Decluttering Tips ~ Clothes and Bedrooms

How is it going? Is it spring where you live yet? We might get a little snow today (CRAZY!) but at the end of last week it was 85. I decided that I have had enough and switched the girls seasonal clothes in protest. They still have pants and sweatshirts if they need to layer, but I got out the shorts and sundresses. In the process, I whittled down their clothes even more. I think everyone's things fit comfortably in their drawers and closets now. There is less in storage, also. Let's face it... some things that my oldest daughter wore are horribly outdated until the younger sisters grow into them. I actually found a red skort (yes, skort) that had a MaryKateandAshley brand tag! (My daughter loved that skort when she wore it... 10 years ago!)

I also did some major cleaning in the girls' bedrooms. I was pretty ruthless. I got several garbage bags out of each room and no one has seemed to notice anything important missing. That is my rule, though. If their bedrooms get so messy that I have to clean them, I will toss whatever I want. I don't think they mind. Instead, they are happily arranging the tops of their dressers. My 4yo insisted that I take a picture.

I hit up quite a few different areas of my home in my binge decluttering last week. I am now up to 20 garbage bags decluttered during the Spring Decluttering Challenge! My biggest accomplishments were definitely in the girls' clothes and bedrooms, so I thought that I would put together a list of some tips that are working for me. They may not work for you, but maybe they will at least be a start for something that you can adapt to fit your home.

  1. Don't store junk. When I am saving clothes for hand me downs, I save very few items of "play clothes." I consider that hand-me-down storage tote space to be valuable real estate and it is not worth it to me. I can go to the thrift store or a yard sale and buy a new play shirt for 50 cents if we really need them, but my kid generally get stains and make their own "play clothes" pretty quickly.
  2. The rule of 5. When their drawers seem to be full of junky clothes, I implement the rule of 5. I have them go through their clothes with me and choose their 5 favorite shirts, shorts, etc. (It is an arbitrary number I picked based on how fast I can get things washed and back in their drawers.) The rest get thrown away or used for rags.  They get more "good shirts" but we go through them together and they are free to get rid of anything they do not like or wear. I also pick arbitrary numbers for other items like pajamas, socks, undies, etc. In the winter, they each get 3 hats, 3 pairs of gloves, and 3 scarves. It helps them to choose what is really their favorites and I don't have to keep storing things that no one likes.
  3. Find 3 things. If I don't have time to go through clothes with each child individually, but I know things are getting out of hand, I will send them each to find 3 things that they no longer wear. I am trying to encourage my daughters to make decisions and train them to declutter on their own, so I rarely question what they bring to me, even if it is something that I made for them. I then decide whether to store it for the next daughter or just get rid of it.
  4. Get it out of the house FAST. The longer things hang around, the longer they junk up my house. Yard sales are not worth it where we live. I donate anything decent that we do not need because many people have given us things over the years. I am just paying it forward. Most of the time I use a grocery bag because it fills up faster and then I take it straight to the back of the car. It is ready to be dropped off the next time I go past the thrift store or a donation box.
  5. Memory boxes. I have one tote for each of my children to store special items. To warrant space in the tote it must be really special. My children also have their own boxes. They tend to hoard things that they think are wonderful so I have gotten each of them a box to store their "treasures" in their own bedrooms. The junk is contained and they cannot exceed that box. I won't "accidentally" throw anything away that they consider important enough to place in that box. I got the boxes with coupons at Michaels.

Don't forget about the Spring Decluttering Challenge! Only a few weeks to go! If you want to join in it is not too late!!!

Spring Decluttering Challenge Update

How is it going? We are 1/3 of the way through the Spring Decluttering Challenge. I know a few people are joining me, so I hope you are keeping track of how many garbage bags of stuff you declutter. (You can read the initial post HERE.)

I have 6 bags so far! I have had a few cleaning binges, but most of it has just been done in one small area at a time. The goal is to work on at least one small area per day. It seems like a daunting task, but if you break it down it is not so bad!

I decluttered the linen closet one shelf at a time. I decluttered my clothing one or two drawers at a time. I decluttered my craft supplies one shoebox tote at a time.

Another thing that I am finding is that I tend to have too many baskets or totes sitting around to collect miscellaneous items. I am trying to get better about finding a home for these items and then getting the basket out of my house so that there is not another place for random stuff to accumulate.

I also have a basket of bags of stuff that need to go to other people. I am trying to be intentional about delivering those things and getting them out of here!

Finally, I am trying to be a little more creative and practical about storing the things we do need.

So, do you have any tips? Do you have any success stories to share? Go ahead and leave a comment!

Spring Decluttering Challenge

The early March weather lately has definitely been affecting and reflecting my current mood.  

The sun is shining today, but tomorrow there will be rain and snow and yuck.

I warned everyone at the beginning of this school year that I would probably be a sappy mess by this spring with so many changes coming. Of course, there are so many extra frustrations and challenges and curve balls I never saw coming. It is actually worse than I exaggeratedly predicted.

I am ready for spring.

I have sort of fizzled out of my decluttering spree this year. My general ambition level has been pretty low, but honestly, I am in a funk. I guess it is my heart that actually needs to let go of some stuff... guilt, bitterness, anger, frustration, sadness.

I am ready to tackle this. I need to take some clear steps forward and I know that cleaning out the junk in our house will make our home more peaceful. One thing that I can do is to make a conscious effort every day to work on decluttering one small spot in my house.

Spring Decluttering Challenge

Last week I got out the Easter decorations. This morning I redecorated the website and took down those icky snowflakes. I don't care if it is the beginning of March- I am declaring it to be spring. I need the renewal of spring.

I think we all do better when we encourage one another, so I am going to try to check in with facebook more regularly, for those of you who follow me there. (They have changed the algorithm again, so I don't know if anyone will even see my posts, but I will try.) I will probably do some updates on my instagram story, too.

I am also starting a challenge for anyone who wants to join me. The goal is to declutter one area each day. Keep track of how many garbage bags worth of stuff you throw out/donate/rehome. Estimating is fine. On May 7 I will do another blog post with a giveaway. Each bag purged will count as one entry. I don't know exactly what I am giving away yet. I didn't think that far ahead. Any suggestions?

Oh, and I am going to use the hashtag #springdeclutteringchallenge to keep track of my progress if you want to use it, too. It is long, but it appeared to be unused so it doesn't get mixed up with something else. I am almost never short on words anyway.

Ready. Set. Go.

How to REALLY Declutter Your Home

It is the beginning of January, so of course social media is flooded with diets, exercise plans, and tips to get organized. Everything promises fast results to make it more appealing. "How to Lose 25lbs in 6 Weeks!" "Get Toned Abs with This 5 Minute Workout!" "Declutter Your Entire House in 30 Days!"

No wonder people give up so easily on their New Year's resolutions. We can't expect instant results. We should, however, expect to put in a lot of time and effort to achieve goals.

I blogged about decluttering and organizing a few times early last year, but behind the scenes it was an ongoing process all year long. I keep a post-it note in my planner to tally up how many garbage bags of stuff I got rid of and by the end of the year I had purged 96 BAGS!

Stop and mentally picture that for a moment.

Honestly, my house is cluttered, but we don't live like extreme hoarders. I still don't feel like it made that much of a difference. Quite a bit of it came from our storage shed as I thinned out the amount of clothes and shoes that I save for hand me downs. I think I do see a lot of difference there (and a lot of empty totes!) I purged a lot of fabric and craft supplies, too. (GASP!)

Anyway, I did go through some really strong decluttering sprees, especially when it was time to switch out seasonal clothes, but mostly it was a slow, chipping away at one area or another. Sometimes I was intentional about working on one area per day, sometimes I followed a list, and sometimes it just depended on my mood and/or time constraints. I also participated in a Spring Fling where we worked on one room per day for 2 weeks. It was good to have motivation and accountability, but most of my friends fell behind schedule and didn't finish.

The popular 30 day decluttering lists are a nice way to start, but they don't leave much flexibility. Not everyone has the same problem areas in their home. Sometimes life happens and we need a little grace.

I have some different ideas...

 

How to Really Declutter Your Home
 

  1. Find something that works for you. If you can do it all in a month and be done- GREAT! In the past, I have tried to focus on one room per week, but as soon as I get to the kids' bedrooms I tend to fizzle out and quit. I need to give myself some grace, admit if something isn't working, and start again. This year, I plan to focus on one room per month. I am not sure how it will go, but I am trying it! I have also found that I need to pace myself a bit. I tend to get a bit carried away and rip everything apart. For example, today I am cleaning out the refrigerator. Just the inside. I am honestly procrastinating washing out the drawers by writing this blog post, but I did get all of the old food cleared out. :)
  2. It is a continual process. I can declutter one area and a few months later it is a wreck. I have to continually revisit challenging areas and maybe even find a new way to store or organize things. It is OK to admit that the awesome idea I saw on Pinterest doesn't work well in my home. I may find that I didn't actually need something because I haven't used it since the last time I decluttered. Also, things keep creeping into my home and taking up more space. Which leads me to...
  3. Limit the stuff. I am trying to be more intentional about the things I bring into my home. Do I really need this? Can I "make do" with something else? What is the quality like? Is it really going to last? Dropping off 2 bags and the thrift store and coming home with 3 more totally defeats the purpose! I think the biggest key to preventing clutter is to not let it into my house in the first place.
  4. Build in some extra motivation. Maybe you are self motivated when it comes to cleaning. If so, disregard this one. I am not always feeling very industrious, so I need a little push at times. I keep my tally sheet post it in the inside of my planner cover. Seeing how much I have accomplished so far helps me to keep striving to up that number. I guess marking that little tally line is similar to putting stickers on a potty training chart! I also have some friends and family who appreciate decluttering as much as I do and we will text each other when we accomplish something awesome. Having people come alongside me to cheer me on is a big help. (Thank you!) If you need me to be that person, just send me a message and I will be glad to send you congratulatory gifs and stickers! Some people might like joining a facebook group for accountability. Some might want to buy a nice, new shirt to replace the 5 they threw out. Some might just want to take a nice bubble bath when they finish one dreaded area. I think is OK to reward yourself!

I am going to keep plugging away at my decluttering this year and I will probably share more about it on facebook, if you would like to follow along there. I know that I am not alone, so I want to try to check in with the rest of my fellow declutterers from time to time so that we can cheer each other on and lift one another up. (YOU CAN DO IT!!! The cheerleader in me never quits!)

Happy New Year!

Kitchen Drawer Organizing

May is a crazy busy month for me! We have 4 different sports teams going right now so we are always on the go. I really don't have time for extra cleaning and organizing, but I know that I need to make it a priority because, let's face it, when the kids are home from school for the summer it will only get worse. Kathi Lipp is running a 10 day "Spring Fling" challenge over on her blog and I decided to join in. The first room was the same place where I always start- the kitchen. Since I organized and decluttered a lot back in January, it was not too bad. I got rid of some things that we aren't really using and some things that are in poor condition. If I find I really do need to replace them later, I will, but I would bet that we can made do. One area that I have decent organization is my drawers. Unfortunately, it is my 11yo's job to unload the dishwasher and she doesn't put things away correctly. We need some more lessons on that. I won't let them graduate to another job until they have learned to master the currently assigned chore. (Everyone really hates unloading the dishwasher.) I focused on decluttering and straightening the drawers today. So, this is what my drawers look like when things are put in the proper places (and to be fair there are some things in the dishwasher waiting to be washed).

Please excuse my terrible pictures; the lighting in my kitchen is really bad, especially on dreary days like today. 

I was given this handy tray for utensils. My rolling pin fits nicely beside it so that is where I keep it.

utensil-drawer

The drawer doesn't pull out all the way, but behind the tray I have a bag with extra utensils for when we host large gatherings, which is never, and the toddler and baby utensils in an old storage container that didn't have a lid.

use storage containers with missing lids to organize drawers

Next I have the larger utensils that I use for cooking and serving. I use a tray from the Dollar Tree (came in a 3-pack) to hold the spatulas and create a sort of divider. This drawer is usually the messiest, but I didn't want all of those bulky items in a container on my counter anymore.

keep big utensils in a drawer instead of on the kitchen counters

My kitchen gadget drawer is nicely organized with dollar store bins. Someone in the Spring Fling facebook group showed that she decluttered her vegetable peelers. Well, I had five but we use them all when we are canning and I put the girls to work. I still parted with two that were worn out so either I get more or we take shifts. LOL

Neatly organize kitchen gadgets with dollar store bins.

Last stop is the junk drawer. Most of our junk is in baskets around the house (which I plan on revisiting soon) so it really just holds some miscellaneous items and extra things.

Junk drawer organization

I feel like I am off to a good start, even if I got rid of a lot of small items.

How to declutter and organize your kitchen drawers.

 Other posts that you may find helpful...

8 Tips that Help Me Declutter

Kitchen Decluttering and Organizing

Kitchen Organization for Lunchbox Stuff

Kitchen Decluttering and Organizing

I generally like to break my decluttering up by focusing on one area of my home at a time. If I don't I will end up ripping everything apart and it will look like a bomb went off. Did you ever read "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie"? Well, I am pretty sure that I inspired that book, even if I have never met the author. Yesterday morning the girls wanted to pack their lunches and I discovered that cupboard was a mess, so it just sort of spiraled from there. Before I knew it, I had decluttered a third of my kitchen cupboards. I had to cut myself off because there is still a lot of post-Christmas-recovery work to be done in the rest of my house.

Here is just a random list of things I decluttered in the last week or so...

Things to Declutter in the Kitchen
I seem to always start in the kitchen. It seems to be the room that we use the most and it gets cluttered pretty easily.  Fortunately, it is also pretty easy to find better ways to organize in the kitchen. If something isn't working out, like my lunchbox stuff, I am not afraid to move things around and try something else.

I try to find ways to make do with what I already have and I can't afford to spend much money on my kitchen. The absolutely MOST helpful thing I have ever done to organize my kitchen was to start using plastic bins on the cupboard shelves. I got most of my bins at the Dollar Tree (it can be hit or miss there) or Walmart. I am super short, so I can't reach those upper cupboards and the ones with the handles mean I don't have to drag a chair over or climb up on the counter!

In these bins up above my stove I have some gadgets (immersion blender, electric knife, apple peeler), cupcake liners, decorating supplies (candles, sprinkles, food coloring, etc.), and spices.

How to organize high cupboard shelves with plastic bins.

Here I have more spices on top. The next shelf has a bin entirely dedicated to chocolate- cocoa powder, chocolate chips, etc. My husband thinks I have a problem. The other one has my baking supplies- cornstarch, baking soda, baking power, etc. The bottom shelf has been promoted from sippy cups to water bottles. (sniff sniff)

Bins with handles are perfect for us short girls!

I also use bins in another area to store medicines. The adult medicines are in one bin and the kids' medicines and cough drops (which I am oddly stocked up on) are in the other. This was another huge help to me- especially when someone is sick and the last thing I want to do is climb up and look for the right medicine.

Plastic bins to organize medicine bottles.

Besides my chocolate issue, I do have a bit of a problem with cupcake liners. It seems extreme, now that I am blogging about it, to have an entire bin full of cupcake liners. I use them a lot, probably more for freezer muffins than cupcakes, and I can't resist a good clearance deal on cute ones!

cupcake liner ogranization

They get smashed really easy, so I had been looking for a pasta container to put them in like I saw on Pinterest. I never could find one and one day it occurred to me that I could just use some wide mouth pint mason jars.

cupcake liners in mason jars

I also seem to have a spice problem, so I plan on showing you what I have done to organize those later.

What are your best kitchen organization tips? Have you found anything that has worked really well? I am always looking for ways to make things more efficient around here.

8 Tips that Help Me Declutter

decluttering.jpg

Last February, I began a major decluttering campaign in my house. It wasn't consistent. I went through spurts where I purged a lot more than others. Still, any progress is better than no progress. I got rid of over 50 garbage bags of stuff!

Picture that for a minute.

And I still have a long ways to go.

When I am feeling overwhelmed and can't understand why I can't keep the house clean, I think back to those times when I WAS able to keep things consistently clean. I had a few less kids and a lot less activities keeping us on the go. But, we also had a lot less stuff.

I love the sense of accomplishment when I purge an area and it just makes me feel lighter. I know I am not alone. Many people are aspiring towards minimalism and trying to get rid of the stuff that is burdening our lives and weighing us down. There are thousands of books and websites dedicated to helping others part with their many possessions. It is so hard in so many ways!

Like I said, I still have a long way to go. I have made some progress and I just wanted to share a few things that I try to keep in mind when decluttering.

8 tips that help me to declutter!

  1. Don't anticipate regret. This is usually the hardest part. I can honestly say that there are only a handful of times that I have regretted getting rid of something. Usually, I was a bit too emotional when I was cleaning (but isn't angry cleaning often the most thorough?!) I have stopped holding on to so much stuff "just in case" I might need it later. I can usually find a way to make do without it. It helps to also tell myself that I need to trust that God will supply all of my needs.
  2. Bless others! I don't save things to have a yard sale. It usually is not worth my time and it is definitely not worth having a pile of stuff waiting for the community yard sale weekend. Craigslist and facebook yard sale pages are too much of a hassle for me. We are not ashamed to wear hand me downs and if we are blessed by others' generosity, we should do the same. I give things away to family and friends. The local pregnancy center accepts donations. And, the simplest thing to do is drop a few bags into one of those convenient bins the thrift store seems to have in just about every parking lot in the area. I tell myself that is selfish to hold onto things we aren't enjoying that could be a blessing to others. I had a hard time letting go of my daughter's Elsa nightgown (pun intended) but when I saw that a little girl is wearing it every day just like she did, I felt bad for even hesitating.
  3. Is it junk? Sometimes, I don't even realize I have so much garbage around. Is it broken? Am I ever going to actually get around to fixing it? Do I even want to? I stopped saving "play clothes" for my kids as hand me downs. They make their own play clothes soon enough and new stains appear like magic when clothes come out of storage. I look at things and made a judgement about whether something is worth the space in the storage tote. These types of things get thrown out instead of given away.
  4. Baby steps. I tend to get a little carried away. I get in a mood and rip the entire house apart. There are times where it is natural to purge a lot more than others- like when we switch clothes seasonally, but just tackling one small area per day can add up and make a big difference. Sometimes, I will go through one cupboard or drawer at a a time. I generally write "declutter" on my daily to do list to remind me to tackle at least one small area. I don't get around to it every day, but the reminder is there and I am trying to cultivate a habit.
  5. If it doesn't make you smile, it isn't worth your while. There are things I am so used to having sit around I forget about them- and may not even like them anymore. Tastes and styles change- and that is OK! (Picture 80s hair!) There are so many of my old craft projects that make me cringe now! If something doesn't fit, brings bad memories, or is just something I don't like, I don't have to keep it.
  6. Get rid of it ASAP! I like to load the donation bags immediately in the back of the car. The trickier part is remembering to drop them off and my husband does get really irritated if he has to load something and they are in his way. The longer bags sit around, the better chance one of my kids will rip them apart. Plus, it just junks the place up! (I still need to really work on this one!)
  7. Stop bringing so much stuff into the house to begin with! I am more intentional about what I buy. I don't buy fabric just because I like it. It has to have a specific project or purpose. Once in awhile I break this rule, but not too often. I am choosier about clothing. I am more resistant to clearance sales for the sake of a good bargain. I am trying to find a way to make do with what we have before I buy something else.
  8. Find some motivation. Sometimes, I don't know where to start. Making a room-by-room list of areas I want to declutter and then checking them off helps. Keeping a running total of the number of bags I have purged helps my perspective. Decorating an area that used to be junked up makes me happy and helps to keep it from getting cluttered up again as quickly. I just keep trying to find something that works for me.

I hope some of theses tips are helpful. I am certainly no expert, but I am trying. Do you have any other decluttering advice? I need all of the help that I can get!