For some, spending more time at home has sparked a cleaning frenzy usually reserved for spring! But, if the task before you is overwhelming, don’t panic we’ve asked an expert for tips to get the job done.
Kippa-Ring’s Donna Donaldson has been helping clients restore order for almost 10 years through her business Declutter & Organize it.
The mother of three sons knows how hard it is to be organised at home with clothes, toys and paperwork the toughest to deal with.
Paperwork was her biggest problem — mail, school newsletters, junk mail. She would put it all into a box when someone came over and then couldn’t find particular notices or mail when she needed them.
“As soon as you put a piece of paper on a horizontal surface, they invite their whole family,” she says, laughing.
Donna says you need a system to deal with all that paper. You can use in and out trays, noticeboards, folders, calendar reminders to pay bills and filing systems with categories, colour coding, alphabetising or a combination of it all.
Clothing can also cause problems in wardrobes, drawers or wherever it piles up.
“Most women will go to their wardrobe and say I’ve got nothing to wear even if it’s bursting at the seams. They have bought things over time, and there are items they have never worn, have worn out or they no longer like,” she says.
You need to take everything out of the wardrobe and organise garments into like items — strapless, strappy, short sleeve and long-sleeve tops to coats; then trousers, shorts, skirts and dresses. In each category arrange garments in categories from light to dark, making it easier to see where each item is. She also recommends leaving the hanger in its place when you wear something so you know where to put it back.
It’s also important to have a good idea of what suits your body type and colouring so you buy clothes you’re more likely to wear. It reduces waste and frees up space.
The best way to organise shoes varies from person to person, home to home, and depends on how much room you have and how many pairs of shoes you own.
Categorise your shoes — like styles together — and colours together. Place dark-coloured shoes on the bottom and light colours on the top; or light to dark from left to right. You can store shoes in clear boxes, on racks or shelves.
Much like paperwork, children’s toys seem to multiply before most parents’ eyes.
Donna remembers decluttering her sons’ rooms each school holidays in a bid to keep the toy collection under control. She would also do this before birthdays and Christmas — when new items were likely to enter the house.
Donna would remove broken toys and ones her children had outgrown or no longer played with. She says it’s important to involve your children in this process and to encourage them to select items that could be given to charity. It teaches them about giving, and declutters at the same time.
Much like clothing and groceries in a panty, the key is to store like items together. For younger children, labelling boxes with a photo of the contents can make it easier for them to put their own belongings in the correct container.
Cube shelving is perfect for children’s toys because they can access the items easily and you can see what’s in there.
Donna says extreme clutter can make people feel overwhelmed and embarrassed to invite people over, leading to isolation and shame.
If you’re disorganised, you’re also spending more on clothes, food and items you don’t need because you’re buying things you already have.
“It affects wellbeing for the whole family … it becomes chaotic and distressing when life is out of whack,” Donna explains.
So, how do her clients feel when she’s worked her magic at their place?
“They feel elation, joy and massive relief. They’re more confident and feel satisfied and de-stressed. They can take a breath,” she says.