Whenever the mood hits, I do a room by room declutter. (I have also done my 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge during Lent when I've had the time.) I have a trash bag for junk, and a garbage bag for Goodwill. For closets, I usually have the kids help me determine what no longer fits, or what they might never wear.
The reason I do this:
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING: THE LESS STUFF I HAVE THE EASIER IT IS TO KEEP MY HOUSE CLEANED AND STRAIGHTENED.
I find the kids and I don't miss all that stuff that accumulates. (And if I think they might miss something, I put a "KEEP FOR AWHILE" garbage bag in my attic/basement (hidden) and see if a whole 6 months go by without them asking for it.) Birthday parties and Christmas and hand-me-downs too...every mom knows how that adds up. If I can pair these things down to what we really use it is so much easier to keep things orderly in our home. The kids can put away their toys easier, they play with the things they really love more, and their rooms and our living areas can be kept neat and clean without so many things.
I do the same for myself in all the areas of the house-weed out what we don't use/love/need.
If I don't love it and use it, and it's just taking up space, I get rid of it.
For example, in the kitchen most especially...every small gadget I don't use, bowl, tupperware, etc...how many spatulas does anyone need? I try not to use the "I might use it one day" excuse...if I don't use it, I get rid of it.
Once I really cleaned the clutter out the first time, I was so much more careful about what I brought into our house. Having less, and having our possessions organized makes me much more conscious of buying habits. It not only saves me time cleaning, but it saves me money as well.
The older kids keep all their special 'no share' toys/games etc in their rooms in designated spots. I have a toy cupboard (linen closet) upstairs for all the games, stuffed animals, and "extra" stuff. In the kids rooms, they each have a little trunk where they keep their little gadgets and gizmos that are important to them. I have a cabinet in my living room with a few toys and baskets for blocks, Legos, etc for Andrew and the baby. I don't keep toys any place else, because that's just more cleaning up. So I guess "there is a place for everything, everything in it's place."
I have a dresser with baskets in my kitchen, labeled with each child's name, for all the childs's stuff I find lying around that has to go up to their rooms. Papers, drawings, sticks, stones...you name it...if they leave it lying around, I throw it in their baskets and they know if they left it somewhere around the house that's where it will be. I've seen people do this with those baskets that fit on the stairs too, or in their cubbies in a mudroom. That way I don't have to be running up and down stairs to "straighten".
With that said, I do constantly pick up, put away, etc....I don't realize how much I do, until I get sick or pregnant or both, because then, in a day or two there are little things everywhere.
5. Fast and Efficient Routine
If I need to do a BIG straighten, I always start in our bedroom, because it's just a habit, and it's the farthest corner of the house. As I go I throw everything that's not supposed to be there into the next room and so forth and so forth, working my way through the house. I try to go fast and not get distracted. The key is to not get side tracked and not to leave the room you are supposed to be straightening until it's finished.
Cleaning is really about how you set up your house:
1. In every bathroom I have windex, paper towels and a toilet brush. I love clorox wipes also. That's all I really need. Maybe some powder cleanser for the bathtub once in a while with a green scrubbie pad. I keep all that in each bathroom in a little basket under the sink. That way the kids can get to it easy for chores and so can I.
2. Whenever I get a chance, and I see something needs it, I can just whip out my supplies and it takes minutes. (I usually use a few clorox wipes every day in each bath to keep the sinks, toilet and floor clean.)
3. A good vacuum is the best. I use a Dyson now but there are other good brands also. That thing saves me so much time. Vacuuming makes everything look and feel cleaner, if that's all you get a chance to do. It's really easy to use the attachments too, so I put on the brush attachment and use that for the molding and corners, and even furniture. I use it in the bathrooms and kitchen too...easier than a broom and dustpan.
4. On and off through the years I've hung a piece of paper on the fridge with jobs assigned to each child on a Saturday. This has helped when I feel like I can't get caught up.
I put a photo on my blog a long time ago of my laundry room and how I have it set up. This saves me TONS of time. I do a little laundry almost every single day. That way I'm never spending hours on it. I bought a big basket for Jeff and I and little ones for each kid, labeled with their names. I fold the clothes right out of the dryer and throw them in each basket depending on whose is whose. Every Friday or Saturday I will make the kids go down and get their baskets and hang up and put away all their clothes.
Simplicity is the key and once you have it set up, you will find it makes your life so much easier.
And with all that said, my house is not always perfectly cleaned and straightened but this system seems to make my life easier and my house cleaner.
Need gift ideas?
Here's a list of our favorite, most-played with, carefully selected, delivered-to-your-doorstep, Mom-approved toys.
And here are our favorite games.
And our favorite books.
Here are some great teen gift ideas.
By age and interest here.