Simplifying & Decluttering: A Cheat Sheet

As multitasking moms, we’re all guilty of taking on too much. We don’t want to say “no” or let anyone down or–heaven forbid–show any weakness. But really, we need to wave the white flag every once in a while and focus on ourselves and our homes. Our homes should be our sanctuaries, but often they’re cluttered and chaotic, and NOT setting the stage for the rest of our lives to feel very zen. If a top-to-bottom clean-out feels daunting (because it is), fear not! As a serial declutter-er and reorganizer, I’m sharing the best (most useful and easiest) expert tips that I’ve found for simplifying and decluttering. 

  • Emily Ley, creator of the Simplified Planner (which is awesome, BTW) and mom to three young children, has an awesome pre-holiday decluttering challenge, aptly called the #HolidaySimplictyChallenge. My favorite tip of hers? The first one: grab a trash bag and walk around your home, ditching what you don’t need (hello, pile of random papers on the counter and junk drawer), recycling what you can (of course) but just being RUTHLESS. We are surrounded by stuff we don’t need, and it is holding us back. Especially as we bring out the holiday decorations, and cards and gifts start pouring in, we need to make space both physically and mentally. 

  • Now that you’ve cleaned off the counters and such, let’s tackle some drawers. Marie Kondo outlines a whole system for simplifying in her best-selling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (which also became an oddly-fascinating show on Netflix.) My favorite tip: Going through each drawer and shedding the items that don’t “spark joy” and only keeping the ones that do. Then you fold each item into a fairly tiny rectangle and set it in your drawer so that you can see each and every article of clothing that you have in there. (Your piles will end up horizontal instead of vertical.) It is soooo much easier to find your favorite pair of black leggings when you can see all 50 pairs of them. (Hoarding leggings is a separate issue.) 

  • Now… closets. For years I’ve felt that closets don’t need to be organized–that’s why they have doors, right? But The Home Edit ladies have changed all that! They turn closets, garages and pantries into show-off spots. My favorite tip of theirs? After sorting through to remove what you don’t need (see the recurring theme?), you organize your items by season or type, and then by color. Turning your clothes closet into a rainbow is wildly pleasing to the eye, and you can see for yourself on their Get Organized with The Home Edit show on Netflix. And (Kid Tip Alert!) kids are GREAT at organizing things in rainbow order. Challenging them to color-code their own bookshelves will have them feeling like they are part of the process (and may help keep it looking nicer longer.) This will also afford you a little more time to get to the back of your closet. 

One more tip: As you’re decluttering and simplifying, be sure to create a “give away” pile. So much of our “stuff” is not necessary to us anymore, but could be super helpful to another family. Check out your local donation spots, and be sure to get a receipt for your taxes! Donations are good for your community, the Earth, AND your own pocket.

Sigh. Simplifying can be so satisfying.