Our "new" home is, in reality, an 80 year-old 1500 sq ft. townhome in a lovely historic community that was NOT cared for by its previous owners. But it's our first home and, when we bought it, we planned to pretty much renovate the whole things ourselves to make it what we wanted. We moved in when DS was 8 months, my husband packed us up as I was watching DS who is and always has been HYPER, and DH did not get rid of anything/did not organize anything and basically just threw everything in a truck and hauled it in.
We've never recovered. Fast forward to nearly 2 years later- our basement has been gutted by DH and is about 85% complete. The rest of the house is the next step. That experience could take up a whole separate post. However, I've been on maternity leave for 3 months and I think it has truly been a result of me being at home every day to suddenly feel completely overwhelmed with how I will ever make our house a home.
Furniture is still dropped in its move-in position and not relocated since we're planning on renovating the rooms and therefore won't decorate yet. Every drawer in the house is a disorganized mess. Our "linen closet" is full of paint samples, balled up sheets, beach towels, and other odds and ends. Our whole attic is full of stuff that we are trying to build storage for in our basement sometime soon. If I need something, I have to send my husband up there who shuffles stuff around for 30 min. until he finds it (or not). In short: the house is a mess. And we've lived here for 2 years.
The thing is, it hasn't been until having my 1st child that the importance of a clutter-free, organized house became a huge priority to me. But, I've been feeling pretty intense anxiety over the last 2 years living in this home and looking around at the chaos on a daily basis- usually I'm working full-time, but now I'm home with 2 kids for a while and the intensity is even worse. The house may look tidy from a stranger's perspective but I know what our closets, drawers, and storage looks like and I have no clue how to even tackle it with a 2.5 year old and a newborn PLUS a DIY renovation that will likely take up the next 5 years of my life.
I've checked out the flylady website and I was pretty overwhelmed. I'm wondering if anyone can offer me some tips? I think one of my biggest problems is spending time stressing and complaining over how disorganized everything is and then not actually doing anything because I feel so overwhelmed.
Also- can anyone offer me some advice on how to get my husband on board with this concept? Literally, the man has so many strengths but never, ever, EVER puts anything away. Including trash. He'll just leave it on the counter for me to throw away. I've talked to him about it but nothings changes, and I don't want to become a nagging wife. He also is somewhat of a packrat and has bags full of papers from his past educational courses, has saved every ticket stub/ATM receipt from foreign countries we've visited, that type of thing. In 1500 sq. ft., I fear our lives will never become the nice, clean, simple homey environment I envision for our home.
First of all, have a hug. It will get better. You just need to find a way to tackle it bit by bit.
I've never tried Flylady but I have tried S.H.E - Sidetracked Home Executives. It totally changed my life and home. I used the S.H.E. - From Pigpen to Paradise book. They tell stories in their own lives that led them to the creation of their system, which was a fun read all by itself. They have another book called Get Your Act Together that is a 7 day program to get organized. Read the reviews on Amazon to get an idea of what others think too. :)
I'm not sure what to suggest to help get your husband involved. Maybe a very serious heart to heart talk with some very serious emotions put out there about how stressful it all is for you and affecting your well-being and happiness.
Short ideas here:
I once read that people generally have one of the following spots of their home stay in (moderate) organization: bathroom, garden, or kitchen. I find that helps quite a bit. I focus on the bathroom when things are way out of control elsewhere because it's manageable, and I've made it easier over the years for myself. Finding at minimum one spot in the house to start with and do that with can help immensely.
As for dealing with stuff/storage/packrat-ey issues, one helpful thing I have tried to take on where I can is to go through 1 box/shelf/area, get rid of a few things, sort like things together, and LABEL. Labeling many things helps a lot. I'll stack similar labeled things together then and try to condense them further later on. Eventually I end up getting things better put away or out of the way completely.
I personally haven't ever gotten into flylady - but I have found their crisis cleaning method helpful (set a timer for 10 minutes while you work on one spot of the house, then switch for another timed 10 minutes to somewhere else, etc.).
It might be a nice project to get your living room nicely set up. Clear out all the stuff and move the furniture where you want it. Then lay out extras to make it feel good to you.
This one exercise would be a good one to clear the clutter
I would say to your dh- okay, we have to prioritize organizing our space together. Let's put it at the top of our to do list. Plan ahead for a few chunks of time where you can leave the kids with a babysitter out of the house. And start with one room at a time. Go through with your dh, all the closets and drawers andget rid of everything you can- that you do't want or need. If your dh is a packrat make a space where he can keep his things that is separate from the rest of the house if possible= like a few cosets that he can keep messy but that doesn't filter into the rest of the house.
Be firm with your dh about cleaning if you can- simple rules like put the garbage in the garbage can.
Empty out each closet and drawer on by one. Get rid of as much of it as you can. Put it all back as neatly as you can. Once it has a semblance of order, and all the closets and drawers have been cleaned out, then you can start to designate areas for things to go. Then you can move all the books to the bookshelf etcera.
Wow, I've been away from this thread for a bit and I really appreciate all of your replies.
Crayfish, you nailed it right on the head. That is exactly how I feel-- with the little time I have, why bother putting in effort and money into something temporary when in a few years I can do the big haul and make it just what I want? But yes, it has created utter chaos everywhere and I have no idea how to recover since it is nearly impossible enough to feed, clothe, and clean up after my children and do maybe one larger household task a day (i.e. laundry).
You're right, maybe I need to let it go and just do something "good enough" for now.
One of the bigger issues that drives me crazy is that the house has been so poorly maintained for the last 80 years by the previous 2 sets of owners that it is just DIRTY. Dirty, chipping paint (no worries about my kids eating it...I watch them!), wood floors that have years of dirt caked in the cracks, lots of spiders and other bugs constantly getting in our house, etc. It drives me insane. We have a cat so then there are the dust bunnies/fur balls that accumulate every day that I CANNOT keep up with. I keep dreaming of the day when this house will be renovated with new materials so it is easier to clean and maintain.
My other problem is that, in an effort to remain frugal and foster my interests (mainly, home decor, but on the cheap) I've accumulated cheap but diamond-in-the-rough type finds from Craigslist thinking I will refinish them/make them what I want (DH and I are DIYers at heart) but when is there time?! So now not only is my house old and dirty, my furniture looks old and dirty, too.
And then in comes the disorganization. Crayfish, I love your ideas. It sounds doable. I'm going to try it. My latest fixation is selling some stuff on eBay. It has been somewhat working- I made about $60 on stuff that I was just planning to donate. It made me feel good, like I accomplished something and I'm getting stuff out of the door in a productive way. But of course it comes with more chaos...while the clock ticks by and stuff sells or doesn't sell, it is still sitting around my house...in piles!
Sigh. I love the box, marker, and 15 minutes of time to organize idea. I think I'm going to make that my project (aside from ebaying) over this next week. If I can organize one of two really crazy closets, I'll feel good.
LoveOurBabies, where are you located?! I feel like we should talk! :)
Tackling even a small project and getting it done will really help motivate you to do more, it really does snowball into a wave of decluttering typically!
And I agree, if you have a packrat DH, give him a closet or space that is his and tell him he can keep his stuff there, but the rest of the house has to be organized. And if you need a space like that too, no problem.
I also think that trying to sell things can hold up decluttering progress. Sometimes it is worth it for bigger ticket items and maybe for smaller ones if you have a quick timeframe, like if this doesn't sell in two weeks, it's donated. I sometimes hold up my decluttering to give people things too, so I try to put time limits on that as well.
Katie - Married to Mike 06/02/01, Mom to Sydney Anne born 11/21/09 and Alice Maeryn & Oliver Thomas born 04/24/13
I can certainly relate. When we bought our house 6 years ago, we moved in when I had a 2 year old, and was pregnant. Then some friends became homeless, and so we put up their family of 5 and all their stuff for a few weeks. They left a lot of stuff behind. Then I miscarried. Then I got pregnant again. Then I finally got around to moving into our house, and I am still working on it 6 years later and a total of 3 kids.
So, for me the solution came from Pinterest. Before, I was always trying to figure out how best to do decor, furniture placement, organization etc. but it wasn't until I looked at a million images that I finally starting to figure out my style. And with that style has come the organization solutions.
The first room I worked on was the front room. When people entered my house, I had a clean nicely designed room that I felt comfortable welcoming people in. They never had to see the rest of the mess! Then I did my own bedroom, so that I could have a place of haven during the chaos that can ensue with little ones. I've done the kids rooms, and the playroom has had no less than 4 iterations since we moved in. It has evolved with how we needed it to function, and has (finally?) settled as a dining area and a tv room.
This year, I finally set to tackle the kitchen, and laundry room.
Previous owners and myself had nearly 50 cans of paint in the shed. I am now down to 25 empty cans (combining the ones I didn't want to use in a large bucket, and drying out the smaller containers, as well as using stuff up). They are sitting on the side of the house looking junky.
My husband never puts things away either. He never throws things away. I have found that the nicer each room becomes the more he cares too. He doesn't always participate in the organization I have made for him ("put your keys and wallet here, so you can find them later..") and so if he can't find his keys, I will not help him look for them. It works for us, I don't know about for other people.
It's rough LHcj2008, but hang in there. Start envisioning what you want, and then you will probably know how to get there. Feel courage and do it yourself. Little by little you can get there.
I also see that if a room is set up more nicely then everyone treats it better. And it's also just plain easier to clean. I look at a lot of images of rooms online or in magazines and then try to recreate them at home. That's the only way I can make something look cohesively decorated.
This house has come along way but it is all moving so slowly that I feel we will be fine and then we'll be ready to move on to a new place as soon as we get this one liveable.
I tend to have bags - anything that's in the kitchen, that for example that belongs in the living room, goes in there when I'm in that room. If I need to go to that room, I take the bag there. It doesn't fix the problem quickly, but it slowly does, cause as I'm the living room, I can slowly find homes for everything. Hope this helps!
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