3 Sanity Savers for the Holiday Season
Raise your hand if you're craving the peace and serenity that the holiday season promises. One way to create a simpler, more enjoyable holiday season is to start preparing your home. I'm going to share my top 3 secrets for decluttering and organizing your home in preparation for the holidays.
The holiday season can get so busy, frantic even. I remember hearing a message at church years ago that stayed with me. The message was about how this season is best celebrated and enjoyed as a season of shhh ... a season of peace, of waiting, of anticipation, and of rest. I love that idea.
It’s no secret that the holiday season brings its own set of stressors, particularly in the form of gift-giving and increased social obligations. You may find yourself up late at night trying to search for the perfect present for your boss or scrambling to clean your house top-to-bottom before the big holiday party.
If you’re like many, most years end up feeling more scattered than serene, more chaotic than calm.
What if we could prepare for the holidays ahead of time to create new possibilities for peace? Maybe this could be the year 'Merry & Bright' becomes your reality!
Here are 3 sanity savers that can help you survive the holiday season with minimal stress and anxiety. Hint: the key is to declutter and organize your home starting now.
1. Declutter unloved, unused, and broken toys and books
When you look around your home can you imagine adding even more STUFF? Most of us, if we're honest, will say, please no! Especially when it comes to toys, it feels like there is no end to the incoming gifts, given with love. We keep seeing these inspiring articles about minimalism, gifting kids with experiences rather than more toys. It’s a wonderful goal and, in my family, we’re definitely moving in that direction. However, new toys always find their way through the front door.
You'll have more items coming into your home over the next month so now is the time to make space.
Now is the perfect time to go through the house and find unloved or unused toys and books.
Why don't you try to include your child in this process?
Doing the decluttering and decision-making together allows them to practice identifying what's most meaningful and what they can live without.
Decluttering is an important life skill and childhood is the best time to learn it!
As you're working with your child you can remind them how much easier it will be to find their favourite toys when there are fewer of them. Playtime will be more enjoyable. For any child living with ADD/ADHD, you'll be helping to reduce the overwhelm that occurs when they have too many options. You'll also be reducing the visual clutter that can serve as a distraction.
Where to Start?
When engaging children in decluttering tasks, it's best to make it a game! You'll get more 'buy-in' if you create some enthusiasm and present it in a positive light. Empowering them to consider how their decisions/actions will affect another child in the community is so important.
Steps to Declutter the Toys:
Step 1 - Have garbage bags and donation boxes/bags handy. Also, have a box/bag labelled 'undecided'.
Step 2 - So, like with many games, there is a timer. Let the child set the timer for a short period of time. Consider their attention span and age. The key is to keep it positive and not push them past the point of it being fun. Ideally, have a little reward following the session. It might be a great time for a hot chocolate, sharing story time, or watching a Christmas movie together. Schedule several short sessions to continue working on the toy decluttering. Like with many life skills, it takes time and repetition to learn.
Step 3 - Choose one area of the home to start in. This might be the living room, child's bedroom or the basement. I recommend starting with an area that isn't too overrun with toys. You can always gather a bunch of toys, place them in a bin, and then just go through the bin together.
Step 4 - Hold up each item for the child and ask questions such as:
- Is this one of your favourite toys?
- Does this still work?
- When's the last time you played with this?
- Do you think another child would enjoy this more than you do?
Step 5 - Pump up the motivation with encouraging comments like:
- "You're making room for new toys"
- "Let's go on a search for your favourite toys and make sure they're easy to find."
- "It's a great idea to let go of toys that are broken, duplicates, or that you no longer play with."
- "Think of how excited another child might be to open this gift. Let's think of a pretend name for that child."
- "You're being so generous to let go of this toy even though you used to love playing with it."
- "You're going to have so much more space to play with your favourite toys."
Step 6 - Let your child help with placing the toys into the proper bags. Keep up the enthusiasm and remind them of their generousity and how their decisions are going to make another child really happy.
Step 7 - Tie up the donation bags and place them into the trunk of your car right away. Trust me on this one! If you leave those bags inside, your child might start to second guess their decisions. Make a plan to drop off your donations to a local charity. If possible, bring your child along to see this part of the process.
Step 8 - For any toys in the bin labelled 'undecided', put them somewhere out of the way for the season. Pull out the bin after the holidays and see if more of those toys can be passed along.
Please make sure you don't donate toys that are broken or unsafe.
This will only add to the workload of thrift store staff. Also, there's a decent chance they won't notice that the toy is broken and it will get sold/given to a family unknowingly.
If your child is led through the decluttering process with patience and enthusiasm, they just might surprise you with their decision-making powers.
If you don't have children in your home, you could work through the same process with books or home decor. The 'game' approach works just as well for adults!
2. Declutter and Organize Your Fridge
So, let's move on to the kitchen where the magic happens. In many homes, this is the gathering place. People like to be as close to the food as possible. During the holidays, we tend to do more baking, preparing special meals, and socializing. A cluttered kitchen is going to interfere with your ability to do these things efficiently. Let's begin with the main culprit - the fridge! Cleaning out and organizing your fridge is one significant way you can make life a little smoother over the holidays.
Decluttering and Cleaning
- Take your Before picture. Why rob yourself of the simple joys in life...like a good transformation?
- Empty the entire contents of the fridge onto the counter, grouping like items together.
- Toss or compost any foods that have started to turn green, furry, or both. Do the same with expired condiments, sauces, and spreads.
- This is the perfect time to pass along (to a neighbour?) any perfectly fine products that you just don't like or use. You need that precious fridge space for the holiday leftovers.
- Clear the top of your fridge.
- Give the fridge a good wipe down. Be thorough. Who knows when you'll do this again?
- Put everything back into the fridge in categories.
- You've come this far, you may as well wipe down the outside of your fridge and make it shine. This will give you a chance to take decluttering one step further...how many fridge magnets do you really need?
Planning and Organizing
Now that the mess is behind you, it's time to move on to the fun part.
Step 1 - Take stock of what you have and write all the categories on paper (ie. fruit, veggies, meats/proteins, dairy, sauces, leftovers, condiments, beverages, etc.).
Step 2 - Give some thought to containment. Categories such as kid's snacks, cheese, veggies are easier to keep organized when in a bin. In order to avoid food waste, you need to know what you have and when it's about to spoil or expire. Having a well-organized, clearly grouped fridge is the key.
Step 3 - Purchase containers. Begin to reorganize your nicely categorized food items into the bins and place them where it makes sense in your fridge. Use some nice, bold labels either on the shelf or on the actual containers. It makes a big difference in helping you find what you're looking for and knowing where to put it away. Again, this is all about knowing what's in your fridge so you can avoid wasting food.
Step 4 - Leave a shelf just for leftovers and label it as such. This is so much better than stuffing everything 'somewhere' never to be found until the smell reminds you to go searching. It keeps leftovers top of mind and you're more likely to eat them. This step is especially important during the holiday season when there will be lots of leftovers.
While you're in the kitchen, you may as well take stock of the ingredients in your baking shelf/cupboard. Plan ahead and make sure you're well stocked for baking supplies. You'll save the time, money, and hassle of running to the local convenience store where you'll be paying double for those chocolate chips.
3. Clear the Surfaces
Do you find that the piles grow during the holidays and you can barely see the countertops? It's partly because people are home more often and they're feeling very relaxed. Any good habits you may have had for putting items away might be lost this season. Get a jump start on the clutter and clear the main horizontal surfaces in your home...think kitchen counters, ledges, table tops.
In a sweeping motion left to right, take a close look at each item and decide if it actually belongs there. If not, put it where it goes (which might be in the donation bin).
Unless the item is used on a daily basis, it's best to put it away.
Be mindful over the holiday season to continue to keep those counters clear. Easier said than done, I realize. However, it will really help to prevent the feeling that the walls are starting to close in somewhere around Dec. 29th.
Here's a quick summary of the 3 steps you can take in the coming weeks to organize your home for a more peaceful holiday season.
- Declutter unloved and unused toys and/or books.
- Clean out and reorganize the fridge. Take stock of baking supplies.
- Clear off horizontal surfaces so that it looks streamlined and uncluttered.
I hope that something you've read in this post has been helpful to you.
Wishing you and yours a lovely and peaceful holiday season.
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If you'd like hands-on or virtual support with organizing your home, we'd love to help. Along with my amazing team, we can help you create the beautifully organized and functional home of your dreams.
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