Wow, I just wrote a super long post and, of course, it got deleted.
I've been decluttering for about 2 years, and intensively cleaning for the past 4 days. I've been breaking a sweat every day clearing and decluttering and simplifying and organizing. I've had a huge box of books, a couple of printers, a bag of cleaning sprays, a bag of knick knacks, a bag of toys, a box of dishes, and a huge bag of garbage all leave my house. It's been so liberating.
I don't feel like this stuff is weighing down on me anymore. I'm not attached to it. It isn't "my stuff" anymore. It's just junk, or replaceable stuff.
I went through a different area per day, and asked myself: "When was the last time we used this" "When will be the next time I use this" (not, "I might use this if...") I kept things that I consider "first aid" type things that, if needed would be needed "now" like bandaids, H2O2, ointments, etc. I also asked "Do we have anything else in the house that can be used in place of this if we needed it on short notice?" "Is it safe to keep around, especially if it gets into DS's mouth?" and most importantly, I asked myself "If I don't have this, how terrible will it be?" It worked to get rid of most of the books (I really don't need to keep all of these dictionaries around since we use online dictionaries now instead) and a lot of random artifacts that we'd been storing "Even though I like it, I don't need this decoration piece since we don't have anywhere to display it anyways" and DVDs "I don't want DS to grow up thinking that movies have any value in our life, so why would we keep them around?"
Granted, there is still a lot of work to do. The top shelf of DS's closet needs to be cleared off, but I'll probably wait until the weekend so DH can help with that, since most of it is his stuff that he won't be wanting to part with. I have to figure out a way to deal with the top shelf of OUR closet , which is full of folders that I've never been through, that say things like Comcast on them, so I assume they are records of bills from before the inlaws moved back overseas. I have a feeling that I wont be allowed to toss them, and we'll have to bring them with us when we go visit them next year if they want them. I'm SO not keeping them in my house. There are also more obvious places that need to be cleaned up. Like the junk drawer in the computer desk, DS's bed has a few books on it that need a home while we're trying to sell them. And the dishes that need to be washed. I can't seem to figure out how to deal with them. I thank you all for helping me simplify my dishes, and even though I haven't had a clear sink in days, I know that the longest washing the dishes will take is about 30 min, maybe longer if DS interrupts me or something needs a soak.
I do still need to make a list of all of the work that I still have to do, all of the places that still have to be decluttered/simplified/organized. After that, there are places that do need a good cleaning, but with all of the decluttering, I've been able to successfully separate the two. In the past I saw clutter as an obstacle to cleaning, and all of the work that I saw ahead of me made me want to not even get into it. But I've been able to do one separately from the other, and it's worked out great! I've been able to clean the bathroom even though I haven't been able to declutter it yet. After it was cleaned, I was finally able to declutter it.
I've found that waking up early really helped me. When I wake up earlier than everyone else, it means that I have free time where I know I wont be interrupted every couple of minutes, and it's different than nap time since nap time is the designated "first of all relax, then do stuff that you wanted to do without being interrupted" time. In the morning, I'm not stressed out yet, and I don't need to relax, so I can just move on to some heavy cleaning. It's a great time to empty out the area under the bathroom sink, or scrub kitchen floors.
I just feel so free lately though! DH even made the bed today because the room looks so nice and clean, not making the bed was just an eyesore to him. It's amazing how down in the dumps a messy house can make you feel.