Family Clutter Tips

posted by Aby Garvey 3 Comments

Blue Question MarkA reader asks: “My house is in a wreck but, I can’t seem to get the rest of the family to pitch in and help. They can’t seem to stop leaving their clothes, plates, everywhere. What can I do to change this habit?”

I always tell people to start with themselves. Make sure that you’re living up to the standard you’d like those in your family to live up to. This can be hard to do when you feel like you’re picking up after everyone else, a few of your things strewn here or there hardly seems like a crime. However, it’s an important point to be sure you’re asking of yourself the same as you’re asking of everyone else.

Once this is in place, sit down and have a talk. Do this at a time when you’re not frustrated but are calm and open. Share your feelings about your situation and ask your family for their thoughts. If you’ve made some organizational changes in your own life, share this with your family. Tell them about the efforts you’ve gone through. Tell them which parts of it were difficult for you and which things were rewarding. And then, ask for their help. Set realistic goals and then, start small by asking for their help on a few specific hot spots. Good things come in small steps.

Find an incentive that is compelling to your family and then, be your family’s biggest cheerleader. Look for all the signs of improvement and steps in the right direction. When you catch your family members helping out as you’d like, reward them with a surprise — dinner out, a movie, or something else that shows them how important this is to you.

Little by little, with patience and perseverance, you can work together to create a home environment you will all enjoy.

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  • May 23, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    Hi, Just wanted to add to your post. I have two girls ages 3 and 1. I’m the same way as the reader, “Our house is always a mess”, and touchy on your point of does it start with you, it doesn’t so much for me, but I don’t stop it because it creeps up that hey one more plate what’s the big deal.


    If you for example, we have a small stretch of counter which is our only counter space, and if it is clear, our 3 year old knows to take her plate to the counter, if its not clear she looks confused as to where to put it. It’s all about setting up the environment to allow OTHERS to take ownership of their possessions whether it be toys or plates etc. If your dressers are stuffed full, why would you WANT to put away laundry – again its about setting up the right environment, purge first and laundry now becomes an EASY chore.

    :) Hope my words help, and feel free to visit me on my journey of


    • July 21, 2014 at 8:09 pm

      Messy house? Who hasn’t been there? I’m a mother of 4 young people and I’ve been there. After child number three I realized that if the first two children didn’t play with it, the chances of the next child being interested was slim. I donated 80% of our toys and never looked back. I also decided around that defining moment that if its not made of wood or metal, I didn’t want it! Call it going greener, call it avoiding my children getting cancer or other nastiness from plastic or paint…..regardless, it was gone. Easy peasy! Did the children as a few times for a certain something that was donated? Sure! I told them it was not a healthy toy to have and they didn’t ask again. Less stuff equals less mess and less mess equals more me time!

      We are down to the nitty gritty in every room and it’s wonderful! Mom is happy, kids are content and everyone has a beautiful place to reside. Purge like you are going to move into a one bedroom apartment. Less IS more!

      July 22, 2014 at 2:02 pm

      Thank you Ann Marie for your firsthand account that less is more! :)