For many children, especially those diagnosed with ADHD, Autism, and Aspergers, clutter can be a huge distraction. It can cause stress and anxiety and inhibit creativity and productivity. In this post, we talk about visual clutter and how to reduce the visual clutter bombarding our children’s brains daily.
What is visual clutter?
Visual clutter comes in many forms. It’s present at home, in the mall, at work, at school, and just about everywhere. Some typical examples of visual clutter would be:
- Newspaper headlines
- Shop windows
- Road signs
- Consumer products
- Throw pillows
These gadgets and products bombard us with messages every second of every day.
Our brain is trying to distinguish if these messages are:
- Important or urgent, do you need to deal with it now, or can it be left for later? Is it ok to be ignored?
- Life-threatening, Is this life-threatening? Do you need to protect yourself?
- Something which needs to be remembered, are you going to need to remember and store this information for later?
- Feel-good messages, do these messages make us feel good, or are they triggering some negative emotion in us every time we read them?
All of these messages are known as visual clutter and can be quite overwhelming to people who struggle to live in a cluttered environment.
Are you adding extra visual clutter to your home?
Some of us may have chosen to add “extra” visual clutter in the design of our homes by displaying ornaments that spell out words such as “bathroom,” “love,” or “home” or choose to have busy and loud decor.
I wonder how many times a day we subconsciously read the label on our shower gel, toothpaste tube, washing up liquid or moisturiser.
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How I began to reduce visual clutter
If your house is extremely cluttered, check out this post to help you start reducing visual clutter.
The decluttering guru Marie Kondo suggests we protect our homes from visual clutter by encouraging us to remove labels wherever possible from daily products.
As a mother of two young children, I figured this would be almost impossible for safety reasons. However, off I went to give it a go.
I thought I’d start my experiment with the hand wash bottle, as I figured even my five-year-old knows that it is soap and won’t get it muddled up with anything else in the bathroom.
I carefully peeled away the label, full of hundreds of little words, and I was left with a clear bottle. To my surprise, it felt great not to read the words “Imperial Leather Hand Soap” every time I washed my hands. I decided to swap the generic bottle for a nice decorative foaming soap bottle like this one which my kids love to use.
Reducing visual clutter became addictive; I couldn’t stop once I started!
I removed the labels from my stuff first and started with small products such as lip balms, moisturizers, hand creams, mascaras, and items easily recognizable to me and that others did not use.
When I peeled the label off my expensive moisturizer, it looked no different from the other cheaper brands. I felt annoyed at myself for being drawn into the brand’s consumerism and advertising. I suddenly realized that I’d been duped and had been paying through the nose for the pretty packaging. Every product looked the same without all the gorgeous packaging. I realized that I had been paying huge prices for the packaging rather than the product inside.
This revelation profoundly affected how I shopped; I immediately began to change the way I purchased luxury beauty products, which was a great weakness of mine.
It felt good and liberating, and the thought of the extra money I’d saved in my bank account gave me more of a thrill than purchasing the product would ever have.
How you can slowly reduce visual clutter
The next step in my journey toward a spa-like home was to carefully assess which communal items I could safely remove the labels without adding any confusion to a family who already has difficulty finding things!
Items I removed labels from :
- Hand soap was easily recognizable to all family members in my new hand soap dispensers
- Shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel. We now use these simple human wall-mounted soap dispensers for shampoo conditioner and shower gel.
- Body lotions.
- Face cream.
- Lip balms.
- Teabags. Decanted into these OXO stackable storage jars
- Beans and pulses. stored in stackable storage jars
- Biscuits and crackers. in airtight containers for freshness
- Pasta and Rice. stored in airtight stackable jars like these
- Washing powder. stored in an Addis airtight cereal dispenser like this one
- Dishwashing pods. stored in airtight jars like this one
- Coffee. stored in stackable airtight jars like these ones
- Nuts. stored in a stackable container
- Cereal. Stored in an airtight cereal box like this one
- I store foodstuffs in glass jars or plastic stackable containers, and laundry pods, etc. are stored in plastic containers out of the reach of small children.
- I only remove labels from bottles if they are easy to remove within seconds and are not dangerous to my kids.
- I never remove labels from cleaning products or anything hazardous.
The benefits of banishing visual clutter.
- I love having fewer packaged products in my home as I think it feels so much more tranquil and clutter-free and helps bring unity to my home.
- I no longer feel that I’m subconsciously re-reading the same words repeatedly in my home.
- My kids seem more relaxed and calm.
- The house appears tidier even when it’s at its worst.
- As far as I’m aware, no one in the family has washed their hair with conditioner yet, but you never know in our house!
Other items that cause visual clutter in your home.
Besides the unnecessary labels, there are many other ways visual clutter creeps into our homes and makes us anxious and overwhelmed.
Besides the unnecessary labels, there are many other ways visual clutter creeps into our homes and makes us anxious and overwhelmed.
- Heaps of laundry to put away.
Laundry, whether clean or dirty, can cause home clutter. If it’s dirty, wash it. If it’s clean, put it away. Read how to catch up on laundry here.
- Heaps of dirty laundry.
Baskets exploding with dirty laundry can cause cluttered spaces. Wash clothes daily and use a lidded laundry basket to hide dirty washing until you can launder it. Follow these simple tricks to help reduce the laundry pile.
- Broken objects.
If it’s broken, get rid of it. If they break, remove furniture, old TVs, monitors, laptops, and phones. There is no way of organizing clutter. It’s better to let it go!
- Unused cables.
One easy way to avoid visual clutter anxiety is to eliminate all those cables, wires, and chargers that are not used. Lay everything out on the floor and make sure you don’t need any of the chargers or wires. Anything you don’t use should be discarded.
- Unread books.
you should not need to keep hundreds of books that you never read. Learn how to declutter your books without crying here!
- Old magazines.
If you’ve read them, pass them on!
- Empty boxes and baskets.
If you bought loads of storage boxes and bins thinking you were going to organize your clutter, think again! throw them away along with all your clutter.
- Overflowing trash cans.
Getting rid of recycling and rubbish is an easy way to reduce clutter in your home. Empty your bin daily. Follow these tips to keep maggots out of your bins.
- Empty shampoo bottles.
This handy wall-mounted dispenser will help reduce the number of shampoo bottles in your shower.
- Drop zones and hot spots.
Another great way of reducing clutter in the home is to keep on top of clutter hotspots and drop zones. Create spaces for the kids to hang up their rucksacks and place their shoes.
- Empty toilet roll holders.
There’s nothing more depressing to look at than empty toilet roll holders. As soon as it’s empty, put it in the bin. Keep a bathroom bin like this one by the loo to help your family dispose of them immediately.
- School paperwork.
Deal with school papers as soon as they come in the door. Here is how I keep paperwork from school organized.
- Dirty dishes.
Whether you use a dishwasher or prefer to wash dishes by hand, deal with dirty dishes straight away to help eliminate clutter.
- Mismatched Mugs.
You don’t need hundreds of mugs. Six should suffice for a family of four. Get rid of any mismatched and chip ones that you don’t use. Remove the clutter and make some cupboard space.
- Ugly wooden signs and wall art.
Signs that scream at you as you walk into the room can cause anxiety without you realizing it. Do you love all your wall art and ornaments? If not, remove them and opt for clean walls, window sills, and shelving.
- Toy clutter.
If you need help decluttering toys and starting a toy rotation system, read this post
- Visual clutter in phones
Most of these problems can be fixed by creating a routine to get yourself into daily habits to reduce visual clutter and the build-up of these items. Read how to get organized and create a routine for your home here.
Frequently asked Q&A
A child with ADHD may struggle to thrive in a cluttered environment. Visual clutter is not good for anyone with ASD or ADHD. Anything that will distract attention from tasks such as homework, getting dressed, or eating needs to be minimized. Clutter is one of those things!
Children with ADHD struggle to organize themselves, and the chaos of a negative space only makes tasks harder for them to complete successfully. Reducing visual clutter is one thing you can do to help your child live in a visually appealing and less chaotic space.
Visual clutter and ADHD do not mix well.
✔️ Make sure all toys are easy to put away.
✔️ Storage boxes or baskets with lids are better for children with ADHD as it helps keep toys out of view and helps to create a clutter-free space.
✔️ Think about creating a kids capsule wardrobe to reduce clothing clutter. This will help your child get dressed in the morning as it will reduce the number of choices he has to make.
✔️ To learn how to start a toy rotation system, click here. This will help you reduce the number of toys your child has to choose from.
✔️ Keeping things simple using a toy rotation system will help your child focus and attention.
✔️ Keep your child’s room visually uncluttered by choosing a neutral
Visual clutter is anything that draws and distracts the eye. It could be piles of paperwork or bright wallpaper.
Some visual clutter accumulates because we get blind to it, therefore we are not productive in clearing it away, similar to the hotspot on your kitchen counter that becomes a dumping ground for everyone’s stuff.
Look around your home and notice where your clutter hotspots are and how much unnecessary clutter you have in your home .
Knowing how to define visual clutter in your home will help you learn how to minimize and simplify your home, resulting in a calm and zen-like space.
Some people have difficulty letting go of their possessions forming a sentimental attachment to their belongings. It is almost like a comfort blanket to them, particularly people with hoarding disorders and people with ASD. they may not know how to remove clutter from their home without triggering overwhelming waves of anxiety. It is important never to force someone to get rid of their clutter if they are not ready to do so . If a hoarding situation becomes a problem to someone’s health you may need to seek professional help.
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