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50 Ways to Leave Your Clutter!

Updated on March 31, 2009

Set Yourself Free!

Want to know how NOT to be overwhelmed with clutter and dirt when you have two or more young children? Take a journey with me today, and, soon you'll be humming Paul Simon's famous tune in your head while you smile through your own. Don't wait for it all to pile up - tackle it, a little at a time! The secret - NO WASTED STEPS.

Listen while you read, it's catchy..

Just Drop off the Efficiency Key, Lee..

1. 7:45 a.m. - emerge from bed and toss the socks from the floor below into the closet hamper.

2. The bed is made before I leave the room.

3. Grab the glass my husband left on the dresser yesterday on my way out the bedroom into the bathroom. It sets on the counter until I continue my journey through the house. I clean out the kids' potty and then clean myself up for the day. I then grab the dirty towel on the floor and the glass and bring them to the kitchen. The dirty towel gets tossed toward the laundry room. Any dirty dish towels or clothes found along the way also get picked up and tossed there too. The dirty glass gets stuck in the dishwasher while I prepare my morning coffee.

4 . 8:30 a.m.  I walk out to the living room to sit and drink my coffee, noticing choo-choos haphazardly scattered on the floor. I pick them up and toss them into the next room in the vicinity of the train-track box where they belong (I don't walk in there yet).

5. As I finish my coffee, I notice that my husband has wheeled in the clean laundry next to the couch and only a few clothes are folded. So I go to work and fold about 10 pieces. I'll finish later, as my 2-year -old is waking up and needs changing.

6. I walk toward the nursery while bringing the already-folded clothes to their respective rooms in the order in which the rooms arrive.

7. The two-year-old grins at me and is soaked from head to toe from a spilled sippy cup. I strip the bed, and him.  As I remove his diaper I realize that there are no more wipes and the new package is in the laundry room.The two year "airs out" for a minute while I gather up his wet pj's and bedding, and walk toward the laundry room.  On my way, I scoop up the dirty towels I left on the floor earlier, and start the wash cycle with a full load. On my way out I grab the wipes I came out there for.

8. Returning to the nursery to dress my naked toddler, two matchbox cars catch my eye in the hallway and I pick them up and toss them into the appropriate toy bin in his brother's bedroom.

9. The two-year old is clean and dry now, and as we depart, we put away last night's books from our reading time and put them on the bookshelf. I walk back toward the living room to finish my almost-cold coffee.  I see two items on the dining table that need putting away. I do that first, and then resume my coffee drinking.

10. A sippy cup has wedged itself under the entertainment center and there is a multitude of crumbs from last night's cookies on the coffee table. I get up and grab the sippy and bring it to the dishwasher along with my empty coffee cup.

Get the kids on the Bus, Gus

11. There's a sink full of dishes from my husband giving the kids breakfast, so I tackle those and get them in the dishwasher. Meanwhile, my four-year-old wants to get dressed.

12. On my way out the kitchen I grab three toys and a stray pair of socks and return them to their rightful places as I make my way to my preschooler's room. We get dressed.

13. We emerge, and I remember the crumbs on the coffee table. I grab the Pledge and a dustcloth from under the bathroom sink (it's accross from my son's room) and head toward the offending table.

14. After dusting the table , I notice there is a particularly dusty side table in the same room and since I'm already carrying the cloth, I tackle that too. I return the pledge and cloth to the bathroom, grabbing the toothbrush that ended up on the floor from my toddler "brushing his teeth" this morning.

15. 9:30 a.m. - It's time to go out and run errands. We get everyone's shoes and coats on, but before we leave - I tell the four-year-old that all his trains and tracks must be picked up before we go (remember I tossed them into the playroom/office?) We all go toward the playroom/office - which is on the way to the garage - and pick them up together.

16. In the car are two dirty sippy cups along with a few straw-wrappers and a book from yesterday's travel adventures. With the kids safely buckled in their seats, I bring the sippy cups, book, and straw-wrappers in and put them in their respective places. The dishwasher is now full, so I begin the dishwasher cycle. I leave the book on the counter (not wasting steps bringing it all the way into their bedroom).

17. Passing the laundry room on the way back to the car, I turn the laundry that I started in the washer this morning. Off we go to run errands.

18. Upon return to the house - the laundry needs to be taken out of the dryer. I roll the basket into the house while I shuffle the kids in.

19. The kids are instructed to take their shoes off and coats. They put their coats on a hook near the door, and their shoes go in a cubby in the hall closet. No toys are allowed to be played with until these things are put away.

20. There are groceries to be put away and lunch to be made. The kids go off running to play.

Make a New Organizational Plan, Stan...

21. 12:00 p.m. The food is put away and the sandwiches are ready. To my dismay, there are now legos in every corner of three rooms, five stuffed animals scattered in the hallway, and a number of cars and trucks on the couch -this done in the time it took me to make sandwiches. It's unrealistic to have it all put away before lunch, so I tell the boys we need to put all the legos in their basket before they can eat (this is the most dangerous, people can trip and get hurt). We all do it together and it goes very quickly. The stuffed toys and cars will have to wait.

22. I've used paper plates for lunch so no new dishes. However, I need to unload the dishwasher. While I'm doing that, the kids are heading toward their rooms for nap time (or quiet time). They are asked to bring their stuffed animals with them (the ones that were on the floor). I'll be lucky if one of them gets picked up. The table needs to be cleaned, but I'll do that after they're in bed. I grab the book I had set on the counter this morning, and pick up the rest of the animals on my way to their rooms.

23. After they're settled for naps - I see out of the corner of my eye the smoke detector on the hall table that was unplugged last night because the battery ran out. I grab it and bring it into the kitchen and replace the battery. Because this is for safety and I don't want to forget, I make the extra trip back to the hallway and hang the detector back up where it belongs.

24. I head back to the kitchen to finish up the dishes and table cleaning. The mail has come, so I open it on the counter.

25. 12:30 p.m. Time to go to work. On my way to the office/playroom, I drop the mail in the appropriate organizer pockets (one for business, one for personal, and one for things to read (catalogs, etc).

26. The paper from the envelopes gets deposited in the recycle bin which is nearby the organizer.

27. Whatever work I need to do I pick up from that same organizer bin. As I enter the office there are toys strewn everywhere. I can't work in a cluttered space, so I set the paperwork down on the desk and quickly throw all the miscellaneous toys into a large trunk we have in that same room. There.

28. After working for thirty minutes, I smell the cat litter. It's near the room and needs to be changed. I need to take a break anyway. On my way to get the cat litter and bag to change it, I have to pass through the living room. I stop and fold 10 more pieces of clothing.

29. On my way down the hall for cat litter supplies I bring the clothing I just folded and put them in a pile just outside my son's rooms (I don't want to wake them, but when I go get him later I'll put them away).

29. I stop at the bathroom across from my son's room and gather up the supplies. On my way back to the litter box, I grab a couple of those cars and trucks that were on the couch in the living room and toss them into the big toy trunk. I change the litter, wash my hands, and return to the office to work.

30. 2:00 p.m. Another hour has passed and my youngest is now stirring from his nap. On my way to his bedroom I fold three more articles of clothing and add them to the piles in front of their doors. I pick them up and put them in the drawers as I greet my kiddies.

No Need to Leave Toys, Boys..

31. It's raining, so after nap we decide we're going to build an indoor fort. We rearrange some furniture, gather up some blankets and make a really dark fort. Now the kids want to put every toy they own in there. Guess we'll be cleaning more clutter later. Hey, that's what it's all about, right?

32. After the kids are settled in their fort, I move out to gather the rest of the cars and trucks that were on the couch and put them in their right toy box.

33. I notice on the dining table is the two sheets that were folded yesterday and never put away. I walk toward my bedroom and put them in their place.

34. On the floor in the master bedroom is two more pieces of clothing that had been apparently dragged out of one of my drawers by the toddler. I fold them and replace them.

35. On top of my dresser is some jewelry I hadn't put away yesterday either. I put it away and walk out of the room.

36. 4:30 p.m. Time to think about getting dinner started. I walk toward the kitchen and see the food collection under the floor from the lunch and dinner meals. I combat this mess with the dustbuster and windex the glass tabletop that I neglected after lunch. Now at least the table will be clean for dinner.

37. While I'm tinkering in the kitchen, my toddler can hardly wait for dinner. He proceeds to drag out all the plastic containers, pots, pans, and utensils within an arm's reach. I let him bang and clang, because otherwise I'll never get dinner prepared.

38. If anyone stops by at this point, I have to use tactic #2, which is in my other article "Unexpected Guest?". There are blankets all over the furniture, toys underneath, and pots, pans, and Tupperware strewn all over the kitchen floor. It's  guess which I'll tackle first. I just remember, it would be so much worse if I hadn't been doing #1-37.

39. This is when the big guns come out - I actually allow TV on for recreation. But just before I turn the TV on - I tell the kids they must put away their trucks and cars in the appropriate basket in the bedroom (the ones that are collected under the fort). It's 5pm, and the kids are allowed the "good night" show on Sprout TV. I'm not an advocate of TV for babysitting, but when dinner's tough, the tough allow TV. Since the TV is not used all day, it's a big treat for them. I need to straighten up. Everyone wins.

40. I fold the blankets we used for the forts and leave them on the dining table to be moved later. The children are glued to the TV.

41. My husband arrives home, and on his way in from the garage door - gathers a few of the utensils that are all over and puts them in their right spots (he's a broken-in dad).

42. The table gets set. I manage to hand-wash a few of the dishes I've made in the dinner-making process while dad goofs around with the boys.

43. Dinner is served. The toddler is throwing food and plates everywhere on the floor I just ran the dustbuster over. The preschooler is gurgling with milk-noises and laughing hysterically.

44. 6:00 p.m. The boys are stripped down after dinner to avoid food being carried to the bedrooms. They run around completely naked for a minute and then are escorted to the bath (I know, if you have girls, you don't get this... but trust me, it's normal).

45. One parent bathes the boys while the other clears the table and scoops everything from the kitchen table and chairs onto the floor.

Pick up the Slack, Jack...

46. Out of the corner of my eye while bathing the boys I see a few splatters up on the crown moulding of what looks to be hair color or another dark substance, it's been there a week or so. I get the stool from the bath closet and wipe it off with a disinfectant wipe that I have under the sink.

47. The dirty clothes and towels are transferred from the bathroom into the kids' bedroom hampers.

48. After story time and tucking in - the hampers, convenient with wheels, (at least twice a week), are wheeled out of the bedrooms and down the hall to the laundry room. Depending on what time it is, we may start a load, or wait until the morning to do so.

49. Just before the end of the day, the last stop to the kitchen is made. As tired as we may be - we try and make sure every dish is rinsed and put in the dishwasher, and the counters are wiped down. We normally run the dishwasher just before bed. You'll feel much better in the morning when you walk in to a clean kitchen.

50. One dirty dish allowed before bed: your empty wine glass :). My favorite part of the day. Rinse it out at least, so it doesn't stain. Resist the urge to fling your clothing all over the floor before bed. Try and make it into the hamper.




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    • mrs know it all profile imageAUTHOR

      mrs know it all 

      7 years ago from The Windy City Suburbs

      Thank you Ken for your KIND words. I haven't been writing lately and words of encouragement are ALWAYS appreciated! Hoping to get back to it soon. If I had the time, I would do it every day.

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 

      7 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      mrs know it are a girl after my own heart. Loved this story. Keep up the great work. I said GREAT work. You have a gift. Use it for the good of people like me.

    • mrs know it all profile imageAUTHOR

      mrs know it all 

      10 years ago from The Windy City Suburbs

      Awwww, shucks G-ma! Thanks for the nice compliment. I suspect it must be difficult to get out of the whirlwind habit - I'm guessing your home is able to stay picked up much longer - and is much neater than mine. Bittersweet, the mess, innit? Alas, someday my house will be clean again. ha

    • G-Ma Johnson profile image

      Merle Ann Johnson 

      10 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

      do I ever remember the days...but they are good memories cause time gets away my in time you will see...I am still in that mode today at bed is made before I leave my room..and  I pick up as I go along...still fold clothes and put away in the order of my many things I did like you do whilst I did childcare for the last 40 yrs.

      Now my time is my own and is hard to adjust too...but am getting used to being alone...finally...sorta...well humm???  Anyway sounds you are a very wonderful lady, mom and wife...God Bless You...G-Ma :o) hugs

    • RainbowRecognizer profile image


      10 years ago from Midwest

      Love it - right on! :o)


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