Eliminating Clutter in My House

Well, this is obviously not the article I promised last week! However, I was simply too tired to write it. These past few weeks I’ve been decluttering different portions of our house, and this has sucked up all my energy. However, I think I can still offer you something useful despite the change of plans (and being a day late, too).

Let’s talk about organizing and decluttering.

I LOVE to organize! If I had tons of time and lots of energy, my house would be speck-free and neat as a pin. Yet, real life is a different story. With a range of different kids’ ages, there is also a range of different levels of maturity and responsibility. I am actively training my children to pick up after themselves, but it is a work in progress and one that requires more supervision than I am able to provide while pregnant and exhausted. So, we do our best.

One thing I’ve realized is that the less stuff we have, the less energy we have to expend to keep it clean and neat. And especially in a small, double-wide manufactured home, it is critical to make sure our belongings don’t crowd us out! So every now and then, I tackle a section of our house at a time and get rid of all the things we don’t need (or almost all). Then, I donate them to Goodwill, or toss them in the dumpster if they don’t seem in good enough condition for resell. I don’t do e-bay or Craigslist; it already takes so much effort to organize everything that I have no patience left and just want all the “junk” to be gone . . . right away!

Sections of the house I organized over the past few weeks:

-I put the kids’ school papers into labeled files in a filing cabinet that someone gave us. All their paper work since we started homeschooling is now organized and easy to find. (Is it just me, or are there other homeschooling moms who want to have “proof” that they have truly been teaching their children every day and not just sitting around doing nothing, if for some reason the government has an issue?) They also have a spot to file away papers they finish every day, so we don’t have piles of papers drifting around.

-I got rid of a ton of toys (don’t tell anybody). We have a white metal four-shelf unit that I use to store their toys. If it doesn’t fit on the shelves, it has to go. I always feel rather cruel when it comes to this, but honesty, after this round of toy purging none of the kids ever asked where their other toys went. So, either they are finally getting used to my organizing ways, or they didn’t notice those particular toys were gone because they didn’t care about them anyways.

-I went through our “linen closet,” i.e. the only other (semi) full-sized closet in our entire house, which is in the boys’ room (the other one is in my bedroom). We do have a small closet in the hallway which I use for towels, washcloths, and rugs; but, the one I’m talking about contains our sheets and curtains (with blankets in plastic tubs under the boys’ bed). I decided that we only need two sets of sheets per bed, and I kept an extra set for our pull-out sofa bed. I also parted ways with several curtains and small blankets.

-And just this week, I sorted through our living room entertainment center/bookshelf with a fine-toothed comb. We sent so many books, videos, and CDs to Goodwill! It really is amazing that even after letting go of so much, our shelves are mostly still full! How does that happen? I’ll tell you how — it’s the secret of the clutter: when we have too much of it, we tend to cram it wherever it will fit, even though it doesn’t really fit. So, when we only have our shelves filled to normal capacity, there doesn’t always seem to be that much of a difference because of how ingenious we had been in shoving everything into corners. But still, despite that, I have noticed a refreshing transformation: the shelves no longer appear like a cardboard box bursting at the seams . . . and I have room for new books. ๐Ÿ™‚

That, then, explains why I was way too tired to type up a proper post (thank you for your continued patience!). Decluttering is both exciting — and exhausting! But, in the end, it is all worth it. If only it wouldn’t keep on building up; it does seem to have a way of doing that, doesn’t it?

What tips would you like to share for keeping an organized house? I would love to hear them! And I’m sure that so would everybody else!




  1. Sarah Ann Wong

    Sounds like you’re doing a great job decluttering and teaching your children through your own example!

    I know you just gave a ton of books to Goodwill, so this may be useful for another time.

    There are independently run “little free” libraries all over the world where people of all ages can exchange books. In my area, many homeschooling families use them and you can learn more through the website https://littlefreelibrary.org/

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  2. Sanae.T

    Lovely article! I also declutter to make space sometimes.My son had many books and toys.Whenever I noticed that he does not use /read them anymore,I said to him’How about giving them for your cousin?’

    His cousin(my nephew,now 5yrs old) also has many toys in his house.So I brought the toys to my parent’s house-so as he and my parents can play together.He lives near my parent’s house, visits there every saturday.Sometimes my son brought toys,too.Books went to his house.

    When my son was little,my church mates who had older kids gave him many clothes .And clothes of my son went to other more little kids later.Sharing can be one of positive points of decluttering.Knowing needs of each other may be required for sharing.Goodwill system in USA is so good.

    I hope you are not too tired.Please take care of yourself.But this article made me imagine you cleaning up,enjoying.And it makes me smile!

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      Jessica Roldan

      Thanks, Sanae!
      I loved hearing how you distribute your unwanted/unneeded items! I agree that it is nice to share with family and friends. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I am still tired much of the time; but, I guess I’m trying to get ready for the baby early! And even though I am tired, I feel like it’s less now that I’m in the transition between the first and second trimesters. Thank you for your concern!

  3. Rosemarie Matthews

    I love to organize and clean. My kids are adults now but when they were young we had a clean up song. We made it fun and had quick clean times.
    I taught them at a young age to put things back where they belong after using them.
    One thing that saved my family living in a tiny mobile home is that my husband made the frames for my children’s beds. They were very basic but he built them higher off the floor so that I could fit plastic bins underneath which were labeled.
    I used pictures on index cards when the kids couldn’t read so they knew ok…. Toys in this bin & shoes in this one. Made cleaning quick.
    Also I didn’t get rid of my kids homeschool papers! My kids are 19 & 21 ๐Ÿ˜€

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  4. Ruth

    I always kind of dread holydays and b’days. What is fun to the children is a sure way of having to sort out toys and clothes (again) for me. :-).
    Always a GOOD feeling to have tackled and successfully completed that one. – Until the next occasion for gifts comes along the way ๐Ÿ˜‰

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      Jessica Roldan

      Dear Ruth,
      Yes, I understand those feelings. It’s the sorting and organizing and trying to figure out where to put everything and what needs to be given away to make room for the new stuff that’s hard to deal with, sometimes. But, at the same time, I do feel grateful to the kind people who cared enough about my children to buy gifts for them. So, there are definitely conflicting feelings. I think it would be good if they asked what I *needed*. That would help. But, I’m so polite and nice that I don’t have the courage to mention it. Maybe I will figure out a way to get the message across and still be polite. Any tips?

  5. Diana J.

    This was great, Jessica! This is something I need to work on right now. I’ve been feeling super-overwhelmed, and that is 100% always a sign that clutter is getting the better of me. Gee, if I could just get the stuff to STOP COMING IN, maybe it wouldn’t be such a perennial problem!!! Alas, that will probably not happen.

    I totally ditto that point about sneaking toys out. I do it all the time, and the kidlets never notice. (Insert evil chuckle.)

    Also, for the question about how to stop people from giving the children so many gifts: (1) We always offer to buy gifts for people for the kids. (i.e. They give us money, we buy gifts.) That way we can avoid the clutter. (2) We are working more and more on buying experiences rather than objects. We did an aquarium trip with the 3yo’s birthday money, and will be doing the rodeo with the 6yo’s birthday money. It works well. (3) I often let a toy be played with until the children are tired of it, and then quietly retire it to the Goodwill box. With younger children who don’t notice, I will just take gifts straightaway to the “gifts to give to other people” box. Works beautifully!! ๐Ÿ™‚

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      Jessica Roldan

      Thanks, Diana, for the tips!
      Your idea about buying experiences rather than gifts is great! I also like your way of offering to buy gifts for other people, for your kids.

      I like my house to look pretty, so I do have decorations (I’m not really a minimalist); but, the clutter does make me feel like I’m being choked to death! I know it’s bad when I want to put something away, but can’t because there is no space for it to go. Usually I just toss it on top of the other stuff. Then it builds up and builds up until it’s toppling over. Or, the kids can’t put their toys away because their toy shelf is already full, so they cram everything wherever it looks sort of “out of the way.”

      Glad we can relate! ๐Ÿ™‚

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