First of all, I apologize to you loyal blog readers for my one month (yeesh!) hiatus. I don’t know what came over me… the end of the school year? My kids’ unplanned and exhausting transition to big kid beds? Alien abduction? In any case, I’m baaaaack! And I have a terrific, witty, and engaging post for you to read, written by my friend Michelle. Michelle is a young mom to two adorable youngsters. Like most moms, she finds clutter to be a daily battle. This past spring, she tackled her entire house in two days! What a woman! I am in awe of the amount of decluttering she accomplished in a wee 48 hours. Got a weekend? Got clutter? Use Michelle as your inspiration to minimize, organize, and simplify!
“Spring Break” can have many different meanings depending on who you are. If you’re a sophomore in college, it may mean a trip to Cancun. For a young couple, it may mean a quick trip to a hip town like Chicago. If you’re married with children, it might mean that first trip to Disneyland. And if you’re married to me, it means a “to do” list a page long.
A running joke in our house is that I am like the character in “Sleeping With The Enemy.” Remember the scenes where Julia Roberts straightens the pantry cans so the labels all face the same direction? She also straightens the hand towels in the bathroom to all be the same length. (This is all to avoid being beaten by her psycho hubby, by the way.) While I don’t agree with the husband’s obvious anger issues regarding organization, I too like all my soup cans facing out at the same angle. Now, I won’t beat Nick if he places the pretzel bag on the obvious “breakfast foods” shelf, but I may sigh when I find those pretzels next to the Pop Tarts and quickly move them to the “snack food” section of our pantry. Yeah…a little much, isn’t it?
I had two days to “minimize” our home of the clutter that a family of four accumulates and I was excited to take on the task. I armed myself with the essentials of any serious organization undertaking:
Starbucks tall coffee with cream.
The label maker. I think I see a halo around it, don’t you?
Ziploc bags and a Sharpie… a cheap way to organize the junk drawer or medicine cabinet. For example, I stuck all my extra USB cables in one to help tame a clear drawer.
Some great tunes blaring in the house. I find that any song by ABBA or Neil Diamond, as well as “I’m a Hustler” by Pharrell, helps keep up the morale (and allows me to fit in a little twirl while taking out another bag of trash!).
Day 1: The Downstairs: My mission was to clear, sort, and rearrange all the spaces that bothered me on the lower floor of the house. Specific areas of attack: garage, junk drawer, kitchen counters, pantry, medicine cabinet, living room/toy area, coat closet.
From reading organizational sites, I know it is always encouraged that you organize your home a little at a time, so as not to get overwhelmed. I completely agree with that advice; however, I rarely have entire days without Noah and Olivia to clean, sort, and organize, so I took on as much as possible with a clear vision for each area. That is so important – to visualize what you want the space to look like. Here are some before and afters of Day One:
Kitchen Counters BEFORE:
My vision for this space was having more counter top showing. I achieved this by placing items in cupboards, the donation box, or the garbage.
Our garage BEFORE:
And AFTER, thanks to much-needed steel shelving!
Look at that empty shelf! That’s become my donation shelf. When I have a box of items to donate, I place it on this shelf and then I can see what needs to go to Goodwill when I get in my car!
Day 2: The Upstairs, including my closet/dresser, the office (eek!), and my kids’ bedrooms, filled with outgrown clothes.
After two days of organizational bliss, I really felt amazing in my home. It truly felt like having less stuff out in the open made our home larger, more peaceful, and yes, it’s true… easier to maintain! I’m happy to say that two weeks later, my living room is still pretty maintained with toys not completely taking it over. Everything does have a spot and if I can’t locate a spot, it doesn’t belong.
Two new rules I try to follow:
1. Everything has to have a spot in our home, whether it’s a labeled bin or area of a closet. If you can’t find its home within our home, then that spot is either the trash, recycle bin, or donation bin.
2. I don’t put anything down until it’s in the proper spot. For example, moving small piles of “stuff” (junk mail, magazines, coupons, etc.) into one large pile of “stuff” is still a pile. My new habit is to not place anything down until it’s in the proper area. If that means taking a pair of Noah’s socks up the stairs, into his room, into the proper drawer (which takes 5 minutes as opposed to a quick second setting those socks next to the coffee maker), I do it (and quite possibly burn an extra 30 calories in the process!).
As with any new habit (losing weight, staying in shape, and keeping all your JIF peanut butter jars facing the same way), it’s the maintenance that is the toughest part. Hopefully, armed with the philosophy that less is in fact more (space, that is) my home will remain the peaceful abode it’s become.
Thanks, Michelle, for that awesome post! I especially love the two tips you gleaned from your experience. Those are steadfast minimalist habits. I, too, don’t set things down until they are in their “home.” I guard my clear surfaces like a sentry… if clutter starts to invade, I attack! If you allow a little clutter to settle in, it will quickly invite over some friends, and soon you have a clutter party on your counter tops!