As if you weren’t crazed enough. The holidays are breathing down your neck; finding the “just right” present involving you sitting outside a box store at 4 am, being the hostess-with-the-most-est, cooking, wrapping, baking cookies for the mailman. As you move through pulling off the herculean feat of this joyful-crazed season, you will find you have little energy to do much more than put your bunny slippers up and drink a hot Toddy (that is if you don’t fall asleep first.) But as you slept (drank) and wrapped and baked, something insidious is creeping into your home….clutter.

Sure, it’s really swell of your Sis to give your kid that 1,750 piece Lego set. What a thoughtful gift. You will remember how thoughtful when your heel comes crashing down on said pieces for the next 18 months. Stuff piles up. And before you know it you can feel the walls closing in, bringing you face to face with everything you own.

Although you may be thinking that now would be a wonderful time to bring back the good ‘ole days of a singular toy for an entire childhood, let’s put a pin in that for a moment and look at some helpful hints that may keep your sanity in check.

Storage is art, man.
Banish those ugh, ugly plastic stay-in-the-landfill-forever bins! It’s time to get into West Side Story I feel pretty mode! What do you love? Is it rustic/country? Try some fantastic baskets with a tight weave that will keep all those little heel destroyers in line. Are you more of an antique lover? How about some old wooden crates that look right out of Dwell when they are stacked, creating a little area and keeping access for little hands; all the while not making your home look like a Hoarders episode.

Get rid of what you don’t need. DO IT!
Sure you say, “I do that.” Um, no you don’t. Not enough, honey. You really don’t need another umbrella and Wal*Mart should be avoided at all costs. Think empty. Think space. Ask yourself, do I really need 17 pieces of furniture in this room? How many coats does one family need? Don’t even get me started on the DVDS. My point is, think back to when you were a kid. We had less. With all the convenience that has come into our lives with 99 cent everything it has come with a cost to us. Think of it this way: you are responsible for everything you bring into your home. Do you really want any more responsibility?!?! It doesn’t have to be drastic. Do what you can, but the more trips to Goodwill the lighter you will feel. Trust me.

Ask the family to help you out.
With the holidays arriving that little ornament, cutesy toy, chap stick, beard shaver, car defroster may seem thoughtful but in terms of clutter sanity it is NOT. This year ask the familia to limit what they bring in. In our house I was losing my ever-loving gerbil mind over how much was left in our home December 26th. I felt like I needed a shovel. Grateful to be sure, but it felt like waay too much. Given the struggle in the world it quite literally turned my stomach.

We started a tradition years back that each family member (Grandparents take note!) could only purchase one store bought item for the holiday. BUT they could give as many handmade gifts as they wanted. Sure everyone booed and hissed initially, but then something wonderful happened…quilts happened. Paintings happened. Memory photo albums happened. We were like the Walton’s, man. We had fun. And the gifts were actually used and loved and didn’t end up broken in the trash after an hour of play and I wasn’t responsible for shoveling my living room clean each night at bedtime!

Get the kiddo’s into the act.
Sure, I know they want everything at Target, hell, I want everything at Target but it doesn’t mean we need it. You can lecture to glazed-over eyes about want vs. need yes, but I offer a little spin to that dance move. Tell them they get the tchotchke they want, fine, but they then need to donate something out of their stuff stash. Translation: if you take something in, something has to come out. Oh, and that rule applies to you too, I mean seriously how many sweaters can you own?!

So take heart and bon courage dear ones. You will get through all that is being put on your shoulders and come to the new year with hot Toddy in hand and your heels and head intact.

Andrea Ardito is a writer and Mother of three from the Seacoast of NH. She adopted her advice and is now feeling like she can take on anything after taking on her daughter’s closet. You may read her blog at negativityisnotforannieoakley.blogspot.com

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