A Cleanup Action Plan
Darius and Kristen have five children, two dogs…and 10 completely messy rooms. "Every surface seems to have something on it, and usually something that doesn't belong there," Kristen says.
While stay-at-home mom Kristen says she likes the "lived-in look," she says she doesn't have time to keep up a house full of seven people and likes to spend her time scrapbooking. Darius says he finds their messy house embarrassing.
"We fight about it a lot because I think it's really unacceptable that I come home from working 12, 15 hours a day and have to clean up," he says. "She stays at home and as far as I'm concerned, quite honestly, that's part of her role to keep the house clean."
When Peter takes a look at Darius and Kristen's house, he enters through the foyer…and that's where the clutter begins. He found a suitcase left out after 16-year-old John returned from a trip—and he's been home for a week!
It's full of everything but dishes, napkins and silverware. Kristen also uses the dining room for scrapbooking. Darius calls it a dumping ground.
Then, Peter puts some limits on Kristen's hobby. "It has to be kept in one place and it has to be limited to a certain amount, so you can't keep adding stuff," he says.
The problem, Peter says, is that Darius and Kristen aren't following their own house rules about putting things away and making the bed.
They empty the master bedroom of loads of kids' clothes, the ironing board, the baby's playpen and Kristen's scrapbooking materials. Then, he uses the cabinet that stored those scrapbooking materials for the television.
Without the clutter, the master bedroom is much more open. "You can breathe," Peter says. "And that's what's important, in more ways than one."
In the future, Peter says, Darius and Kristen must develop routines. "When you take off an item, put it away. If it's dirty, clean it. If you open it, close it," he says. "Finish things."
After your closet is decluttered, keep it that way! Peter says that when you buy something new, you need to get rid of something old.
F) Fix a time and stick to it. He's given Darius and Kristen 10 minutes to do a "quick and dirty" sort. Then, haul out any item that fits in one of the following categories:
A) Anything you haven't used in a year
S) Stuff that doesn't belong
T) Trash. How much trash was in the Jackson's garage? Enough to completely fill a dumpster, with another huge pile that's going to charity.
Now Darius and Kristen are ready to deal with what's left. Peter says to sort what will stay into categorical piles like bicycles, tools and sports equipment. Eventually, everything will end up in separate zones in the garage.
Lowe's installed a Gladiator System, which is bolted to the wall and allows things to be stored off the ground. For the first time in years, Darius and Kristen can see their garage floor!
"We were just partners raising kids," Darius says. "I think we talked through a lot of the clutter."
Now that their home and life are clutter-free, Peter says it's vital that Darius and Kristen take their new routine into the future. "If you don't model that life for your children, nobody else will."
The new routine has already rubbed off on their daughter Jamison. "The first night she came in and said, 'I want my room to look like your room,'" Kristen says. "So we've started with her room." Jamison has even donated to charity two tubs full of toys that she doesn't play with anymore.