Permission forms on the counter. Shoes by the door. Sippy cups falling out of the cupboards. You do your best—but clutter has a way of appearing, seemingly overnight.
Keeping the family home organized can be a very daunting task, especially when the kids are around the house all day. Here are my top tips for conquering the clutter so you can stay sane.
Streamline the Front of the House
I heard it said once that your behaviour when you first enter the house, what you do with the mail, your purse, the kids’ school forms, etc, can have major implications on the enjoyment level of the rest of your evening. To stay super streamlined, assign one shelf per family member in a closet or freestanding storage unit where bags, keys, etc. will go. Limit the number of shoes and coats in the entranceway to two per family member. Commit to purging stray items that inevitably end up where they don’t belong every week. This will make getting out the door an efficient process.
Put Paper in Its Place
With school-aged kids and my own bills and mail to keep track of, I find it pretty overwhelming to stay on top of permission forms, handouts, and due dates. To keep paper organized, I have a binder with divider tabs for each family member, and a three-hole punch in a drawer very close to the front door. When paper comes in it is dealt with immediately—it either goes into recycling or is hole-punched and filed in the child’s spot in the binder. This keeps things from disappearing in a sea of paper and makes looking up important dates really accessible and top of mind.
Save Select Pieces of the Kids’ Art, and Digitize the Rest
In the same spot as the binder and 3-hole punch, keep a large envelope (I recommend a sturdy vinyl envelope with a zipper) and stash all the kids’ artwork in it as soon as it comes home. When the envelope gets too full, go through it and digitize it all—I use Artkive. Save any special or sentimental pieces—have a few designated frames and rotate the pieces, storing them in a memory box once you take them down—and recycle the ones that have been digitized.
Get Creative and Stylish with Toy Storage
In my house, we store the majority of the toys in the basement. We do this so that we can keep our open concept living room/kitchen as clutter-free as possible. This is a major factor in how sane I feel on a daily basis. Knowing there’s one room that is not entirely covered in toys is a great comfort to me. But inevitably, toys migrate their way into this space. So to keep the space looking stylish, I found some interesting/sculptural wire and wicker baskets that integrate with my décor (Bouclair Home and HomeSense both have great options). These versatile and stylish baskets can also be used for blankets or books once toys are outgrown.
Integrate Kid Gear and Décor
Visual clutter contributes to the chaos too, and while I love bright colours, sometimes the neon shades that kid gear comes in can be a bit jarring on the eyes. Think about integrating items like baby bouncers, swings or seats in colours that are neutral, or match your décor. I love anything that comes in trendy colours or soft neutral shades.
Commit to the Daily Tidy
Being clutter-free is a commitment, but one that is so worth it for your peace of mind. Take 15 minutes at the end of each day to declutter. What I have to assist in my daily tidy is a large 2″ high basket (again in a neutral colour that matches my décor). Every day, I go through each room and collect items that have migrated and don’t belong in the bedrooms or living room. Everything out of place gets thrown into this basket. If energy allows, I put things where they belong that evening. But if I’m super wiped, at least everything is collected in a basket ready to tackle the next day.