It’s here! Welcome to the first week of Project Simplify. Where I am, the weather is nearing into spring, but the flowers haven’t yet bloomed and there’s the very real chance of snowfall on any given day. Unpredictable. And a great time of year to freshen up our homes.

Our goal for the month is not to have a perfect house—because that will never happen. (At least it won’t in my house, with my clan living here.) Our purpose is to take a few intentional steps to declutter, clean, and organize four specific hotspots, which will hopefully give us that boost to continue with the rest of our home into April and May.

I hope it will encourage all the people in your household to take ownership of their living space. And I hope you spend a bit of this time bonding with each other. And I hope you don’t get frustrated.

Well, you probably will get a little frustrated, because there are times in the decluttering process where you wonder why on EARTH you have that thing, and can’t wait to finally send it to its new home at the thrift store.

Or you might need to look yourself square in the eye and dig deep for the reasons it’s so hard for you to let go of stuff. Perhaps it’s holding more meaning than it was ever intended to do so?

Or in this week’s case, you may need to lead your children by example and help them process why they want to keep every drawing and every rock and every Highlights magazine.

Kids’ stuff

I honestly was going to skip kids’ stuff this year, but I was blown away by how many of you begged for us to tackle this area. We did it last year, so I wanted to focus on something else.

But the more I thought of it (and the more I looked around my own house), I decided you were right. Kids’ stuff has the audacity to get everywhere. It’s small and has many pieces and is used constantly.

Plus, so many of us are parents, and I think it’s a great way to start off our month of cleaning—helping our brood learn necessary life skills.

A note: If you don’t have kids at home, no worries. Instead, focus on your own personal stuff—your wardrobe, or whatever else you’d find in your master bedroom. I wrote some tips about tackling that area during last year’s Project Simplify.

A few tips for your week:

1. Go a little at a time.

Don’t empty out your kid’s entire room—it’ll be overwhelming, and at some point you’ll have to stop, and then you’ll be stuck with stuff all out of place. Take small bites.

And actually, this goes for every hotspot this week.

2. Get them involved. Or not.

If your kids are old enough, or if they’d really care about certain items, have them do all this with you—pick an area of their room, and have them separate items into “keep,” “toss,” and “donate.” Use cardboard boxes, so that there’s finite space.

A caveat to this is if your kids are really young—there’s a chance they’d be more in the way than helpful. It’s impossible for me to go through all our puzzles and board games when my toddler is awake, for example, so that’ll be a naptime or evening project for me.

3. Show your struggles, too.

Talk with your kids about how it’s sometimes hard for you to let go of stuff, too. Share a specific example—the shirt in your closet that’s still too small, or the button collection from Aunt Elsa you took home only out of politeness.

It’ll help the kids see that letting go of stuff is a normal struggle, and that you’re walking right alongside them.

4. Make it fun for them.

Play music they like. Talk about fun stuff as you work in their rooms. Reward them with pizza and a movie at the end of the week. Encourage; don’t manipulate or condemn.

My plan

Our kids don’t have a lot of toys, but they do manage to amass random craft projects, party favors, and the like. Our game and puzzle collection is also a mess, thanks to a clever little 20-month-old who’s figured out where those things are stored. And, I need to pass along or store clothes that no longer fit, and pull down from storage the next garments in line.

Your turn

If you’d like to use my book, Organized Simplicity, for inspiration about the three step process of decluttering, cleaning, and organizing, well, that’d be fine by me. In fact, Amazon has the Kindle version on sale right now for $8.99, and Barnes & Noble has the Nook version for $2.99.

And specific for this week, chapter 13 goes into detail about dealing with kids’ stuff. But it’s not necessary for this series, so don’t feel pressured. You can completely immerse yourself into Project Simplify without the book.

On Friday and Saturday of this week, you’ll be able to share your before and after photos with all of us (more details on how are here, but I’ll remind you how again this weekend).

On Sunday, I’ll draw one random participant, who’ll receive this week’s reward—a set of Lay-n-Gos! I adore mine, and I’ll show you more how they work for us on Friday.

I’m excited to share this month with you!

Update: See my before and after photos from this week’s hotspot here!

What particular items this week—toys, clothes, books, or whatever—do you anticipate being the most challenging?