Decluttering Tips for Overwhelmed Moms
I have this theory that we spend all of our time in search of solutions when we’re overwhelmed, but we’re too stressed out to actually implement anything we learn. This was exactly how I felt when I would constantly search for advice about decluttering our mess when we had our first baby. Through a ton of trial and error, I discovered what I think are the best decluttering tips for overwhelmed moms because they ACTUALLY WORK.
If you’re an overwhelmed mama with too much clutter, please just hang in there with me and try some of these off the wall tips.
I know they seem crazy at first, but I promise – this stuff will make the BIGGEST difference in your home!
How to Declutter Your House in One Day
If you think about it, decluttering means something completely different after having kids as it did before.
Your messes now consist of sticky stuff everywhere, the same toys to be picked up on a daily basis, weird things hidden in weird places…
Life is just so much different after having kids.
It’s a beautiful (and incredibly short!) chapter of life – but everyone seems so stressed just trying to manage it all that they don’t get to enjoy it!
If you take nothing else from this post, let it be this:
Your time with your kids is WAY more important than having a perfect house.
What you need to do now is clean and declutter like you have babies at home – because you do.
I want you to go against the grain and do things that go against everything you’ve ever been taught about cleaning or organizing so you can life your best life at home with your babies.
Overwhelmed with Dirty Dishes
The best advice I have to give about managing dirty dishes is to only keep out enough dishes to feed your entire family for one meal.
If you have one bowl, plate, and set of silverware per person and put the rest in storage, you’ll never be overwhelmed with dishes again.
Get in the habit of rinsing your dishes after you use them or simply filling the sink with hot water after a meal and soaking everything before the next meal time comes.
Listen, I’ve said it once, I’ll say it a million times –
If the dishes in your sink have been sitting there for days or weeks like a silent monument to your mommy overwhelm – throw the stupid things away.
Yes, I know maybe your best friend got them for you for your wedding…
She’ll forgive you.
Throw the dishes away and move on.
If you can honestly say that this stage of your life would be easier if you used paper plates and plastic silverware, why not do that??
Yes, the environment will hate you for it, but we can make it up to the environment later.
For the purposes of this time in our lives, being able to actually enjoy life with your young kids is the thing that matters most.
When you’re so run down from all of the household chores to actually enjoy life, you’re missing the point and you’ll kick yourself (hard) for it later.
Throw away the filthy dishes if you have to, put away all of the dishes except enough for one meal, pick up some paper plates, and call it a day.
The Secret to Conquering Mommy Overwhelm
I think the secret to overcoming the overwhelming feeling that comes with motherhood boils down to something pretty simple.
You have to get systems in place that tackle as many of your responsibilities as you can and set up a great reminder system for the rest.
Automate all that you can and remind yourself to do the stuff that can’t be done on autopilot.
That’s what we’re going to cover here.
Laundry for Mamas
Buy different colored laundry bins for clean clothes and dirty clothes.
Make this sacred in your home and never ever let anyone cross colors.
If you’re a mom who always gets the laundry put away perfectly after you wash it – you’re the silent minority.
What’s more likely to happen, you’re washing clothes for the 3rd time after forgetting them in the washer until they start to stink.
They FINALLY made it to the dryer but the last time you put away clothes while they were still warm was…oh I dunno…when you were forced to do it as a kid or when you lived alone?
Instead, let’s get in the habit of laying clean clothes in the clean laundry bins as soon as we can remember to after they’re dry.
Create “no fold” systems for all of your clothes.
There’s absolutely no reason you should be folding kids clothes or folding towels.
Drop your towels in a nice basket like this one in your bathroom, mark it clean for guests if you have to or fold them if you ever have a reason to allow a guest to shower at your house (why you’d do that with kids, I have no idea…but in most houses with young kids it would require some prep work first).
I find that I can hang a whole basket of my kids’ clothes in less than 5 minutes, but folding is still daunting.
We have a drawer in their closet for each of them that holds only their pants.
We lay them flat and stack them neatly.
Shirts and dresses – I set a timer on my phone for 5 minutes and play beat the clock.
I hang as many of them as I possibly can.
I can’t remember a time that I had to reset that timer for more than 5 minutes to accomplish just hanging the shirts.
It takes so little time.
Another game changer for doing laundry is to change how you think about sorting it.
What if you sorted your laundry by person instead of color?
We use these awesome color catchers and have for years.
I’ve never encountered a problem with colors bleeding.
The only change I make is if I’m washing a new red shirt, sometimes I’ll think twice about it and wash it with like colors or alone or use two color catchers.
Depends on how daring I’m feeling that day.
How Long Does it Take to Declutter?
That brings me to the number one secret that keeps my house even remotely clean.
I time every single cleaning or organizing project I take on.
This worked in a way I could have never anticipated so please hear me out.
When I first started timing myself, it was because I had so little time to devote to a task that I thought “good enough is good enough” and would give something like a sink load of dishes just 15 minutes of my time.
Whatever wasn’t done in 15 minutes, screw it.
Well, low and behold, in 15 minutes, I would unload our dishwasher, put all of the clean dishes away, and have a whole new load prepped and in the dishwasher.
In just 15 minutes!
I would always have at least one interruption from my toddlers and STILL managed to get all of that done.
Then, I’d try to see how long it took to get laundry started.
Oh, just 3 minutes?
Why did I always feel like these annoying chores would take so long??
Now, I realize just how little time this stuff takes and I don’t procrastinate nearly as much as I used to.
Declutter Like a Mother
If you stuck with me through throwing away dirty dishes, I hope you’ll stick with me through this next one because it’s the thing that will make the SINGLE BIGGEST IMPROVEMENT in the quality of your home life.
Still with me?
Get some cardboard boxes or some large totes like these ones we use.
Grab a pen and a piece of paper.
Go through each room in order of how often it’s used.
For us, this looks like the living room, our kitchen, then the playroom and master bedroom.
When you first walk into the room, what do you see?
What area of clutter immediately catches your eye?
If you know exactly where that stuff goes and you can quickly put it away, DO IT.
Otherwise, if you’re like the rest of us who get overwhelmed at this point and just want to give up, I want you to throw that crap in a box or a tote, label it, and shove that sucker in a closet.
Yes I’m serious.
When your home appears to be less cluttered and more manageable, you’re immediately happier and less stressed.
Science proves it.
Clutter takes a huge toll on our quality of life and mental health.
Just getting that clutter out of your line of sight immediately makes you home seem cleaner, so you feel better, so you’re able to do better.
Follow me here.
I want you to go through each room just like this.
Box up the clutter, label it, and move on.
Don’t worry, we’re not just going to leave this stuff in boxes, but for now, your house looks and feels about a million times better doesn’t it?
Now, I want you to go through just one box each day until you’re through all of them.
Take out anything you know is broken or no longer serves a purpose and throw it away.
Next, take anything that still has some life left and throw it in a bag to donate.
Put it in your passenger seat, NOT YOUR TRUNK, and drop it off at one of those donation dumpsters the next time you’re out – even if it’s out of your way.
The rest of the stuff needs to be put away.
I want you to set a timer for just 5 minutes and run around putting the rest of that boxed stuff away like your life depends on it.
I bet you can do it.
Okay let’s tackle this monster.
You can already guess what I’m going to tell you to do with it, but let me just put it out there that paper clutter is the number one stressor when it comes to decluttering for my readers.
Paper represents an action that needs to be taken and it seems like a huge decision when you pick up a piece of mail.
Think about it –
You’re trying to go through an old stack of mail that’s accumulated on your counter.
Looking at that huge pile gives you anxiety.
Because you’re afraid you’re missing something important in there, maybe a bill is now past due, you almost don’t want to look at all of that crap because it gives you even more anxiety.
If you’re an overwhelmed mama, my best advice is to throw all of that paper clutter into a box until you can really go through it.
My version of going through a huge mound of paper clutter looks like this:
I’ll put the huge stack on my island and see how fast I can go through it.
First, throw away all of the fliers, ads, anything that’s noticeably junk.
I can’t tell you how many offers for car loans and extended warranties we get in our house.
Then, I toss all of the old bills and invoices I know I’m done with into a box.
That stuff will get sorted into file folders during one of my cleaning sessions.
The rest of it is stuff that probably needs my more immediate attention, so I’ll go through each thing one at a time and make a decision about it.
If it’s a bill, I’ll make a note in the calendar on my phone of the due date and amount. I’ll also include any account number or website I’ll need to make the payment.
I TAKE A PICTURE of the bill, and shove it in my wall organizer.
I use and LOVE this one.
Now, my phone is going to remind me to handle whatever is in this smaller, less daunting but more important pile when I actually have to do it, so I don’t have to think about it anymore.
Manage Your Expectations
I don’t care what anyone tells you – if you have a toddler (or more than one!) at home, you know how incredibly difficult it is to keep your home spotless.
Maintaining a spotless home seems impossible even when you don’t have kids!
Realize that having young children is a season of life and a very brief one at that.
Don’t waste these precious days stressing about how clean and decluttered your house is.
Commit to doing your best and decide that for you – good enough is good enough.
Time with your kids trumps a spotless, decluttered home any day of the week if you ask me.
Please please please, if you feel overwhelmed by the amount of clutter in your home and feel like you are too stressed to even start, go through these steps one by one and I promise you’ll see and FEEL a huge difference!