Making Room for the New Year: 7 Ways to Clear out the Clutter that Can Benefit Your Whole Family

A little purification is a perfect way to celebrate the end of one year, and the arrival of another.

How many times have you done a marathon house cleaning, only to turn around what seems like minutes later to find that it is once again a complete mess? If you are like many busy families, this is a really common and exhausting scenario. The drag about this is that you have trouble finding things, you find yourself nagging everyone to manage their belonging,. and you seem to spend endless energy maintaining stuff.

Does it have to be that way? The experts say no. As we head into a new year, consider some tricks that can affect long-term change to keep the house in order. Humans respond to order; it makes us calmer, and when we are calm, we are generally more productive, more creative, and feel a little more confident.

  1. All in one go. A Japanese saying, ikki ni, essentially translates to “all in one go.”1 In this context, it means that most people don’t push all the way through the organization process and therefore, they end up tidying forever. If you put your house in thorough order, tidying then becomes natural, even if you are usually disorganized. Buckle down and get the whole crew in on the action. It’s a good feeling to tackle a big project and see the tangible results.
  2. Don’t store first and discard later. Here is another perfect example of how clutter accumulates, simply because we don’t want to take the time. Toss the hypotheticals that you may put the thing to use once day, make some tough decisions about those boxes of college love letters, and make friends with the feeling of letting old symbols go. It really feels good to have less.
  3. Don’t keep anything out of guilt. Stop and think about all the items in your house that you keep out of some misplaced obligation. Even though it’s not in the forefront of your mind all the time, collectively these things represent a lot of mental energy. You really understand this when you move. Ditch that stuff; it’s weighing you down.
  4. If it takes less than five minutes, don’t put it off. It is so easy to procrastinate by putting little tasks off, telling ourselves that whatever it is will take too long. The problem is that those tasks mount and suddenly there are 40 five-minute tasks. Tick that stuff off your list as you pass by, and you may surprise yourself with the results.
  5. A different approach to toys. Educator Kim John Payne says that kids with too much stuff in their lives are actually more likely to be overwhelmed and anxious. In a world where we have so many choices, we can often feel overwhelmed, and that is just as true with kids. Payne recommends that we choose toys our children can have an evolving relationship, like musical instruments, art supplies, and construction. The less clutter, the more likely kids are to evolve and get creative with the things they do own. It can be tricky to implement this, so we recommend Payne’s book Simplicity Parenting.
  6. A place for everything. You’ve heard this before, but it really does work: when you use the right criteria for keeping things, such as their practical use and their meaning, you are essentially prioritizing for these things by making a permanent place for them. You are then laying the groundwork for reflexively replacing these things in their own “home” and making it way easier for everyone in your household to do the same.
  7. Emphasize the intangibles. We place such a high premium on owning things in our culture, that we often miss another, more meaningful opportunity: experience. The next time you are considering another purchase, consider the following questions: is this something you will utilize and/or cherish for a long time? Will it benefit everyone? Is there a performance, trip, or other experience that will give you more lasting satisfaction?

We could all use less stuff and more open space, more clarity, more calm. The New Year is an ideal time to reframe, reorganize, and retrain your entire family’s habits to keep things simple.



1. The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo


About Susie Almaneih

Susie Almaneih spent several years during her young adulthood teaching children dance at her church group, as well as other cultural-based activities. Susie now spends as much time as she can giving back to the families in her community. Over the years, this love for community has evolved into a deeper love for delivering positive and creative content and awareness to families of all ages.

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