How to Declutter Your Life with a Toddler in Tow
Do you sometimes feel like you live in a TARDIS?
You buy things. They somehow disappear into the bottomless pit that is your house. Then you buy some more things. Then they reappear by falling out at the most inappropriate time, when your in-laws are visiting, for example.
If that's a short description of your life, keep on reading.
In this post, I will try to outline my simple tips and ideas on how to declutter and simplify your house while being chased continuously by a mini-me demanding attention.
Why decluttering is good for you?
Simply put - clean space, clean mind.
Not only that, but how much stuff do we use in a day? In a week? In a year? We tend to accumulate more stuff that we are going to use in a lifetime.
What things to we tend to keep?
More often than not, it's things with some sort of emotional attachment.
Do we need those things?
Can we still use/wear them?
Let's be honest with ourselves. The answer is probably a big fat 'no'.
How to do it with a little one following you around?
1. Let them take part in the clear-out.
Create a pile of clothes to go through and let them go through it too. You will be surprised how enthusiastic toddlers might become if they are asked to help. Especially if they are asked to help create mess.
2. Turn it into a game.
Ask them to separate clothes in piles by colour, that is if they know their colours already. Another exciting game is to ask them to create a few piles in another room or cover their dolls or teddies with mummy's clothes.
3. Let them help you by asking them to try a few things on.
This is a good one.
My little one spent quite a lot of time playing peek-a-boo with herself, using all 300 hundred of my scarfs, shawls and pashminas! Yes, you heard me right: I have (still do) so many scarfs and shawls that I could make a whole new wardrobe of classy dresses if only I could use a sawing machine.
4. Create a mess with something else
Choose a space in the room or an adjacent room and create an organised mess with your child's favourite toys. Lure your child in and explain that mummy is clearing stuff up in that corner and you should clear this. No toddler can resit mess or making even more mess. The chances are your little one will be preoccupied for some time to give you an opportunity to have a proper go at decluttering the real deal.
5. Put their favourite cartoons on.
Not ideal, but if needs must - put TV on and work as fast as you can to limit their time with technology. There is nothing wrong with allowing your child to watch TV from time to time as long as it does not become a consistent habit and as long as it's for no more than recommended TV time for their age. This article from Mayo Clinic has very useful information about kids and screen time.
6. Do it while they are napping.
If your child still naps, it might be a good time to schedule your fight with clutter for during that time. But you need to be prepared and organised. Make sure you decide an advance on what corner of your house you are going to tackle. The trick is not to start the process and then be in the middle of it all when your child wakes up. If yo child naps for 1 hour - make sure you don't do more than an hour worth of decluttering.
7. Have a well deserved 'me time' instead.
This might t not sound like good advice on how to declutter with your toddler in tow. But sometimes if you decide to declutter, you might feel more tired than if you started the process.
So instead of overwhelming yourself by thinking how and when you are going to do it, pause for a bit.Decision to declutter is a good one. But it's a difficult one as well.
You need to be prepared. You need to know where to take the things you no longer need, what system to use to organise things you've decided to keep.
Instead of panicking, call it a day and relax a bit. Use these tips to help you relax. And when you have recharged your batteries, and a plan started brewing in your head - approach the clutter with the fresh mind.
How to decide what to ditch?
I don't know about you, but I am emotionally attached to almost all of my stuff. I bought them myself using my hard-earned cash. Therefore, each and every notebook, wonky mug or old T-shirt has a story. And that what made the beginning of my journey of ultimate decluttering extremely painful.
But you see, you need to be harsh with yourself in this instance. Your memories are in your heart, and not covered in dust in a wardrobe that you open only by accident.
And the good news is that there is a way to keep all of those nostalgically infused things without turning them into dust-covered clutter:
Take a picture of your something special.
Create a scrap book - physical or online.
Add notes, add comments, add memories.
Don't add dust.
Now, answer this:
Is it old and you have not worn it in years? If the answer is -yep!
Recreate Elsa's number from 'Frozen' and - let it go!
But in all honesty, answering these 3 simple questions might help you to decide what to keep and what to throw away when it comes to clothes:
1. Does it still compliment me?
Every piece of clothing you put on needs to do something for you. Whether it lifts your mood, makes you more confident, sassy, or confident. But it needs to go with your complexion, go with your style.
If it does not suit you - ditch it without thinking, no matter how much you enjoyed wearing it years ago. We outgrow things, clothes, including.
2. Does it fit my body shape?
I have my favourite black dress that I used to wear to fancy dinners, theatre and office parties. I used to love wearing it. It fit me perfectly. It made me feel so good about myself, as it I was Audrey Hepburn.
Then I grew a bit older. And then I had a child. Now this dress looks ok on. Because it does not fit my body shape any longer. I have not put on weight or anything. I have changed. So it had to go. I thank it for being my companion for so many years. But we had to part ways. And I bought a new dress. Blue, this time, but I feel as gorgeous in it.
3. Does it go with your skin tone and your hair colour?
Girls that change their hair colour on a regular basis will get my point. Clothes just like lipsticks might no longer go with your skin tone if you change your hair colour.
I was blonde for the most of my twenties and thirties. Now I am... 18! I went back to my natural colour with a few blonde highlights. And guess what? Half of my wardrobe does not go with my skin tone any longer. My blonde-suited clothes make me look tired and pale.
If the answer to any of the above questions is 'no' - ditch them, free up space for something new and amazing!
Leave to-be-thrown-away stuff for a bit.
Many decluttering sites recommend letting things that you plan on throwing away rest for a while (a month, a year in my case).
If that's you - oh, you are in for a treat! Do go through it - there is nothing better new than that long-forgotten old - you might feel like you've been shopping without living in the house. And spending money.
But remember to ask whether you like it if it's still in fashion and compliments you. If not - out it goes.
5 bonus ideas on how to simplify your life:
Opt for white wardrobes that are not the centrepiece. Wardrobes are good for storage. They should not occupy half of the room and make the other uninhabitable.
Use storage boxes to keep out the dust.
Choose digital books over the paper where possible. Unless they are gorgeously bound, limited edition, or you simply must have it on your shelf.
Use dedicated zones for different things (e.g. toys, books, random stuff).
My favourite decluttering tip - do a little bit every time you open a wardrobe.
And breathe.... It's so much easier to breathe in a clean clutter free house, isn't it?