Decluttering Your Home and Homeschool

Declutter your home and homeschool with organization to optimize your achievement in learning and feeling at peace. Anyone who knows me well knows that I am a huge fan of tidiness. In fact, I’ll be completely honest with you and tell you that clutter makes me cranky. It’s true…just ask my family. Ahem.

Decluttering Your Home and Homeschool

I did not grow up in an incredibly neat house, yet over the years I definitely developed my own sense of neatness. My kiddos frequently refer to me as a “neat freak,” and I’m perfectly OK with that. 🙂

I have helped quite a few friends and family members over the years organize, clean out, and declutter their homes — for me, it’s fun and it’s a service that I can happily offer to others. Work with your strengths, people!!

Today, I’m going to give you what I call my Secret to Decluttering. This can work in just about every area of your life, but for this post, I’ll keep it to decluttering your home and homeschool.

I have coined what I refer to as my “FUL Rule.” This is a simple formula, really, that allows you to evaluate everything in your home. You simply put it into my “FUL Rule Formula” and Waa-la!

When you are able to step back and evaluate the things you own, you are able to free yourself from the bondage of clutter. I’m going to step out on a limb here and say something that is not just true of me, but is true of most people. I said before that “clutter makes me cranky.” But you know what??? I’ve never met anyone for whom that statement is not also true. Any time you pop over to a friend’s or family member’s house unannounced, don’t they usually comment about their “clutter?” Don’t you usually hear things like, “Oh, sorry the counters are a mess. I haven’t gone through the mail this week!” or “My house is such a mess!” or “I can’t seem to find a place for all this stuff!”

You see, I’m not really that unique in my quest for neatness. Yes, I may be more neat-freakish about it…but I truly believe that it’s in all of us to have a sense of order about our space. We are created in God’s image, and He is a God of order — so it’s not that far-stretched to say that we all crave orderliness in our lives.

The “FUL Rule” that I have come up with to help me stay organized and have an orderly home is one that, as I said earlier, you can implement in many areas. Keeping it simple here, let’s stick with your Home and your Homeschool. And now…

Amber’s “FUL Rule” for Decluttering Your Home and Homeschool:

Is it UseFUL?

Is it BeautiFUL?

Is it MeaningFUL?

If it does not meet at least 2 of these criteria, then out it goes! Seriously. It doesn’t hurt as much as you think it will, I promise!

Before I bring anything new into my home, I evaluate it through my “FUL Rule.” This helps me immensely cut down on impulse purchases and bringing extra clutter into my home. I am a huge fan of Hobby Lobby, yet I realize that every cute and farmhouse-y thing does not have a place in my own home. The best way for me to avoid those dreaded “regret purchases” is to simply stay away from Hobby Lobby. Maybe that’s you, too?!? 😉

But when I do go into HL, I try to go in with a purpose: I’m looking for something specific (or at least with a specific use in mind) so that I’m not going googly-eyed over everything I see.

I think it is also SUPER important to realize that, especially for those of us who homeschool, our children also need a sense of orderliness in their lives. To ask my kiddos to sit down and learn in a messy environment is, in my opinion, unfair of them. I could not do it, because I would constantly be distracted by the clutter around me. To ask my kiddos to sit down and ignore the mess around them is equally as difficult.

When it is time for us to do school work, we get out what we need at the time, and we put it away when we are done using it. This allows added clutter/mess to be avoided. **It is important not to skip that second part. Putting things away — where they go— is a crucial step to keeping clutter at bay! “A place for everything and everything in its place!”

When decorating and setting up our homeschool space four years ago when we moved into our new home, it was important for me to use my “FUL Rule” in order to keep our school room neat and organized. Yes, it takes a lot of stuff to educate multiple ages of children at home — but it doesn’t take everything available! We have over 200 colored pencils that are put out on our table at least once a day. When I was looking for a way to organize them, I wanted something Useful and Beautiful. At first, we used mason jars:

These were great, I had them on hand, and they met 2 of my “FUL Rule” requirements. Yay! Now, when I was out shopping with a friend a while back, I came across some antique sugar molds that I just really wanted. But, before I allowed myself to make the purchase, I put them into my “FUL Rule Formula.” Were they beautiful? Yes. Were they meaningful? No. Were they useful?

I made a way for them to be useFUL! (And all of those mason jars were repurposed for homemade strawberry preserves from our garden.)

Decluttering Your Home

The same rule works for every room in your home. As a homebody and a home educator, I want the space where I am most often to be comfortable and inviting. I don’t want to have to constantly move things around in the kitchen so that I can cook a meal. I don’t want to have to move things off the furniture so that my family, guests, or myself can simply sit down.

Before you think that I am heartless, please understand that I do have a sentimental attachment to certain things. I spent most of my childhood with my grandparents, so I have many memories connected to things that they owned. Yet, I do not have the space to keep all of the things that my grandparents left behind.

So, I had to evaluate many of their belongings that were passed down to me with my “FUL Rule Formula.” I promise you that it does not mean that I do not cherish my grandparents less because I didn’t keep all of their stuff. What I have in my own home are certain pieces that are special to me simply because they belonged to my grandparents. Their stuff does not equate to the precious memories that I have stored in my heart.

I kept my grandmother’s old sewing machine, and I use it as a table to fit a specific area in my home.

From my other grandparents’ house, I kept this simple plaque that reads “Mom’s Kitchen.”

This small thing brings back so many memories of sitting around my grandmother’s old kitchen table eating biscuits, sausage, and homemade gravy from her cast iron skillet. Those are sweet, sweet memories! Remember, it’s not the “stuff” that is important — it is the memories that make your heart swell with love that are important!

When it comes to the rest of my house, my “FUL Rule” is always in effect. My counters are relatively bare for many standards, but that’s just what fits into my “FUL Rule Formula.” If it’s not UseFUL, BeautiFUL, and/or MeaningFUL — then it’s just in the way!

Take this following picture of my kitchen for an example of my “FUL Rule”:

  • Stand Mixer: UseFUL and BeautiFUL
  • Butter Dish: UseFUL and BeautiFUL
  • Small Picture: MeaningFUL and BeautiFUL
  • Salt and Pepper bowls: UseFUL and BeautiFUL
  • Cookbook with Stand: UseFUL and BeautiFUL
  • Flour and Sugar Jars: UseFUL and BeautiFUL

I honestly don’t need anything else in this area. (For those of you wondering, my cooking utensils are in the cabinet below my stovetop. To me, those aren’t beautiful — but they are necessary for cooking, right?!?)

Since we homeschool our children, my whole house is utilized every day. While we have a nice school room, we don’t isolate our learning to just that space. So, because I want to be able to use my home for living and learning, it needs to be free of clutter.

It would be difficult to do math in the kitchen or review flashcards in a fun manner if my counters, floors, and house were filled with clutter.

Give Decluttering Your Home a Try

As I’ve said, I know decluttering a home is easier for some than it is for others. My neat-and-tidy personality lends itself nicely to a clutter-free home. Yet, in helping multiple friends and family members tackle their own clutter, using the “FUL Rule” helps tremendously.

Your stuff is just stuff. If you have a goal of decluttering your home and homeschool, plug your “stuff” into “Amber’s FUL Rule Formula” and see where it leads. I can promise you that it will lead to some breathing room that was being suffocated under a lot of clutter!

As you declutter and choose things to get rid of, remember that you can always BLESS OTHERS with things you no longer need/want. If it’s not truly MeaningFUL, it’s okay to let it go.

All of those things that you thought you needed but never actually used — donate them to a homeschool co-op or a family shelter. And before you make a run to Hobby Lobby for a huge haul, have a yard sale and earn some money from your decluttering. Take that money on a shopping trip for things that are UseFULand BeautiFUL.

Amber Castleberry

About the author

I am a happy wife and mother of 3. As a former public school teacher, I thought homeschoolers were "weird." Now...I tend to think of us as non-conformers. We are an eclectically Charlotte Mason homeschooling family that is not bound by our method or philosophy. We simply do what works, and tend to stay far away from what doesn't. I also have an uncanny passion for organization and making things pretty.

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