If you haven’t already, it’s about time we get the whole family on board with our Clutter Countdown challenge. Remember, that while we may be challenging ourselves to declutter for 15 minutes a day, it’s about beginning new habits and changing the old ones. This means that we need to include our husband and children in this process and walk alongside them to learn new habits as well.
In order for true solutions to occur, it needs to be a family affair.
As a parent, one of the stark truths I’ve realized is that my children are my best teacher.
“How is that possible when we should be the one teaching and modeling life lessons for them?” you may ask.
Well, our family has the amazing capacity to teach us lessons that no one else will. It’s around our family that we are most comfortable. They know us the best, therefore they see the best and unfortunately in this case, the worst in us.
Daily interaction with my kids teach me patience, unconditional love, problem solving, critical thinking, debate techniques, detective analysis skills, yes, the list goes on and on and on.
In terms of our Clutter Countdown challenge, the bottom line is that if we had company living with us for a few weeks, some of these ingrained cluttered habits wouldn’t occur around them.
So it’s time to plan a family meeting.
Family meetings are an important part of any family structure.
They can be formal or informal, but it’s an opportunity for everyone to share what’s working and not working in the family. It’s a time for the kids to be heard without feeling attacked or interrupted, but it’s also a time for the parents to bring new things to the table in a non confrontative way. Family meetings shouldn’t happen only when something wrong has occurred, but also when great things are happening as well.
I need to do an entire post on this outside the Clutter Countdown Challenge because I realize that we haven’t been gathering for this purpose and we need to get back to it. It’s so important.
One of our goals as a family is not to just become closer, but also communicate on a deeper level. We want to work through frustrations when they are small, rather than let them build until someone explodes.
Often in the busyness of life, deeper communication doesn’t happen unless intentional time is set aside to do this. Often, our “porch time” is where this naturally occurs and we guard that special time.
Clutter in the home is one of those areas where we let it build and build until someone gets sick and tired of it and explodes. This is definitely not recommended. 😉
Let’s nip this in the bud.
My challenge for you today is to gather the family together and explain the Clutter Countdown challenge to them. Let them know lots of other people are doing it as well. Make sure you are not approaching this time with a confrontational tone, but rather come to them with an apologetic heart, not fingers pointing.
Often, I’ve told our kids that this is an area that I struggle with and it’s a character issue that needs to be attacked, but it’s not ok and we need to make changes starting now. No more putting it off because it just builds. I remind them that as a family, we are a team and we all need to pull our weight.
Obviously, with little kids this will be a very different discussion than with teens.
With one of our kids, it’s a constant battle and I’m tired of fighting the attitude. Lately, I’ve been throwing my hands up, but realize that this is not the solution either. He needs to come alongside and I’m getting back to the “If you don’t work, you don’t eat,” mentality of old.
Instead of always hollering, I wanted a better answer to constant nagging, so I came up with this simple reminder; a Don’t Walk By This Printable for those things left on the floor.
Honestly, in setting a new habit for the entire family, I think this is pretty brilliant, but here’s the kicker, your kids get to call you out too. Since this is about holding each other accountable, isn’t our family the
worst best at doing that?
As a mom of teens, my first draft was going to be, “Stop stepping over your crap!!!” This was going to drive my point home, I came to my senses and realized that since crap was a word our kids were not allowed to say when they were little, I should make it a bit more polite. 🙂
When a family is so used to cluttered areas, often we just don’t see it anymore. We step over things without realizing it. We walk past a bag or books on the floor that have been there for a week and it doesn’t phase us.
This is a habit that needs to stop. Just by tackling this one thing over the next month, we will eliminate so much clutter in the house. I just don’t think we realize how this little change will make a huge difference.
Make it a game. Set up a “rewards system.” Determine goals. Begin by making it such a positive fun challenge. Now with teens, you may eventually have to have consequences because it’s a habit that needs to be broken.
I don’t know how you will utilize this tool as a family, but go and Print off a TON of these. Each child gets to use them. This is not for an item that was just set down. This is for those items that continue to stay or are completely out of their place. For instance, school books on the stairs. Those need to be put back right away. Our son’s shoes and sweatshirt in the middle of the kitchen floor. Seriously? In the middle of the floor? Yep.
Maybe you begin with $25 in a cute DIY mason jar on the table and you tell the kids that this will be used for a fun family night out and they get to pick whatever they want to do, but every time a card gets thrown down by mom, that’s 50 cents or $1 (you determine) out of the jar. At the end of the week, we’ll see what’s left.
I can guarantee that the first few days there will be a lot of cards and you will need to do a lot of follow through. Our son saw them, chuckled, smiled and said, “Pretty good idea, Mom,” and then HE WALKED RIGHT BY!!!
Stay on top of them and make sure they put those items away. As everyone in the family realizes that the new habit of putting things immediately away and not setting them on the stairs, floor, or bathroom carpet where they lay for days is not as difficult as it seems, you will be amazed at the difference.
So, are you up for the challenge?
Are we ready to stop leaving our
crap stuff all over the floor?
Gather your family and print off my Don’t Walk By This Free Printable. I can’t wait to hear you how use them.
This is part of my Clutter Countdown Challenge. To read the other posts in this series, head over Clutter Countdown
Good idea – I like eliminating nagging/screaming – I just interrupted reading your post to get paper for my daughter to drawn on and was frustrated in the closet by the pile of shoes and jackets that SHOULD have been in the cubbies. BUT then I realized how many of shoes and jackets are too small, out of season or simply not worn by any of my four. So, that’s my project for the day, get out what no one uses and donate it – that way it can’t be cluttering up the floor! Thanks!
Perfect task to declutter. We need to do the same. Our laundry room houses what are supposed to be only the shoes worn daily and someone they’ve all ended up there. I am needing to get at the same task. 🙂
Well, I am the clutterbug in the family, except for maybe one or two areas. Honestly, I might use these as accountability for myself! You’re right that we tend to walk by piles and not even notice them. I feel like if I or hubby put a paper on it, it’ll be something I’ll do. Yes, even instead of picking up that pile right then and there. Sometimes I have to be able to lay things out in a plan sort of way and visually or strategically assess before I get the motivation to attack it. Otherwise, I’ll do it at my leisure (ie, never or very sparsely.). I know that’s undisciplined too but I’m hoping these papers will help feed the need for strategy in my mind while correcting my bad habits…and the maybe I won’t need the papers, like there will be an ingrained recurrence of the motto when I see my piles. (I hope that doesnt sound too weird or like I’m opening up too much, but I guess that wouldn’t be the first time I’d been accused of being “different”, which I take as a compliment, haha.). All that to say, this is a great idea – thanks!! 🙂
Trust me, you never have to worry about opening up too much or sounding different here. I’m the blogger opening up all my clutter for the world to see so it’s good to know that others are in the same boat. 🙂
Just wanted to say thank you for this challenge. Over the weekend I was pretty busy, but I managed to declutter part of a large bookshelf, and tackled two (!!!) laundry hampers full of ‘single’ socks. Our sock drawers have been replenished, and we are down to half a hamper of spare socks. I’ll keep matching more as I declutter the house – I expect I’ll find them in all kinds of unlikely dark corners.
Today I spent a full hour in my six and eight year-old’s shared bedroom. It made a HUGE difference. We’re instituting new protocols as we come home from school, so hopefully some of the clutter will be taken care of at its source.
Thanks again for the extra motivation!
You are so welcome and congrats!! What great progress you made. It’s always good to know others are doing the same, isn’t it? So funny that you mentioned socks. I have it as a draft post but haven’t decided if it should have an entire day to itself. In our family, it needs its own day because I have had hundreds of missing socks and I just can’t get rid of them thinking fOR SURE I have to find them somewhere. I bet some haven’t had a match in years. I’m almost at the point where one whole basket needs to be dumped but that is HARD to do. haha. Hoping you find those hiding in your corners. 🙂
Great idea and I hope it works for you. I only have two kids and I gave up on following through with my messy, stubborn one and of course wish I hadn’t.
oh yes, there are many times I give up too, that’s why I am giving it one last shot with our 17 year old. 😉
I see a family meeting in my family’s future this weekend. 😉 And I laughed at the “crap” thing. I am sooooooo sooooo soooo bad about saying that word, and nope, my kids aren’t allowed to say it either! My Mom said I’m the only person she knows that made a concerted effort to clean up my language….and then joined the military. *le sigh* Yeah. That was effective, lol.
HAHA – your line about the military cracks me up. My nephew is an officer in the MArines and we often chuckle about the colorful language stories he tells us about his guys. 🙂
What a great idea! My kids would enjoy calling me out on everything I haven’t put back together since our floors were replaced—in February! I’ve already had a mess meltdown this morning. I think I need a plan.
Ok, well, maybe don’t give them that chance yet. 🙂 Just let them know they can only call you out on NEW messes. haha
I love the idea of having money in a mason jar on the island in the kitchen where it can remind us all of what our reward is. One summer we got ice cream every Friday if (as a family) we earned enough total stars on our water intake board.everyone loved it.Your plan should work brilliantly for us.
So glad, Kris!!! Ice cream friday sounds SO fun!!!!