Seeing the clutter with new eyes | Dinner guests

Well, I have a cleared island, and a mostly decluttered kitchen and living room, but I’m not that happy about it.

Can you guess why?

A bunch of the clutter was just moved to a different location.

What is it about guests coming over that changes the way I see? I suppose I see the clutter through their prospective eyes.

We had friends over for dinner on Tuesday (Yay!). So, I started thinking about cleaning up over the weekend.

I got a bit more serious and actually worked on it on Monday with the kids. It seemed like we accomplished quite a bit.

We cleaned the kitchen floor!

And the kids liked it!

 We decluttered and organized the children’s books in the living room!

We eventually got rid of that dirty sock, too.

We moved some of these books to another room, put some in a give away box, and put the rest in one red box that we keep in the living room (you can see it by the fireplace in a picture at the end of the post).

We cleaned out and organized the shoes, etc. that were pouring out of the coat closet!

Yes, most of those shoes were mine! I admit it!

We took most of them to the bedroom closets upstairs, and one pair is heading out the door. We are trying to just keep 1 or 2 pairs each in this closet.

That empty spot is for one pair of my shoes. Just one!

 Monday night I even made a ‘To Do’ list for Tuesday.

On Tuesday, I spent the day working on decluttering and cleaning (and of course making dinner), but it seemed to be going very s-l-o-w-l-y. At about 3:00, I realized that there was clutter everywhere. I was seeing clutter and dust that I hadn’t noticed in….months. It was worse than I thought.

Around 4:30 I started doing bad things with clutter. You know. The crazy desperate clean up. Throw everything into a container and hide it somewhere!

Trash, papers, toys, food….all together in laundry baskets in my husband’s office . Oh joy!

Hiding clutter. Nice.

 And check out this before picture of our fireplace.

There really is a fireplace behind there. For fun, look for Christmas items still there in August!

A lot of this is evil paper clutter that I thought surely I would sort through and organize if I put it right there in the living room!!! Nope. Apparently not.

This next picture shows the recycling that went straight from that pile out the door!

This recycling was just sitting with the other clutter. You know, just hanging out.

And now for the “After” picture. The “After-hiding-a-bunch-of-the-clutter-in-another-room” picture. Let’s try to get excited…

Still not perfect, but much better than before!

I know from my past that I really need to dig into those laundry baskets and boxes soon and not just ignore them. At the same time, I need to maintain the order that I have. I’m not expecting it to be easy, but I am going to fight for it!

By the way, we had lots of fun with our guests!

Do you know what else is fun?

I told them about my blog.

I’m linking up with OrgJunkie’s 52 Weeks of Organizing.


Man on a Mission, Woman on a Journey

On Saturday, Mr. RSS was on a decluttering mission. Watch out. Don’t get in the way. The man gets focused and stuff is going out of the house!

He was moving so fast that I couldn’t get all the before and after pictures, but here are a couple of pictures of clutter loaded in the car, ready to go!!

BIG artificial Christmas tree, baby gear

Printer, TV, TV stand

It’s so interesting how different we are in how we declutter. We have the same goals, but the process is different.

 
Mr. RSS’s typical decluttering process:
 
  • Pick an area, or just pick stuff up that is sitting around the house (usually larger items)
  • Make quick decisions, move quickly, sort quickly(if required),
  • Get the stuff out of the house ASAP

He’s really about action, focus, impact. The end result is always great, but it can be a little crazy when he’s in his focused mode of decluttering! He doesn’t declutter as often as I do (of course he’s at work most days), but he does get a lot done in a short period of time. Sometimes he is tossing with such abandon that important things can get accidentally tossed, and I need to watch him closely to be sure he doesn’t toss one of the kids!

My typical decluttering process: 

  • Pick an area
  • Sort things
  • Decide what needs to go, pausing to think about each item
  • Organize and clean up
  • Put the clutter leaving the house in a bag/box/pile and place it somewhere waiting to leave the house
  • Take the clutter to the car and deliver

It’s not usually a fast process. I’m thoughtful about it. Too thoughtful, I think. I debate with myself. I get distracted. Sometimes I can complete a project in a day, but this process often takes days or months because I stop working on one project to start another one, or I just need to deal with daily tasks and responsibilities. But when the project is finally done, it looks great!

Since Mr. RSS moved the extra TV and stand out, I was inspired to get the basement family room/playroom back together. So check this out:

We started on the project about 5 min before this picture was taken. I brought the toy organizer down from the kitchen and dumped all of the (unorganized) toys/junk from the bins into the white laundry basket. We used baby wipes to clean the bins.

I got them started, then left them to work on the sorting/putting away and told them to get me when they were ready for me to inspect.

When I came down to inspect, they had made great progress. I helped them with finishing up.

There were a few things we just weren’t going to get done that day, and that was OK with me, because we were making progress. We did not get under the furniture. We did not get to this pile that was originally a decluttering pile of black trash bags, but that has changed over time and it now needs a project of its own.

Some things were added to that declutter pile, and here’s the trash:

And now the finished project!:

I know Mr. RSS and I are both learning a lot in this process, and I think we can really learn from each other. We balance each other in many ways, and I think we are on our way to being a great decluttering team!

What does your decluttering process look like? Is it different than others in your home?

I’m linking up with OrgJunkie’s 52 Weeks of organizing. Check it out for simplifying inspiration!


Weekly cleaning update 2 | Children’s books | The kitchen floor

Remember how I was working on a weekly cleaning schedule? I even posted an update of the first week. Well, I thought it would be good to post an update as it’s been almost a month since my last update.

This is what I managed to print out before our printer broke again:

The checks mean yes, I did it; the x’s mean nope, didn’t happen. So I’m about 50% on this week also. The next week, I tried to keep track on a little piece of paper, which I promptly lost (big surprise), and then I fell off the wagon on the whole “keeping track of the cleaning” thing.

But, I can say that the habit was starting to form, and I think maybe I’ve been able to hold onto my 50%-ish status on getting this cleaning stuff done.

I think I’d like to revise this file to be more of a chart with a grid-type checklist. A chart that would last for a month would be better. A new stinkin’ printer to print it would be nice, too! (Sweetie?)

I also wanted to show you a couple of other projects I was inspired to do recently!

I organized the kids’ books!

Before (this picture is actually from a few months ago, but this is a very good example of how the books usually look in the kids’ room):

It really bugs me when books are all over the floor getting stepped on!! Ug! Yes, there are more books under the toys.

I did some minor decluttering and got rid of 3 books, but mostly it was an organizing job.

After:

This actually only represents about half of our children’s books. I’ll show you the rest another time. 🙂

At some point, I would like to get a little bookshelf for this spot. I think it would make it easier for the kids to manage and keep up themselves.

Now for the infamous kitchen floor!

I recently showed you how I sweep my floor. Well, with my nicely swept floor all ready, I got inspired to get it really clean! That’s right. Me on my hands and knees scrubbing the floor. I always think of Cinderella (before the fancy ball) when I do this. Let’s just say I don’t think of Cinderella very often. 😉

This next picture was taken under the table. It’s really bad.

Before:

Floor after sweeping. Yes, after.

Some spots were really hard to get clean. I had to get a little creative. Turns out a couple of them were gum. Gum?! I don’t know how I could have missed gum on the floor until it got to this point. But here we are.

Sorry, no pictures of me scrubbing the floor. Maybe next time. Maybe not.

But seriously. I’ve got good news here….

After:

 
Hooray!!!
 
By the way, I’m planning to do some posts where I revisit some of the areas I have previously decluttered and cleaned up. Fun, fun!
 
How often do you mop/scrub your floors?
 

Simplifying Bedtime for Kids

I’ve been realizing that bedtime for the kids has been taking for-ev-er lately.  Bedtime around here is 8:00. That is supposed to mean they are in bed at 8:00, but too often it means we are starting the process at around 8:00, which means they aren’t in bed until 9:00!  I don’t think this process should take an hour! And that is not counting baths, which we don’t do every day.

I want my bedtime to be 10:00 (Rarely actually happens), so if the kids aren’t in bed until 9:00, that gives me less than an hour to: get things done/relax/read/spend time with Mr. RSS.

Here’s the kids’ typical bedtime routine:

  • Big kids (ages 7 and 5) get themselves ready for bed and brush teeth. I get Anna ready for bed.
  • Each big kid picks a book for me to read to them, then I read a Bible story or 2 (short – from a children’s Bible)
  • Prayer time: we each usually pray each night
  • hugs/kisses/tuck in

The things that are making it take loooonger:

  • Big kids taking too long to get ready for bed – distracted with playing, etc instead of staying focused on the task
  • As the kids get older, they are requesting longer books
  • Another thing about getting older – their prayers are getting longer 🙂
  • Chit-chat about the day, or the next day, or totally random things like how many days until their next birthday
  • Requests for water, wanting a certain stuffed animal, etc

I used to think of bedtime with the kids as a sweet time together, but I have started to dread it most nights, and that doesn’t make for a sweet time at all.

Time to simplify! Here are some things I am starting:

Starting the bedtime routine earlier

7:30 on a typical night, or 7:00 if it is a bath night. This means that I need to get dinner on the table on time! I am doing better with this.

Using a Timer

The big kids have 10-15 minutes(I’m working on figuring out the right number) to get ready for bed including PJs, brushing teeth, bathroom, getting water for themselves if they need it, and getting any animals they want with them.

If they are not ready in time, then no time for reading that night. This is working really well so far!

Simplifying Reading

One child picks a book each night, or I read a chapter book. Another thing I tried for the first time last night, is “Read on your own night.” This idea came from my friend Vicki. Love it! I actually stayed in the room and put laundry away while Ella read a book to Gabe. I’m keeping the Bible story time the same.

Simplifying Prayer Time

You guessed it, one person prays each night instead of all of us. Or maybe we’ll have one kid and one adult pray. We’ll see what works. Of course they can always pray more on their own! I have to say that I love hearing the kids pray, for lots of reasons. One time Ella’s prayer was, “Dear God, please help everyone who has boogies that won’t come out.” So sweet.

By the way, Mr. RSS often helps with the kids’ bedtime, too. The kids especially love when he reads to them, except that I’m the better pirate singer. 🙂

I think simplifying the kids’ bedtime routine is going to make it more enjoyable for all of us! I’ll be sure to give you an update sometime.


Project: Simplify: Clutter (well, some of it) is OUT of the house!

This past week was the last week of Simple Mom’s Project: Simplify, and I was working on getting things OUT of the house and some paper sorting.

Here’s a before picture of the clothes and toys:

And now:

Don't worry. I didn't declutter Gabe. He was just sleeping during this photo. 🙂

Most of it was sent off to Goodwill, but I decided to try to sell these fun shoes. I checked on eBay and they seem to sell really well there (even used). I have been saying that I want to try selling stuff on eBay for a long time, though, so let’s say if I don’t have them posted by the end of April, I should just donate them.

I should add that even before the above before picture, I took about 10 items to my favorite consignment shop to try that out. I’ve only ever bought things there before, so I thought it would be fun to try selling.

I didn’t get as much done on the paper sorting. Here’s the before picture:

I finished about half of one basket:

Here’s one of the things I did instead of sorting papers:

Happy Birthday, Gabe!

My goal for the rest of this week: More paper sorting!!!!! Yay!!!!! (I’m trying to feel the excitement.)

If you would like to see more decluttering from this last week, check out Simple Mom’s Project: Simplify week 5 Results.


Simple Fun

Our friends came over after church on Sunday, and while the husbands were watching a hockey game together, the rest of us took a walk to a park. I am so glad the weather is getting nicer! I need more of this kind of simple fun.

Fun on the merry-go-round. There's Kristen with all the kids.

Ella inspecting a beach find

Sometimes I need to remind myself that fun doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive.

What do you like to do for simple fun?


Project: Simplify: Toy Decluttering Progress

(I was enjoying a late-night carrot snack as I was sitting down to write this post. At just the *right* time I sneezed and little carrot pieces went everywhere. No worries. I switched to chocolate so we’re good to go… :-))

I’m continuing to follow along with Simple Mom’s Project: Simplify and I have some progress to show you after dealing with lots of toys around here. The project was off to a pretty good start earlier in the week, fizzled in the middle, and picked back up to a running pace on Saturday.

Here’s a before picture from the living room:

I ended up bringing most of the toys from all around the house to the living room so that we could really see what we had. While I was searching for toys I found a sad discovery. These bags:

One bag was a bag from when I decluttered toys over a year ago. Yup. Still there. And the other 2 bags were from a “stage” I went through where I told my kids that if they didn’t pick up their toys, I would pack them up in trash bags and they couldn’t play with them for a long time. Something like that, anyway. It wasn’t a good solution, in case you are wondering. They were too young and I hadn’t taught them how to clean up their toys very well.

So I decided to dump 2 of the bags in the living room along with all the other toys that were gathering there to sort:

So we sorted and played and sorted some more so that like things were together.

We did some decluttering as we went, but we also looked at all the toys that we had and talked about giving away the ones they didn’t play with very much. I thought the kids did pretty well with that.

Here’s the give stuff:

And here’s the living room after we put most of the rest of the toys in the basement/family room/playroom:

Here’s a before from the basement:

The after pictures from the basement are a little strange because we just got a new TV and cabinet(both used), but we haven’t sold or donated the old one yet.  So here ya go:

The toy organizer is in the kitchen for right now:

Here are some toys on basement shelves. I’m thinking I’ll rotate toys through here maybe a couple times a month:

Just so you know, we are not finished with this! But we did make great progress! Some things that still need to be decluttered: dress up chest, kids books, arts & crafts stuff, DVD’s/videos, and misc. toys from under furniture and in random nooks and crannies.

Below is the other side of the playroom. I think it looks worse than it is because all those DVD’s and videos were taken out of their storage under the TV and other things were moved around to have room to bring in the new TV/cabinet, so as soon as we get rid of the old TV/cabinet, we can finish this room:

I’ll leave you with this organized picture:

If you want to see more kids’ toys (and clothes) before and after pictures, head over to Simple Mom’s link up!