping the house clean!

Sadly, this just isn’t the case.

The following six tips are intended to help leverage your time and help keep your home clutter and stress free:

1. Give everything a home

Outsmart clutter by designating the space around your home. Pencils happily sit in a cup on the homework table, hair bows are placed in the pretty box on the dresser in the girls’ room and gift wrap belongs in its designated container in the guest room.

Items only become clutter when they aren’t in the right place. In fact, it’s really all about retrieval. When everything has its own place, you know exactly where the items are and how many you have in stock. Therefore, another hidden benefit of giving objects a location is that you won’t overbuy. You will no longer end up being the proud owner of 17 rolls of scotch tape or nine pairs of children’s scissors. You’ll not only save sanity, you’ll save money too.

2. Have a ‘give away’ box around every corner

Make it easy to give away items by placing a box or a bag hanging from a hanger in a closet. This way, once you encounter an item that you’d like to donate, you already have a system in place. You can send it on its way quickly and efficiently without having to hold on to it just because you don’t know what to do with it. Set a monthly reminder in your calendar to drop the items off at the charity of your choice.

3. Stop shopping: Don’t bring home clutter

With dollar stores and clearance aisles, it is now so very easy to bring home cost-reduced but not so practical items. Resist the urge to buy these bargain priced pieces of clutter by making sure that you only shop when it’s necessary and that you only buy items that you truly need. I guarantee you that the purple tiger striped paper plates, on sale for 75% off, will sit unused on your shelf for three years.

4. Train the children

Children thrive in an organized, predictable environment. Train the children at a young age to put things back where they belong. Give them guidance to take out one toy at a time, tidy it up and then take out a fresh one. Provide them with shelves and laundry baskets in their rooms and hooks on the back of their doors for easy hanging of robes, towels and sweaters. Same for backpacks, homework and library books.

5. Don’t put it down, put it away

Resist the urge to put things down ‘just for a second’ and instead put them away. You will save time by applying the OHIO rule (Only Handle It Once). It may take a few extra moments, but it will ensure your home is clutter free, because “clutter is just a pile of decisions.” Therefore, by taking the extra steps to put things away immediately, you are saving yourself from having to make future choices.

6. Put it in your calendar

Now that you’ve worked hard to create a streamlined home, let’s create a plan to keep it that way! Keep the clutter hotspots nice and clear by setting aside time slots in your calendar for tidying. Some people like to do it for 15 minutes a day right after the children go to school or go to bed. Others like to take an hour once a week. However you prefer to manage your time, make sure to set aside time each week to manage the clutter.

Celebrate small steps. Changing habits isn’t simple but it can be truly liberating. Feel encouraged and proud as you see yourself take purposeful actions towards having less stuff around…just don’t go shopping at the mall to celebrate!

Rivka Caroline

Written on January 11, 2016 by:

Rivka Caroline is a mom, Rabbi’s wife, and Professional Time Management Consultant from Key Biscayne, Florida. Rivka is the author of 'From Frazzled to Focused' which was listed on the New York Times parenting blog @Motherlode as a Top Ten ‘must read’ for parents. She also created the ‘Focus Finder’™ planner pad. Since earning her Masters in Psychology, Rivka has worked with thousands of the busiest people in the universe. Rivka loves the relationship between time management, Torah, Chassidus and Positive Psychology and firmly believes that it takes more effort to be disorganized that it does to be organized and practices what she preaches (most of the time) as a wife and mother of seven, including one adorable son with special needs. Follow her online on her site, on Twitter and on Facebook.