Want to declutter your home but not sure where to start? Start with the “dumping ground”.
What’s the dumping ground you ask?
The dumping ground is that place where you quite literally dump all the stuff when you come home or put the stuff that has no assigned place elsewhere in the house.
Chances are, you don’t even “see” the dumping ground in your home. It’s become a permanent part of the landscape of your home. Sure, you may give it some attention every once in a while, but it’s always there, mocking you.
We once had a dumping ground, it was our dining room table. Everything, and I mean everything, was put here, right after walking into our home.
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We stored the following items in our cluttered dumping ground:
- Our children’s artwork
- Junk drawer type items
- School papers
- My planner
This is just a list of the “regulars.” Other stuff would end up there too. It was bad.
First, identify your dumping ground
In order to clear your dumping ground, you first have to identify where it is in your home.
Is it your kitchen table, the coffee table, maybe the island in your kitchen? Maybe it’s on your home office desk or some small side table in your entryway.
Most of us have a dumping ground. The key is to transform it from a messy, disorganized place to a place that serves a purpose and serves us well.
What can you eliminate from your cluttered space?
I wanted to blame everyone for our home’s dumping ground rather than realize the systems I had in place were broken.
For example, one day, I asked my young girls to please stop placing their school artwork on the dining room table. That’s not where it went.
My sweet little girl looked up at me and said, “Mama, where does it go?”
That’s when it hit me. The dumping ground existed because everything there had no home.
That week, we purchased a metal board to hang in each of their rooms, bought a few really cute magnets, and created them a curated art space to display their artwork.
By creating a home for one of the items in our dumping ground, we solved at least one category taking up space in a messy, cluttered area of our home!
Next, Inventory what’s in your dumping ground
Before you can make a big difference in your clutter problem areas, you have to first know what’s there.
Grab a piece of paper and list out what’s exactly taking up space in your dumping ground. What clutter are you seeing there?
List out the clutter by type.
It sounds silly, but if you know exactly what you are working with, you can start to create solutions, rather than just hating the area and everyone for contributing to it!
Create solutions for the clutter
Now that you know exactly what you are working with, let’s start brainstorming a few solutions for that clutter! This is where having your inventory listed out helps.
Start writing out ideas you have for each category of clutter. You may want to check out Pinterest, or pop on over to the Simple Happy Moms Facebook Group, and see what ideas others can share.
Here are other clutter solutions you may want to consider!
- Display your child’s artwork in a clutter-free way
- Create a simple mail solution
- Consider creating a family command center
- Clear off your kitchen counters
- Hang a set of hooks next to the doorway so you can always find your keys
- Put a shoe rack in your entry-way closet
- Turn your junk drawer into a “useful drawer”
Create a new routine
Once you identify the clutter in your dumping ground and create permanent homes for it, you will still have a level of maintenance required.
Commit right now to a new routine.
Every day, when you come home, you and your family may naturally dump your stuff in its regular spot. That’s ok, while you are hanging up your coat, taking off your shoes, etc.
However, after you become settled, commit to putting everything away. It sounds like a pain, I know. You are tired. You just got home.
I promise this act should take no more than one minute. I mean, you carried it all in with your two hands. It can’t possibly be that much!
Related post: Clutter Maintenance Checklist
Remove the temptation
If you have to, remove the piece of furniture that is acting as the dumping ground. I once threatened to turn our dining room table on its side!
If you have an entry-way table that is where family members drop their stuff, remove it. It doesn’t have to be a permanent move of furniture, just a few weeks to get folks used to not using it.
At the very least, clear off the problem area, especially if it is a small table, and add some decorative item that takes up the whole surface and makes dumping things there impossible.
If it is a large area, completely clear it off. Something about a cleared surface makes people not want to mess it up. Clutter attracts more clutter!
Related Post: Declutter With the Flat Surface Clutter Rule
Involve your family
Chances are, the cluttered dumping ground isn’t just your stuff. This will be a household effort.
Your family may need regular reminders….like every single day for weeks. I know. It’s painful, but persistence works.
The only solution we had for our kids’ backpacks was for them to take them to a designated place in their rooms. Those 20 steps must have been incredibly painful for our children, based on the moaning and grief they gave us every time we asked.
Yet, with persistence (for weeks), they finally caught on and started coming home and immediately taking their bookbags to their rooms.
You will get there. I promise!
Experiment and give decluttering time
Clutter took you a long time to accumulate. Give yourself some grace when finding new solutions for it.
It may take some time to find the perfect solutions and routines for your home, but they will come with time and persistence.
Eliminating the dumping ground is just one step towards conquering the clutter in your home.
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This is wonderful! Recently, I’ve given away several pieces of furniture that had been storage areas and dust collectors. They were beautiful, old wood pieces that had great storage and display areas, but that was all I used them for. I couldn’t find anything in them because they were deep and required digging through. It was such a relief to pass them along. Now I store the items we use in more useful spaces, and what didn’t fit has been shared with others. Thank you for the encouragement to do more. I have another spot that becomes such a hot spot and needs to go. That one is harder, but it can happen, and it will be so good!