How to Declutter Without Feeling Overwhelmed

Happy Friday, RISERS! I hope this week has been good to you. It’s the first weekend in April; let’s hope March goes out like a lamb and we’ll have some calm weather for a change. It is hard to believe that we have roughly eight weeks until school gets out. I’ll share some tips below to help with that. But first, I challenge you to enjoy this weekend by doing something fun that you’ve never done before.

Quote of the week: “Clutter is postponed decisions.” –Barbara Hemphill

Joke of the week: How does NASA organize a party? They planet.

Nugget of Wisdom of the week:  As I mentioned earlier, spring has sprung, sending us on a downhill slide to summer vacation. I know, I know…you’ve barely had a chance to change out your winter wardrobe, and now we’re talking about summer?!?

It is always the right time to clean out unwanted items, whether clothing, kitchen utensils, or any random furniture. But where do you start? I’m glad you asked. We’ll take these in order.

First up is the kitchen. We can divide this project into three stages: refrigerator and pantry goods, dishes, and utensils. Go through your pantry and toss anything that’s out of date (primarily if it cannot be used after the “Best By” date), any stale cereal, chips, and crackers. Consider donating any canned foods that have lingered too long to a food pantry or putting them in those little neighborhood donation receptacles. Also, go through your spices to ensure you have what you need and that they haven’t lost their potency. In the refrigerator, check the dates on the condiments, combine jars of like sauces, and check the dates on cheeses, yogurts, and deli meats. Now for the utensils. Go from drawer to drawer and keep only the utensils you need. Group them so it is easier to find what you are looking for when you cook your meal. In the cabinets, consider replacing any chipped dishes. Finally, place your food storage containers on the same shelf with their lids so you can easily put food away. In the cabinets below your countertop, keep lids with corresponding pots and pans.

Next, tackle the living room. I don’t know about you, but we have over 200 DVDs. And how many of those do we watch? The same 12. Darrin and I agree that if we haven’t watched a movie in six months or a year tops, we purge it. We do keep some that are seasonal, to watch at Halloween or Christmas. We adopt this same strategy when it comes to family games. We purge games that are broken, have missing pieces, or are no longer played so that we can make room for other games in the future. Any children’s toys that have been outgrown can be thinned out. If your children have too many toys, consider halving them and rotating them every six months or when the newness has worn off. If you don’t have a separate room used as an office, we can also deal with mail and magazines while in this area. Toss all junk mail immediately. If you don’t read magazines in a timely manner, consider canceling the subscription. For any bills you need to pay, place them in a folder or in a certain place on your desk and deal with them weekly.

We’ll finish with clothing. Check everything, from undergarments to overcoats. Replace any items that are worn out. Consider taking children’s clothes to local foster care closets to help children in custody. Shoes that are still wearable can be offered to your child’s school for students with needs. You could also sell them to a consignment store and earn a little money. If you have older children of the same gender, save any clothes for the next child to cut down on expenses—unless there is a large age gap, in which case the style may change before the next child needs them.

Shout-Out of the week: This week, I want to give a shout-out to everyone who works for charitable organizations such as the Knox Area Rescue Mission (KARM), the Salvation Army, Good Will, and any other nonprofit that sorts through donated items. It takes a great deal of time to review everything and ensure all the pieces are together and that items are either in working order or set aside for repair or cleaning. You are appreciated more than you know.

Have a great weekend. Remember, you are most awesome, and YOU ROCK!

Marion Rhines is a foster-turned-adoptive parent. She lives in Knoxville, Tenn., with her husband and five children. She has written and published two children’s books as well as two foster-care-themed novels. She has a Facebook blog, Tips from the FLIP Side, and enjoys working with children of all ages.

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