One popular New Year tradition that many cultures have, including Black families, is to start the New Year with a clean house from top to bottom. The old people in my family used to say don't let the New Year find you with a dirty house because that will bring you a year of bad luck. I reached out to my friend, Briana Spruille, cofounder of JustBE, LLC, a professional organizing business, for tips to help us get our homes and spaces right for 2021!
Kirstie: When my kids were younger my house often looked like I ran a daycare center. Keeping things organized with small children is a challenge. What are some things parents can do to stay on top of their children’s clutter?
Briana: Children are a blessing and bring so much life to a home. They also have a way of generating unwanted clutter. Assess each area of your home that you feel looks like a daycare center; are they dedicated to children or are they shared by the whole family? Is it functioning the way you envision, or is it a source of stress? Your top priority should be incorporating smart, easy storage of their items by designating specific areas of the home. For example, set up a play teepee/fortress for small children. It can be a place to store all toys, out of sight, in colorful bins or baskets. Utilizing a rolling cart for crafts and books also creates a “moving” play area instead of them taking over main areas. The overall goal is to create zones for their activities and declare a “home” for the things that are involved in said activity. If a “home” for everything is not declared for children, items will be placed any-and every-where!
Also, start the declutter process by purging unnecessary items. Once all items are categorized into like items, assess quantities. You want to include your children in this process. Allow them to feel helpful and needed while teaching organization and cleanliness. Involve them in the “declare a home process” so that they understand the process, and are more inclined to keep things in order, maintaining the goal. If your children choose to donate some items, they learn the importance of charity and helping others.
Kirstie: I have a hard time tossing awards and other cute crafts my kids have made for me. Any recommendations on handling this without feeling guilty?
Briana: Sorting and decluttering sentimental items can be an emotional process. Always remind yourself of your organizing goals when getting started. Ask yourself if you REALLY want to keep the item, and ask your child if they care if you keep it. Paper items such as awards, report cards, and photos can be scanned and downloaded, then shared with the family via Cloud or Google. Small crafts and artwork can be displayed in colorful shadow boxes. Larger items can be placed in labeled storage bins and put in the attic or garage. That way they are decluttered but not thrown away. Also, consider designating a display area in the home and swapping items out periodically. Consider bringing in a friend or professional to assist with making decisions.
Kirstie: How can parents teach their children to be organized and not become packrats?
Briana: Great question! Make sure your children are paying attention/involved as you decide to organize goals for space and declare “homes” for everything. Then model the behavior you want them to practice. This actually aids in accountability on both ends.
A few ways to motivate them to stay organized:
· Make it a game – turn the storage bin/basket into a basketball hoop
· Establish new toy in, old toy out routine – especially for birthdays and holidays
· Create a daily routine by setting a 15-minute timer and turning on music…then reward them for putting things away/cleaning up in 15 minutes (can be small rewards with an occasional outing reward)
Kirstie: What are some organizing tools you would recommend for families?
Briana: I recommend the following:
Rolling carts- can be used for crafts and schoolwork
Over the door wire rack
Storage bookcase and storage cubes or baskets- should be color-coded for each child
Open top stackable bins
Closed top bins for backstock/overflow only
Turntables can be used literally in any area of the house and work great for snack stations and hard to reach areas
Roll out drawer for cabinets and deep shelves
Kirstie: Now that the New Year is here I like to clean my home and declutter. For a lot of people, the very thought of doing this is overwhelming. Do you have any suggestions on tackling New Year cleaning in a way that won’t cause people to give up?
Start with your ‘why’ – the goal you want to achieve – and remember that this is a process. Disorganization did not occur overnight and will not go away overnight.
Do not try to tackle multiple spaces/rooms at once. Focus on one area at a time that you can easily accomplish, recognizing what is getting in the way of your goals for that space.
Begin the sort, toss, and donate process by pulling out and sorting all like items in the space, grabbing a trash bag for tossing items quickly, and a bin for items to be donated.
During this process, ask yourself if you will miss the item if it were gone and if it supports your vision for the space.
Once the area is sorted and go-away items are cleared, clean it immediately. You will feel so accomplished. Reward yourself!
Lastly, rid your mind of perfection once you have decided to declutter and clean up. That is where feelings of defeat creep in, causing you to give up.
Thank you, Briana! These are wonderful tips.
Briana Spruille is the owner and lead Organizer of Just BE, LLC. She and her sister, Erica, founded Just BE (Briana and Erica) in 2011 to help women and families organize their spaces while simplifying their lives. However, the two have been innately organizing and creating processes since the ’90s. Just BE provides professional organizing services which include- home and office organization and maintenance, “shopping” your closet, productivity tips, unpacking a move, and personal shopping. Their goal is to help you just be…organized, inspired, styled, and happy.
Briana has a Bachelor’s in Public Health, a Master’s in Education, and is a member of the National Association of Black Professional Organizers. Erica has a Bachelor’s in Business Administration and Economics.
You can find Just BE, LLC. online atwww.justbenola.com, and on Instagram @justbenola.
Kirstie Myvett is a Nola mom and author of the newly released children’s book, “PRALINE LADY.” You can learn more about her at kirstiemyvett.com.