Category Archives: Kids

Weeks 8 and 9: The 365 Declutter Challenge – baby stuff and kids’ clothes

It’s time to report on weeks 8 and 9 of The 365 Declutter Challenge

Week 8

This was the week that our wonderful house guests actually arrived. Yay! In the hours before they arrived, while we were doing the last-minute (or last-hours) freak out cleaning, I got rid of some more stuff.

This was all stuff from Anna’s room, which used to be the nursery. But my babies are growing up and it’s time to get rid of the baby stuff.

I know those baskets aren’t necessarily “baby,” but I don’t have room for all of them (I did keep 2) and I don’t want to keep them just to watch stuff start collecting in them. How’s that for progress?

Don’t be too impressed, because I also threw a bunch of stuff (mostly clothes) into bags and stuffed them into closets. Yes, I did.

bye bye baby stuff

Week 9

Here we have some kids’ clothes heading out the door!

boy clothes

And this week I realized that we have a lot of kids’ clothes that need to go! I mean wow.

So that’s 7 things for week 8 (orange) and 26 things for week 9 (purple)!

more clutter counting

What have you been up to?

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Week 4: The 365 Declutter Challenge – Kids’ books

It’s week 4 reporting time! If you want to catch up on what I’m doing in this challenge, check out these previous posts:

I’m Decluttering 365 Things in 2014!
Week 1: Easy Bake Oven!
Week 2: The clothes didn’t fit in the drawer
Week 3: Lots of kids’ clothes!

This week I decided to attack some of the kids’ books.

kids' books

I focused on the books that have been living in the big kids’ bedroom. I have been wanting a bookshelf for that room for a long time, but I can be pretty frugal/patient/distracted when it comes to things like that, so the books have just been lined up/piled up on the floor for years. You can see an older post showing that here.

Well, as I was taking before pictures for this whole 365 challenge (which I haven’t been brave enough to post), I realized we had an old Ikea furniture piece that could work quite well as a small bookcase/nightstand.

Somehow it ended up in our small upstairs hallway surrounded by clutter. It turned out to be a blurry picture, too, but I’m throwing it in here because I know some of you enjoy these clutter pics.

Upstairs hallway clutter

So I moved it on into their bedroom and we worked together to pick which books would stay and which ones would we could send out the door.

Things we considered while decluttering our books:

  • How much do we love this book? Do we enjoy rereading it? 
  • Is the book damaged? (We got rid of several like this, but we also kept a few because we still love them and read them.)
  • We had to all agree to get rid of the book. If one person (most often my 4-year-old) wanted to keep the book, we kept it for now. I’m sure we will revisit books again this year!

I realized I forgot to take a nice picture of the finished bookcase, so I just ran up there and took this picture in the dark while they were sleeping:

Books on shelves

A few of our Favorite Keepers:

This one Anna (age 4) would like me to read every. single. day.

Gabe (age 7) is crazy about this one.

Ella (age 9) is loving Narnia.

(The 3 book pictures above are Amazon affiliate links, just so ya know.)

We have 19 books heading out the door! There are a few math workbooks and baby board books that I threw in there on my own.

Decluttering kids' books
And…..I bumped over the 100 mark!!

Counting clutter chart

What have you been decluttering? Do tell!

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Week 3: The 365 Declutter Challenge – Lots of kids’ clothes!

Time to report on week 3! If you want to catch up on what I’m doing in this challenge, check out these previous posts:

I’m Decluttering 365 Things in 2014!
Week 1: Easy Bake Oven!
Week 2: The clothes didn’t fit in the drawer

I was on a roll with the kiddie clothes! Check out my mostly-blurry picture! (It’s almost like I meant to do that in an artsy way, right? Right.)

Getting rid of kids' clothesI had 2 motivators this week:

1. I need to find some stuff to send out the door!

2. There is a toddler girl coming over to my house tomorrow.

Put those together and you get: I’ll find some toddler clothes to give away to my friend!

I didn’t time myself, but I think it was under an hour that I worked through some miscellaneous laundry baskets and piles of clothes and came up with 63 things!!! Wahoo!

They are separated by size now (brilliant) and the pile in the middle has those stained/ripped/not-so-great clothes. I usually cut those up for rags, but if you have any other ideas (especially for jeans), I would love to hear them!

I also found some more boy things to pass on to my nephews. Oh, and the trashy-looking pile of bags on the left is just that. I was looking for bags to put the clothes in and I found those 3 ripped up bags in my bedroom!? I didn’t even bother counting them in my 63 things, but they made it into the picture.

Speaking of 63 things, check it out:

counting clutter

That was fun. (If you want a chart like mine, you can get one over at Nourishing Minimalism if you sign up for the free mailing list.)

OK! Your turn! And please feel free to join in with the challenge at any point if you haven’t yet!

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Week 1: The 365 Declutter Challenge – Easy Bake Oven!

So, I decided to get rid of 365 things in 2014. Oh! And I decided on a name for the project: The 365 Declutter Challenge!

Here’s what’s leaving from week 1:

week 1 decluttering

The goal is 7 things each week. This week I have gone to 11!!

What’s Heading out the door?

  • An Easy Bake Oven!!! I always wanted one of these as a kid and I never had one. (Boo hoo.) So when I had the chance to get one for free from someone at church, of course I jumped on it! How cool! And we had so much fun with it…about 3 times. And then I realized that this thing is a lot of work to make 1 teeny tiny little itsy bitsy cake. Wouldn’t it be more fun to just use the real oven and make a big cake? Then I just went ahead and left that Easy Bake Oven in my kitchen cabinet for about… 4 years. Until now! This one is sneaking out the door. And now I have more space in that cabinet!
  • 7 miscellaneous small toys – the kids helped with these. The (off brand) “Mega Bloks” are from a set we already gave away.
  • The stuffed dog. The dog was a sweet gift. And it looks just like our old dog who died. Which is why this thing has creeped out the adults in this house too many times. It looks too real when you just catch a glimpse of it from the corner of your eye. And it’s watching you. You’ll just have to trust me on this one. I didn’t tell the kids I was getting rid of it, but they don’t play with it anymore. I’m sneaking it out. Here’s a picture of our real Snugs. She was the best dog!

Chillin' on the dock

  • 2 pots – One has a coating that is peeling badly and I’m not interested in eating that stuff with my food, the other one I just don’t use. Here’s a before and after of that space:

decluttering pots and pans

 

How I’m keeping track of my progress

I found this great super-easy chart for tracking decluttering from Nourishing Minimalism. She is doing a 2014 in 2014 Decluttering Challenge, which is so awesome but a little too overwhelming for me right now. You just have to subscribe to her mailing list to get the printable chart for free. Of course you can make your own or keep track in other ways, too. But this was perfect for me. I put a red border around the 365 box so that I can see my goal a little better, but I’m hoping to go past it and I think 2014 things is a great stretch goal for me.

Keeping track of decluttering thanks to Nourishing Minimalism

 So how is your decluttering going? I would love to hear about it in the comments! It’s not too late to join me on this challenge!

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Filed under Before and After, Declutter, Goals, Kids

Decluttering with Clutter Interrupted!

Last week I showed you lots of clutter pictures, especially of my Clutter (Kitchen) Island. I also told you that I found some new inspiration. Now you get to read all about it and see some progress and an after picture!

Here’s the story.

I was visiting one of my favorite organizing blogs, I’m an Organizing Junkie, and she was talking about how she was interviewed on the Clutter Interrupted Radio show. Well, I love listening to podcasts while I do household tasks like dishes and laundry (so that I’m not bored out of my mind), so I was all over it!

Once I heard the show (the hosts are Tracy and Chelle, by the way), I was pretty much hooked. So I listened to all of the archives, too. And they have great blog posts to go along with each radio show topic each week, too. Sweet!

Now for the show that inspired me and changed my thinking about my constantly cluttered kitchen island. It’s this one: Next Stop. The Clutter Zone.

On that show and in a blog post, Tracy and Chelle talk about the 3 Steps to get Started Organizing your Clutter Zone.

Here they are:

Step 1: Ask, “What is in the clutter? Why?”

This is the one that was earth shattering for me. WHY is this clutter here??? WHY? Why didn’t I think about the why before?? Maybe it was just the right timing for me to really hear this, or maybe it was my auditory learning kicking in, but it was like a lightbulb went on.

Later I remembered that I actually have analyzed my clutter once before. When I decluttered my master bedroom. That might be the only time.

Of course I needed to figure out why this island keeps getting cluttered and then make changes to help us keep it clear. And I’m not talking about a  general/big picture-type analysis, I’m talking details.

I actually wrote down a list of the things I found on the island and tried to think of why they were there. No, I didn’t write down every single item, but I did notice trends as I was writing things down. This is just the front side of the paper to give you an idea of what I did.

100_6994

Step 2: Reenact: Reality first. Ideal next.

In this step we are supposed to “reenact” what happens when we put things on the island and then talk about what the ideal situation would be. The way I did this was sort of interviewing my family members (except the 3 yr. old) about why they put things on the island and leave them there.

Gabe (7), had a cheery response, “It seems like a great place to put it.”

Ok! Let’s find an even better place!

This step fit in really well with adding to that Why list I made.

Here are some of the reasons that came up more than once:

  • Item doesn’t have a “home”/Don’t know what to do with it
  • The place to put it is too hard to get to, or already overflowing with clutter
  • Keeping things “safe” (away from the 3 yr. old, usually)
  • Keeping things (usually paper) handy, because some action needs to happen with it, or it has important information to refer to later.

I sort of forgot to talk to everyone about the “ideal” part, but I know at least the adults in this house want everything to get put away in its own proper place (and some of those places are yet to be determined). There.

Step 3: Use END CLTR to organize your clutter zone.

END CLTR is an acronym for Tracy and Chelle’s signature organizing method. It gives you the steps to follow to organize a space. You can read more about it in this blog post where they used END CLTR to do a Mud Closet Makeover.

So here’s how it went for me and the island:

E: Empty

Start by emptying the space. I do this for some decluttering projects, but for some reason I haven’t done it with the island. I usually just pick and plod away at it trying to get everything put away. It wasn’t working most of the time.

So I grabbed some boxes and bins and started removing everything from the island and categorizing it as I went, which brings me to the next step….

But first I have to say that it felt SO GOOD just to get all of that stuff off that island!

N: Name Piles

THIS is all the stuff that has been cluttering up my island! Seeing it this way also helps with the “What is in the clutter?” question. There was more paper than anything. A decent amount of kid stuff, kitchen stuff, and look at that trash/recycling that was just sitting on my island!

Categories of clutter from the kitchen island

D: Decide

This is where we decide what to keep, donate, and relocate. Most of this stuff just needed to be put away in the correct place.

I put away the kitchen stuff (had to throw away a few things). I put an apple bookend in the donate bin. I put the arts and crafts stuff in the arts and crafts bin (which needs its own decluttering). I gave the kids’ stuff to them to put away (I may have thrown out a few things first).

C: Contain

The fact is, I don’t want much on my island at all, so I don’t want to do too much containing of stuff there. Right now I have 3 things that should “live” there (and they could get kicked off, too): My fruit bowl (Which should only have food, not toys and paper!), my pretty flour container, and my paper towel holder.

Here’s my BIG idea for the kid/toy clutter that I know will end up there unless I can invent a force field for protection. I’m going to keep that blue container (from the picture above) in the kitchen and whenever I find toys and such on the island, I will put them into that bin. Then it’s the kids’ job to put it where it belongs! I hope you love that idea, because I do!!

Now about that paper clutter. Huge amounts of paper clutter. Guess what? I have a solution worked out thanks again to Clutter Interrupted! One new thing I have is an inbox, but that’s not all. I’ll tell you all about it and show you pictures in my next post! I can’t wait to show you!

L: Label

Not necessary in this case. :-)

T: Test/Treat

Now I need to test things out and see how they go. Right now things look good. I know a lot of it is just putting things away every day so that it doesn’t pile up to an overwhelming state. I may need to test out some different places for my inbox. I’m trying to pick a place that is not actually on the island, but near it.

I’m planning to test things out until October 1st, because that is about a month into the new school year, and you know school = clutter.

Can you believe I almost forgot to put a before/after shot in this post? The after picture is the “Treat” part of this T.

Clutter Island Before:

Kitchen Island 7-20-13

Kitchen Island After!!

Kitchen Island!!!

R: Revisit

On or about October 1st I’m going to revisit the kitchen island and see what is working and what needs to change (if anything). I’m going to put that date on my Google calendar to remind me.

Thanks Tracy and Chelle from  Clutter Interrupted  for helping interrupt my clutter!

And in case anyone is wondering, I am not affiliated with Clutter Interrupted in any way. I just love what they are doing and wanted to share!  :-)

I would love to hear your thoughts. Do you have a clutter zone where you would like to try this method? If you have any additional ideas for me, I always love to hear those, too!

I linked this post up with the Organize It! Link Party.

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Filed under Before and After, Declutter, Hot Spot Check Up, How To, Kids

Checklists to Keep Kids on Task and Get Out the Door

Morning and Afternoon Checklists for kids

I don’t know about you, but we have the hardest time getting everyone out the door in the morning. Even if it’s just me, I have a hard time, but when you add kids, it feels like an uphill battle in a hurricane to get the kids out the door with everything they need for school (or wherever we are going).

Do any of these sound familiar to you? 

“Put your shoes on.”

“Where did you take them off?”

“Don’t just stand there looking around. You actually need to look for them. Did you look in your room? Are they downstairs? You need to look under things, too!”

“Do you have your backpack?”

“Did you brush your hair?”

“Sign something?! We need to go!!”

These things don’t really make mornings very pleasant. Not the best way to start the day, right?

So to help make the mornings go smoother and to teach the kids some responsibility, I made a “Good Morning Checklist” and a “Good Afternoon Checklist.”

100_6718

I had the kids give input and I put them on the back of the door. The kids know that they need to go down the checklist.

Now you might hear, “Did you do everything on the checklist?”

We’ve had these up for 4 months or so, and it has helped a lot. I’m not saying that shoes are always where they are supposed to be in the morning, or that our mornings are always lovely now, but there is improvement!

The afternoon checklist helps set things up to make the morning checklist a success.

Good Afternoon Checklist

I think every so often we should do some tweaks and revisions.

My school-aged kids are 6 and 8. If you were trying this with a younger child, you might want to simplify it and add pictures.

Today I’m sharing something that’s working, but I just have to tell you that lots of things that were previously decluttered and organized around here are a total disaster. Including the kitchen island. More on that later, hopefully with some before and after pictures!

Do you like checklists? Do you have any other ideas for teaching kids responsibility and getting out the door on time? I’d love to hear it!

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The Big Toy Purge | Part 2 Slow Progress

We are working on a big toy purge around here. You can read Part 1 here if you missed it.

We gathered more toys from the basement and carried them up in a big bin.

And here we are with more sorting…

I also brought up these lovely black trash bags full of toys, trash, and miscellaneous items. These are more than a year old.

Some of them are from a method I tried:  “If you don’t pick up your toys then I’ll just put them away in this black bag/throw them away/give them away to someone who will take care of them.”

I do not recommend this method, by the way. It didn’t work well for us. What I really needed to do instead was teach my kids how to clean up their toys. 

Other bags are from a “Someone is coming over! I don’t have time to clean this up! I’ll just throw everything in this black bag and sort through it later – right after they leave!”

Yeah, right. Or 2 years later.

Instead of dumping out the bags, I just had the kids dig through and pull out anything they thought they might want to keep. We also pulled out pieces and parts that went with other toys we like and play with.

Some things went to trash/recycling and we are down to one bag that I need to go through again myself. Most of this should be going bye-bye.

And here are some of the sorted toys:

I’m really hoping to make some good progress this week. I would love to see more things going out the door. I want some visual impact!

I’m actually really ready for this project to be over. But I know it takes work to get there!

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The Big Toy Purge | Part 1

Toys are fun, aren’t they?

But when they take over your whole entire house, they are less fun.

I think when there are too many toys and they are disorganized and spread out all over and who-knows-where, kids just get overwhelmed and the toys actually don’t get played with as much.

However, if you walked into my house, you wouldn’t guess that this was my thinking.

It’s time for action.

The Cleaning Fairy has arrived. This cleaning fairy puts everyone to work!

The only way I can get my head around a project like this is to get all of the toys together in one room. Not everyone would agree with this method, but here’s why I like it:

-We can see exactly how many toys we have

-We can see if we actually have all of the parts and pieces for each toy

-We can see how many of each category of toy we have (dolls, stuffed animals, cars)

Once we have everything in one place, we categorize and sort into various containers just so that we can really see what’s there. This is where we are right now with this project.

Here’s the start of toy sorting:

We have gathered many of the toys from around the house, but we still need to do another round of gathering and sorting this week.

After that, I think we will get rid of the easy stuff: Broken toys and things no one cares about or plays with anymore.

Then comes  the harder part: Choosing favorites to keep, making sure we have reasonable space for the toys we want to keep, getting rid of the rest.

It’s a good thing I’m telling you all about this, because now I know I need to come through with some good after pictures! Keep an eye out for Part 2, coming soon to a blog near you.

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Cleaning and Decluttering Progress in the Kitchen

I’ve  actually been doing pretty well at doing cleaning/decluttering projects with the kids lately. We pretty much do at least one project a day. Cleaning their room, sweeping the floor, wiping cabinets….that sort of thing.

I’m actually on kind of a cleaning kick lately, which is strange….but good.

One project we did this last week was the kitchen floor. First we did a big sweep. We put things away and threw away the trash and dirt. My plan was to do some spot cleaning, thinking that over several days we could get through the whole floor. Well, I guess we were on a roll, because we did the whole thing in one afternoon!

The kids asked if they could put sponges on their feet so that they could skate around the kitchen to clean the floor.

My answer: Of course!!

They had fun trying it, but it didn’t really work as well as they had imagined.

We kept on cleaning anyway! The kids were into it. Maybe a little too into it at times, but it all worked out and we got it all done!

Simple pleasure? Walking barefoot on that floor without stepping on little bits of who knows what. The floor feels so smooooth now.

 

I’ve also been battling with the infamous Clutter Island. This picture is from Thursday:

This is how it looked on Friday:

And here’s how it’s looking today!

I don’t really love that big pile of papers, but let’s just say this is a big improvement!

Coming Soon: A BIG toy decluttering project. That’s right. We already started. Later this week [Edit: Or early next week!] I’ll post the before pictures and the progress we’ve made so far.

Have you been working on any cleaning and decluttering projects? I’d love to hear about it.

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Our Summer Bucket List

Hooray for summer! Here’s a list I put together of some things we want to do before summer is over. I asked everyone in the family to give ideas.

Go to the beach

Make a sandcastle

Swim in a creek, river, lake, and pool

Picnic at the park

Make smoothies

Make homemade popsicles (with the molds I just picked up from Freecycle!)

Plant some veggies and herbs with the kids

Library time, with special events and the Summer Reading Club

Make summer journals

Lots of grilling: burgers, hot dogs, chicken, veggies, pizza…

Run through the sprinkler

Declutter something every week (How did this get in here?!)

Make s’mores

Go on a road trip

Spend time with family and friends

Make a summer activity jar

Visit a museum, farm, and/or zoo

Participate in Vacation Bible School

Go fishing

Go to the farmer’s market

Make lemonade

Go to a free concert in the park

Stay on top of free family events around town

What are some activities you are planning for the summer?

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Filed under Kids, Life, Simple Fun