I was happily scrolling through Instagram, when my husband stuck a blue tin in my face and asked me if I wanted it.
“Nah, I don’t want any cookies, thanks.” I replied without looking.
He laughed, “Good! Because there aren’t any cookies in there!”
He earned that chuckle fair and square, I wasn’t paying attention. He had just finished off a tin of those Danish butter cookies that come out around Christmas time. Well, my grandma taught me that you never throw away cookie tins or popcorn tins or any other reuseable container (cigar boxes, butter tubs, etc.), so I told him I wanted the tin and promptly put it on my desk to be washed and recycled another day.
I already have a really cool tin (from my Nana), that stores my circular knitting needles, so I wasn’t quite sure what I would do with this one. I set about Google and Pinterest to find some ideas.
I really, really like the clock idea. And I think the succulent/plant holder idea is cute, but what to do with the lid? Maybe use the base for the plants and the lid as a clock? I don’t know. #useeverypart right?
My mom used to make having “Kitchen Duty” a game. She used to tell me to race myself and see if I could clean it faster than I did the night before! Somehow she managed to get me to play a game all by myself while doing something I hated doing. Moms are magical, y’all.
I guess it works, because here I am about to declutter my bedroom and my main motivation is that last night on Facebook, I managed to volunteer myself for bedroom cleaning while showing support for my friend’s desire to get more organized in the new year. I shouldn’t have been typing in the dark, or I would have seen what a hot mess was waiting for me. (Before pics are coming)
I’m all about baby steps, and that’s how I’ll tackle today.
Four Tips for Tackling Overwhelming Chores
Set a time limit. I usually aim for 15 minutes, but since we are working on the whole room, I’m going to allot one hour – in four 15-minute increments. Sometimes I’ll binge watch Netflix, something I’m sure none of you ever do, but I do, I’ll admit it. I’ll finish an episode of Gilmore Girls and then set a time for 15 minutes, tackle an area or chore, and THEN I can push play on the next episode. If you’re working in the same room as the TV, you can tackle TWO 15 minute blocks per episode of Friends!
Set a simple goal. One bag of trash -or- one bag to donate -or- one drawer -or- one shelf (not the whole bookcase, Cassie!) Most often, I will end up way exceeding the goal. One bag turns into two, I get on a roll with that shelf and find myself moving on to the next one. Something about hitting the goal makes it fun. If a kid runs in and interrupts you and you can’t finish the second cabinet, or another bag, it’s okay, because you already met the goal. Keep it short and simple.
Reward yourself with something that does not require others to go along. I may need to explain this a bit. I used to get so discouraged when I would work my butt off all day with the expectation of getting to have an hour alone to read, or an hour to take a hot bath, or quiet trip to Target alone, only to never get my reward because it relied on other people participating. It never failed the kids would get sick that day, or my husband would forget to tell me he had invited company over, or a friend would need me (and I have an issue with saying no- yes, I know, it’s a thing, I’m working on it.) Now my rewards are quick, and usually instant: the next episode, popcorn, the next chapter in my book, 15 minutes to write in my journal, a cookie…. literally a cookie, there’s a story there, better saved for another day.
Phone a friend, or poke, tweet, message, snap, whatever the kids are doing these days, find your friends. It just takes one. Scratching off “clean nightstand” feels really good but it’s bonus fun if you’re friend can send you a “way to go party time” gif when you’re done. (Yes, Cassie, I am expecting a gif… please and thank you.)
As embarrassing as they are, here are the before pictures, taken from my current spot on the bed:
It’s almost 9 am here.
I have allotted one hour to devote to this today. I’ll do my first 15 minute sprint after I feed the chickens. My reward? Hot coffee.
The First Fifteen
I tackled my nightstand first. It was closest to me, and it is usually the spot that gets ignored the most. My timer buzzed, but I was close to finishing so I kept going a bit longer. I found a grocery bag worth of trash in, on, or around it.
Y’all, I hide a LOT of candy in there. I tossed it, because I couldn’t be certain how long it had been in there. Also, candy does not help my medical issues at all so while I had the will power I tossed it out.
I found my missing stapler. I found my hunting knife (not that I ever use it, but I know where it is now). I found my new set of tweezers that I’ve been missing since I did Steel Magnolias in the summer. See that big red mug in the picture? My kids wrote their names on it as a gift one year, so I don’t use it as a coffee mug. I has spare change in it. I also was stuffed with Reese’s cup wrappers. The wrappers are gone now. Maybe when I turn on my little black fan, I’ll actually feel the air!
Time for a coffee reward and since I can’t JUST focus on this room today, I’m going to throw some clothes in the laundry. PASSIVE cleaning is my favorite! I take 60 seconds to toss clothes in and it does the work for me.
*** The kids woke up, had to make breakfast, and start schoolwork. I started a load of laundry, found the kitchen table (it was covered in stuff from New Year’s night, cleaned dog barf off the couch, and took a trash bag through the house to gather trash from bathroom and bedroom trash cans.
Also, just got the call that my sister-in-love is in the hospital about to have baby #5! Whoo hoo!!! Lots about to be up in the air as we were on call to come help pet sit while they were in the hospital. He’s a few weeks early, but docs are optimistic about the little guy being okay.
The Next Fifteen
Reading, reading, writing, and math. Stopped to make some frantic “the baby is coming” phone calls, and then I headed into the bedroom for another 15 minute sprint. I tackled the dresser.
I have a love/hate thing going on with this dresser. It’s technically mine, as far as the clothes go. Mr’s is in the closet because our room is small. I had planned to have my jewelry box on it, and my retro radio; however, since we have limited space, it ended up being the piece of furniture that held the DVD player, and the WiiU (don’t even get me started on that one. Grrr). Also, his fancy humidor can’t stay in the closet because the closet is in the bathroom and there a humidity blah blah blah, excuses, and it had to be in our room. I did get the 8000 random Ikea parts off of it, and put my earrings away. I collected all the random bobby pins and hair clips and put them in the bathroom.
I did not put the hair things where they went. That would have made sense, but it also would have wasted time I had dedicated to the dresser. They were dumped in my random basket that I will sort when I decide to spend time decluttering the bathroom. A 15 minute sprint is not the time to start squirreling off on another project….we are not playing “if you give a mom a chore” today. Focus.
No real reward this time, as all the interruptions have put me behind a bit and I just got a text asking if I could give someone a ride somewhere around 2 pm. The washer is done, so I’ll call the kids to move it to the dryer and I’ll fix lunch. I think I’ll have them empty the dishwasher too, they look bored.
The Last Fifteen
Okay, phew! Glad that’s done.
This definitely isn’t perfect, but it’s the best I could do for today (and with only 15 mins to play). The laundry pile has been put away, and the desk cleared. The stack of green and pink boxes are craft supplies I brought in from our storage barn. I’m trying to get a few items made for my Etsy store, but it’s slow going.
That brown box on the right? That’s a shoe organizer from Ikea that I haven’t built yet. I haven’t built it because I can’t get into the kid’s room where it is supposed to be going. That’s for another day. That project will be more of a “shock and awe” event in our house. Empty to space and start over kind of thing.
But first, babies! I’m done for today with this project, now I have to figure out what I can do to help my brother and his wife welcome their new one to the world!
Leave me a comment below and tell me what your biggest decluttering/cleaning challenge is and I’ll try to answer it in an upcoming post!
It would have never crossed my mind to go gather “supplies” from around my house and get creative with them. I never stole momma’s yarn, screwdriver, clothespins and t.p. rolls and ran off into the back yard to act like MacGyver. I don’t really know what would have happened but I’m pretty certain it would have been a bad bad thing. For the longest time my mom and I had separate crayon boxes and coloring books. I wouldn’t dare touch her stuff. I still won’t. Not without explicit permission and sometimes supervision.
As I got older, I started noticing how the kids in school getting awards and accolades were raised in environments that allowed for creative inventing and experimenting. Testing, trying, pushing, creating, risking, succeeding and failing. I was jealous. There was and still is a part of me that thinks of how much “more” I could have been if I had been allowed to explore my world that way. I know now that there is more to a person’s creativity and success than just living in a more free environment. There are people all over that had nothing to explore or creating with and they still grew to be amazing people.
It is a misconception in my head. Mix it with my regret over all the things I could have done had I been more this or more that and you end up with a mom heck bent on making sure her kids feel free to be, to explore, to create, to test and to dream.
It’s killing me.
They sneak “supplies” out of the house and it gets broken or lost. I can’t tell their clean clothes from the dirty clothes because they dump the hampers to make boats or pulleys or offices. Clotheslines with knots in them strung up in dangerous fashion. Furniture being pulled together, concoctions of various shampoos and lotions in the bathroom, collections of trash to be recycled into some new contraption and towers of dishes (that come crashing down) from emptying the dishwasher because putting them away just wouldn’t be fun if you didn’t balance the coffee mugs 5 high in a leaning tower while walking across a kitchen chair bridge to the cabinet.
I’m tired. They don’t put anything back and they have no concept or concern for respecting other people’s property.
**I made an effort to teach the ‘everything is God’s’ lesson but sadly, it just made their argument stronger…. I can’t say you took MY stuff if it’s all God’s. As an adult I get it, but when arguing with my little geniuses my head wanted to explode**
I don’t want to squash their ideas or hinder their natural learning process but most of this is just wasteful messes. They are illogical and while I should be able to turn it into a lesson I seem to be completely incapable of explaining to them WHY it was a bad idea.
Do you let your kids experiment and explore independently? Do you let them have access to tools and rope and craft supplies and such or do you specify when and how things will get used?
I have spent two days undoing the damage they have done when I could have been, and should have been doing my regular chores. Now it’s all backed up again. Doodlebug just informed me their clothes were put away.
Except for Taderbug’s. Hers were in a pile on the floor where her basket is supposed to be because she’s using her basket as a desk.
I’m not the best house keeper. I love to organize but struggle at staying organized. Hubby has suffered through numerous do-overs in our home. We’ve even swapped entire rooms before (kids room and our room, school room and craft room and kitchen). So when I asked him this weekend to take me to Lowe’s for a little pegboard project I had in mind he didn’t respond very kindly.
What started out as me just being disappointed turned into me being mad as fire.
**quick explanation: He had told me 6 weeks ago while standing in Lowes that if I wanted a peg board I could have one. This weekend he said he never told me I could have one. So either I was a liar or I was hearing voices in my head, either way it’s not something you want to accuse me of.**
I sewed until I calmed down a bit and then we talked. I showed him pictures online of non manly garage style pegboard set ups. Then he took me to Lowes.
This is what I made:
Grocery bag holder, Four Dishtowels (Osnaburg), KitchenAid Mixer Cover, Curtains, Three Potholders in Green and Michael Miller’s Fifties Kitchen print!
I have absolutely no right to be whining right now. I have friends having completely crappy days at this very moment and yet I’m sitting on my couch, eating cheese and crackers, in near tears over this picture.
Honest to goodness, this was JUST taken. This is the better side of the room. Most of it could be tidied up in minutes. No major filth, just clutter. Every where.
I’ve been in three different rooms today trying to organize and switch from winter things to summer things.
I try to get going and then I just stop and wonder …
What if it all just went away? What if I didn’t question it and just tossed it? What if I took anything I haven’t worn in a year and put it in a bag? What would happen if all those craft supplies that I NEVER use or make anything with were donated, freecycled, TODAY?
Would my world come to an end?
Would I fail to ever craft again because I had to plan for it and go buy supplies AS NEEDED?
Would my kids become suddenly uneducated because I eliminated the Kindergarten workbook they never used?
I realize I have tubs of tubs for organizing and piles of stuff not in tubs. It is insanity.
It needs to stop.
Because nothing bad is going to happen if some of this stuff just goes away.
I was a woman possessed and blessed today! My kitchen is CLEAN. I don’t just mean the dishes are done. I mean three bags went in the trash, two went out for freecycle and I have labels on my cabinet so I don’t have to listen to Mr. Daddy Man whine that he can’t find his water jugs. open a cabinet and LOOK INSIDE is apparently DIFFICULT BEFORE
I know I did a great job when he walked in and asked who’s house this was. I actually predicted that reaction on twitter a few hours earlier! I tossed old bottles and nipples and sippy cups that were missing pieces. I junked “toss n go” cups well passed their expected life span. I matched up bottles and tops and sippies and valves and what was left was… TOSSED. AFTER
I got rid of all those cups from Applebee’s and all the sectioned kiddie plates that cause fights at the table. My large collection of Tupperware collapsing bowl-freecycled. Old snacks long forgotten and gone stale….tossed. The set of Playtex converter and caps for my breastpump-freecycled. Window sill cleared to make way for the dandelions and wild daisies, sweet gifts from my girls stuffed into baby food jar vases.
It wasn’t what I had planned on doing today, it just happened. I would feel bad that the kids watched tv almost all day but I don’t. They kept coming in to tell me something new they learned. I heard Taderbug reading to Bubbagirl. Doodlebug spent an hour playing a quite complicated strategy game online. Normally I have to clean while constantly being interrupted by little people fighting over what to watch, what to do, who touched who or “hey mom, I have to pee”.
Today they behaved. They shared. They laughed. I got things clean. (okay, before you get all “she thinks she’s all that” on my.. I did NOT clean my fridge nor did I mop the floors. I ain’t THAT good)
Mr. Daddy Man came home early, we shared some coffee, and I fixed the girls fresh spaghetti noodles to go with the leftover sauce I had frozen from a few weeks ago (total Mom WIN). I had these dinners for two from Schwan’s I was going to cook up for us after the kids ate dinner. It didn’t happen.
The kids ate.
It’s currently 8:05 pm. We have not eaten. He is at karate with Doodlebug. I am at the kitchen table wearing out the battery on my laptop typing this while Peanut plays with my almost-dead phone and the other girls read the Nook in Daddy’s chair. I have two scented candles and one tea light candle and it’s getting dark.
Scented candles to not put off much light. *the more you know*
Somewhere around 6pm, as the girls were heading out to play before karate, there was a loud BOOM and our electricity went out. It seems the transformer that runs just our street thought this particular Tuesday was a fine time to go KaBlooooey!
The neighbor said the electricity doesn’t go out here very often.
They also said that when it does go out, it takes our electric company for-flipping-ever to fix it.
So what do you do when there’s no electricity?
The kitchen is mostly clean. The living room could probably be tidy within 15 minutes. Why can’t I get up? Why can I not summon up the gumption to just invest 30 minutes into my house to make it look better.
For starters, I need to go to the little girls room- again . This is annoying. My daughter is in my bathroom taking a bath and yes I could go in there anyway I’m stalling. It’s also upstairs. That increases my desire to stall exponentially.
Next, I’m not dressed. I’d get dressed but I have nothing clean to wear. I’ll be tossing on my yoga pants from yesterday when Lowe’s arrives today with my new washer and dryer. *That should clear up the why does Tader have no clean clothes? question* Being dressed would make me feel more motivated. I could go ahead and get my dirty yoga pants on now but they are upstairs- need I say more on that?
Lastly, why bother cleaning? The little chaos makers that I love so very much will simply destroy it as fast as I pick it up – if.not.faster. AND, I can’t clean it/organize it/put it up the way I want it so why bother. I’m having another one of those “if I had the right stuff to hold my stuff then I’d want to put my stuff away but since nothing has a place why bother taking the time to cram it somewhere when it’s going to be the wrong place to start with” days.
I need a giant gift card to Ikea. Or maybe just a creative professional organizer (since hubby says I have everything I could possibly need to organize I just won’t do it). Or maybe just two days alone to sew up all the cute ideas I have for organizing my house.
But then again, why bother? The kids will be here for another 18 years at least… I can clean then right?
I mentioned way back in 2010 that my friend Jenn was starting a series on organization called “Taming the Tornado”. Well the time has come to get your rear in gear and start tackling the mess. This week she begins with her daughter’s room.
Since we also have girls, and their room is a complete disaster area most days, I gladly jumped in and tried to tame that tornado first.
First, I ordered the Clean n Flip: Bedroom Cleaning for Kids book from The Old Schoolhouse Store.
When it arrived, I immediately (really, I dropped everything and left) went to the dollar general store to buy 4 laundry baskets (smallish). Then labeled them according to the directions in the flip book.
I labeled them Return, Toys, Clean Clothes and Blankets/Stuffed Animals. That last one was supposed to be books but we keep all books downstairs, so our books would be in the return basket.
I also picked up some wide Sterlite Drawers, two sets.
The girls had fun with the flip chart. I had fun with my notecards and tape making labels for the drawers. Daddy stood in the doorway with Cranky Baby begging us to go faster for the entire 3 hours that it took to get it done.
You would think I would have taken pictures.
Maybe I was too tired.
I’d take them now, but the room is trashed. It wasn’t trashed this morning when I was planning on writing this post. That was before they woke up. That was before all my plans for the day fell apart. Knowing, deep down, that it won’t be clean again until after 8, and that my post would be written close to midnight again makes me angry. I don’t need to be more upset today so I’ll just post without pics for now.
Instead, I’ll leave you with my funny vlog post from a few days ago where I cleaned the baby-school-music-extracraftstuff room!
It WAS the craft room and music room but I really needed the crib moved to it’s own room. So hubby moved the rooms around and moved my sewing stuff downstairs and this room became the school/music/ohyeahthebabysleepsinhere room.
In all the moving and with the holidays, this room turned in to a dumping ground for all things. Today I wanted it cleaned out. Because I want the baby to have his bed (not that he sleeps in it, but still).
Hubby doesn’t like hints. I very plainly said I NEEDED his help with the baby and the 2yo so I could work on the room. He helped. He helped as best he could until he couldn’t help any more.
It seems the kids wear him out fast.
The first time I had to stop was to try and settle Bubbagirl down from a T total meltdown. Still do not know what it was all about.
The second time was to nurse Peanut and put him down for a nap (that took 30 minutes).
I was making pretty good progress, when the terror that is Bubbagirl decided to start screaming about the movie she was watching and she woke up the wee little fat man named Peanut.
As I tried to nurse Peanut BACK to sleep, the diva Doodlebug and the mighty Rapunzel-Mermaid Princess Taderbug felt the overwhelming need to play 20 questions at my bedroom door regarding lunch plans.
Where the heck was their father?
So, three interruptions, three strikes and I was done. I was so angry and frustrated.
I kept asking myself “why can’t HE fix lunch? why can’t HE change the diaper? why can’t THEY just…..”.
(He had been helping some… but not enough for me to get this done, and I always had to ask first)
Then I felt guilty. All of these things I’m asking him to do are my responsibility. I shouldn’t be getting so uptight simply because my kids were being kids and they became hungry.
Yet I feel angry whenever I’m working on something big and can’t find peace to complete it.
This time the project wasn’t even for me (something related to my hobby or reading for fun). This time it was something very much related to my job as manager of our home. I was trying to create a tidy and organized environment. I was attempting to prepare my house for school to begin next week. I endeavored to provide a sleeping place for our son so that we might have an occasional five minutes alone once in a while.
None if it helped my already weary and wobbly attitude.
It’s almost 2:30pm. Lunch is done. Hubby, surprisingly, helped clear the table. Our girls emptied the dishwasher. They also broke another dish. I can check off “clean kitchen floor” on my to do list for this week.
Hubby has 15 more minutes to play online before I disappear back into that room to try again.
Am I the only one that finds it this hard to get things accomplished?
**I am hoping to post a video of my room redo as a response to my friend Linda’s vlog**
Come on and get organiiiiized… let’s get into organizing… let me hear your bookshelves talk…
*tune of Physical… Olivia Newton John… yes I am that old*
My friend Jenn (@dazeofadventure) is starting a series on January 4th called “Taming the Tornado”
I can NOT wait!
Clickity the button above and see what she has planned! Then come back here when it starts to see what disaster area I’m going to start with!