Dear Peter Walsh,

I used to be relatively organized, before having children—now 9 and 11—and the accumulation that accompanies them. I homeschool the children and feel that I don't have time during the day to put decluttering routines into place, at least not like other stay at home moms whose children go to public school.

The island in the kitchen is one of the biggest problems in the house. Everything ends up there. Your description of the kitchen counter as a place where "we put things until we have time to deal with them" is a spot-on.

How can I organize my kids' school stuff and keep the kitchen clutter-free?

— Cheryl

Stop the train, Cheryl! There are four of you living in your home. The four of you are creating the clutter, and the four of you have to be involved in the decluttering and getting (and staying) organized.

You mentioned that you don't have the time. I don't accept this. We give time to what we feel is important.

First—it's time for you to have a heart-to-heart with your husband. If you're feeling overwhelmed and without time for yourself, that's the first thing that needs to be addressed. No man wants a home where his wife is swamped. Tell him how you feel and work out a plan together. You need support and assistance.

Second—call a family meeting. You and your husband need to get the kids on board. They are old enough to be helping around the house and stepping up to make sure their mom doesn't have to take care of it all.

Third—find the time. Every night before dinner the TV should be switched off for 10 or 15 or 20 or however many minutes it takes for everyone to do a sweep around the house to declutter, straighten up and organize anything
that needs attention.

The help you have is living right there with you—you just have to put them
to work!

— Peter


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