Have you missed seeing my clutter pictures? Look no further! Clutter Island: Before Pictures

Hi Everybody! I hope you have been having a fabulous summer! I have. It’s just been really nice to spend time with my family. I love my family!

I really, really, thought I was going to get my house back in order (as much as I can do “order”), but I haven’t gotten very far. I’ve hinted at it before, but things really fell apart around here when I went back to work last year. I’m going to be brave and post a picture I took in May:

Clutter, clutter everywhere

I know. It’s craziness. This was a “before” picture. We worked on it the same day and improved it (especially all of the random stuff on the floor), but I never took an “after” picture because it just didn’t seem like enough improvement to me. It’s not like I cleared the kitchen island or the desk or the big stack of boxes of junk.

Oh my dear Kitchen Island, a.k.a. Clutter Island.

The last time my island was clean and clear was around October of last year. I kept taking before pictures thinking I was going to get it cleared, but I never did. So here’s a progression of clutter over several months in pictures! Fun with clutter!

Clutter Island in January:

January 2013 Kitchen Island

Clutter Island in March:

March 2013 Kitchen Island

Clutter Island in June. Layers of Clutter, People, layers!

Kitchen Island 6-20-13

Clutter Island in July. In case you are wondering about those red and white legs sticking up. That’s a decorated Santa container. Yes, Santa. Yes, July. That’s a Christmas DVD there, too.

Kitchen Island 7-20-13

Now this is when I decided to do the old 15 minute timer thing and work on it in chunks until it was done. Here’s a progress picture from a different angle. Well, there is some white space, right? And a cute boy!

Kitchen Island 7-31-13

I wasn’t getting very far with the 15 minute strategy, even over several days.

And then… I found some new inspiration that I can’t wait to tell you about but this post has gotten so long I’m going to leave it for the next post. Can you believe I’m leaving you in suspense like this?!

OK. I will tell you that I did clear my island!!! Not only that, I’ve learned a lot about my clutter. Does that sound weird? Anyway, I’ll be back soon to tell you how I did it and with some process pictures and after pictures. Yippee!

Are you having a great summer? How are your cluttery spots doing?

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Filed under Clutter, Hot Spot Check Up, Paper Clutter

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.”

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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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Filed under Kids, Time Management

Ummmm….hi.

My little Anna turned 3!

My little Anna turned 3!

Anna turned 3 and her great grandfather turned 99!

Anna turned 3 and her great grandfather turned 99!

So this working mom thing really kicked me in the tushy more than I thought it would. All of a sudden I took a six month blogging break. I really thought I would be able to keep up the blog, but obviously that wasn’t the case. Sorry to leave you wondering. One thing I didn’t mention before is that I was taking 2 classes  on top of going back to work. Woooeeee. That was crazy.

I want to thank those of you who have been still checking in on me and sending me nice comments and emails. Even though I have been a stinker at responding, I have read them all and they mean a lot.

I had to make a decision about a month ago to either let the blog end for good or keep it going. Well, you can see that I’m still here. Yay!

One thing I’m realizing is that I might have to make myself let go of my perfectionistic procrastination. Anyone else have that? If things can’t be “perfect” (or as perfect as I can get them), then I put it off until I think I can make it perfect-enough to be worth doing. So silly.

And it seems really weird to me that I’m trying to be perfect about showing you what a mess I am. Well, I am trying to show that I can clean up, too, I suppose.

So I’m going to try to get going here again. I’m still working, but my classes are finished, so I think that will help. I might not have all of the “perfect” before and after shots, but something is better than nothing, right?

I’ve missed you and I’m glad to be back!

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Filed under Blogging, Life

Working Mom

Hi everyone! I’ve missed you! Sorry I’ve been kind of absent lately.

There’s been a lot going on around here, and I wanted to fill you in a little. I let you know a while back that my husband is unemployed right now. Well, we made the decision that it would be best for our family for me to go back to work for this year.

So after 8 years of mostly being a stay at home mom, I’m back to working outside the home. It’s exciting and scary and sometimes overwhelming.

The job is a part time teaching job, which seems perfect for just getting back into working. And it’s helping me with my goal to become a morning person again! No choice there.

I actually have a couple of other very part time jobs, too. One of them involves cleaning.

I know. Me and cleaning. Ha ha ha.

So how about the blog? I’m still planning to get a blog post up once a week here. I hope I can do it! I actually already have at least a handful of recent projects to tell you about. And I have 66 posts in my drafts folder. Have I mentioned before that I have a hard time finishing things?

Oh, and the big toy purge? We really need to finish that one! I have some extra motivation to do it, too, because:

1. Someone is coming to the house soon who has never been here before.

2. Soon after that, my mother-in-law is coming for a visit.

These things are motivating to me!

And by the way, my desk at school is clean and clear. My desk at home is not-so-much.

The kitchen island has been beautiful, thanks to my man, Mr. RSS.

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Filed under Life

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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Filed under Kids, Toys

Check it out: A new look on the blog!

So I was hanging out with my friend Kristen the other day, and of course we started talking about blogging stuff. Well, before I knew it we were sitting at the computer and in what seemed like 10 minutes, my blog had a new look!

She’s an action girl, that Kristen. I’ve thought and thought and researched and thought some more about changing the look of the blog, but Kristen encouraged me to just sit down right then and do it!

Action. Getting things done. Even if it’s not perfect. I’m learning about more than just blogging, here.

Anyway, I hope you like the new look!

And I hope to be back tomorrow with an update on the big toy purge.

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Filed under Blogging

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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Filed under Declutter, How To, Kids, Toys

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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Filed under Before and After, Cleaning, Kids

Menu Plan for the Week 7/15 – 7/21 (Last menu plan post for a while)

OK! So I’ve decided to take a break from posting my weekly menu plan so that I can focus more on what I think of as the core of this blog: Decluttering.

Don’t worry! I will still make menu plans, I just won’t post them here (at least for a while). I am still planning to create a page of favorite recipe links, because that will help me with my menu planning and I thought some of you might like that, too. So this is the last menu plan post for a while, but I’m sure I won’t totally avoid the topic of food and recipes, either.

Because I love yummy food.

Corn Chowder and Cheese Biscuits

This Week’s Menu Plan

Sunday

  • Baked Ziti I used ground turkey, left out the  provolone, added sauteed zucchini and spinach
  • Salad – with our first tomatoes from the garden! Yum!

Monday

  •  Corn Chowder I use more bacon than the recipe states. Cook it up and crumble it up as a topping. Turkey bacon works, too. Sometimes I substitute chicken broth for part of the milk in this, too.
  • Cheese Biscuits

Tuesday  

Wednesday 

Thursday 

  • Leftovers

Friday

Saturday

  • Classic Cobb Salad (I think we’ll grill the chicken and I won’t  bother with peeling the tomatoes)
I’m linking up with OrgJunkie’s Menu Plan Monday, where you can find many more meal plans to check out!

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The entryway closet: A new solution for shoes | Before and After

I am so excited to show you the progress I made in my entryway over the last couple of days! I picked up a shoe organizer from someone on Freecycle hoping I could use it in the entryway coat closet, and I am thrilled with how it’s working out so far. Of course, I couldn’t declutter and organize the closet without also working on the space around it. I went a little picture crazy on this one, so hang in there!

Here’s the before picture of the entryway area:

Yes, that picture was taken just a couple of days ago. Yes, it’s July. Yes, those are Christmas hats and winter coats.

Here’s a closer look in the bottom of the closet:

The last time I worked on the entryway, these bins were my solution to the shoe problem. I knew they weren’t perfect, but they were an improvement. Keep reading for my new and improved shoe solution…

A before of the whole closet:

Time to get started!

I took everything out from the bottom shelf down. Part of my grand plan was to actually remove the bottom shelf. Here’s some of the closet stuff:

Next, I vacuumed the closet. At this point I wondered if I could just move into the closet. You know, live in there. It’s so calm and peaceful in there. It was a nice thought.

So I had 6 coats and jackets there (one is not shown in this picture):

Mr. RSS had 11 coats and jackets in that closet. The irony of this is that I am always cold and he is always hot. I wear coats and jackets all the time (sometimes even inside the house), and he hardly ever needs one. Go figure.

I am getting rid of one of my coats and I moved one up to my closet upstairs. Mr. RSS is getting rid of some of his coats/jackets also. For now, I moved 4 of my coats and 5 of his back into the closet.

Here are some things that moved upstairs at least for the summer.

And here are some of the things that are going out the door:

I removed this add-on shelf:

Are you ready to see my new solution for our shoes? Here it is!

In case you are wondering, the lady who gave it to me (through Freecycle) said she got it at Target. I don’t even think she used it at all. Score!

This makes it SO much easier to grab our shoes and put them away. We each have 2 slots.

And now I actually have a place to keep my vacuum so that it’s not just sitting out wherever we used it last. A place for everything, and everything in it’s place, right? We’re getting there.

And now I present the organized entryway….

Before:

After:

I can close the door to the closet now!

Before:

After:

Before:

After:

And finally a view from the stairs…

Before:

After:

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Filed under Before and After, Declutter, Organization