The Kids are Allright: A Guide to Handling Kids and Clutter

Learn more ways to help your children manage their “stuff” in this excellent Guide to Handling Kids and Clutter by Tisha Morris

Tisha Morris, a Guide to Handling Kids and ClutterAre you using your children as an excuse for your cluttered home?

If so, you’re not alone.

When I go to people’s home for feng shui consultations, I often hear clients immediately apologizing for their clutter. And then they point the finger at their children (and then their spouse!). While it is true that having a child or children is cause for more things in the house, it doesn’t mean your home has to be cluttered up.

Let’s first differentiate between simply having toys lying around the house AND clutter. For children, clutter would be anything that is no longer being used or enjoyed. And as children quickly grow up and change daily, clutter can pile up quickly. For items sitting around that are not clutter, then those are ripe for organization.

One of the best things about having children is the sense of play that they exude. And so with having kids, the perfectly clean zen home is most likely a thing of the past (that is, if you had it to begin with). That being said, there are some ways to maintain a sense of peace, balance and order in the house without the accumulation of clutter.

Be the Example.

Children learn by watching their parents. If you keep your personal spaces clean, i.e. your bedroom, then they will already have a leg up. Or if you are cleaning up, show your child what you are doing even to the point of narrating the process. Those who are clutter-prone usually had clutter bug parents. It is a learned trait. Stop the cycle in your family!

Teach Your Child Organizational Skills.

Organization is learned. It does not come natural for many people, especially more right-brained folks. So, if you are not the poster child example for your child, then teach them organization. Once they are of an appropriate age, start setting boundaries. Maybe not every room in the house is appropriate for playing. Designate which areas are for play and which areas are for adults. Then create an organization system in their room and closet, i.e. shoe racks, sweater shelves, etc. Show them where their dirty clothes go, where stuffed animals go, and where board games go. Believe it or not, they want to know.

Budget in Clean-up time.

Make it a part of your child’s play time as clean-up time. For example, if they have an hour or two of play-time, dedicate the last 5 or 10 minutes to clean-up time. This will carry over into all areas of their life for the rest of their life!

Make it Fun.

Clearing clutter does not have to be painful. And with children, it’s all about how you sell it. Make it fun, upbeat, and positive. Don’t pass the negative attitude on to your child.

Explain the Bigger Picture.

Clearing clutter can be a great teaching moment for children. Have them help you pack up toys and clothes they no longer use in order to donate to those less fortunate. Children are inherently kind-hearted and will enjoy this process. This will make it easier the next time and the next time until they automatically start collecting unused items.

The bottom line is that children want to live in a clutter-free home. Studies show that they think better, socialize better, and feel better about themselves. With some simple teaching moments from the above list, children will quickly pick up on organizing skills which will benefit them for the rest of their lives.

So the next time you start to point the finger in the household, think about more productive actions you can take. We’ll work on the spouse later!

 

Tisha MorrisTisha Morris is a feng shui consultant, energy healer, and author of Mind Body Home (Llewellyn Worldwide) and Feng Shui Your Life: The Quick Guide to Decluttering Your Home and Renewing Your Life (Turner Publishing). Read more about Tisha.

 

Article/Image Source: The Kids are Allright: A Guide to Handling Kids and Clutter

Top Clutter Tips – Part Two

Lightening the Load of Your Clutter – Clutter is exhausting.  You see it every day.  You want to deal with it; but it’s overwhelming.  You don’t know where to start.  So you put it off another day. Read Part 2 of this incredible series, Top Clutter Tips by the Professionals of the IFSG

Clutter’s Affect on You

Clutter can be overwhelming – and as professionals, it’s the last thing we want you to feel.  Understand that you can’t get it all done at once and in a certain time frame.  Pressure to get it all done at once puts a negative spin on things – and that is never going to be a good thing in Feng Shui!  Feng Shui is focused on the bringing in and welcoming the very best beneficial energies and opportunities – better than we can imagine for ourselves!   Junky closets can represent a junky subconscious meaning junky stuff in life. The closet with everything on the floor in front of us shows also the thought patterns attached to them whether it’s hoarding, feeling lack, hiding from life, or disorganization.

Clearing that closet or that one space not only helps with the physical – but also cleanses the emotional and mental.  Clearing your stuff clears the old thought patterns.  When that space is cleaned, you find the clarity of the skeletons in the closets that were hidden also becoming clearer and easier to change.

Get in the Mood

Stuck and can’t get started?  Sometimes a mood change and a clear focus can help get you in the right frame of mind.  Here are a couple of different strategies might work for you:

  • Clutter - Personal ChiGet your own personal chi as well as your environmental chi as yang as possible before you begin clutter clearing – turn on the lights, play happy music, burn incense, open the windows, wear happy colors and use essential oils.  Your attitude and mind-shift can make all the difference in the success of your clearing!
  • For items to be donated to charity, visualize how much someone else will enjoy using what you no longer need and how ‘good’ that will feel.
  • To create a smooth process of clearing closets, drawers, the basement and garage, clear worry and anxiety from your mind. Go to bed and in the drowsy state, just before falling asleep, use visualization to create the new vision of what you look forward to.  Replace worry with good, lightening your mind.  Then see the things you love but have difficulty letting go of finding their way into boxes, perhaps going to a friend or neighbor whom you know would be excited to receive them. Wake up with an energized mental attitude that allows you to more easily move forward.

Strategies

From Top Clutter Tips Part One, you know that it’s important to take action and often beneficial to set a finite amount of time to work in a particular space.  Take that one step further and think about how your emotional lightening of clutter can be enhanced:

Clutter in High Traffic RoomsHigh Traffic and Energy Spaces:  Begin in one of the rooms in which you spend the most time – you will feel more often surrounded by your accomplishment and be energized by it.  Being surrounded by the positive energy shift will actually help you continue creating a positive symbiotic relationship.  Additionally, consider de-cluttering the most often daily used entrance as early in the process as possible.  Nothing can “suck the life out of you” as quickly as seeing (and feeling) the clutter as you enter your space. Focus on creating a “welcome home” feeling in that entrance. It will enhance your desire to spread the joy through the rest of your place.

One Thing:  Often when someone gets the “guilts” about clutter, it’s when we are in the middle of something else. A way to shift that negative energy and use it for positive outcome is to commit to moving – and resolving – at least one item, space, piece of paper when that feeling occurs. You can also expand this to resolving two or three things as you get better at the process.  This can help you get closer to organized, prevents guilt-tripping, and liberates the energy needed to complete the task.  (Chocolate rewards are also beneficial!)

Stay on Task:  Sometimes you can work a lot but don’t see the great outcome you would like. Work to discipline yourself to stay in one room, to stay on task.  Place a clothes basket near the door for anything that goes out of that room.  Put on a book on CD/podcast, something engaging enough to stay in the room and work, but that does not require concentration or attention.  Lively fiction often does the trick. It works a charm for basement cleanup or anywhere the tasks are more physical than mental.

Off the floor:  For help with overcoming melancholy and depression, avoid storing stacks of items or boxes on the floor. This drags energy downward and contributes to feelings of helplessness and moving forward.

Other People’s Stuff

It’s important to note that you can’t unclutter other people’s clutter! (i.e. wife can’t gut the husband’s ‘man cave.’)

Clutter - Make it a Family AffairMake de-cluttering a family affair… and make it fun. Pick up each item and ask:

  1. Do I use it?
  2. Do I Love it?
  3. Is it broken… if so, can it be fixed?
  4. Do I want to fix it?
  5. What would my life be like without it in 5 years?

Often, when the “clutter offender” sees the other household member(s) willing to let some of their items go; the “offender” may be more willing to participate. Encourage but don’t do it for them.  Set up the space for the great energy shifts and they won’t help but feel a shift themselves.  They won’t be able to help feeling it!

Feng Shui and Clutter

Feng Shui and clutter go hand in hand.  To use Feng Shui in your space, you strive to surround yourself with energy and belongings that work for your higher good; support you and provide you the opportunities and dreams you desire.  It’s about loving where you live and nurturing your mind, body, and soul.

Clutter stops all that.
Use Feng Shui to help in your clutter clearing process.

Clutter can’t be looked at in isolation.  Combine it with an understanding of your chi to find solutions that work for you, your situation, your space, and your chi.  There may be a particular area of your life that is of interest to work on first.  Identify where to start the clutter clearing process by identifying which life area as related to the Bagua that you would like to impact. For example, looking to find a new job or enhance current employment, start in the Career/Life Path Gua.

Look at the chi flow inside and outside using your senses.  Identify the gua(s) where the clutter is the worst. Check it’s opposite and the state in that gua. Check the physical aspects pertaining to the guas. Consider any physical or medical issues you might be experiencing.  Find ways to balance the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual of the attachment and know that it is ok to release the stuff.

Final Thought

Clutter clearing can be a treat.  You may find new items that you forgotten about and now get to disperse them to a new home or place of organization.  Lovingly re-circling and re-cylcing the energy of all!

 

Contributors: Grace Becker, Renate Bell, Elaine Bentley Baughn, Laurie Bornstein, Tina Falk, Diane Gallin, Sandie Gates, Ann Marie Hunt, Joan Law, Susan McDowell, Lesley Mulvihill, Carol Olmstead, Terri Perrin, Rosalie Prinzivalli, Mary Shurtleff, Bette Steflik, Elizabeth Teberio, Marina Umali, Nicolette Vajtay, Caroline Waddington, Gwynne Warner

Click here to read Part 1 Top Clutter Tips from our Professionals

Top Clutter Tips – Part One

Clutter seems to be on so many minds – how to approach it, how to tackle it, how to get started.  It’s hard especially for those with busy lives, crowded households, and emotional stress or baggage.  Great clutter tips from our member experts.

We have gathered the top clutter tips from our amazing members and you will be amazed at the variety, diversity, gifts, creativity, and depth these answers bring! You will find at least one idea that will speak to you – probably more than one!

Getting Started

Above all, the top clutter tip that all our Feng Shui Professionals stressed, coining a Nike phrase, is JUST DO IT!

We know that clutter is a symbol for getting stuck in our lives, for not being able to move forward, for not being available to welcoming positive and beneficial chi.  And unless you begin, by just getting started, it makes all the other things harder!  Starting with your clutter clearing is the hardest part – the rest will be easier!

Where to Begin

When thinking about how to start – where to start – what to do – suggestions all focused on a common theme:  try not to be overwhelmed by the process but take time to embrace it.  Take it slow, easy, methodical, in baby-steps, with simple organization techniques including putting items into manageable categories.

See if any of these great ideas or strategies resonate with you:

  • Clean one closet or drawer at a time. Enjoy the process and treasures you find. Allot a specific time to the process, say 10 minutes or 30 minutes.  Get rid of what you don’t want, organize what you do. THEN Stop at the one closet or drawer – do nothing else during that time.  Treat yourself.
  • Make de-cluttering a regular habit, just like weekly cleaning. Look around and ask yourself “what can I let go of today?” It may be clothing, a book or magazines, kitchen items, anything. Then put it in the car to take to Goodwill, a used book store, work or just put it in the garbage!
  • Take one room at a time, one drawer or closet at a time, if necessary. Set up three bins or areas marked ‘keep (and find an appropriate place for)’, ‘throw out’, and ‘give away-donate’. This helps to stay focused and organized as you move through your items.
  • Clutter TipsClear clutter according to the seasons or calendar, eg: January, “Do the Feng Shui Fling” by getting a trash bag and throwing 27 things you don’t need into it. February, “Make Room For Romance” by removing the extra books and magazines from your night tables. March, “Let Your Old Clothes Go” by getting rid of clothes you haven’t worn in a year.
  • Use a daily meditational guide, book, or tip calendar.  Many books, calendars, and apps offer day-by-day tips giving inspiration, support, encouragement, and the urge to get up and go! Even if you miss a day, you will pick up on a great tip or idea the next day to keep you motivated.

Stay on Track

Staying on track – managing your clutter can be a challenge!

Furniture:  While we often think of the knick-knacks and “chotchkies” sometimes it is helpful to look at your furniture placement and usage as well.  Start with placing the primary pieces of furniture (desk, bed, stove) in the command position – it automatically begins to help organizing the clutter. Doing this allows the space to breathe, giving direction to where everything should/could go.  Setting up your space according to your needs goes a long way to helping avoid clutter and having a place for everything.

Check in on Clutter:  Just when you think you are on top of it – clutter has a way of sneaking back in! Try mini-clutter clearing sessions.  Similar to the original clearing suggestions above, set each session at 30 minutes to an hour and focus on one area.  Building on the above sorting ideas of “donate,” “sell,” or “trash,” add a “Not Sure” box.  After taking care of the sell, donate, and trash items – place the “Not Sure” near your front entry. This way you see it every day. If you have not needed or used the items in that box within 1 month donate it. The Not Sure box is great because sometimes we aren’t quite ready to let go; but instead of leaving the things where they where – in the clutter – isolate them and move into a high traffic area. They cannot be ignored and therefore able to come to a resolution much quicker!

Every Day:  For your daily assignment – Make sure your kitchen is cleaned each night before you go to bed. No dirty dishes in the sink or on the stove. Delegate if you must.  This allows you to wake up to a clean house and a clean vision.  This doesn’t take much time but makes a huge difference.  Also, be sure to have everyone in the home make their bed in the morning. The bedroom is the sanctuary of a good night’s sleep. When you walk into the bedroom at night, very tired, the made bed is more inviting and pleasing to the mind than an unkempt bed. Making a bed takes about 2 minutes. Try it and see the difference immediately.

Think Outside

Just like Feng Shui where the energy, or chi, permeates all your spaces – indoors and out – clutter can be an issue with your outdoor spaces as well.

  • Sheds and outbuildings, storage, and around your home – these all should be free of clutter as well.  This does not include just junk – but also weeds, unfinished projects, storage, dog droppings and such.
  • Consider also the lay of the land.  Homes with land sloping down and away from the structure in the back can lead to the feeling of “needing to hang on to things.”  Using Feng Shui, find ways to build up that slope physically or visually.  This can be accomplished with walls or terraces, trees and plants, lighting, trellises or structures, and more!

Hot Spots and Guilty Pleasures

Remember – many people deal with clutter and extra stuff differently.  It’s often not easy and can be tied to other emotional issues (see our next article on the emotional side of clutter clearing).  Sometimes a few simple steps or “guilty” pleasures can help manage the overload of dealing with clutter especially in the hot spots of your home and office!

Clutter Tips - Manage the MailManage the Mail:  Mail can be an insidious clutter-builder. Create a one-stop mail handling zone with everything needed to process the mail including a calendar. The most important thing is have it close enough to the entry to avoid the temptation to put the mail down somewhere else! Include a box for incoming mail, envelopes, stamps, pens, return labels, chequebook and at least a small accordion file for temporary filing if your main filing is elsewhere.

Another option is to not to allow junk mail even into the home.  When retrieving your mail, immediately cull out the junk mail and toss it in the recycling can outside. You are left with the few important items to deliver to their appropriate places.

The Gift of a Junk Drawer:  There are certain hot spots that are quite challenging when it comes to de-cluttering. With the kitchen oftentimes comes the bottomless junk drawer. Staying on top of clutter throughout the house, sometimes that one drawer can be a small guilty pleasure – a special haven of treasures or go-to items. It’s one drawer that gives freedom to messiness and saving, giving great pleasure – and can house many very useful items including a pen, a tiny screw, tape…you name it, it’s in there.

Junk drawers can also be straightened using a flatware organizer tray. This is great for the kitchen but also a workbench drawer. The organizer tray is great for screwdrivers and drill bits – pencils, erasers, pens and such.  If you see a decent one at a yard sale, pick it up, either for yourself or someone else.

Last Thought – a Golden Rule

Try to not have second thoughts.  Just LET IT GO!  More often than not, you will not miss the item and you will feel the lightness that clutter clearing can bring to your life, your space, and your relationships!

Clutter Tips - No MORE Clutter

 

Click here to read part 2 of this series.

Contributors: Grace Becker, Renate Bell, Elaine Bentley Baughn, Laurie Bornstein, Tina Falk, Diane Gallin, Sandie Gates, Ann Marie Hunt, Joan Law, Susan McDowell, Lesley Mulvihill, Carol Olmstead, Terri Perrin, Rosalie Prinzivalli, Mary Shurtleff, Bette Steflik, Elizabeth Teberio, Marina Umali, Nicolette Vajtay, Caroline Waddington, Gwynne Warner

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