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I would put decluttering into a couple of weekends (if it is really tough, so you can do one room per weekend--one day to declutter for just a couple of hours, another day to organize for a couple of hours), and then you have that 'base line' and you can build around it.
i think that's great decluttering advice, tree. it is true.
it also, on the other end, prevents you from bringing in things that you do not need. that is to say that when i look at my LR, which currently has no furniture in it save a desk and some built in cubbies and bench, i really don't think i *need* anything in there. so, that makes it easy to keep things out.
but there are things that i need right now: S-hooks and Hangers for our coats. Yeah, i could use, like, 10 hangers. that would be more than enough, i think.
I'm a SAHM to 3 kids (5,4,2) with a DH who works long hours, and here's what works for us (I get really stressed by mess and clutter and need a neat home to keep me sane!):
1. Big picture - My house is - at it's core - neat and uncluttered. It is just my job to consistently return it to that state. That means everything has a place, we don't have too much un-needed stuff taking up space, and clean-up is therefore straightforward and not overwhelming.
If your home is in need of a deep decluttering and cleaning to get it to this state, maybe you could take a weekend to do it intensely or set up a more gradual schedule to do it over a few weeks.
2. Day-to-day: Do it right away! I clean up immediately after every meal. Wash the dishes, wipe down table and counters, sweep if needed. I don't have laundry sitting around - wet laundry goes on the line, and dry laundry is folded and put away. My big kids can help with these tasks now, and cleaning up after one meal or putting away one load of laundry takes much less time than tackling a sink full of a day's worth of dishes, or a mountain of clothing.
3. Clean-up times: We always clean up before we leave the house (toys away, living room straightened up, beds made, etc), before nap/quiet time and before bedtime, after baths. Throughout the day, if there has been some major, messy activity, like painting or fort-building, we'll clean that up when we're done. I don't restrict how many toys can be out at one time or anything, but I won't let a million things be dragged out and abandoned - we'll stop and put a few things away and then keep playing.
Because we clean a few times a day, it's much easier to handle. When my kids go to sleep my house is straightened up, my sinks are empty, surfaces are clear, toys are away, etc. I may fold a load of laundry or do some food prep in the evenings, but when my kids go to sleep, I'm off the clock!
4. Big cleaning - usually during nap time, or when the big guys are at preschool, I'l tackle one big cleaning task a day - bathrooms, vaccumming/washing floors, deep kitchen clean, bedrooms, etc.
Good luck! It's a hard balance to find, but for me it's been mind-saving!
Leila, mama to Eleanor (10/08) and Emmett (4/10)
Visit my blog! www.rookblog.com
~Katie~ married to J, mom to DD- A 13 yrs ,DS- L 7yrs , and my little nursling DD2- R 5yrs.
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