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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Filed under Declutter, Kids

Week 2: The 365 Declutter Challenge – The clothes didn’t fit in the drawer

Time for the Week 2 update! 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!

I have a fairly simple update for you today. The inspiration for this week’s decluttering was my son’s shirt drawer. As he was putting away his clean clothes, he said, “Mommy, I can’t put these away, they won’t fit in my drawer.” 

Instead of telling him to just put them somewhere else for now, we took action and I said, “I’m sure you have some shirts that don’t fit you anymore or that you just don’t like to wear that much. Let’s get rid of those until we have enough room for you to be able to easily close this drawer.”

It didn’t dawn on me until now that I should have taken a before and after picture of the drawer. Oh well. We ended up getting rid of 6 shirts and a random pair of underwear that fit him 3 years ago. On a different day, we discovered a pair of pants that were too small. That’s 8 things heading out the door! The pile on the right is going to his cousin, and the pile on the left is off to Goodwill.

boy clothes to give away

Working towards that 365 goal…

week 2 decluttering update

What have you been decluttering? Inspire me!

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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

I’m Decluttering 365 things in 2014!

Declutter 365 Things in 2014 with Ready. Set. Simplify.

Hey There! I want to do a post giving you all kinds of updates on what’s been going on around here, but I just need to tell you about this first.

This is one of those ideas that has been hanging out in my mind, and then in my drafts folder for too long – It’s time for action! Here we go….

There’s this problem I have as I go around my house trying to declutter, organize, and just clean up. I often want to put things away and there’s just no room to put it away.

Examples:

  • I want to put away a medicine bottle, and the medicine cabinet is already full.
  • I’m working on this paper decluttering project, so I go to file something, but my file cabinet is full.
  • I want to put away my pitcher, but that cabinet is already so full, it can’t close all the way.
  • My daughter has some new hand-me-down clothes that are sitting on the floor because there is no room to put them away.

It’s frustrating in that moment when I’m trying to do the right thing and put something away, but it won’t fit.

It’s not because all of these spaces are too small. It’s because there is too much stuff in this house!

I know. Shocker.

Money Saving Mom did a Clutter-Busting Challenge in May where she challenged everyone to get rid of 7 things a day for the whole month of May. I really wanted to do it, but I knew at that time there was just no way. (By the way, I’m super excited about her new book coming out in January: Say Goodbye to Survival Mode.)

I read Jen Hatmaker’s book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, and she also got rid of 7 things a day for a month. I was really thinking about trying it and posting here on the blog, but I just didn’t think I could keep up with that pace.

Then I remembered Megan’s blog, Declutter Daily. Her plan was to get rid of 1 thing a day for 365 days. I’m pretty sure she got rid of more than that. I miss that blog, and I always thought that was such a fabulous and simple plan.

So that’s what I’m planning to do:

365 things out the door in 2014!

That’s 1 thing a day. 7 things in a week.

I can do this.

My plan is to post about the things I’m purging once a week. You know I need something like that to keep me accountable!

You can’t trust me to declutter on my own.

Rules:

I might need to make up some rules as I go along, but the overall goal here is to get rid of lots of stuff, not get bogged down with rules. Here are a few thoughts I have going into the project:

Paper clutter: I’ll count a good-sized stack as 1 thing.
Regular household trash/recycling doesn’t count.
A set of 50 marbles counts as 1 thing, not 50.

Want to join me?

Boy would I love it if some of you wanted to do this with me. Let me know in the comments! If you want to join me, you can simply share your updates in the comments of my weekly blog posts.

Or, if you have a blog and you want to blog your updates along with me, let me know, and I’ll figure out a way to do one of those link-ups. (That would be so fun!)

I’m wondering if I need a special name for this project, like “The 2014 Purge” or “Declutter 365” or something. Let me know if you have any ideas.

Happy New Year and Happy Decluttering in 2014!

Check out the other posts in this series:

Week 1: Easy Bake Oven!
Week 2: The clothes didn’t fit in the drawer
Week 3: Lots of kids’ clothes!
Week 4: Kids’ books
Week 5: The Purple Coat

This post contains affiliate links.

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Filed under Declutter, Goals

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

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.”

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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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