Decluttering Challenge #5: the Craft Room, Play Room, Office!

After a long break I dug into the biggest, most mixed up mess of all. I was actually hoping to put this one off until close to last, but it seemed like things that should have had a place to be tucked away in here were spilling out all over the house.

I must confess I still have some things to do in here although I am calling completion on at least getting all the little random piles and things out of control and organizing the closet. I think I’ll continue to pull out more to get rid of as I am able.

So this is a multi purpose room and the closet especially had become a place where any random old thing was stuffed when it didn’t fit anywhere else. And with the kids toys and crafty things in here, it turns into a mess very easily.

My goals here were:

-organize craft supplies

-organize board games, video games and accessories

-tidy and file or recycle papers

-toss any broken junk and take out anything for donation

Here it is before:

The kids play area was a bit of a disaster, probably worse than the blurry picture there shows. And the closet and desk were overflowing with clutter and the closet was a mess.

So! I went through my craft drawers at the bottom first. I set aside some supplies I really don’t need or want, boxed up some of my messier things I use less often to get them out of reach of toddler hands, recycled some scraps of paper and made room in the drawers for things that really needed to be stored.

I went through the rest of the closet and found two bags and a box of yarn and string that was meant to be passed to a friend ages ago.

I pulled out dozens of kids drawings and paintings, piles and piles of them, and found a couple worth keeping and recycled the mass of them.

I used some empty boxes to store some more of the games and some of the magic cards so things fit on the upper shelves a little better.

I went through all the little random things lying around and put them where they needed to go.

I went through the drawers in the desk and rearranged some things so they made more sense.

I put some of the kids toys where they belong.

I had to pause to go to sleep last night, this is what it looked like partway through:

So this morning I went back in and finished filing a few papers, took out the garbage off the floors and swept and finished putting the toys and such away.

And I took the last few little things out of the closet so everything in there has a place.

Again, it’s not perfect, but so much more manageable now!

Here it is after:

So that’s that!

I think I might actually get more done in the living room and bathrooms today so I might have more very soon!

I felt like slowing down after the first few areas, but now that it is getting colder here I really want to get through this before it starts to feel like winter!

And I wanna get the clutter clear so I can work some more good feelings into our decor and arrangements!

Stay tuned for more!

To Bend or Break: a Pause

Greetings to you strange friends and friendly strangers! I took a bit of a break from my decluttering extravaganza. I spent some days catching up on other things that needed my attention and tried to include myself in that!

I feel like I have been through a bit of a whirlwind. Time is passing quickly. I still sometimes feel like I have so far to go, so much to do, but I can see more tangibly now what I have accomplished in even a short time lately, and that feels so good.

We’ve been working on establishing a bona fide bedtime routine, and we’re not quite at the sleep time I would most appreciate, but it is so much better than it was and still seems to be shifting earlier, ever so slowly. Without much strain I guess, now that the kids are usually asleep before I get too burnt out.

There are times when I decide something is really important and I just put all of my energy into it, even when it doesn’t come naturally or when it seems like a big effort. I just give it everything I have and try to make it happen. Go through the motions and strain myself to get as close to the mark as I can. And when I’m doing that and I experience any set back, any delay or any complication, it feels so awful.

And I’ve had some nights lately where I sat in the dark for over an hour waiting for a child to stop squirming and fall asleep. Nights when I didn’t want to read any stories by the time we started. Nights where I didn’t want to nurse at all, but tried to offer it as long as I could possibly stand to buy an easier transition into sleep, to be able to walk away a little sooner. Nights where I was hoping to catch up on the dishes, on my studies, on some quiet project or another after the kids were asleep, but found myself so exhausted by that time that I couldn’t do anything meaningful at all.

It’s part of that perpetual cycle I find myself in, always feeling like I am catching up or making up for something, never quite finished. Wanting to focus on one thing at a time, but feeling unable to prioritize. Because when I am going through clothes to donate, the dishes pile up. When I’m cleaning up the kitchen, toys and books are getting dumped out. When I’m cleaning up the play areas, a wall somewhere is getting colored on. When I’m working away at something stained or broken, the kids get too hungry and start fighting. When I’m making lunch, they want my attention. When they have my attention, the laundry piles up.

And there is this dance to it all, sometimes I’m paying attention to what is right in front of me and I take the right steps, things fall into place as well as they can and things are taken care of in time.

But sometimes, often really, the scope of it all is so overwhelming that I try to force things at the wrong time, or just can’t get moving on anything at all.

Management of our entire household is so full of details and nuances. I’ve been thinking a lot about the mental load of it lately. All that invisible work of noticing, analyzing, organizing, preparing, delegating. And there is so much to keep track of.

I haven’t felt particularly talented when it comes to rhythm and structure and getting chores done. I seem to have a lot of trouble finding the right way to schedule things for myself so there is time for everything. And I’ve largely been making up for this deficit I feel by focusing more and more on simplifying our lives. Trying to have less things, less demands so it is easier to get to the bottoms of every pile.

But the funny thing about simplifying, that is a task, too. That can be a chore. That can be a whole category of chores. A new set of tasks to check off, projects to manage.

This time around, as I’m decluttering I have noticed more regular tasks falling to the wayside and a bit of mess piling up. But it hasn’t been as bad as I might have feared. I do feel now that I am starting to see some actual space cleared, some actual relief of needless tension, and the feeling of being a little closer to being caught up with myself.

In taking a few days here to get some other cleaning done, I’m actually starting to feel happy and content about my house, my life again.

And with a trip planned this weekend, I’m not sure how fast I’ll get through the rest of the decluttering challenges. But I’ve made a big push and I can see that we are moving! I should be able to keep this all up over this next month as things slow down a bit for us again.

I do have another area half done to post soon upon completion! But I don’t feel like I need to pressure myself to push, push, push until all those rocks are over the mountain anymore. I have a lot more faith now that we can take care of everything in time! And that is such a relief.

I hope you are all well and feeling capable and comfortable out there! At least some of the time!

Decluttering Challenge #4: the Kitchen!

So this was a big one! I actually meant to save it for later on in this venture, but I felt compelled to get started yesterday. This one took two days! I feel like some more things might shift here still, but I found places for a lot of things that were scattered about and got rid of some extras and some garbage, and dealt with the counter sprawl.

So! Again I didn’t approach most of the deeper cleaning just yet. My main goals in the kitchen were:

-clear off the pile of stuff on the counter, including papers to be filed and basket of random junk

-find homes for or get rid of various glass jars and plant pots that were covering the tops of the counters

-go through the cupboards and drawers and make more sense of them – food and dishes

I also intended to go through the pantry closet which is mostly filled with small appliances and recycling containers, but after getting through everything else it doesn’t seem very necessary – it just needs a bit of a clean and that can wait!

I’m going to post the pictures by area because there is a lot here.

Starting with the food cupboards!

Here is the first one before:

I pulled a surprising amount of egg cartons out which were picked up promptly after posting them on the local for free page. I cleared out some other things to recycle and put our massive cereal collection and bags of chips and other pantry things back in.

Here it is after:

Very full, but everything is lined up nicely and accessible.

Next one before:

Way too much stuff was crammed in here! With the cereal out of the way I was able to arrange the rest much better. I tossed a couple old and stale things. Here it is after:

So much easier to find things! Especially all the teas.

And the baking and pasta stuff here, before:

Again just so much stuff. I tossed a few things and put everything back more orderly. Here it is after:

I feel like our baking ingredients are always a bit much, but I really like to have things on hand for spontaneous treat making so I make it work!

Here’s another before:

All our food storage containers plus chips. With the food out of the way, I organized the lids and containers and added the jars I wanted to keep, and other containers taken out of other areas. Doesn’t look quite so tidy after, but everything is easy to find and organized in a way that makes sense to me. Here it is:

So that brings me to the place those jars came from, before:

The top of my cupboard was covered!

But I thought I had room for the plant pots in here…

So that turned into this:

Got the plant stuff in here and my watering can off the counter, and arranged what else needed to be up here more tidily.

So with the jars and pots out of the way, the top of the cupboards are clear!

And the counter top sprawl here…

I decided to actually move our little filing system out here. Not the totally clear counter I was hoping for, but way more convenient for actually putting papers away instead of letting them pile up. I went through the random junk, tossed a bit and moved a lot to the craft room where it can be put away properly when I tackle that space.

So after all that, here is the whole spread now:

And a couple other little things, some dishes and things before:

Not too much work with these, took out a couple broken or needless things, rearranged the rest better and ended up with:

And that’s about it! That’s not every bit of storage space in the kitchen, but that’s where most of the work was done. I’m sure I missed describing some things, but I hope the photos at least give you an idea of the transformation here. I am really happy with with. And now I am set to take it easy for the rest of the day!

Stay tuned for the next area to be posted! And thanks to everyone who’s been doing their own work and sharing with me on the Facebook page! It keeps me motivated to keep going, too!

Decluttering Challenge #3: the Hall Closet!

After a little break after the weekend I am back in action! This time I wanted to tackle the hall closet. We don’t have a lot of spare linens or anything, so this is a big mix of cleaning supplies, towels and random household things that haven’t found room anywhere else.

So my goals here were:

– make some space for extra toiletries and first aid stuff

-organize cleaning supplies

-take out any extra garbage or unneeded things and put away things that don’t need to be there

-make some space for the breastpump and anything else that had been shoved unceremoniously

So here is the before picture:

This one was pretty easy to get through as well.

I took the diaper box at the bottom (full if random things for this next baby) and brought it to my own closet where the other box of baby clothes is and left them together, to be gone through more thoroughly when we’ve gathered more baby supplies.

I went through the top shelf and carefully folded the table cloth and a couple extra pillowcases and took out an old, cheap humidifier that I am quite sure is full of mildew inside. That’s waiting to either be cleaned or tossed now.

I went through the cleaning supplies, tossed and recycled empty containers and dried out old wipes, and arranged everything left in a way that made more sense.

This left more space on that same shelf for the first aid and body care stuff.

I arranged the top and bottom shelves so there is some empty space as well as room for a few little boxes and the cleaning bucket and such.

And made everything else fit nicely!

That’s about it. Most of what came out of here was just garbage and it is so much easier to get to everything now. I think I actually added in more than I took out, but it looks emptier now.

Here is the after shot:

And a closer look:

Next I think I’ll work on the bathrooms before moving on to the fuller, busier rooms!

Thanks for following along, please feel free to share your own progress! Watch for the next post soon!

Decluttering Challenge #2: Kids Room!

Onto the next room! This one was a lot less work than I thought it might be. Again I skipped the cleaning stuff for now, just to focus on getting things organized and tidy.

Here is what I focused on in the kids room:

– Rounding up misc. things under the bed and in the junk bed drawers and putting them in their place.

– Properly organize the dress up stuff.

– Toss (or take aside to fix) ripped or broken things.

– Go through clothes to take out things that don’t fit or aren’t worn and organize what is left.

– Organize toys and games in the closet, purge if necessary, and see if there are any books to be donated.

Here’s a shot of the closet before, this was my main focus:

Continue reading →

Decluttering Challenge #1: the Bedroom!

For this challenge, instead of trying to hit targets of certain numbers of things per area, I want to look at whole rooms and dig really deep into problem areas.

I decided to start with the bedroom. As I said in my last post, before I began I made a list of tasks that needed to be done for each room.

So for reference, here are the things I focused on in my bedroom:

– organize and properly store clothes “for later” as my room had become a storage area for clothes that don’t fit my pregnant self, outgrown kids clothes to save for each younger sibling, and some piles of things needing to be donated that haven’t been yet

– find places for or donate all the extra junk in the closet, including going through some random boxes of things, some of which really did not need to be there

Most of this was centered around my closet and a nearby shelf, both of which had become a big mess of random projects and things that I did not know where else to put.

One of my rules I am holding myself to through this challenge is for everything I take out of one place to either find a place where it belongs somewhere else, or to leave our house entirely. I’m trying to get rid of wandering things that don’t really have any place to go, making space for things that are really important and letting go of things that are not.

So while I moved things that did not belong in the bedroom out, I tried to put them away in their exact places, or at least bring them to the closets or rooms where they will stay, likely finding their permanent spot as I get to those other rooms later.

Now, without further delay, here is my bedroom “before”…

Laundry that is never quite put away, kids toys taken or stashed away, bunches of clothes and random bags and pieces of decorative items or things needing repair or half finished projects. Quite a bit here.

So I started with the clothes. Saphira (age 4.5) helped me quite a bit with this part while her sister napped.

I went though a laundry basket overflowing with things I had taken from the kids dressers as I noticed they didn’t fit, a basket of kids shoes that I had set aside from our porch recently for the same reason, a bag of baby/toddler clothes I was set to purge before I got pregnant again, piles of things I had pulled off our hangers that Drew wanted to purge and that I could not wear while pregnant or in the summer, and whatever else was laying around.

I used a couple different totes, filled one up with clothes of Saphira’s to put away for Trinity for later.

I refilled the laundry basket with clothes that Trinity might be able to use now and put them in her room to go through when we tackle their stuff.

I filled the other tote with my clothes for when I am back to my pre-pregnancy shape,  and with some formal things we just don’t use often.

I filled a small box with clothes we can keep for the baby, which I put back up in the closet for going through further as we gather more of what we need for this next little one.

I finished trying on some maternity pants I got from a friend, hung up what I wanted and put the rest in to the donate bag.

At the end I had two garbage bags full of clothes to just take to the thrift store, and two totes of kids clothes and shoes and our own extra stuff that can be stored in the garage.

With the clothes out of the way I was able to get to the rest of what was on the shelves more easily.

Saphira helped me take out and put away all the kids toys and books that were around.

I made some space for a couple of kids items that I will be trying to get rid of that I need out of their sight.

I took down some decorative things for us to either make room for or add to the donate pile.

I out our extra bags and purses back in the storage bench where they live with my jewelry making supplies.

I bagged up my Waldorf doll pieces and pattern and put it on my shelf where I will actually see it and finish it, hopefully.

I organized mine and Drew’s special books and projects on our own shelves without all the extra stuff around it.

I put the basket of candles and the memorabilia boxes tidy on the higher shelves, after having tucked little cards and drawings and papers of special interest each in their appropriate box.

That is basically it. I may or may not take my box of notebooks and sketchbooks and things to the garage, I kind of like having it on hand lately.

I put the cushion back in the cat bed and set it up on the closet so Link has a place to chill out in there again.

I brought my breast pump and a box of clothespins to the hall closet to be established in there when I get to that part.

I ended up with a very small bag of garbage and a few things besides clothes that we can give away or sell.

So,  I got things put back in a tidied manner and set aside everything that can be taken out.

Here’s the after shots:

So, it’s actually not quite as clear and spacious as I was hoping. Apparently there are still a lot of “things” I think I need, but everything is organized and some long overdue donations will be made, and there is some empty space now if gifts or whatever need a place to be stashed!

I decided to leave the cleaning and regular stuff out of this, so I did not finish putting away my clean laundry or make my bed yet. But I feel like that will be so much easier now! And that means this room was indeed finished in a day, it seemed like a lofty project so I’m proud of that.

I would love to see and hear your own progress if you are following along with your own declutter! If you feel so inclined,  please leave a comment here or an update or a photo on my Facebook page!

I aim to have the next challenge post out within the next couple days, so keep an eye out!

Decluttering Challenge Introduction!

I think it’s that time again for me. I do this periodically and I feel like it is always ongoing – trying to clear out all the “extra” stuff so the things we need, use and love are easier to access, use and put away.

And it gets hard sometimes! With young children I don’t always feel like I can allow myself long spurts of dedicated time to really get to the bottom of piles and the backs of closets.

But I feel quite motivated now to give this another dedicated attempt. And unlike challenges I’ve done in the past to get me going, where I’d try to reach targets of certain amounts of items just to make progress, I’d really like to go deeper this time and feel like I have actually finished something at the end of it.

I’ll be sharing my progress here for anyone who would like to follow my own steps or be inspired to create their own structure for getting to the bottom of their own messes!

So, first things first, before getting started, I’ve been working on a list room by room, listing all the things I know need to be done in each place by task. I’ve included some cleaning things in this list, because my regular maintenance is spotty at best, but that is not necessary and will actually be easier to tackle after the moving of “things” is done if you have deep cleaning that needs done, too!

Just to show you what I am working with here, this was before I thought of the laundry room, garage and shed so it’s incomplete. I won’t copy out my list word for word here as it’s specific to me, but I will go through the steps I take in each place as I tackle each area so you can see what I actually did.

So to start, I encourage you to make your own list specific to your own living spaces, and what your problem areas are and what you know you need to do with them. This will help you get to the root of your own clutter and should help you a bit more than just following my template exactly.

I’ve just started in on my bedroom first, it is definitely not the easiest place to start but it makes sense. So my next post will come when I have completed that and it will go over what the state was before and after and what I did to get through it all.

If nothing else, I hope watching me push through and just get things moving will help you get some momentum going too if you’ve been feeling stuck!

Please feel welcome to share your own efforts and progress along the way too, either here or on my Facebook page! It would help me, too, to see what others are dealing with and what they do with it!