You finally got your home decluttered, or you are at least halfway there, and it seems like clutter keeps showing up in your new, lighter home.
How do you make it stop?! The vicious cycle can’t keep going! Use these tips to achieve and maintain a clutter-free home.
How to reduce clutter in your home and maintain a clutter-free home….even with kids!
1. Stop the inflow
The most important action you can take to maintain a clutter-free home is to stop the inflow of clutter! You will have to put up out all the stops because clutter inflow can be relentless.
Stop shopping unnecessarily in stores
When you go to Target, go with a list, and don’t deviate from it! Learn how to stop shopping for the emotional high. Going to Target and the mall were my biggest challenges when trying really hard not to buy anything extra.
If I knew my willpower was low, I would go online to that store, buy only what I needed, and I would have it shipped. I had toilet paper delivered by itself once because I knew my willpower was super low!
With some practice, you will learn how to go to a store, buy only what you need, and then leave. You will learn to ignore the sales traps and the clearance items that are calling your name! Don’t buy something just because it is a good deal. Buy it only because you need it or because it has been a well thought out purchase.
Stop online impulse shopping
Control your online impulse buys too. You can set up rules with your email provider to stop retailer emails and all the temptations that come with them.
Take a break from Amazon browsing. Only use Amazon if you really NEED something.
To really control your online impulse shopping, give yourself a two-day rule. Don’t buy anything until you think about it for two days. Amazon makes it so darn easy!
Find free things to do to occupy your time! Don’t shop for fun and good sales for the sake of the emotional high and a good deal.
Don’t take stuff just because it is free
This one gets my family every time. They see something free, and they want it. It can be a stupid plastic toy or a piece of furniture.
Learn to say no. Don’t let free, useless stuff come into your home. This one rule alone can make a huge difference in your clutter inflow!
2. Control the toy clutter
The toy clutter can spiral out of control so easily! Grandparents, friends, rewards for chores or jobs well done. The toy inflow is massive, even when it’s not a birthday or holiday.
Start talking about toy clutter and gift-giving now with friends and family to maintain a clutter-free home. Tell them how you are choosing experiences over toys, or tell them gifts are not even necessary. Decide what is right for your family.
Don’t buy your kids a good behavior reward every time you go to the store. They don’t need a toy from Target for behaving in the store.
Good behavior is an expectation, not something that is optional and rewarded with a toy. The same goes for $1 toys at the grocery store. Kids shouldn’t get a $1 toy car because they behaved while grocery shopping.
If you want to reward your kids, which I don’t think is necessary, then reward them by letting them pick out one fruit or vegetable to try new this week. My kids have picked out some fun stuff to try!
3. Simplify gifts
Come up with new traditions rather than gift-giving in excess around holidays and birthdays.
Does this mean to stop giving gifts? No! Give gifts that are functional, timeless and don’t add to any future clutter. If the gift replaces something, get rid of the duplicate, older item.
Choose experiences over things if at all possible.
My kids often elect to go on a trip for their birthdays instead of parties with gifts. We always give them the choice, and they often surprise us with their choices!
Experiences give your family memories that last a lifetime. Some gifts are not remembered more than a month after receiving them.
If you need gift ideas, check out these minimalist gift ideas for kids. Minimalism doesn’t mean you have to stop giving gifts.
Sometimes it means the gifts are more thoughtful or will still be around a lot longer.
Short on cash? Check out these budget-friendly gifts that cost zero to little money.
Related Posts: Minimalist Gifts for Everyone on Your List
4. Do regular mini-purges
Mini-purges will help you maintain your clutter-free home. Got an extra 30 minutes? Tackle a junk drawer or a dresser drawer. It doesn’t have to be an all-day clutter-purging fest!
Keep a declutter bag or box handy in a spare closet. Anytime you run across something you no longer need, get it to the donation box. Then, make regular donation runs.
I probably went to the local Goodwill once per month the first few months I was purging my home. The regular runs kept my home clutter-free!
Related post: What to do with the stuff after decluttering
5. Be conscious of wants vs needs
Be conscious of your wants versus your needs when shopping future-forward. This helps stop the inflow of clutter, and it also helps with unnecessary spending. When you are aware of what is really needed, you learn quickly that we often have enough.
For example, I once took a year-long no clothes shopping challenge. I became painfully aware during that time how much I was spending on unnecessary clothes. I had a closet full of fully functional, timeless pieces.
There were only three occasions in an entire year where I NEEDED something. Prior to my no shopping challenge, I was buying new clothes monthly. That’s a lot of new clothes that I wanted, not needed, coming into my home.
6. Keep flat surfaces clear
Clutter attracts more clutter. If your house is super clean because your family or a super clean-freak friend is coming over to visit, admit it, it stays clean longer.
It is easier to maintain a clean home if stuff is already put away.
As soon as you start dumping stuff on the table, countertops or on the floor, what happens? You start leaving more stuff there.
Before you know it, the entire house is going to take hours to clean up! Keep your home clean by clearing all flat surfaces before you leave a room. If you get into this habit, you will maintain a clutter-free home.
7. Praise your kids
When your kids decide they have outgrown something, can recycle a piece of artwork, or do anything to practice simplicity and minimalism in their little spaces, give them praise!
Kids have a natural tendency to collect things. However, with practice, they learn they don’t have to hold onto things to live a fulfilled life.
My youngest is a collector of knick-knacks. They are her treasures. However, with time, she has learned to pick her very favorites and will let go of the little treasures that don’t bring her absolute joy.
Praise your kids when they let something go they no longer play with anymore. It will help them recognize healthy habits. It may also help them stop the inflow of items that only add to clutter in their rooms.
8. Make pick-up a daily chore
Trying to clean your entire house in one day can be exhausting. I am a firm believer in the “divide and conquer” mentality.
Make pick-up a daily chore in your home. Set a timer for ten or twenty minutes and have everyone pick-up all items that don’t belong where they are sitting.
For us, that means book bags go to their designated places, toys are put back in toy baskets, and books and papers are filed away.
This is done daily, which can make true cleaning, like vacuuming and mopping so much easier, as all the stuff is already put away!
9. Manage the paper clutter
Paper clutter can creep up on you like nobody’s business and before you know it, it can take over your entire kitchen counter or desktop. Don’t let paper clutter control you! You can control it.
- If you have mail that gets recycled, recycle it immediately.
- For mail that can be handled in less than 1 minute, go ahead and process it immediately.
- For mail that will take some time, put it in a folder and set aside an hour every week to go through your mail that needs work.
To stop the inflow of mail, you can go to EcoCycle for more information. This helped reduce our junk mail inflow dramatically, and we didn’t miss any of it! You can also check out mail organization without a big DIY project.
10. Complete your laundry tasks
I hate laundry as much as the next person. We even have a couch in the basement we have dubbed “the laundry couch” because that is where the dry but unfolded laundry ends up! Don’t let this happen by promising yourself you will wash, dry, AND fold laundry when it is done.
If you use the divide and conquer rule, you can avoid large build-ups of laundry by doing just one load per day. It will change how you view laundry! I like to put a load in the washer before work and then pop it in the dryer in the late afternoon. After dinner, it gets folded and put away.
What’s really nice about doing one load of laundry a day is some days you are caught up and have none to do. That is a glorious feeling!!
11. Keep a clutter-free bedroom
I am a firm believer if you keep a clutter-free bedroom, the rest of the house will follow suit!
Make your bed every morning.
Keep clothes off the floor and in the hampers, and clear the clutter from your dressers daily.
It is amazing how energized you will feel when your bedroom is clean and clutter-free!
Related post: A Complete Guide on How to Declutter Your Bedroom
12. Remember you have kids!
Be realistic with yourself. You have kids!
There will be messes, and there will be clutter. It will never all be gone. Y
ou don’t want to steal the joy of their childhoods by forbidding any and all “clutter” from entering your home. If they love it, then what is the harm in them keeping it for a while?
Do your part by not adding to the unnecessary clutter, but if they bring home a treasure they earned at school for good behavior, celebrate with them! Kids see joy in the smallest of things, and let’s remember and celebrate those joys with them!
You can achieve and maintain a clutter-free home!
You can maintain a clutter-free home without it taking hours a day of purging and cleaning.
The trick is to do a little at a time, breaking up the larger tasks, and stopping all forms of clutter inflow. By doing this, you will feel the joy of a maintained clutter-free home, even with kids.