The many hours of projects, crafts, meals, and experiments that happen every day in a home school house can add up to a significant amount of clutter and chaos, as many parents are about to find out for the first time, as they tackle remote schooling as a result of COVID-19 measures.
What are some ways to keep your home and your family from getting overwhelmed by this? This is going to become a common question for many of you as the virtual school year progresses. Hopefully you’ll find the following tips and tricks are a great place to start when keeping your home school space organized and clutter free.
Set Up Spaces for Easy Clean Up
Consider the favorite spaces your family uses for various home school activities. Set things up so it is easy to clean up, and start over when space is needed for another project. Make sure there is a storage area nearby for works in progress and a safe spot for anything that might need to air-dry.
Follow Your Family’s Usage Patterns
How are family members using the space? Where do piles of things usually grow? One of the biggest challenges in any house is keeping things up off the floor. Where do things most often get dropped?
If you have a perpetual pile that grows unbidden in a particular place, it’s a sure sign that those items need a permanent home nearby. Put baskets for hats and mittens near where coats are hung. Unfinished works of art may need a shelf near the crafts area.
Get Everyone Involved in Clean Up
Who is responsible for tidying up and when? Setting aside regular time once or twice each day for routine clean-up can help keep the clutter from growing. You may find it helpful to assign a container to each family member—a basket, bin, or box—where anyone can deposit items belonging to the owner. Put trash and recycling containers in every room where trash is generated.
Donate or Recycle Often
Make it a habit to weed out and discard unwanted items on an ongoing basis. Things that are broken should be fixed or discarded. Papers can often be recycled. If you feel overwhelmed, just deal with the pile or item that you bump into first—then repeat, repeat, repeat.
If your children have a hard time decluttering, make it a game: “Keep or Don’t Keep?” See how fast you can sort through a pile together. Start with two containers for sorting things into—one “keep” bin and one “toss” bin. Hold up each item in turn and ask dramatically, “Keep? Or don’t keep?” Encourage your child to respond as quickly as possible for each item. Time yourselves if it adds to the excitement. When the pile is gone, you can whisk the “toss” pile out of sight to minimize a change of heart.
Here are some things to consider adding to your home in areas where clutter collects:
- Hooks to hang things on
- Shelves to put things on
- Bins and drawers to put things in
- Baskets, containers, crates to organize things
- Furniture with doors and drawers to help to keep clutter hidden
Make sure storage is at the right height for the people who will use it. If you have young children, store off-limits items on the highest shelves or behind cabinet doors and “help-yourself” items, such as toys and basic drawing supplies, within easy reach. Storage that is too difficult to access will not be used; same for storage that is not in the area where its items are most likely to be abandoned. Try to make it as convenient as possible.
Consider turning a closet or cabinet into a storage space for art and craft supplies and other homeschooling materials. Sort by category and assign one bin or box to each category (crayons, ribbons/string, paint, knitting, etc.). Label everything clearly so that everyone can see what to store in each bin without having to open it to check. Use pictures or symbols if you have family members who are very visual or not yet reading.
With a proactive approach and some practice, managing clutter can become a regular part of your family’s new homeschooling routine. Involve everyone in the family in the process and the results will be worth the effort as you enjoy a calmer, less cluttered home.