Too Much Stuff, Too Little Time

In which I discuss my efforts to have less (#2, #11, #24, #33) and know exactly where to put it all (#42, #46).

Alas, I am not, nor have I ever been, a minimalist. I would really like to have the right things in the right amount and know exactly where everything should go. I have been working towards a reasonable, practical, and joyful level of stuff, but I find it slow and hard going. Add in the baby/toddler perfect storm of too many outgrown things and too little time and I found it hard to see the progress. I still have an unreasonable, impractical, and stressful amount of stuff.

But I am making progress. I found at least two things to donate or get rid of each day for a month. I did an initial clearing and organization of papers in my office. I donated to a men’s suit drive, a prom dress drive, and have pulled out my suits and professional dresses to donate in the next thrift store load. I’ve edited down our movie collection.

The hubs and I worked a lot in the garage, but were never able to organize it enough to fit both cars in. We have prioritized using that space for other projects, so I haven’t even been parking my one car inside, but I am all set to do that as the weather cools off. (No coats in the car seat will make for pretty miserable getting in and out of the car as it is!)

I did reorganize the cleaning supplies in my laundry room once I redid the cabinets in there, but I don’t think I’m really making the most of that storage yet.

And therein lies the real challenge that I think these goals highlighted but didn’t completely alleviate. By focusing on obtainable actions, I completed many of these items. But my life also changed a ton, my stuff changed more, and my motivation was … scattered. I wasn’t working systematically towards a clear, overarching goal. Those completions didn’t help me change my mindset or habits towards other categories of things or clutter-magnetic locations.

I’ve been reading a lot of books to help me figure out exactly what stuff triggers my stress, my husband’s stress, my son’s stress. To help me figure out what we actually crave from our spaces and our possessions, to recognize where we have different priorities, and to map out the feel I want the house to have. Some of the books were helpful, some weren’t great fits. None resonated enough that I feel like I have a clear action plan.

The clutter is mostly mine, which makes me feel frustrated and guilty, even as I can’t quite get rid of enough. The solutions will need to be mine, but with my family’s needs in mind. I am definitely more motivated than ever to get things down to a new reduced baseline. These reducing and organizing types of goals have been on each of my 101 lists, and I expect they will appear on my next list, too. But I know now to focus as much on the never-ending process of changing my habits as well as clearing out my backlog. I’m excited to see what I can come up with within my 101 format. And I’d be happy to hear any suggestions you guys have!

February House Focus

In which I recap the areas of my house that I focused on last month — the laundry room (#46), the living room (#33), the closets in the mater, guest and baby’s rooms — and why I have a schedule of rooms that reaches into May.

I don’t know if it is the baby hormones or not, but I am kicking it into high gear in trying to get my house in order! We know there is going to be an influx of baby gear (and junk) heading our way, and I am determined to have a place to put it. We have a lot of room in our house, but not a ton of hidden storage, so I’m focusing on making the most of what we have. I’ll be really culling through things to make sure that I’m not keeping anything that I don’t really need. At the beginning of last month, I sat down with the calendar and started a massive plan of projects and chores, including clearing and cleaning our house, room by room. I’m trying to think of things one room at a time so that I don’t get overwhelmed with the task of finally finding a place for everything we own. I am just really craving the feeling of clear open spaces and organized hidden ones. It’s something we’ve always wanted, and I feel like this is our last chance!

I’ve just completed my first month of trying to get things into shape around here, and I’m really pleased with how it is going. The first areas I tackled were necessary, but not glamorous — the closets in the nursery and the guest room. Until now, we’d been using the nursery closet to store our Christmas decorations, along with some other miscellaneous junk. The guest bedroom closet is the largest storage space we have that we don’t use daily, and it had been tied up with a bunch of stuff that we put in there without a plan. So I shifted most of the Christmas decorations to the guest bedroom, had the hubs put the remainder in the attic, and we cleared the unnecessary stuff from both closets.

Master bedroom closet Collage

And then I moved on to spaces that I do actually function in daily — the master closet and the laundry room. I’d let things get messy in our main closet that I share with the hubs, but I was also completely unprepared to pack up all of my non-maternity clothing. I hit up Target for a couple of big pretty boxes to pack away clothes, currently stacked on the floor under my new dresses. I also bought some shoe boxes so that I can reach my more frequently used heels without un-stacking a bunch of boxes. I packed my purses with some packing paper so that they stand on my shelf better, in preparation for switching to a diaper bag as my primary purse. And finally, I moved my jewelry box in and added a door stop that I could hang my sun hats on. Later, I’m hoping to add more jewelry storage on some hooks, but that is falling under the nice-to-have category right now.

Laundry CollageWhen we first moved into our house, the laundry room was a little dreary. I wanted it to be more cheerful, since I was going to be the one in there all the time. First came the wall color and the framed prints. I painted the cabinets, added blue pulls to match the walls, and added plastic storage baskets above them. In December, we replaced the old washer and dryer with the new and shiny Whirlpool Duets and their pedestal bases with storage drawers. We got the drawers primarily so that the machines would sit higher (less bending!) but I’ve never been mad at adding storage. When I started using them, however, I found that the height of the machines was preventing me from easily accessing those pretty cabinets up above — I needed to reorganize so that I could reach the priority items. Now the room is functional and pretty. (And I’ve completed one of my 101 goals!)

The final room I tackled last month will get another pass near the end of my schedule. I just wanted to cull through our old movies before we make the massive round of donations that is still pending. We’re planning to consolidate movies to one bookshelf in our living room to open up two or three shelves for bins of baby gear and toys. (Second goal completed!)

I’ve been feeling motivated so far, but I know that this purging and organizing is going to get old before my schedule ends in May. Especially when each room I clear things from adds a bit of clutter to the rooms that I haven’t gotten to yet. Like my office**:

Office mess March14

**I do have other paint colors in my house — I chose this cheerful blue for all the places that I thought I might be disgruntled. Apparently I was stacking the top of my cleaning and clearing schedule with those same places!

I’ve been working downstairs since we got our windows replaced.  These blinds can’t go back up, and I really didn’t like sitting in the front of our house while the room was open like that. Slowly things started piling up, and then I swear they have multiplied on their own like bunnies.  Most of this doesn’t even need to be organized, it just needs to be put away! The shame.