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“clut-ter:

1. A confused or disordered state or collection; a jumble”

One of the most effective ways to keep your life simple is to purge your home of clutter.  People spend hours upon hours managing their “stuff,” and for what?  Most of it is stuff we don’t even need or use!  I want to spend my time and efforts on my family and my life, not on the care and keeping of the junk in my life.  This kind of flies in the face of my thrifting obsession, but not really.  I try to employ a “one bag in, one bag out” policy in those situations.

I found this great idea this morning, and although Lent has already begun, I think I may be able to catch up.  My basement and closets desperately need to be purged.  What a lovely way to ensure a clutter-free Easter!  Just in time for a nice Spring Cleaning!  I have 2 bags filled just from my linen closet!

One decluttering method that works very well for me is “puttering.”  If you don’t putter around your house and actually look to see what areas need help, you will just continue to add to the pile and it will grow into an insurmountable problem.  Puttering is my answer to that.  First, I either turn on some music or call a friend/sister.  This gives me something pleasurable to focus on while I putter around my home.  Then I get started.  Often the distraction is so helpful that I get off the phone or emerge from crooning along to my favorite songs to realize wow, I just cleaned this whole room and I don’t remember doing it.  This may just be testimony to how 4 kids in 5 years makes you lose your mind, but I prefer to think of it as distraction working quite well, thank you.  An example of puttering could be reorganizing your bathroom cupboard, decluttering your work desk, cleaning out your fridge or organizing a closet.  I usually choose jobs that I seriously detest doing, not my usual daily cleaning tasks.

Living in a small home means we simply cannot hold on to every little thing we’ve ever owned or ever will own.  That includes the clothes that our kids grow out of.  For awhile I labeled and stored every item of clothing my children wore, but as our family grew, this became too much.  I switched to saving only the things that were in perfect condition, but even this became too much to hang on to.  The truth is, even if I did have a baby of the same gender as 0ne of the older children, there were no guarantees that the seasons would be correct anyway.  I began handing off clothes to friends.  So far things seem to find their way back, often mixed with outfits from other families as well, when a new baby warrants it.  I’d rather have my kids clothes used by others than stored in a basement.  It works well for us.

The best part of keeping your home clutter-free is how quickly you can clean your home, and how long it stays clean.  I can usually tell when my children have too many clothes and too many toys by how messy their rooms are.  Obviously they are children and are going to make messes, but if my daughter can throw 25 shirts on the floor in her quest for the perfect outfit, there is something wrong.

Here is a quick list of suggestions:

2 sets of sheets per bed. – this may not be necessity if you are single and tend to wash your sheets and put them right back on, but having kids can mean middle of the night messes.  Its nice to not have to do laundry in the middle of the night!

2 towels/washclothes per person in the family.

Keep your kitchen counters clear of appliances.  Keep only what you absolutely need and make sure each item has a “place” in the cabinet. (coffee makers may stay out).

File your papers/bills/bank statements weekly to cut down on surface clutter.

Employ “A place for everything and everything in its place.”

Try to have “only” 1 junk drawer.

If you have a spouse who is prone to setting his/her random clutter all over your house, get a few baskets and set them around.  That way it doesn’t look so awful, and you can quickly grab the basket and put the things away when you get a chance.

Recycle, yet, but don’t be afraid to throw things out.  Socks with holes?  Toss.  Old toothbrushes? Toss.  Some of these may be a given, but if you are like me and really don’t like throwing away something that might be useful, it can be hard to figure out what to do.

As an organizational/large family thing, I like to have certain items in gender-neutral tones to cut down on what we have to have on hand.  Mittens in multiple sizes, snow boots, hoodies, etc., I prefer ones that are red, navy or grey so everyone is willing to wear them.

This post is entirely too long.  Please feel free to post any additional tips!

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I’ve never bought a new piece of furniture.

Let me re-phrase that:

I have never bought a new piece of furniture.

Everything we have was either gifted or thrifted.  That also extends to the art on our walls.  Additionally, I’ve never spent more than $100 on a piece of furniture.

Being a mom of several very small children with a tendency to run around in the backyard barefoot and then come in and rub their feet all over the furniture, spending large quantities of money on furniture (or even going into debt for furniture) would be nothing short of madness.  Spending little on furniture means replacing things can happen more frequently.  I want to be someone who puts people before things, and I want my children to be able to enjoy our home – without costing me a ton of money in ruining expensive furniture!  We have had 3 different couches since we’ve moved in and we have been in this house only 4 years.  Don’t think we just set them by the side of the road – we often sell them for the same price as our “new” furniture, meaning that an upgrade and a fresh start with a new couch is, get this, FREE.

Additionally, its recycling.  And recycling is a good thing!

Don’t think you have to sacrifice quality when buying second hand.  Often you are able to buy higher quality items than you’d be able to if purchasing them new.  Case in point, my 2 Ethan Allen chairs that I love so much.  These chairs originally sold for around $600 each.  I brought them home for $75…for the pair.

Its important to go out and look, but only buy something if you absolutely love it or need it.  Often I’ll be on the market for an upgrade in something but it will take me a month or so to find something that I want to purchase.  Take your time.

Where do I find deals?

Thrift Stores – Salvation Army, Goodwill, etc.

http://www.craigslist.com – find a classifieds in your area.  Check it frequently.  I also sell my items on this site when I am finished with them.

Kiwanis – in a neighboring town, we have a weekly Kiwanis sale.  You can usually barter here quite easily and find some nice things.  Our current couch and my E A chairs were purchased here.  They also have lamps, art, pretty much anything.

Frugal, earth friendly, simple, frequent upgrades.  What’s not to like?

Bad lighting.  Good furniture.  Total cost pictured: $75

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