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#1 of 18 Old 06-20-2013, 03:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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. 

 

Help?!

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#2 of 18 Old 06-20-2013, 05:23 PM
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First of all, have a hug. hug2.gifIt 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. 


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#3 of 18 Old 06-20-2013, 06:11 PM
 
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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.).

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#4 of 18 Old 06-21-2013, 06:38 AM
 
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Another thought is to each day just take 15 minutes and clear out one space. It could be a drawer or even a table top. Pull out only what you can deal with in that time period. And be ruthless and give away or throw out as much as you can. The lead you have in your space the easier it is to clean up and keep things tidy.

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

http://www.flylady.net/d/super-fling-boogie/

Good luck!
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#5 of 18 Old 06-21-2013, 07:51 PM
 
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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.

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#6 of 18 Old 06-23-2013, 11:12 PM
 
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> 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. 
 
Even if the room will change someday, and even if you're not prepared to paint or shop for just the right pillow covers before you renovate, it seems to me that it's good for the furniture to be in a location that's convenient for the way that you're living right now. 
 
I'm wondering if perhaps this is part of a general "it's not worth doing if we can't do it perfectly and once and for all" mindset. And that mindset will, yes, pretty much guarantee household chaos. :) A great deal of housekeeping is about achieving "good enough" now rather than focusing on achieving perfection later.
 
> 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).
 
I'd say that this is another area where it would be worth seeking "good enough." In the future, you want nice storage for this stuff, but right now you can't find anything. So I'd suggest putting work into making your current situation better.
 
> Also- can anyone offer me some advice on how to get my husband on
> board with this concept?
 
You're going to have to clean this house up yourself. I could be wrong, but trying to change a packrat is generally far more work than just doing the work yourself. Now, I am worried that he may go beyond not-doing the work and start to try to prevent you from doing it. If so, then this is a different problem, and I start talking with how to deal with a hoarder. (Hoarders, in addition to rarely doing any cleaning, also do their best to sabotage and/or forbid others' efforts to clean.)
 
But if he is OK with you doing the work, then I recommend that you just start doing it, in a piece-by-piece way that allows you to work for fifteen minutes and have fifteen minutes of lasting progress, rather than having to throw everything into a box when the baby wakes up and undoing all of your work.
 
So that's all very well, but what about some specifics? My thoughts:
 
- Get a whole bunch of medium-sized flat U-Haul boxes and some tape to build them with - and a big black marker to mark them with.
 
- When you have five minutes, pick a storage area and start extracting items that can profitably be grouped together, either temporarily or permanently, with "trash" being the highest priority category. For example, if I imagine cleaning out that linen closet, I would:
 
-- Build a box.
-- Get a trashcan.
-- Pull everything out of one shelf and tumble it into the box.
-- Wet-wipe the shelf so that you have a nice clean feeling about it.
-- Build another box.
-- Extract items, one by one, from the first box. If you can possibly, POSSIBLY make yourself throw the item out, do. If you're not prepared to throw it out and it belongs in the linen closet (that is, it's a linen item that you would willingly use right now), fold it and put it on the shelf. If neither is true, put it in the second box without worrying even a tiny little bit about where it will end up.
 
With this strategy, then when the baby starts to cry, you have a few items on a clean linen-closet shelf, and you have two boxes that define your current sorting task. Eventually you finish that task and you have an empty box, a clean shelf containing items that belong on it, and a box of miscellaneous junk. You've made progress.
 
Now you do...whatever you want to do, but try to make it something that lets you make bite-sized pieces of _completed_ progress in small amounts of time. Maybe that box of miscellaneous junk contains carpet shampoo and tile cleaner and Windex, and you decide that you'll start a box of "miscellaneous cleaners", and label it with a big black marker, and put it up in the attic, and now when you want a cleaner you know which box it's in, and when you find a random cleaner you know where to put it.
 
Yes, that's not a permanent solution. In the end you want those cleaners in the basement. But the shelves don't exist. Or you want them in the laundry room, but those shelves are full of gardening gear. Or you want them in the garage, but the garage is full of boxes of files. Or you want to get rid of them, but you hae to wait for toxic disposal day. Don't get hung up on finding the perfect permanent space for that item - accept that you have achieved a little bit of order (cleaners grouped instead of scattered; one linen closet shelf contains linens and only linens), and keep on making those little bits of order.
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#7 of 18 Old 06-24-2013, 07:29 AM
 
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Oh. My. God.

 

No advice, because I am living the exact same nightmare right now. I have *A LOT* of sympathy for you mama. Almost 2 years here as well. I'm drowning in this half finished house crap and literally can't take the thought of anymore stuff or further renovations. I just want to be done already. We're on the tail end of our renovation and I CANNOT wait for it to be over. I'm sorry for my ranting.. I realize I'm no help at all. redface.gif I'm genuinely surprised to have read your post.. It sounds so similar to something I could write.. right down to the husband's paper saving habits.

 

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#8 of 18 Old 07-03-2013, 12:39 PM
 
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I'm sure you get this all the time, but Crayfish, you're my hero!

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#9 of 18 Old 07-03-2013, 01:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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!  :)

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#10 of 18 Old 08-10-2013, 10:43 AM
 
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I think with the disorganisation you describe ebaying stuff right now is only going to hold you back. The time sent listing could be spent decluttering. Unless its a big ticket item your time could be better spent?

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#11 of 18 Old 08-23-2013, 12:02 PM
 
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I too really recommend having one place in your house that you keep clean and organized and do it every night. I like the kitchen sink as keeping it clear is advantageous anyway and it needs to be cleaned once a day with all the yuck going in it and it is small enough I can tackle it every night even if it was a bad day, but it can be anything that works for you. Having one spot that is good can really help motivate you to do the rest. After that, yeah start with one spot that is bugging you and have a trash/donate/keep bag or box to put things into. Once you fill up a trash bag, take it out, fill up a donate bag, take it to a donation center, fill up your keep box, put it away labeled on the outside with a list on the inside on top of what is in there. You may have to add a fourth category of DH's stuff which is things that should be donated/trashed, but DH needs to make the call because it is his stuff. Also, if you are having trouble letting go of something that might be useful, I find having a spot for things like this can be useful until you get used to decluttering. Put it there with a date and if you haven't used it in a year, get rid of it.

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.

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#12 of 18 Old 08-26-2013, 11:02 AM
 
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OP and LoveOurBabies, count me in on the hug-fest. I alternate between getting awesome stuff done and feeling overwhelmed. I'm reading for tips myself but all I have to offer is that to get to the bottom of things, you might try making a life priority list. So if there's an item in your home that doesn't help you accomplish what is currently important to you, you can trash it. Like, will an unfinished knitting project help you learn Spanish/ be a peaceful mom/ get fit?
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#13 of 18 Old 08-26-2013, 08:51 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LHcj2008 View Post

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!  :)

 

I'm so sorry for the late reply! I wasn't geting any notifications for this thread. I'm in Australia :) and yes, I would love to talk Sheepish.gif


 

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#14 of 18 Old 08-26-2013, 09:07 PM
 
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How are you going now OP? we're still chugging along and have another 6-8 weeks till completion. My kids said to me that all they want for christmas is "a normal home" and no toys. Nice. rolleyes.gif Instead of my children yearning for the latest and greatest, they yearn for a basic, normal need. 

 

I found the hardest thing in this entire ordeal is dealing with a baby who wants to explore. Older kids know not to touch, but a crawling babe or walking toddler just wants to explore their surroundings and knows no danger. The amount of stress in having to monitor every single second was ridiculous.

 

How you going with those papers? I finally went bezerk and decided to tackle them.. so far close to 4000 have passed through my hands in the last week - not including the children's stuff, receipts or the documents I filed. nut.gif

 

hug2.gif hope you're holding up okay.

 

salr, are you also in the midst of a renovation? hug2.gif


 

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#15 of 18 Old 08-26-2013, 10:04 PM
 
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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.

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#16 of 18 Old 08-27-2013, 07:31 AM
 
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We're in a constant state of renovation because it seems impossible to find time to work on fixing up, organizing, or purging. I think it's great advice to finish a room and then move on. ..one by one. We haven't done that which means everything everywhere is half done. Or mostly done. Done enough that it feels like it's not a priority to finish it but missing enough things that it is obviously not finished. If we had either time or money it would be way easier.

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.
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#17 of 18 Old 09-21-2013, 12:47 PM
 
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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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#18 of 18 Old 09-21-2013, 01:31 PM
 
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My main floor had got so messy. I just finished and realized it was about 200 things that belonged elsewhere that made it so. Crazy. I guess I need to do an end of day clean up and put things away. Funny I thought I was pretty good at that.
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