Sunday, April 06, 2008


The greatest challenge in managing clutter in the family room is_____?

You guessed it-the family!

The family room is a wonderful concept- a place the family members can gather for entertainment, conversation and enjoying each other. The reality can be something a little short of the ideal. It is hard to watch TV or play games if all available seating is covered with clutter. Empty food wrappers, discarded clothing and piles of toys detract from the ambience of any space. Many friends tell me they clean the family room every week just to find it in the same deplorable condition the following week- or maybe the following day. It can be so frustrating that it becomes accepted as a room that looks bad all the time.

Is there a remedy? Yes there is, but it is not easy because it involves group effort. If you want a permanent solution to a cluttered family room we recommend the following:

The next time you clean the room record what you pick up on a piece of paper or a voice recorder.

Take a look at the list for patterns. Does Dad leave his shoes under the couch? Does Suzy leave Pepsi cans on the coffee table? Does Junior scatter Legos all over the floor? Does Mom throw magazines on the floor next to her chair?

Think about reasonable suggestions for managing the clutter. Would Dad put his shoes in a shoe storage bench next to the couch? Would Suzy discard cans in a handy receptacle? Does Junior have a storage space for his Legos that he can reach and manage? Would Mom lay her magazines in a conveniently placed rack?

Hold a family meeting and talk about the things you pick up every time you clean the room. Be open to other family members input. Tell them some of the suggestions you have for making it easier to put things away and let them suggest other solutions that appeal to them.

Set the rules. Assign tasks according to age and ability. Purchase or make the suggested systems to keep things organized and the next time you clean the room discard or give away any item that is not in its designated space. If trash is the problem, the clutterer has a penalty of the family’s choosing.

Stick to the rules and hold another family meeting to see how the system is working. Revise what you need to make the system work for everyone, but do not let any family member abdicate his responsibility for keeping the room organized

Hold a special celebration after one month of successful clutter management.

These steps work for families of all ages and all sizes. If you cannot figure out how to get started on the organizing project, a professional organizer can be a great help in developing and implementing a plan.

Beverly & Kristen

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