5 decluttering tips for busy parents
By Lisa Canning
The juggle is real! Between laundry, dishes, picking up toys and getting on with regular life, anything we can do to make tidying up a breeze, so we can get back to actually living life, is a bonus. So if you’re a time strapped mom or dad who wants to gain a few more hours of freedom, here are my five essential decluttering tips for busy parents.
Deal with paper immediately
From permission slips to pizza lunch forms, paper can overrun a household. To ensure mounds of paper don’t build on all your surfaces, deal with paper immediately as it comes into your house. Dedicate 10 minutes (set a timer even) to go through paper as soon as you get into the house from kids’ backpacks or from the mailbox. Anything you can address in 10 minutes (such as signing a form, or filing a piece of correspondence), do immediately. Anything that needs more time to be addressed, coral in a tray to be dealt with when you are able. Commit to ensuring that tray of paper does not build up by clearing it out daily.
Eliminate the search
So much frustration occurs from having to look for something, especially when you are in a rush. Commit to having a dedicated place where regularly used items such as your keys, wallet and cellphone “live” while they are at home. For example, always put your purse on the same shelf in your closet when you enter the house, or have a hook near the front door where keys always get hung. Commit to the behaviour of placing the items in the same spot every time. For chronic key losers, try a product like Tile, which syncs with your phone to help you find your lost keys.
Commit to the one-third rule
Visual clutter can also make us feel really overwhelmed. As a rule, I ensure that any practical surface in my home – such as countertops, desk tops, coffee table – has no more than one-third of it covered with stuff. So this means only one-third of your kitchen counter has a coffee maker, small appliance or other decorative items on it, only one-third of your desk surface has a tray or paper on it, and no more than one-third of your coffee table has books, remotes or decorative items on it.
Keep your living room toy free
If space allows, keep toy storage out of your main living room. This is a really important tip for a busy parent’s sanity! Parents need at least one room that is peaceful, and orderly, at the end of a busy day. And let’s be honest, sometimes the last thing we want to do when we have been working hard for everyone is clean up a room full of toys. So store toys in a playroom, the basement or kids’ rooms. Toys will inevitably make their way into your living room so every day, at the end of the day, commit to tidying up by throwing anything that does not belong in this space in a large decorative basket to be taken to its appropriate home.
Practice the 15-minute rule
Living in an uncluttered home is the result of small actions every day. At the end of every day, involve the entire family in 15 minutes of tidying up. This is your chance to move through the main areas of your home and commit to this lifestyle. These small daily habits daily will make a huge dent in the order of your space and by extension, the overall quality of your family life at home.
Lisa Canning is a parenting, interior design and lifestyle expert in Toronto where she lives with her husband and seven children, ages nine and under. To learn more about her tips for managing a house and a large family, join her at the BabyTime Show for her live presentations Nov. 16-18.
While at the BabyTime show, be sure to pick up a copies of Reno & Decor, Active Life, Condo Life and HOMES Magazine.