Our children bring amazing things into our lives: endless laughter, couch forts and cardboard villages, Friday night pizza rituals, and lasting memories made during summers at the beach. Also sand. Why is there always so much sand?? Man do we love ‘em, but they’re not exactly known for their tidiness, or their ability to make it easy for moms to check anything productive off our to-do lists in their presence!
If you thought back-to-school would mean getting back to normal routines and reclaiming some peace of mind, but are still finding yourself feeling frazzled, professional organizer Lauren Lennon has a hunch why. Look around; does your entryway look like a bomb went off? Are there hastily emptied backpacks and lunchboxes strewn about, countertops and kitchen tables hidden somewhere under the debris of leftover summer chaos, or a pantry ransacked by starving after-school snackers? If so, you might have a clutter problem, and it’s likely affecting you more than you realize.
The Unbearable Heaviness of Clutter
The New York Times aptly describes clutter as an “unbearable heaviness.” It is not merely the physical disarray; it’s the psychological weight that accumulates alongside the physical mess. Research has revealed that clutter has a disproportionate impact on women and mothers, with studies proving a cluttered home can induce a negative physiological response, leading to increased levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. A 2010 study found that women who described their homes as cluttered or needing work began their day already stressed, and remained stressed throughout the day. In a world where moms are already juggling countless responsibilities, excess clutter adds a layer of unnecessary stress and anxiety.
The Emotional Labor of Decluttering
While decluttering might seem like physical labor, it carries an emotional weight that tends to go unseen. Unwinding at the end of the day can feel difficult, if not impossible, when we’re surrounded by clutter and feel – as mothers often do – that it’s our responsibility to keep things tidy. And let’s face it, with kids, we’ve all felt at one time or another that it might be a losing battle, which can be demoralizing.
Since keeping your house clutter-free can feel like a near constant drudgery, we turned to Lauren for her best tips to set yourself up to start and stay more clutter and stress-free throughout this school year! Through her company, Transpirational Spaces, Lauren’s expertise lies not only in physical reorganization but in providing small, actionable ways for moms to reclaim their space and build lasting systems to fend off the burden and anxiety clutter can bring amidst the day-to-day chaos of family life.
Practical Tips for Taming the Clutter (and links to some of Lauren’s fave products!)
Organizing a Functional Entryway/Mudroom: The entryway or mudroom is a prime dumping ground for backpacks, shoes, and outerwear; all of which can easily spiral into chaos. Create a functional space that meets the needs of your family by incorporating elements like shoe baskets or racks, hooks for backpacks and coats, and designated areas for sports equipment or winter gear. These solutions reduce visual noise, provide clear systems for your family to follow, and ensure a smoother start and end to the school day.
Paper Management System: Paper clutter, whether it’s school assignments or mail, piles up quickly. Use bins (Lauren likes these) to contain these items and establish an inbox/outbox system for school papers. Each child can have an inbox for items that need review or signatures and an outbox for returning papers and books to school. For mail clutter, consider using decorative bins made of materials like hyacinth or rattan for both functionality and aesthetic appeal.
Decluttered Pantry: To avoid overbuying groceries and overcrowding your pantry and cabinets, start by taking inventory of what you already have before heading to the store. Discard expired items and those that have been open for too long or improperly stored. Create zones in your pantry for better accessibility and visibility. Consider using bins, turntables, or Lazy Susans to create a “Grab-N-Go” station with snacks that are convenient for both you and the little hands that will be gunning for them.
Closet Organization: When it comes to school routines and seasonal wardrobe turnover, fully assessing your children’s closets before making any new purchases will make it easy to fill in the gaps. Donate clothes they’ve outgrown, or pass them down to younger siblings. Use bins labeled with your child’s name to store seasonal clothes and shoes not in use. This strategy keeps their closets and dressers clutter-free and will make the next seasonal closet transition that much easier!
Feel lighter yet?
Unsurprisingly, procrastination can also be associated with clutter because, well, it’s not exactly fun to deal with. Unless you’re someone like Lauren who takes great satisfaction in bringing order to chaos! If not, these easy-to-implement tips can help those of us struggling to keep our spaces and our minds clear as we navigate the new school year. Crunched for time (or mental energy) and ready to outsource the job to a professional? Give Lauren a call for customized decluttering and organizing solutions that will have you breathing easier in no time.
Transpirational Spaces transforms homes for busy people by redefining and elevating spaces in order to optimize their potential and ensure they are functional for everyday life. Learn more about working with Lauren and schedule a consultation at www.transpirationalspaces.com.