Day #1 Clear the Counters
Welcome to the 7-Day Spring Cleaning Challenge! Today we’re going to start off with a very simple challenge that is going to get your home looking clean and decluttered, fast! During the Challenge we’ll clean up, clear the clutter, and do some small projects to make our homes more beautiful, too!
Spring Cleaning Made Simple
I’ve shared more than few times some of the challenges I’ve had when it comes to keeping my home clean and decluttered.
Even the day to day tasks like dishes and laundry seemed completely overwhelming, let alone doing ‘extra’ chores like spring cleaning and decluttering.
It seemed I would always set out with the best intentions to get organized and decluttter. Each time I’d tell myself, “This time, you’re going to make it through the whole house, every room, every shelf, drawer, and cabinet.”
It would all start out great. I’d empty the whole closet, and sort everything into neat little piles. Then the baby would inevitably wake up from nap screaming like there’s no tomorrow, and it’d be time to start dinner, and I’d still have no idea what I was going to cook!
Have you been there too?
Or maybe it’s this scenario that stops you from trying to get organized at all. It’s just too overwhelming in your busy life as a mom.
That’s where my philosophy of SIMPLE spring cleaning, decluttering, and organizing was born, and that’s what I plan to share with you throughout the 7-day Spring Cleaning Challenge.
Spring Cleaning Challenge Day #1: How to Declutter Your Counters
So let’s jump right into to Challenge #1! Today we’re going to be tackling one of the biggest problem areas for almost every busy family I know. And that is the piles that tend to stack up on any horizontal surface in the house. Here’s what we’re going to do…
Step 1 -Clear the Counters
Pick three counters to clear. That’s right only three. If you see more you want to do, then make a plan for later. But for today just focus on three and try and get them done as quickly as possible.
I like to gather everything up in one spot. That way at least two of my three surfaces are cleared right away. Then sort the aftermath into three piles:
- One for things that have a home and just need to be put away
- One for stuff that can simply be thrown away
- And one for items that represent something on my to do list or things that don’t have a home other than the counter. (I’ll show you what to do with those in steps 2 and 3.)
Once this is done I can quickly recycle or throw away what’s no longer needed. Then I can run around the house all at once and put away the things that do have a home. (Get the kids to help too!)
The last remaining pile is the ones that are tied to something on my to do list or that don’t have a home. Here’s how we’re going to avoid letting the clutter build up again…
Step 2 – Give Everything a Home
Now it’s time to give those homeless items and the things on your to-do list a home.
You have to give laundry a place to hide at every stage of the washing process to help your home stay uncluttered. It’s just the same for the paper and clutter that tends to build up on the counters. (That’s my referral link but the course is completely free, and so so helpful!)
Sometimes you can’t get to things on your to-do list right away like paying bills or filling out paperwork. That doesn’t mean however, you should leave them piled on the counter.
Make yourself a convenient place to hide these items away until you’re ready to get it done. Set yourself a limit about how much you allow yourself to accumulate, of course. Batching tasks like this can also make them more efficient, so don’t feel bad about sometimes putting them off for later.
Each person in the family should also have a place to hide away their needed clutter whether it be papers for school, church, drawings, or notes.
Give each item that tends to pile up a home, so it doesn’t end up piling up again next time.
This is definitely a work in progress for me, and something I’m excited to tackle during this 7-Day Challenge!
The top of the refrigerator is where we put stuff so the kids can’t reach it, like the digital camera, laptop, kindle, and toys that have been confiscated during the day. So, today I’ll be working on relocating those things into a safe and accessible, but hidden spot in the kitchen.
Step 3 – Reduce what lives on our counters.
Next, we’ll try to reduce what lives on our counters.
Giving your counters a little breathing room can make a room feel much less cluttered, fast. This is especially helpful to do in the kitchen where things really tend to pile up with appliances and cooking utensils.
Here’s a great rule of thumb for deciding what to keep on your counters from my friend Elsie’s new book, Your Simple Home Handbook.
“Evaluate the residents of your kitchen counters and decide: What do you use the very most? What is too heavy to put over or under the counter? Those should be the only two kinds of items you have out on your kitchen counter…”
Now before you tell me that you don’t have enough cabinet and pantry space in order to hide away all your appliances, let me tell you, I totally get that!
For most of our time as a couple and then young family, we have lived in a 700 sf homes, which of course tend to have pretty small kitchens.
In fact, Elsie herself lives in a 600 sf cabin. Even when you have a family and make most everything from scratch, it is possible to keep decluttered kitchen counters.
Try picking just one item to get rid of or put away in a cabinet. You might be surprised how even a small change can make a big impact to making your counters feel less cluttered.
You don’t have to do a total overhaul right now, but as you work in your kitchen just keep an eye on what things might not get used often or are redundant.
Step 4 – How to Clear the Clutter When You’re in Survival Mode
I have one more trick for clearing the counters, and this one I love because it works even when you’re in total Survival Mode. If you’re in that season right now, and this is all you can handle, this is the one tip you should try. (And I’m sending hugs your way, because I know it is so, so hard sometimes!)
Even when times are chaotic, and the clutter starts piling up, I keep one small counter in my kitchen that (ideally) has nothing on it at all times.
It’s a clear space to rest your eye, and it does amazing things to calm the mental chaos when things can start to feeling overwhelming.
This might sound kind of crazy, but try it for a couple of weeks and just see how it helps.