• If an Item Doesn't Spark Joy, Throw It Away. This Mom Says Easier Said Than Done

    So she's sharing secrets how she keeps the house clutter-free when you have kids.
    by Lora Fonacier .
If an Item Doesn't Spark Joy, Throw It Away. This Mom Says Easier Said Than Done
PHOTO BY Milkos/ISTOCK
  • We’ve all been there – promising to make the New Year count by cleaning the house and getting rid of things we no longer need. But just like any other resolution, it can be challenging to stay true to this resolution, especially if you have kids at home and you have a ton of belongings.

    To make sure the house is clean just in time for the New Year, there are spaces we need to prioritize when cleaning. In our home, my priority is always the kids’ spaces (their bedroom, homeschool room, and play area) and the kitchen, simply because we spend the most time in these areas. These also tend to have the highest regular “turnover” of stuff — outgrown clothes, toys and school supplies, weekly food shopping and daily food preparation— that go up a notch over Christmas. It can vary for each household, but the busiest areas should always be prioritized because maintaining a certain level of order in these rooms ensures that the household will run smoothly.

    Ready to welcome 2019 with a cleaner and happier home? Here are tips to keep in mind.

    1. It’s really more of what we do BEFORE the New Year comes that makes the biggest impact on keeping our homes tidy.

    I go by the “everything should have a home” rule, so I keep mental notes on the state of our storage whenever I purchase something. If there is no room, I don’t buy yet or I make room for new stuff by giving old items away, selling, or donating a few essentials.

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    2. Learn to maintain a “buffer” for every storage area.

    I do recognize that Christmas is a time when we have little control of new items coming in (gifts galore!). So I make sure that shelves, cabinets, and even baskets and bins are only filled to about 75% capacity to avoid overflow and the resulting clutter.

    3. Set the standards that will work for your family before you start your major New Year decluttering.

    I understand the wisdom behind the “Spark Joy” movement, but as a mother and homemaker, I simply couldn’t allow myself to be strictly bound by it. I go more by the saying, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”

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    4. Prepare three boxes once you’ve established your criteria for keeping items.

    Everything you’ve purged from your home goes into these containers, also known as your DONATE, SELL, PASS ON (to family or friends who might need it more) boxes. These will get filled up regularly and ensure that any items that are no longer in use do not take up space and have a definite “plan of action.” You can clear the boxes monthly, quarterly, or depending on your family schedule.

    5. When you can, do a “sweep” of the entire house for things that aren’t where they’re supposed to be.

    Or do a sweep of one room for now if that’s all you can manage. Take a laundry basket or any container you can manage and just spot those stray items, load them into your basket, and return them to their “homes.” You’ll be surprised at how much you’ll manage to gather!

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    6. Start small before doing any big home purging projects.

    Aim for something manageable and realistic, considering the holiday frenzy is upon us. Try a 10-minute declutter (five minutes is fine as well) for every room at home, armed with your DONATE, SELL, PASS ON boxes for things you no longer intend to keep. Make sure there's a trash can or bag for items that need to be discarded. Get into this habit now, so you can practice it beyond the New Year (hopefully). 

    7. Invest in a label maker.

    Everything you own has to have a house, and labels mark their “address.” This is especially important when you share the responsibility of keeping things in order with other people at home (helpers or yayas, for example).

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    8. Clean up your junk drawer.

    Everyone has one! It is usually a small task that provides the momentum you need to tackle the big jobs. It’s the process of sorting, prioritizing and putting things in order in a smaller scale that puts you in an organizing mindset and gets you going the major decluttering to follow!

    9. Your children's wardrobe is always a good place to start your decluttering.

    Your kids are bound to receive a ton of new clothes over Christmas. I keep a basket in my kids’ closets (or somewhere nearby) for outgrown clothes. They are older now, so they have been trained to transfer any clothes that are already too tight or short in the “outgrown” basket. If you have babies or toddlers, periodically check their wardrobe for anything outgrown and move them to the basket. It fills up faster than you think and clears up much-needed space.

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    10. New toys are pretty much a given over the holidays, and I know I am not alone in wanting to manage them.

    Too many new toys can get overwhelming and actually take the joy out of playing, so I let the kids pick a favorite from the lot and play with that for a week before starting with a new one. This buys me time to make room for all the new toys and actually makes them appreciate what they receive even more.

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