Declutter: Calm the Chaos in 20 Minutes or Less

Our homes get out of control when we get overwhelmed. This is the perfect time to take 20 minutes and declutter to find calm inside our homes and hearts.

This is the post I have been dying to write for some time now. This is the post where I am freaking out internally on whether or not to publish it, because I am certainly no expert on this subject matter and don’t want anyone to think I am. It’s not the post where I show you how I made shoe cubbies, or a burlap wreath, or painted my cabinets, and it’s definitely not the post where I tell you that Better Homes & Gardens is coming to the house to photograph my home with their staged lamps without cords and perfectly coordinated outfits for our 3-kids-no-dog who will be photographed playing peacefully at our handmade dining room table. Thank the good Lord above, because there is syrup on that table from breakfast this morning I have yet to wipe up.

This is the post where I remind you this is the time of year things get out of hand, unruly, overwhelming, stressful… and you don’t have to get sucked in. Which holds true year round.

cluttered farmhouse kitchen with kids

I have really enjoyed sharing our Fast Friday Fixes with you guys over the last few weeks with my sweet friends, The Purple Hydrangea and 1915 House. Lisa has created gorgeous hand painted napkins, and Sarah has made beautiful printable place cards! Both of these are such thoughtful additions to a beautiful Thanksgiving table! Mine is a fast fix that can seem daunting and overwhelming, until you break it down into a small manageable task, which can be done in 20 minutes… like before Thanksgiving!

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Sometimes it’s really hard to not get swept up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, or those times of year there is a really busy schedule. Every single year, I am being more and more intentional about what I put on our schedule, and what gets left off. I am very Charlie Brown about the holidays, and have this dream of Christmas not starting until after Thanksgiving, and people actually caring about each other instead of door busters. People actually enjoying the company of loved ones, instead of inhaling Thanksgiving dinner and rushing out the door or skipping it altogether for that Thanksgiving Pre-Dinner Door Buster.

If you’re one of those people whose heart is on fire with joy during the hustle and bustle, don’t change that. I am not that person, and I’m really speaking to those who, like me, crave simplicity, mellowness, and calm among the storms. Sometimes folks like me tend to get pulled into the undertow because we are people pleasers, can’t say no, care what someone else thinks, it feels overwhelming for us, and we are pulled along too quickly before we realize we don’t have to be.

Decluttered spaces are the calm in the chaos

There are many aspects to this issue that I have been trying to get control on – mainly saying no to too many events in one day, or saying yes to the right events. Before I can even make it down that road to making all those decisions and planning things out, my day has to begin with a clear space. If I take 20 minutes and declutter those surfaces either in the morning or evening (my favorite), wipe the sink and stove, and run the dishwasher… hoo boy, that day will be on fire! If I find both the salt AND pepper shakers the kids misplaced during breakfast…  man alive, you best get to gettin’!

There is a boatload of research out there (like here, here, and here) telling us that clutter is directly related to our stress, depression, and anxiety levels. I recently discovered the magical unicorn known as “purging the contents of my house.” I began purging a few things a few years ago, and have the end goal of becoming minimalist (which, I always thought I was, until I realized I wasn’t). Decluttering has been a major factor in reducing the stress in our house – kids too – and the stress and anxiety builds up when there are things being left all over. Decluttered spaces with 3 young children look very different from those same spaces with no young children. As it turns out, you can actually have a sacred space while your kids play with all the things.

My sacred space(s) are the horizontal surfaces.

Cluttered Farmhouse Kitchen

This is the first spot I go to, when I have 20 minutes before I blow a gasket and need to regain control of my house. Don’t pull out more than you can handle in the time you’ve allotted. It’s like dumping all your stuff out to sort through a drawer, then getting sidetracked when you’re almost done. Don’t you end up just shoving it all back in? You can definitely commit to 20 minutes or less. My sacred space/dumping ground always ends up being the kitchen by default, but it may be your dining room table or coffee table. These surfaces when clean, give our eyes a place to rest and brains a place to reset among the chaos. Think of it like a small bubble just for you, where you climb in and find calm.

In 20 minutes, I attack the counters and our island/table.

In our house, things get out of control almost monthly, and especially when I’ve got a lot of things I’m juggling (coincidentally – or not – I feel like I’m dropping all those balls too). This also is the time when I need the calm inside the house, so I can feel like I’ve got a handle on things, even if it’s just a few things. When I need a reset, I start putting dishes away or in the sink/dishwasher, return pantry and drawer items, sort paperwork and art projects, and make a pile of things that don’t belong in the kitchen in a basket (like this one). After I wipe the counters and run the dishwasher, I grab the basket, and start returning all.the.things back where they belong. Those things almost ALWAYS include a few kids toys, artwork, art supplies, a drill (seriously), a sanding block (yes), a sample can of paint (…), snack packs and water bottles from school, and small bits of paper-type trash here and there.

White farmhouse kitchen with painted cabinets and farm table island

Once you take just 20 minutes (or less) to furiously declutter and clear your counters (or table, or whatever), you will be in a much better state of mind to think clearly, be ready to enjoy time with your kids, family, friends, get your work done, or even consider conquering the rest of the house.

Pin collage

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