(DockATot mom Samantha Poole with her son in a DockATot Deluxe+ in Charcoal Buffalo)
Mom Tips: How to Deal with Holiday Clutter
‘Tis the season to accumulate a lot of stuff! This is especially true when you have kids. Holiday gift-giving can be so much fun, but when the aftermath includes finding space for all of your kids newly acquired toys and games, the season suddenly becomes not so merry after all. During a recent visit with DockATot mom Samantha Poole, we noticed her house was immaculate. The Atlanta-based mom of a 4-year old daughter and 7-month old son let us in on her neat freak secrets. Here, she shares her decluttering tips and tricks so you can rest a little easier this holiday as your little ones tear open their new gifts.
Have you always been a neat freak? Or did it kick in after having kids?
I think I've always been a little OCD even starting from middle and high-school when I'd organize my closets by color. It really kicked in to high-gear when my husband and I bought our first home. As I’ve gotten older, I've been leaning towards the "less is more" motto.
What is the method to your madness in terms of keeping your house in order?
Our house is not large by any stretch (under 2,000 square feet) so with two adults, two kids and two large dogs, it can become cluttered SO fast. We've been in our newest house for a little over a year now (it’s a 1950's completely remodeled ranch) so our storage is minimal—we blew out all of the closet space that wasn't in the bedrooms. The lack of storage throughout the main part of the house has forced us to think small and get creative with organization. Before we even moved into our house, we purged and donated a ton of items we knew we didn't need anymore. I always make sure that everything has its place and actually gets put back where it belongs after it's used.
Are there specific accessories you have that are essential to keeping things in order?
Organizing bins and baskets are my favorite (for toys and clothes). In both of our kids’ rooms we have those wall units with baskets that are so convenient. I use big baskets to throw blankets, stuffed animals and soft stuff in in both of their rooms. I don't know if it's just a "me" thing, but even with my own closet, I organize it by color, and with my kids toys I group the toys in their baskets if they’re similar toys. I've definitely always been able to put "organized" on my resume.
How do you teach your kids to help keep things clean?
I can't promise that our four-year-old daughter *always* picks up after herself, but now that she’s well and able to do it, we're pretty strict that after a huge mess is made, she has to pick everything up and put it back where it goes before moving on to the next thing. For example, if she's made a huge mess in her room but wants to go play outside, anything that is out has to be picked up and put back in one of the toy bins. We don't have a play room, so our daughter’s room acts as her play room and most of her toys stay in there. Whatever comes out of her room goes back in her room in their toy bins at the end of the day most of the time.
Is there any part of the house that serves as a "dumping ground" that you don't care about how messy it is?
Our house is really "open concept" so regardless of what room you're in you can almost see in to the next room which kind of forces me to keep each room relatively clean. If I'd have to pick any room that's the easiest to pile up with random stuff, it's our office room. It's the room that we walk in to the house from our carport/outside so jackets/bookbags/carseat/sometimes shoes get left in there and pile up. I'll eventually be the one to grab everything and put it away where it goes.
Does your husband help out - or is this neat freak-ness strictly a solo mission?
It's funny, he's not a neat-freak but he'll have moments where if we've been lax a few days on picking everything up or putting stuff back where it goes, he'll do a quick clean sweep of the house and vacuum, do the dishes and grab things that have been left out and put them away (whether its dishes/clothes/toys...you name it). It's a team effort for the most part, but if either of us is having a busy week with work either one of us picks up the slack of the other.
(Samantha and the DockATot+ in Black Marble)
How does your DockATot play into keeping things in order?
It's so versatile, light and easy to move around the house! When I’m in our master bedroom putting clothes away, I just put the DockATot in our room in arm’s reach. I love the DockATot for being able to get a shower, too. I'll put it on the floor in our master bathroom and he'll just chill in it while I shower - it's a game changer!
As a parent, a lot of stuff seems to accumulate thanks to the kids. What is your rule for keeping things or tossing them?
I literally go through my daughter’s toys every other month -- I'll grab two trash bags - one for trash that I come across, and one for toys that she hasn't been playing with that we can either pass down to a younger cousin or donate. I dump out all of the bins and boxes of toys out on the floor and just start sorting through. I'll put them back into bins with similar toys. Before our daughter’s birthday and holidays, I have her help me go through and pick items that she doesn't want anymore and wants to share/donate with others. In a nutshell, my rule of thumb for keeping or tossing something is if it doesn’t have a matching piece to it, it's being tossed and if she hasn't played with it in months it's out of here. I usually do it without my daughter around because otherwise there will be a meltdown over every little toy I plan to toss.
Best tips / tricks for other mamas who want to keep it clean?
The best advice is have is to be consistent to stay ahead of the clutter. I think consistency with everything is key -- for new moms, I'd relate it to being consistent with your newborns schedule or routine. So we try to be consistent with telling our daughter to pick up after herself, putting our own stuff away where it goes after we use it really makes all of the difference and so much easier in the long run. And trust me, our house is not always clean. There are days where it looks like a bomb went off and I just go to bed too tired knowing that I'll have to do it all the next day.
Looking to reduce the clutter even more? The DockATot Deluxe + is one piece of multitasking baby gear that can replace about five other items on your baby registry.
Read more about decluttering on our blog: Find out how this mom’s minimalist approach to baby essentials.