13 Ways to Maintain a Clutter-Free Home (for Longer Than 5 Minutes)

So you think it might be impossible to maintain a clutter-free home for more than 5 minutes?

You’ve worked diligently to declutter & clean your home (fit into an already busy schedule), felt proud of the work you accomplished, then the family dove in and lost their minds in the tidiness. Hurricane Toddler & Tropical Storm Husband strikes again …

Solidarity, sister. Been there … done that!

Take a deep breath, mama. It’s not impossible! In this article, I’m sharing a few reasons why this might be happening and how to shift the narrative by offering a few habit adjustments & new daily ground rules for the whole family.

A little goes a long way, so even if you can only choose one strategy, that’s enough for now! Save the image below on Pinterest if you’d like to come back to it another time for additional ideas.

Why Maintaining a Clutter-Free Home Isn’t So Simple & Straightforward

Wouldn’t it be nice to declutter and have our homes STAY tidy for more than one hot second?

It’s possible, but the solution is to live alone.

I appreciate a good, tidy home … but I love my family more, so that’s not gonna happen!

So here are a few reasons why maintaining a clutter-free home isn’t all that simple:

  • More is incoming than outgoing. Stuff will begin to slowly creep in over time if you’re bringing more into your home than sending out. It’s simple math! Without a corresponding spending-habit reduction, this will be a big reason that clutter keeps creeping into your home. This is what started my journey in the first place.
  • Family isn’t on board. The most straightforward answer here is that homes are meant to be lived in, so try to reflect on your own expectations. It’s possible they’re misaligned. If your expectations are realistic, lack of effective communication could be the culprit and that’s why I built the Home Management Balance Guide.
  • Your whole dang home is functioning below expectations. A productive home is one that has systems in place to fully support your goals. Sometimes, these “critical systems” – meal planning, home finance, etc. – don’t align together and they end up creating more chaos. Decluttering ends up being the least of your worries – because it’s all wonky and malfunctioning!
  • And finally, you might be further than you think. It’s possible that you’re actually not in as poor shape as your high expectations are claiming!

For each of these 4 situations, I’ve listed a few habits you can modify or strategies you can adopt to turn the ship around.

What To Do If You’re Struggling With Incoming Stuff

If your stuff incoming > stuff outgoing, then you’ll want to institute one or all of the following strategies. It’s time to get super intentional about what’s allowed in your home right now if you want to maintain a clutter-free home for the long haul.

  • Set ground rules around purchasing frequency. Limit online shopping purchases to one 30 minute time slot per week (lookin’ at you, Amazon Prime!) and grocery shop for more items, less frequently.
  • Automate the items that you know you need and set them on a shipping frequency that makes sense. My favorite subscription services are: Primally Pure, Burst Oral & Billie for personal care items, Amazon Subscribe & Save, and Butcher Box for our meat! This method saves me so often from “impulse” buys.
  • Process new items in a dedicated space in the garage. In other words, remove all packaging before anything hits the threshold. Bring items straight to where they belong (toilet paper in the linen closet, shampoo to the shower, etc). No mid-route stops!
  • Set a “1 In, 2 Out” rule. The “2 Out” piece could be 2 items out that the “1 In” replaces (such as t-shirts) or it can be clutter in general (+1 t-shirt, -2 pairs of old shoes). Over time, this rule will shrink your clutter.
  • Get crystal clear on your buying goals. Your spending habits are directly linked to your clutter. It’s not the gifts and others’ generosity that most impacts your clutter – it’s your own habits (#truthbomb – for your own good, lady!). If this is something you’re struggling with, head over to the Home Finance Binder System to see if it’s a good fit for helping you declutter your finances.

What To Do If You’re Struggling to Get Your Family On Board

Like I said earlier, homes are meant to be lived in. However, they’re also meant to be a calming respite and if that’s not happening because of the clutter, you have every right to fix it.

  • Increase communication! I can almost guarantee that talking more about your goals as a family will reduce your clutter maintenance effort. All you have to do is say what you think and mean, and work together to fix it. But I know it’s a little more intense than that, so grab the Home Management Balance Guide and tackle this head on!
  • Link decluttering to something meaningful for everyone. For you, it’s probably a clear mind and less time spent cleaning, plus more time for yourself. For your husband, maybe clearing clutter & reselling for cash money fires him up! Link your decluttering goals to meaningful results and the whole family will be more likely to join you.
  • Focus on small daily actions & habits. In the Clear the Clutter Guide, there’s a simple daily checklist that you should all follow. If everyone pitches in, it won’t become a burden for any one person and everyone will be happy.

What To Do If You’re Struggling With the Functionality of Your Entire Home

This is honestly the most common problem. It’s sorta like the chicken & the egg scenario. What came first? The clutter, or the financial habits, or the surplus of clothes in the laundry due to said financial habits of buying all the clothes?

Our home management systems carry a lot more responsibility for our sanity than we ever normally think about! I’ve been doing all the thinking for you on this topic, which is why I’m developing a program to cut the confusion and complete the home management puzzle once and for all. Join the Productive Home Blueprint wait list for a special VIP offer the moment it goes live!

In the meantime:

  • Get strategic. Sit with your thoughts for a moment and try to back up all the way to the ONE THING that’ll uncover the root cause. Take action and start researching next steps as soon as you know what direction you need to take.
  • Formally “interview” your family to find out what they think is working and what’s not working. Work together to build a plan to bring balance to your home. The Home Management Balance Guide is an excellent tool for this one.
  • Take action to recalibrate your home. You could hire yourself a live-in housekeeper, but … uh … not made of money over here, amiright?! As an alternative, I’d like to invite you to join the Productive Home Blueprint online course wait list here so I can send you my VIP offer when this program is ready to roll!

Last, but not least … How to Maintain a Clutter-Free Home If You’re Just Not Sure What the Heck Is Going On

Here are a few other suggestions in case you’re still on the hunt for a solution to the clutter chaos!

  • Read this post to understand what a “maintenance mode” tidy actually looks like in real life. We’re never ever 100% done decluttering, so you may just need to reset expectations slighly. In other words, you might already be in a REALLY good place worth celebrating!
  • Try the 30% Room-by-Room Declutter Method. If you’re anything like me, you’re not truly happy unless you’re almost 100%. Even if you’re nowhere near that, you can try the 30% Room-by-Room Declutter Method outlined in the Clear the Clutter Guide whether you need a boost to help gain momentum, or just want to keep going little by little deeper into decluttering your home.

Friend, I hope you found at least a FEW strategies above that can really move the needle in your quest to declutter and simplify your life long-term. As you can see, it’s a concerted effort by everyone and everything in your home. But it doesn’t have to be HARD.

When you begin to synchronize your home with your family’s unique behavior and goals, the real magic begins to happen across the rest of your life.

Leave a comment below to let me know which strategy fires you up the most! …and psst…pass it on if another mama could benefit too!

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