When we added two young children to our household, we also added two tons of toys, clothes, books and kids’ furniture. But here’s the kicker: Our house did not magically get any bigger to accommodate this crap, as I had expected. Oh no. Instead, our walking space decreased to the point that I had to learn how to leap from the living room to the kitchen in a single bound. When, the other week, I found myself stranded in between a Jumperoo and a doll stroller and an unopened Diapers.com box that had been sitting there since last year, I knew something had to be done — which I would tackle right after I got the cats to agree to rescue me. (The cost: a lifetime of on-demand kitty treats.)
Ha! Suckers. They get that, anyway. (Wait…does that make ME a suck — *AHEM* Never mind.)
So I have been rolling up my sleeves and chipping away at the clutter, little by little, each day, finally carving out walking paths (hey, it’s all about realistic goals), clearing counter space in the kitchen, and even creating a “Learning Loft” for the kids in the — you guessed it — loft area. Oh yes, my friends, I mean business: A LEARNING LOFT. Of course, we haven’t done much learning there yet, except how to make an impressive mess with Play-Doh (I don’t mean to brag, but Skye is quite advanced in that area); however, Mr. Candy and I just enjoy dropping it into conversation because it sounds so very nurturing and educational and, above all else, pretentious. If you bump into us and make the mistake of striking up a conversation, don’t be surprised if it goes something like this:
YOU: Hey, guys! What’s going on?
US: Oh, you know, we’ve just been busy fostering our children’s genius in our (at this point, we will likely develop a British accent) LEARNING LOFT.
YOU: Sounds cool.
US: Our LEARNING LOFT, you mean? Bloody right, it is!
You don’t need to be a Learning Loft alumnus to understand where this is going. Which is my way of suggesting you may want to run in the other direction if you spot us.
Despite the lack of learning in the Learning Loft, I have learned some tips — 10, to be precise — to share about the process of decluttering your home, especially if you have kids. Thus my creatively titled list: Candy’s TOP 10 PRO TIPS FOR DECLUTTERING YOUR HOME, ESPECIALLY IF YOU HAVE KIDS.
10. Keep in mind it may take you weeks to clean up the clutter, but it will only take your toddler TWO MINUTES to completely undo all of your work. (Upstairs and down.)
9. No, you do not need that canister of formula that expired in 2009. THROW IT OUT.
8. Or the sticker-less sticker book. Let it go already.
7. Just staring at the piles of crap does not make them disappear. Trust me; I did this for three days and…nothing.
6. Shoving the mess into a closet is not decluttering. It’s called “Making a Mess of Your Closet.”
5. Shoving the mess into wicker storage boxes, however, is called “Making the Mess Slightly Nicer to Look At.”
4. Always arm yourself while decluttering in case a dusty bunny as big as you suddenly comes ALIVE and demands television-watching privileges. You will want to shut that down with a broom as soon as possible because everyone knows dust bunnies have an affinity for Barney.
3. Whatever you do, do NOT look under the sofa. Some clutter is better left for the Hazmat Team.
2. If you decide to keep that loud, annoying musical drum toy and think you’re being clever by burying it at the bottom of one of the wicker storage boxes, think again: toddlers have spot-on radar for detecting loud, annoying musical toys and will triumphantly uncover it as soon as they enter the room — with the remainder of the storage box toys thrown on the floor.
1. Decluttering will make you feel really good. However, if you want to achieve the same warm and fuzzy feeling without all the effort, I recommend a margarita. Way easier.