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cleaning up

My room has been a mess since I was little.  It got worse in highschool.  Much worse, my parents can testify to that.  Then I moved a bunch of times, had a few children and tried to stay on top of things, but habits are hard to break!  Things were disorganized to say the least. 

Then I married Len and his mess got piled up alongside mine.  His industrial toys made ours look small and tame, but the more kids we had and the more stuff they accumulated, the more disorganized it all got.  Then we moved and downsized tremendously - but not enough.  The new house was still a mess.

I do read all of those great simple living blogs and how-to-organize tips and I do feel guilty about not following their inspiring lead, but our clutter was just overwhelming.  There was nowhere and everywhere to start, all at the same time.  Plus bums to wipe, food to cook, never ending dishes to wash, words to decode for the three year old, places to go, and laundry.  Don't forget the laundry!  But finally I started.

I started with the CDs and DVDs.  I tossed all the jewel cases and put them in sleeves.  Big space saver.  (No I don't have an ipod or any other digital music thingies... but don't tease because at least we did purge Len's LPs when we moved.)

Next was the clothes.  Spring has sprung in abundance here in zone 8 and the kids were looking for shorts again.  The clothes situation had to be taken care of next whether I liked it or not.  Pack up winter, unpack summer.  I purged a lot of things from the smaller girls that no one else will wear.  The next baby might be missing out on a few goodies, but 4 years is too long to save clothes that might be in season at the right time.  Good-bye!  I also took a hard look at my own closet full of things for a non-pregnant mommy.  Useless at this point.  I got rid of some more too. 

Then the books.  Oh, we love our books.  I have several that are left over from when I was a kid.  They should probably be replaced as the bindings are disintegrating, but what if the new edition has a different font or something?  It would never be the same :-)  I did box up quite a few non-heirloom books to donate though.  Most of them were grown-up books as the children's stories will still get a lot more use.

These living room bins are wooden blocks, puzzles, balls, and toddler toys.

Then all the blessed toys.  Birthdays, Christmas, new interests, the stuff just starts reproducing on its own I think.  Most of what the kids have is really nice and they do play with it.  The problem is that it all gets mixed up together and nobody is quite sure how to pick up or where anything goes.  I did get rid of a few things nobody cares about, but literally only a few.  Just last week (about 3 weeks into my cleaning spree) I read a post about this woman's playroom for her three boys.  It was magazine quality.  All the labels were fancy and laminated and all her toys fit into the categories and into the bins.  There was no misc. bin.  There was no pile of random stuff bin.  None of the games were too wide for the game shelf.  Sigh.  I would never live up.  My games aren't all in uniform size boxes.  But the wheels in my head were turning. 

I had to do something.  I already had several matching toy bins, and our local grocery store carries the same brand that I already had.  I sorted out some rough categories of things and figured out how many bins could fit where.  Then I started sorting.  The girls did help some, but they got bored much sooner than the work was done.  I decided that as long as they were keeping Daniel entertained that was help enough. 

It took about three days of on and off sorting to get through it all (ok most of it.  There is still a basket of "stuff" in the corner of Daniel's room, but at least I know it all belongs in that room.  I can toss in into the right bins in about 10 minutes if I'm alone.)  There are some strict categories like "perler beads" or "legos", and some looser ones like "baby toys" and my favorite, "critters and people."  There are bins in three rooms - Sadie and Abby's bedroom, Daniel's bedroom, and the living room.  Maya didn't claim anything as her own except for a few American Girl things and her desk with some colored pencils, and she already had that stuff under control.  She's more than happy to play with the pattern blocks and the legos and everything else, but she stakes no claim to any of it.

This was before I tied the labels on, but they are marked now.  I used pin style plastic name badges with the pins removed and a string in their place.  If I need to change what's in the bin I can just write a new name tag and slip it into the plastic pocket.

  Up top are the things that I don't want Daniel to reach or Abby to have without permission - Perler beads and pattern blocks.  The lower bins are Abby's Polly Pockets, toy money, and the critters and people bin.

So maybe we'll start new habits now.  Maybe we'll enjoy seeing the carpet for a while.  Maybe we'll appreciate our things more now that we know where to find them when we want them.  Maybe we'll even keep it this way!

Now, back to that laundry pile...



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Kymberli McKeen Bryant
Mar. 21st, 2011 11:08 am (UTC)
Great blog Cori! It has inspired me to get to work myself! We have new floors and cabinets to get in, but I have to get rid of the old junk first! What a daunting task.
Mar. 21st, 2011 11:15 am (UTC)
Great job!
Cori, this is great! We've been going through a similar thing around here for our entire lives! I get worried/obsessed about the right container as I never seem to have it. And then I try to avoid plastic but baskets are so damn expensive and the cloth ones just eventually break one way or another. I am slowly letting myself get some plastic thingies to keep things in and labeling. It might seem obsessive to some but it is necessary to keep some sanity! Since we did the floors and they look nice we want to keep the house picked up more now (and secretly weeding out the toys has helped too!).

I never knew we had so much in common...the hardest things for me to get rid of are the stuff from when I was a kid and then next the nice things the boys had that I figure I better save for their kids! and then the boooks! And, we have a ton of your books from when you moved so I had to laugh when you said you had to get rid of more books! ;)

You guys seem happy but we still miss you! Take care!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )



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