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So, you finally got fed up and decluttered your home?
It was spotless!
The headache you used to get everyday from looking at all the clutter all around you everyday, finally went away. You could barely even believe the mountain of stuff you got rid of!
You’re not even sure how you accumulated that much stuff in the first place.
But, some time has passed and you’re getting those headaches again. You’re in the same spot you were in before you decluttered.
What gives is that you were in the mind set where once you declutter, that it would stay that way. Unfortunately, decluttering is not a ‘set it and forget it’ type of ordeal.
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I know, that sucks! But that’s how it is.
Now, I’m not saying that you have to do a huge declutter session every single day, or even every month to keep your house looking nice and avoiding those clutter-induced headaches (which suck by the way, making you feel super unproductive and possibly even mentally stuck).
There are a few things that you can do, however, to make sure the clutter doesn’t creep it’s way back into your home!
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The One in, One out Rule
I know you’ve probably heard of this rule before, but maybe you didn’t think it applied to you. Or, maybe you thought that it defeated the purpose of buying new things. But, forgetting this rule is the reason most people have to spend hours decluttering in the first place.
Logically, it’s not even that difficult; before you buy something new, choose something old to get rid of. Simple, right?
But in reality, logic doesn’t always beat out sentiment like that.
Sure, older items might lose monetary value if you ever try to sell it (until it becomes an antique), but the sentimental value you place on it increases with time and with every touch.
So, I get it. It’s hard to get rid of one thing to bring in a new thing. If this happens, which it will, think about how useful the older item is, or whether or not the new item is absolutely necessary. And, be picky with everything you bring into your home!
Can you find a home for the new item without making your home look cluttered?
What will you use it for?
Is it replacing an old item that broke? (Get rid of that broken belonging- it does not belong in your home anymore!)
And speaking of having a home for every item….
Each item in your home should have it’s own little place where it belongs!
If you can’t find a place for it to go that feels and looks right; determine whether or not it’s worth keeping. This is something that should be done during the decluttering phase, but it needs to be kept up!
You can’t organize your home once and expect it to stay that way forever!
Many items you keep should be useful, and with being useful, those things get used. Meaning you need to put them back in their little home after each use.
Or, for new things coming into your home, like mail/paperwork, groceries, etc. have a system in place to get them put away in their new home right away. And, have a dedicated place where they should go if you can’t get to filing the paperwork, or going through the mail as soon as it’s brought in. Maybe a folder or wall file. Just make sure to actually go through the the paperwork; the folder or wall file is not their new home!
Take Care of Your Stuff ASAP
Better yet, instead of finding places for things to go before you can get to them; simply schedule in some time for you to take care of them right away!
Do you always get the mail after work, or picking up the kids from school?
Tell your family to give you 10 minutes to go through the mail when you get home before they can bug you for anything else. Set a timer if need be!
Put away coats and shoes as soon as you get home. Don’t wait!
Do the dishes, or put them in the dishwasher, as soon as the meal or snack is over! Don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink or on the counter. That may just be a pet peeve of mine, though!
An exception to this rule; your kid brings you a broken toy.
Either fix it, throw it out, or dedicate a place for broken toys to go while waiting to be fixed!
If your kids are little, tell them they’re going in the ‘waiting room’. Don’t forget to give them an appointment for their ‘surgery’, so it actually gets fixed. I do this for all the stuffed animals that need to be sewn.
I actually just finished up 4 ‘appointments’ one day this past week! Fixing one toy every other day is not as productive as fixing 4 or 5 toys all at the same time. And, I hate using time unwisely, it’s hard enough for us to find the time do what needs to get done, as it is!
Have an OUT Basket To Get the Clutter Out
On the same grounds as having a ‘waiting room’ for broken toys, have a basket or a bin for items to be, while waiting to be taken out of your home.
You know, for those things that are in good condition that shouldn’t be thrown out, but you know they need to leave your home. You don’t love it, or don’t have a use for it anymore.
This could be for things like gently used clothes that you don’t like anymore, clothes/toys your kids outgrew, a decorative piece that you don’t love anymore that’s just taking up space.
Use it for pretty much anything that someone else might find a use for, so you can get it out of your home.
You may even want to keep this in the coat closet so you see it before you leave the house each day, to remind you to get the items out of your home. This step in keeping your home decluttered is a pretty important one, but it only works if everyone in the home is on the same page.
Get Your Family On Board to Be Clutter Free
There is nothing harder than trying to keep a clean and decluttered home when everyone in the home is not on the same page!
Seriously, it’s almost impossible.
Unless you live alone, you can’t be the only one trying to keep your home organized, clutter free, and a peaceful place to live. It takes everyone living there being on the same page.
Set rules in place that everyone can agree on and follow. Maybe even hang a sign with the rules in the rooms that seem to acquire clutter the fastest (like the kitchen or your childrens play room).
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Explain the expectations that are set to your children in a way they can understand. If necessary, have consequences in place for breaking the rules (be lenient in the beginning, this could be a difficult change of pace for some people).
Grab a list of rules to help keep your home clutter free here!
Have a mini declutter session once a month
One of the final steps in keeping a home clutter free is by checking in every once in awhile.
Once a month should be sufficient.
If you live a lone you may be able to get away with doing this less often. Whereas if you have a larger family, you may have to do this more often.
Just make sure you schedule in some time every once in awhile to go through your home and make sure everything you own is worth keeping; get rid of any clutter piles, and take things out of your home that you don’t need anymore.
If necessary, take some time to fix broken items, as well. You don’t want to be keeping broken items that you’ll ‘some day’ fix, and never actually end up fixing them!
This mini declutter session will help you so you won’t have to spend hours upon hours again; trying to declutter your home only when it’s so overwhelming that you just can’t put up with the clutter anymore. Be proactive about keeping clutter out, so it won’t feel invited in anymore!
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It’ll get Easier with Time To Keep A Clutter Free Home
It may take a little work at first, but what doesn’t?
Keeping the same number of items in your home, and giving them all places to live, will certainly help keep the overwhelm of clutter away. As will having a dedicated space for things that need to leave your home, and making sure your family understands the rules about clutter and bringing new stuff into the home.
Keeping a home decluttered is not a one person job, unless you live alone.
Everyone needs to help with this.
If they have stuff then they need to be responsible for their stuff, be respectful, and not let it cause stress for other people in the home.
I know how frustrating it can be when you’re the only one trying to keep up with the clutter (I’ve been there, its quite a challenge sometimes).
Little kids may be an exception, and will need lots of extra help.
But keeping your home clutter free, and checking in on your items once a month will be so much less stressful than having to fully declutter for hours on end every few months.
It takes time to declutter, and it’s worth it to do a few simple and small things everyday to keep it up, than to have to declutter all over again and feel like you just wasted your time the first time you decluttered your home.
If you have any other suggestions for keeping clutter free home, please share them in the comments!