Sometimes I feel like I’m split in two. I’m a feng shui practitioner, so I am concerned with flow, order, and neatness. But I’m also the mother of a toddler. And I live with a partner, a dog, and two cats. While I consider feng shui as much as possible, I understand that the reality of my world, at least for a while, is way too many toys and endless dog hair. And I know that no matter how distracting and draining clutter can be, at the end of each day, or on a precious sunny Saturday, there is only so much energy – that is, my own personal energy – to go around. Sometimes, other things are more important.

So, if you are wondering how to bring some order to the chaos that is a loving family home, here are some tips:

It’s a cliché, but really…Make your bed! It takes up a large portion of any bedroom. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but at least straighten out the bedding every morning. No matter the state of the rest of the room, a neat bed can really lift the energy of a room and bring a sense of peace. It only takes a few minutes.

These days, most of us have tons of digital pictures of our kids. If you haven’t done so already, print and frame some of your favorites. Seeing the photos will make you smile and remind you of the worthwhile reasons your home is a mess. If you go the traditional route and display them in a hallway or along a staircase, hang them only on one side. This will avoid overwhelming a relatively small space. Consider spray-painting all the frames black (or whatever you like) to cut down on the visual chaos of clashing colors.

Every parent craves sleep. Feng shui can help the whole family get more rest. If you have a mirror in your bedroom and find yourself with restless nights (even when the kids don’t wake you up), consider relocating it. Mirrors create a lot of energy, which can disrupt your sleep. At least move it to a wall that does not face the bed. The same goes for your kids’ rooms. The bed should face the door, but not be directly in front of it. In other words, if you are in your bed, you want to be looking at the wall with the door on it, but not straight out of the room into the hall. This will make anyone sleeping in that room feel more secure. Words and books hold a lot of energy. We want to encourage our children to love reading, but if your child has trouble sleeping, think about reducing clutter and displaying only a few books in her bedroom. Put the others in another accessible room.

Your bedroom should be just that – the place that you find rest and relaxation. If you are going to think about feng shui anywhere, think about it here. No toys. No work. No exercise equipment. The only photos or images in the room should suggest romantic love and partnership. Even if you are happily single, self-care is important and can be centered in your bedroom. No photos of children, family, or friends.

By all means, declutter when you are so inspired! Most of us have way too much stuff that not only takes up physical and energetic space, but also means more to clean and straighten. Involve your children – ask them to choose several toys for donation before the next birthday or holiday consumer extravaganza.

Speaking of decluttering and kids…I know how hard it can be to let go of items from your kids’ babyhood and early years. Trust me. I know. But we can’t keep everything, at least not forever (right? Someone tell me I’m right….’cause it doesn’t always feel right). For many of us, letting go of that stuff is really painful. It feels like we are losing those important moments, memories, and experiences. And it just reminds us of how fast our kids are growing up. But the important thing to discern is whether letting go of those baby items will only be momentarily painful, or if we’ll truly regret giving them up. Accept that sorting through those tiny, sweet clothes is going to hurt. First, determine what you absolutely can’t give up. Take the rest and bag them up for donation, and then….wait. Give it a week or a month. How much did you think about the stuff in the bag? Were you sad for that whole month? Or did you forget about it? Maybe even take a peek at the bag once or twice. Do you even remember what’s in there? If not, if you don’t feel the tugging on your heart over the next few weeks, then you can probably safely get rid of it. If you cry every time you notice that bag, then keep it all for a while longer.

I’m a crazy lady when it comes to getting rid of my daughter’s stuff. I didn’t donate or throw out anything other than dirty diapers for her first three years. When I finally worked up the courage to gather up a bunch of toys to donate, I felt really sad. I put the bag in my garage and then forgot about it completely. I forgot not only that the bag was there – but when I noticed it again I had no idea what was in it. I didn’t even realize it was the toys that I thought would be so heartbreaking to give up. That motivated me to get rid of more. I passed along tons of stuff – clothes, toys, supplies – to a friend that was about to have a baby. Of course it was hard to do, but once the stuff was gone, I hardly thought about it. And I know that another mama will now make her own sweet memories with all that stuff.

My point is that some sadness, even tears, at the moment of letting go is not a sign that you should keep everything. You just need to determine how long that pain is going to linger.

Let decluttering be an ongoing process. If you don’t get to the basement until next month (or next year!), it’s not the end of the world. Do what you can, when you can, and try to not to stress about the rest.

Finally….breathe. Accept that at this (temporary) stage of life, your home, or at least part of it, is going to be a mess sometimes. Maybe most of the time. Understand that feng shui is not a destination. There will never be a perfect state of affairs – for you or for your home. We are always shifting and evolving. Our homes are no different. So go easy on yourself and your space (and maybe even your kids) when the place is a wreck.

Playing with your children, or taking some rare quiet time for yourself is more important than the dirty dishes or unfolded laundry. The energy that you create when you feel joy, gratitude, and calm – even amidst the mess – is good feng shui!

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