Creating a Life Free From Chaos

Clearing the Way In: Decluttering the Entryway or Mudroom

Do you have an entryway or mudroom that you enter your home through? We do, and it often becomes the dumping ground for backpacks, shoes, mail, and keys. It’s the first thing you and your guests see when you walk into your home.

If your home is like mine, this may mean you have TWO entry areas — the area around the front door where guests enter, and the doorway from the garage where you enter. If possible, try to make time this week to work on both. If you’re strapped for time, choose the area that needs the most help, and work there first.

Lots of clutter can be dropped off on your way in and out of the house — it’s so easy to just drop your purse or book bag, kick off your shoes, and dump your keys on the closest available surface. But this is also the spot where you can lose valuable time on your way out the door when you realize that your keys have gotten buried, you can’t find those papers you needed, and one mitten has gone AWOL.

This is the first place guests see when they visit, so it’s important to keep the area tidy and organized. If you have a coat closet, chances are it’s the dumping ground for anything and everything that wanders into the house without a home.

  • Gather everything that doesn’t belong in this area and get them to their appropriate homes.
  • Take the rugs outside and beat the dirt out of them, then launder them if they’re washable. Replace them if they are too far gone. Entry rugs are the first defense from dirt and grime entering your home, and if you can keep the gunk out at the rug, it’ll save you valuable cleaning time in the house.
  • Place a basket or bin at the door for collecting shoes.
  • If you have a coat closet in this area, sort out the non-coat items. Remove everything that doesn’t belong and put it where it goes. Any items you don’t use or need should be sold, donated or tossed.
  • Sort out your coats and make sure everything there is clean, in good repair and actually fits. Donate, sell or toss items that don’t meet your needs.
  • Organize hats, scarves, and mittens in a basket or labeled box. Or try an over-door shoe organizer to keep items neat and easy to find. Label the organizer pockets with each family member’s name if needed. Gloves and mittens can be clipped together using binder clips so they don’t get separated.
  • If you don’t have a coat closet in this area, hang a hook for each family member to hang their coat, or consider a coat tree.
  • Make a home for your keys — a set of hooks on the wall is convenient and keeps keys out of kid-reach, or place a basket, dish or box near the door where you can drop your keys.
  • A bench or chair in the entry is ideal if you have room — it’s a comfy spot for people to stop and sit to put on their shoes. Look for seating that has storage built-in if possible.
  • Arrange storage for wet umbrellas — a decorative pail or tray works well.
  • Set up a place for your purse, briefcase, kids’ book bags and diaper bags.

The entryway sets the tone for your home, so make it a positive, well-organized one.

Clean As You Go

I’m a huge fan of cleaning as you go…not just picking up your trash and putting your dishes in the sink, but actually “cleaning” as you go. Like when you’re brushing your teeth in the morning and you notice that there are toothpaste bloches on the mirror and a ring of dust around the tissue box. Instead of just thinking, “hmm, I should clean that later,” I prefer to grab a washcloth and wipe it all up right then. Not later. Now. And then I don’t have to remember to do it later.

When there’s a chunk of cat fur on the carpet from the latest kitten brawl, pick it up.

When the kids are heading to bed and their toys are all over the living room, help them pick up their toys properly.

When there’s dirty laundry, don’t just chuck it on the floor “near” the laundry room. Put it in the basket.

Wipe off the counters and the stove after dinner before the crud hardens. Ditto the table.

Clean up your coffee drips while they’re fresh.

Take out the trash or recycling when you notice it’s full.

When the baby or the cat grabs the soil out of the plants and it scatters on the floor, sweep it up. It’s easier to do it right away than wait until everyone has tracked it all over the house.

Save the Memories with Minimal Time

Two easy ways to jot down those important memories — especially good for those with little ones hitting milestones every day!

  • Jot it on your calendar. Every year I make a photo calendar with my kids’ photos to give to family, as well as to use myself at home. Since I already keep these calendars from year to year for the cute photos and layouts, I’ve started jotting notes on it when milestones are hit. It gives my brain a place to save the info for later to transfer into the baby book, and since I keep the calendar in the kitchen, it’s always in sight so I don’t forget to record the moment. Baby’s first time crawling or Big Bro’s new somersault skill or Baby’s third tooth or Big Bro’s correct use of the word “asinine” — it’s all there.
  • Email yourself. Sometimes, it’s easier just to send yourself an email recording something funny that was said, a conversation you don’t want to forget, or a sentimental moment that happened at the grocery store this morning. My first note was a letter to my oldest son’s future wife, apologizing for the loud snoring beast I created. I just sent myself a note about my son’s first Santa requests. He’s not old enough to write it himself, but I don’t want to forget. These little notes are saved in their own email folder for posterity, or at least until I can get around to recording them in the appropriate baby book or scrapbook. Or I can just give the kids the folder of emails and wish them luck deciphering them all.