Clutter and housecleaning can be a major source of stress! Stress causes and worsens illness. Peace in our homes radiates out into our relationships, and our health. So, I’m going to spend some time discussing some practical issues. Let’s start with the entry of the home. Whatever you have to work with, your entry should say “Welcome home!”—not, “You’ve got so much work to do here, don’t even think about relaxing anytime soon. If you had any sense, you’d turn around and leave immediately!”
When we come home, we have a typical way we come through the door. We put our keys down someplace. We bring in groceries, backpacks, mail, and purses. We may take our shoes off. If it’s winter, we put our coats, scarves and gloves someplace. The entry is the place we land with all our gear, and it is the place from which we launch ourselves out into the world. It is also the first experience we have with our houses at the end of the day. We want our homes to welcome us, and to take care of us– not to spit clutter at us and choke on our belongings at inopportune times. In a nice hotel, the reception area is well appointed and makes us start to calm down and relax. That’s how we should feel in our own houses!
So, let’s take some time to consider what we can do to make things better. My house doesn’t have a large entry, and I am going to assume yours doesn’t either. First on the list is how to get in the door without losing your keys! Basically, you need a routine for always putting your keys in the same spot. It could be a hook right by the front door. It could be your purse. It could be a bowl on the kitchen counter. Decide on the best location for your keys and then always put them there. If this is a problem for you, put a post it note where you will see it when you get home telling you where to put your keys until it is an established habit. It may also help you to attach a lanyard to your keys so your keys have a “tail” and are easier to see, or you could use a unique keyring, especially if there are several sets of keys in the house.
Now, it’s time to decide what to do with all that other stuff. If you have children with backpacks, decide where those will land. Do you have space to put a row of sturdy hooks that will hold heavy backpacks? If not, perhaps they could be taken to the place where homework is done. In other words, the backpacks need a permanent home. The same holds true for your purse. When you are thinking about the best place for backpacks, consider that they will need to be accessible for the next morning. They should be pretty easy for your child to put away and to take to school the next day. If you have decided to install hooks, make sure your child can easily reach the hook! If you have decided to keep them in your children’s rooms, establish a place in the room where it always goes. Even though backpacks are big, they can still get lost.
Everything you come in with needs to be put away. If your coat closet is tiny and doesn’t work for you, you don’t have to fight with it. Don’t use it for a coat closet. Walk back to your room and hang up your coat, scarf, etc. If all your closets are tiny, think about unloading some of your stuff so that it is easy to hang things up. The decluttering may take time. You don’t have to do all of this in a day! It may be that the entry is cluttered because the rest of the house is cluttered and there is “nowhere else for things to go”. So, they get dumped. And then they get “lost” in the clutter, and then it takes 20 minutes to find the keys and by then stress has reached a boiling point. The way to stop this cycle of morning stress is to spend some time thinking about the best way for you and your family to come in the door and put things in their permanent home. Think about making it very easy to put things away. You may not be a child, but there is no reason for you to have to fight with your stuff either!
When you have chosen permanent homes for all your items, think about how to make the entry look welcoming. If it’s tiny, you may just have a pretty mirror and row of hooks by the door. Perhaps you have space for an umbrella stand. Think about it. Welcome yourself home. It’s a way to show yourself you are loved.