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Can the experienced Decluttering Gurus please help me talk over this plan? **Updating again...

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 
So this coming Thursday will mark the beginning of 7 days (Th, F, M, T, W, Th, F) free of children from 8am - 3:30pm daily. This is for the purpose of doing a decluttering overhaul on my home. I am leaving my job (last day is Wed) but keeping kids in child care through the next week. I want the house to be decluttered and not a train wreck as I start my SAHM journey, as my little ones are destructive little boogers.

So, I am planning to make the best use of that time. I'm trying to put together a step by step plan. Here are some things I have identified:

1) We have a clothes issue: Closest in spare rooms overflowing with clothes. This will be project #1 to get them all into either "Store for next baby", "Donate", or "Keep".

2) We do not have excess furniture to toss, so now relaly huge items.

So from here.....Do I go room by room? For example.....If I start in the Master Bedroom.....
The to off the dresser is covered in misc crap with no home....night stand and shelving overflowing with books that dont fit....etc


Do I go project by project first? Like, gather every book in the home and decide what to keep and what to donate? Then, every toy in the house, and so on?

I guess I am thinking, do I work one room beginning to end....Or am I better off to just try and get rid of stuff and get stuff stored first, then go room to room finding organized homes for everything?

Does that make sense?
post #2 of 34
I would start with a room by room approach and I would make a physical list of priorities. For instance, I can't do without a a decluttered kitchen, living room, bathroom and closets but I can make do with a cluttered basement and bedroom.
Write out your priorities and your goals. Post them so you can see them, it might also be a good idea to make a schedule. Thursday-kitchen, Friday-all bathrooms, etc so that you don't let yourself get sidetracked.

Once you are in the room to declutter, start in one corner and move clockwise from corner to corner until it is done. It will help to keep you from being distracted.

post #3 of 34
If it was me...

I would start with clothes, as you said. dedicate a whole day to that. Make a huge pile of each person's clothes, and another of next baby stuff. Then go through each pile one at a time. Decide ahead of time how many outfits you think each person needs, and stick to it! Then ruthlessly get rid of the rest. I would suggest ~10 outfits per person. For baby clothes, don't keep more than ~10 outfits per size, get rid of the rest!

At the end of each day, on your way to pick up the kids, drop off all the donate bags at your local goodwill so they are out of your house. If there is stuff you are wavering on, I would put it in a bag in the garage, clearly labeled, and if it is still there unopened in a month or so, just donate it without even opening it up again.

For the rest of the house, I tend to do it one room at a time, but if I clear off the dreser, say, I might sort out all the papers that should go in the trash, but leave the rest to be sorted through later, once I have piled up all the papers in the house. Same with books- if you find books in the bedroom, toss/donate any that you know for sure are going, and and questionable ones, pile them up with the rest of the books to deal with once you get to that room.

If you are going to be super thorough, don't be suprised if you don't get it all done in a week. Concentrate on the worst areas, or the places that will be hardest to deal with once the kids are around (like there is no way I can do the kitchen with LO's around!). Set a timer for 30 minutes, and then take a 5 minute break, or something like that, so that you don't get burned out.
post #4 of 34
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys! So here is what I am thinking....Our dining room is pretty empty except our table. I think I will make that "STUFF THAT NEEDS A HOME" Headquarters. So then I will start with the master bedroom (which I reallllly need to be clean, as it is the unwind and renew part of my home for me and DH).....I am going to have a box for items that I know don't go in that room, or don't have a home. Then as the box fills I will just move all of that stuff to the dining room and keep on working on the bedroom. Then, at the end of the escape, I should (in theory) have a room full of things that need homes or need tossed.

I am just very overwhelmed by the actual process. Like to I buy containers and things to organize first, so I have places to put everything as I go room by room? Or do I go room by room THEN decide how it all should be arranged and what I need to store/organize things?

It all seems very "chicken and egg" to me.
post #5 of 34
It IS very "chicken and egg", IMO!

However, I just had to get past all that and JUST DO IT!

From my own experiences, I recommend working on your home IN your home during the specified times above and THEN find time to get any necessary "containers". If you focus on containers too soon, you are likely to end up spending too much money on things you may or may not need and it is a major distraction to your ultimate goal.

I do a combination of room by room and like items. I like to start with my BEST room to get an area peaceful and nice. I take breaks in that room/space and do NOT bring anything into it. Then, I do another room/space that I CAN use as a staging area; preferably one that doesn't interrupt the flow of everyday life too much, but DOES interrupt it enough to encourage the project to be finished.

By this point, I have two rooms nice and am ready to tackle a big project by type of item and usually this leads to one or two more.

Then, I go back through the house doing the best rooms again (meaning the "newest" best rooms, not the same ones already done). Eventually, I do get to the worst rooms, but by this point, they are not nearly as bad as they were on day one because the projects will have taken care of part of the original problem.

Depending on how bad your entire house is, please do yourself a favor and lower your expectations of what you can accomplish in 7 days during those specific times without your children around. Do what you can and minimize distractions, but loosen up and realize your home didn't get that way in 7-10 days and it is very unlikely it will become magically perfect in 7-10 days, even without children around.

You have a few contributing factors to the current condition of your home. Cleaning up the major overflow situations will certainly help, but ultimately you are going to have to change your routines and that takes more time than you have alloted.
post #6 of 34
If this were me, I would probably do a whole-house thing. (That is, I certainly wouldn't expect to get it all finished in one week, but I'd do a preliminary attack on the whole house as I describe below.) In addition to the obvious goal of getting rid of stuff, two areas of focus for me would be (1) getting as much everyday living area as possible as sparsely filled as possible and (2) getting the remaining decluttering that won't get done this week, chopped into bite-sized chunks.

Your "stuff that needs a home headquarters" sounds good for this strategy. If it were me, I'd go on a whirlwind and put every single thing that I'm not _actively, currently using_ in boxes and stack those boxes in the dining room, leaving the everyday rooms containing only stuff that's actively used right now. I'd try to knock this part out as fast as humanly possible, so I'd have a few days of decluttering time available for going through at least some of the boxes. Ideally, this would leave you with multiple empty drawers, empty space in the closets, empty space in the kitchen cabinets, etc.

So, this would mean boxing not just the stuff that doesn't belong in the room, but the stuff that does belong but that, for whatever reason, you're not using. When you get back to the box, perhaps after a few days of enjoying those nice clear rooms, then you can decide whether to make a space for those things or whether you've been happier without them.

Organizing containers can be a trap. I would get only the ones that you absolutely know you need, or the ones that you feel might motivate you.

So, for example, you probably need hangers. If you have a mismatched bunch of odd ugly hangers, you could toss them and get a decent number of nice, matching sturdy hangers. These would look nice and function well, and therefore be useful and motivating.

And if you know that you'll have a fair bit of jewelry and you have nowhere to store it, you could get something nice for storing that.

And if you have a whole bunch of delicate shoes and you know that you're going to keep a fair number of them and you want them protected, you could get a modest number of protective shoe boxes. And so on.

On the other hand, containers designed to jam more stuff into a space, like those shoe hanger things that hang over your door and threaten to pull it off, strike me as a trap. If you need elaborate schemes to fit all the stuff in, then that means to me that you have too much stuff. (Or you have a really small house, in which case things change a little. But by "really small", I think I mean less than 800 or so square feet.)

On the other other hand, there's nothing fundamentally wrong with getting temporary containers that you know you'll turn around and give away when you're done decluttering. The trap is getting containers that encourage you to permanently store stuff that you really should get rid of.

post #7 of 34
Thread Starter 
THis is all wonderful advice. Thank you all! My hope is that over the next 3 days (while I am still officially working, but hopefully not too hard) I can take some blocks of time to work through the clothes and books. Or maybe attack the kids toys. Or a couple things that give me a leg up when I am starting.
post #8 of 34
I like Flylady's advice about crisis cleaning. You do the first 15 minutes in one room, then switch rooms and do 15 minutes there, then switch rooms again and do 15 minutes there. In the last 15 minutes of the hour you rest, then repeat. The idea is to avoid burnout and to not get overwhelmed or bogged down in one area.
post #9 of 34
You've gotten lots of good advice already, but I wanted to add something that I did a few years ago when I had a similar project (well, it was a similar stretch of work time, but it was only ONE room! One very very squalid room...) - books on tape! I got the 5th & 6th Harry Potter books (Jim Dale = awesome) and listened to them as I worked. They kept me entertained, but even more they kept my mind engaged, so that I didn't spend too much time THINKING about all the junk in front of me - I just pitched it!

Good luck - and have fun!!
post #10 of 34
Also, if your children are anything like mine, remember that if you pull things out to be moved/rehomed/etc and leave them in plain sight those objects will quickly become treasures and will likely be moved all over the house while you're doing something crazy like...going to the bathroom.
post #11 of 34
I'm not sure I'm a guru but my tip is to use the last hour or hour and a half each day to take garbage out, and drop donations off on your way to get the kids. That way you won't be tempted to go through and keep anything, and the little ones won't see things out they then will fight you on keeping. (If you're not doing it consensually).
post #12 of 34
Thread Starter 
This is all STELLAR advice. I am going to plan on doing a Goodwill dump each day before kiddo pickup. We also moved one car out of the garage so i can just pile trash and recycling there for garbage day vs a dumpster (as we are not tossing large many large items).

So tomorrow is it!
Project #1: Me against the clothes
Project #2: Me against the books
Project #3: Me against the toys

Then a room by room attack of tossing things. I am going to go 15 minute Flylady increments, room to room, doing nothing tossing things. When most the trash phase is done, then I will go room to room with more detail.

Wish me luck and I will check in!
post #13 of 34
You could keep your recepts and return the boxes you don't need. I like having places to put things, but you may also find that you already have the boxes you need as you ruthlessly sort through stuff. They're also good for storing clothes.

How old are your kids? Even the littlest could be involved in deciding what stuff should go and which stuff should stay. For example, put all your kids in a circle and put one item at a time in front of them. Then, let them pick like six books and three stuffed animals out to keep. Then, you'll know what their favorite things are and allow them to not feel quite as insecure about all the changes going on at their house.
post #14 of 34
Thread Starter 
Ok, 2/3 through day 1.

I have gone through every clothing item in every closet in every room in the house. I have the ENTIRE back of our pick-up truck loaded with Good-Will donations. I even kept a spreadsheet so we can write it off on our taxes.

I kept one box of maternity clothes, and one box of clothes for the next baby (we are TTC) in case she is a girl. If not, I will just grab those boxes and take to Good Will (this is our last baby).

Clothing donation will happen when I go to get kids in a couple hours.

Very. very overwhelmed but feels so good to have that much stuff leaving my home.
post #15 of 34
Just chiming in to give you a big ol' pat on the back!
post #16 of 34
WTG mama!!!!
post #17 of 34
That is sooo awesome, WTG!!!
post #18 of 34
Yay! Keep updating us every day!
post #19 of 34
Awesome mama! I bet it feels sooo good ;-)
post #20 of 34
Awesome mama! I bet it feels sooo good ;-)
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Mothering › Mothering Forums › Natural Living › The Mindful Home › Organize & Declutter › Can the experienced Decluttering Gurus please help me talk over this plan? **Updating again mid-clean!- Day 3 done**