Raise your hand if you’re tired. (Blink twice if you’re too tired to lift your hand).
Moms, I get it.
As if we didn’t already have enough on our plates, COVID came in like an unwelcome house guest, kicked up his feet, and made our lives exponentially harder…so much harder it caused some of our spinning plates to shatter, and when will we have time to clean up that mess?
Throw in the added stress of facilitating our kids’ academic journey from home, and complete chaos feels inevitable. But what if I told you it didn’t have to be that way? In the next five minutes, you’ll learn a few of my favorite tips to reduce the #CovidClutter and make your home a sanctuary.
Grab your coffee and pull up a chair. Hope is ahead!
1. Create a Command Center
Now would be a good time to add a calendar to your cart. No, really. This is not a drill. Get an actual calendar you can write on and keep it in plain sight, whether that’s on the fridge, desk, or wall. COVID brain is no longer welcome here.
- Write down your schedule the night before, and do your best to adhere to it the following day. Even if you don’t stay completely on track, laying eyes on your calendar will serve as a reminder to stay focused on the timeline and next task.
- Allow your kids to have their own calendar. Empower them. Foster their ability to self- govern.
- Whiteboards and calendars can be purchased at Dollar Tree, so keep it simple and pick up some chocolate while you’re there. You might need it later when you’re hiding from your kids.
2. Organize the Piles of Paper
Yes, we have to talk about The Piles. You know, the place where good intentions go to die and ultimately leave us surrounded by bills, receipts, and artwork we couldn’t bring ourselves to throw away. The good news? Those are all a form of blessings. The bad news? Clutter can negatively affect our psyche, and the last thing we need is unnecessary stress.
- Use bins to sort mail into categories such as: PAY/TOSS/RESPOND. Once each bin has 5 items, go through the stack and start over. Don’t let the pile exceed 5. Place all bills in a binder or folder once opened and paid.
- Find a few storage tubs and place each child’s work in that tub. Write their name on the lid, then stack the tubs away. Going forward, place any new papers directly in that tub. Resist the urge to set loose papers aside.
- Mark your calendar for a bin/folder/tub cleanout on the last day of each month.
3. Lessen the Laundry
When I say laundry, you say…triggered? If the sight of piles is enough to make you want to walk into the woods, that’s a sign your system might need a makeover. (If you feel attacked, jump back to number 1 and eat the chocolate. Also, please save some for me). It’s not likely you’ll feel inspired to work (and now teach) from home if “home” feels like a “laundromat.”
- Just say no to leaving laundry on the couch, bed, or stairs. Instead, keep laundry by the washer and dryer until you actually put it away. Don’t transfer it in high hopes. We know how that story ends.
- Don’t start one load until the other is put away.
- Invest in a few extra baskets, each a different color. Let each family member choose a color (taking ownership) and their clothes will go in that basket.
4. Define the Space
When you walk into a room, the last thing you want is chaotic energy. Create a space that’s engaging and geared towards learning as your kids do their schoolwork. Eliminate items that could distract or send a conflicting message about the space’s purpose. For example, put the free weights in the garage. Donate those toys that the kids no longer use. If you don’t have a lot of room to work with, integrate the “school” area by implementing any of the following action steps.
- Create a “reading center” by setting a bin of books near a bean bag on top of a fuzzy rug. Vibrant colors and fun textures will stimulate your kiddo. Keep a soft, cozy blanket nearby.
- If you don’t have a desk (and buying one is not in the already-tight budget), use the kitchen table. Place utensils in a caddy so you can easily put things away when finished.
- If you do have a desk, you can use mason jars or inexpensive containers to display pencils, crayons, scissors, etc. Silently send the message: this space is where we learn.
Plants are a simple and effective way to calm any space. And if house plants aren’t your thing, start with succulents. They’re inexpensive, low maintenance, and every time you see a new leaf sprouting, you’ll feel victorious (a feeling you could use in this stressful season)!
- Put a pretty succulent on your child’s desk, near the sink – anywhere stress seems to simmer.
- If you have a rose bush or flowers in your yard, cut a few and place them where you work. Bringing the outside in keeps nature nearby as you do all the things from inside your home.
- Take an arrangement from the grocery store and divide the stems, placing them in little jars around the house. Get more for your money.
BONUS TIP: Remember, we’re living in a time where the ultimate goal is to literally keep our kids alive. So try not to get caught up in the pressure to perform and be a superhero. Rather, do your best to guide them and give yourself some grace.
You’ve got this, mom!