Mission: Tidy Up

I was in our living room the other night and realized it happened: baby stuff has taken over every surface of our apartment. And the worst part is, Torre is way too young for it to be his doing! So every crinkly toy and piece of baby gear (bouncer, stroller, playmat) is where it is because I put it there. The reason music rang out when I sat on our couch was because I crammed a musical toy between the cushions.


One of the reasons minimalism appeals to me is because I know clutter attracts clutter, and the simplest antidote for clutter is not to own anything extra. But extra things can be beautiful and useful, not just clutter magnets, and the fact that we have an extra person in our family now, it makes sense to have some extra stuff! In fact, the reason our apartment looked inside out was because everything was being used on such a consistent basis, it simply never got put away.

DSC07347Since Torre was contentedly playing on his playmat, I decided to reclaim my home (well, the living room at least), and let me tell you how nice it was to walk in to this this morning.


Having dusted off my tidy-up skills, I thought I would share a few ideas and encourage you if you’re living with clutter to tackle it! Keep these things in mind:

  • Does your space fit your stuff? Organization can only take you so far, and if you are constantly needing to re-organize it might be a sign you need more space or less stuff. (We don’t really have a more space option right now.)
  • Give your things a home – they’ll never get put away if there isn’t a place where they belong. For me, the criteria of a good home for stuff is somewhere close to where it is most often used and contained. Piles look tidy, but they never seem to last, so I much prefer well-organized shelves, baskets and drawers. For this project, I grabbed a basket we weren’t using to keep Torre’s toys contained but conveniently nearby in a corner of the living room. That is where we spend our days, and I want those items in arms reach without having them always underfoot. Since Torre does not have (or need!) enough toys to fill a basket, I put my dumbbells and an exercise band in the same basket since the living room is also where I work out. The nook where the basket is now (on the far side of the green couch) is also big enough to store the play mat and some foam floor mats that are great for tummy time.
  • Clutter attracts clutter. If you can break the cycle by putting things away asap, it will be way less work to maintain a tidy space. We teach this to kids (clean up before you move on to the next game/activity), but don’t always do it very well as adults.
  • Small steps count. I totally recognize that the word tidy might disappear from my vocabulary or need to be redefined for a few years. I aspire to maintain space in our home where my mind can rest, but once Torre actually plays and is mobile (not to mention any other little people who appear later down the road), I know a lot will change. Maybe I will write a “keep your home tidy with a toddler” post two years from now. Currently, I have not a clue how to do that. What I do know is that my tidy living room makes me okay with our untidy everywhere else. I have hopes of bringing order to our dresser, our dining room, and the chair no one has sat on for months because it is covered in stuff, but in the meantime our living room is a good, small step.

Where does your clutter accumulate?

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Susan 19-04-2013, 13:52

The before and after pictures are very inspiring. I should try that with our spare room…

Kristen 20-04-2013, 09:42

I was sitting in the chair nobody sits in while I read this 🙂

alyssa 20-04-2013, 13:54

Haha yes! The tidyness is expanding 😀

Ericka M 21-04-2013, 21:41

Usually in the closet, or closets if I had more than one. Only the recycling area needs to be kept up. I used to be the messiest person, though I never tended to accumulate lots of things to get cluttered about. Now I’m very clean, due to dust allergy. Funny how almost every person who works for my apartment building, and who sees my apartment, keeps asking me, “Are you just moving in? No? Then are you moving out?” My answer, usually, is, “No”. Since my apartment is a bachelor, and I like space more than anything, that’s why I don’t accumulate a lot of things. I could use a couple of shelving units and some plants, since plants give out oxygen. Other than that, only what is needed. I didn’t have a bed or even a mattress for a few years, until in the last two days; just a camping mat but it’s all I need. I don’t need a bed frame because, what if I move, then I just deflate the camping mat and away I go 🙂

alyssa 21-04-2013, 23:25

Closets are hard to keep tidy because it is so easy to just throw everything out of sight! I guess a camping mat would be even more of a space saver than a futon.

Ericka M 26-04-2013, 20:43

Alyssa: Yes, and the reasons why I went without ANY bed at all for over 3 years is because, as you said in a different topic, most mattresses, for me anyway, are too uncomfortable, that I might as well be sleeping on the floor! (Mind you, I have always had blankets & a pillow, thank God for that. But also, not just because of that, but these so-called mattresses, with the whole frame thing, also sinks down where people are the heaviest, so a floor was, at least, not making me sink. I even found my foam-filled flip-flop mattress to be uncomfortably hard. I had a futon once, but is too big, especially since I moved around a lot back then. I find that air mattresses or a basic foam mattresses are the best, but this camping mat is not as wide as a twin size air mattress, and is easier to kitty-proof or move around with.

And what you said about the closet areas is exactly why I don’t get around to it as much as I should. Also, because we don’t have any recycling bins on our property so we have to walk to the next building that has some. My recycling box tends to fill up so fast, I think that’s also why, and being out of sight, I may forget.

Ericka M 26-04-2013, 20:52

But de-cluttering is important so that you don’t get bugs. Many reasons, really…so that baby doesn’t put things in his mouth, or pets, etc. Also, what if there’s a fire or a flood? My apartment I was in prior to my current one got flooded out, due to other tenants having their windows open too long in the winter! So that’s why I got moved here, to another building. But I was grateful to God for getting out of there, as I prayed hard just the night before it happened, begging God to get me out of there. I was told by the movers that my move was the easiest they’ve ever done, as I didn’t have a lot of stuff (not even a mattress). A good rule I heard, too, is that, if you have items that you don’t use for a long time, then maybe you don’t need them. Like my necklace I bought at the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition); only wore it twice. Time for it to go!


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