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#1 of 82 Old 12-12-2006, 07:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Seriously. I must have some kind of mental disorder. I don't know if this belongs in Personal Growth, Health and Healing, Homekeeping, Parenting Issues, or what, because it involves all of it. It's not just about organizing, because I really think there's a bigger problem here.

I cannot organize this house. I really can't. I've tried. I've hired personal organizers. Honestly, I've even gone to therapy over it. I can't do it. And living in this mess is making me crazy. It's not like those people you see on Dateline where you can't fit in the front door, and no one's going to call CPS on me or anything. But every surface is covered with crap. Every single surface. If it's flat, it has something on it. It has toys or books or mail or whatever. My kitchen has bags full of stuff just sitting there because I don't know what to do with it. My bedroom has stacks of dirty towels because I can't fit them into one of the four hampers in our bedroom.

The kids just tear this place apart. I mean, we work on picking stuff up, and I know kids who are worse, but I just can't get ahead. Right now ds1 is playing with his piggy bank/coin collection. He dumped all the books of his nightstand to get to it, and there are coins all over the floor. Yeah, he'll pick most of it up, but not all of it. There are puzzle pieces everywhere. We baked cookies so the kitchen is a nightmare. It's the single biggest stressor in my life that makes me yell at my kids. I don't know what the line is between allowing them freedom for creative play versus not messing up the house. Even our nutrition is being affected, because sometimes I am so down about things I can't muster up the energy to get dinner made. It's just one more mess that I'm going to have to deal with.

I don't know what to do. I am so depressed living like this. It makes me crazy and I cannot change it. No matter what I do, how much I throw out, it just doesn't change. It's been years I've been trying and nothing changes.

Yeah, I'm limited on time, but even when I do have time, I don't know what to do. People say to start small but I don't know how. How do I sort through all the art projects? I don't know where to store anything. How do I sort through my desk? I don't know what to keep, and I don't know how to organize what it is that I do keep. How do I organize the games? What do I do with Halloween costumes? What about toilet paper rolls ds uses for art projects?

I'm not just venting. I need help and I don't know where to find it. We are not rich, and the times that I have paid professionals to help have been money that was hard to part with. And nothing helps. Do I have some disorder? I mean, it's not severe enough that anyone would think twice about it, but it weighs on my 24/7. I don't want people to come over, which is really unfair to ds. He sometimes asks to invite a friend over and I don't because I don't want them to see our house. I don't even want to be here.

It's a small house, but not that small. Our Christmas gifts are being kept in the trunk of dh's car because we have no closet space or even room in our 2 car garage to keep them.

The area rug in the living room is totally stained because I let the kids eat in there (and it's white because we bought it before we had kids). We need a new rug but I don't know how to buy one. Can I tell you that my mom even traded with an interior designer (she does accounting) to help me, and after four hours worth we still don't have an area rug?

I am overwhelmed by the kids' clothes. What to keep, what to sell, what to give away. What to do with stained clothes? Trying to organize what ds1 has outgrown and remember when to get it out for ds2.

I've bought books. I've read websites. I've tried Flylady. Nothing works. I have been in tears over this more times than I can count.

I don't know what to do.
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#2 of 82 Old 12-12-2006, 07:50 PM
 
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Okay, oceanbaby. You have to start small. In my experience, that is key. Do one surface at a time, one bag at a time. If you haven't taken a look at anything in that bag, toss it. It is hard, I know it is. But clutter like that weighs you down. You will feel more free with every peice of paper you get rid of. The clothes... if it doesn't fit, or nobody has worn it in months, give it away. Do this a little at a time, too. Don't start with a whole closet. I do it while I am folding laundry sometimes, or putting stuff in the washing machine. Or pick up one peice of clothing up every time you go into a room and decide to keep or give. And do something with it right then. If you keep it, hang it up or fold it neatly into a drawer. It will take a long time, probably, but it is easier than tackling the whole entire house at once. Good luck.

ETA: I wouldn't worry about the rug right now, myself. Get rid of some of the junk first and reward yourself with a new one.

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#3 of 82 Old 12-12-2006, 08:00 PM
 
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First, you need to tell yourself that you CAN organize the house, you need to imagine it organized, how peaceful it will feel, how good it will look, but you need to keep your thoughts positive.

Pick a room. The bathroom. How many towels do you need? 2 bathtowels per person, maybe 3. 4-6 handtowels. 2-3 washclothes per person if you use them.

Now, each person picks their towels, or you do it. Keep 2 junkie ones in the mudroom for the dog or big spills.

Take the rest to the animal shelter or the dump, or if they are nice, donate them to a MIN.

The rest: get hooks for the backs of doors for the towels.

Just work on the bathroom for one week.

It sounds like you have too much stuff, and that before you can even organize, you need to start getting rid of stuff.

There are a lot of families in need who need things, start thinning your stuff by either sending things to mothering MINs, or taking them to your local shetler or drop off box.

It is difficult and almost painful at first, but once I started doing it, I was on a roll, my closets are emptier, my fabric stash is manageable, and I don't miss that stuff one bit.

But just pick a room. Give yourself a week. Take a huge trashbag in and clear out the medicine cabinet of all the old gunky expired stuff, through out magazines in there,

After that week, pick a new room. How do you organize games? You ask your kids to pick a few they want to keep and that they play with most often, and you give the rest away, or throw them away if they are missing pieces or broken. Then you put the rest on a shelf.

The same for art supplies. Get some shoe boxes, or use the bottom dresser drawer. Throw out everything that is dried up, broken, used up, crushed, etc. , recycle 90% of the toilet paper rolls (there will always be more!), and then put the rest of the stuff in boxes with labels: painting, crayons, stickers, etc. Put those on a shelf with the labels showing.

Throw out the stained white rug, and have your mother buy you a new one. Don't try to go with her, just trust her.

You sound a lot like my ex-bf who has this same issue, so I know how debilitating it can be. A few times, I just got fed up and organized all of his daugther's art supplies and games and put away all his clothes because I could hardly stand it. He has depression and other issues, so he could never clean.

Or, leave your house and give your mother permission to come in and clean and organize (something my ex-bf's mom used to do when he would go out of town).

Also, start a blog. Take photos of what you start with, and what you throw out and how it looks afterwards. Put a link in your sig so people can follow your journey and cheer you on.
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#4 of 82 Old 12-12-2006, 08:02 PM
 
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Crap, I could have written your post. It is infuriating.

I'm working through a lot of it right now. My approach is different than the PP's. If I start small, clean off one counter, all the crap from everywhere else just spreads to cover it again. I can't start *that* small. The scale that seems to work for me is to tackle a whole room (or half of a large room). I clean up everything that is easy and obvious. Toys go back to the playroom. Dishes go into the dishwasher. Trash goes into the trash. Mail all goes into one pile on my desk. Etc. Then every-freakin'-thing else goes into a big bin (or onto the dining room table, just somehow becomes centralized.) I ignore that pile for a little while as I then actually *clean* - dusting, vacuuming, etc.

Then I tackle that bin/pile. I take a real hard look at that stuff and sort it into things that are going away for good, things that need to find a better home, things that are really trash but somehow got missed on the first pass (that usually means things like bottles that need to be taken apart for recycling, etc.) Trash/recycling goes to it's appropriate place, stuff to go to the thrift store goes out to the shed (where dh is a facist. Ain't no letting things fester out there for six months, it *will* get taken to the thrift store.) Stuff that's staying gets put away.

Finally, once the room is actually tidy and things are in their places, I go through again and start sorting out stuff that, really, we don't need. Things that can just plain go.

Then, once it's done, that room is Untouchable. Nope. No more shoving crap under my bathroom sink. No more piling random things on the shelves in my bedroom. Keep the mess in the places that are already messy...until I get to them!
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#5 of 82 Old 12-12-2006, 08:07 PM
 
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I could totally have written your post. I am still in the midst of it, in fact I'm procrastinating on working on it. It feels like climbing up a hill of sand. It's hard work and for each step I back down again anyway. I hate it. I have nothing to add to help, just
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#6 of 82 Old 12-12-2006, 08:08 PM
 
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I can picture your house because my sister is the same way. Nothing CPS would care about, but a mess anyway. She's got crap on top of crap on top of more crap on top of some dust And it's everywhere. Being the clean freak I am, I have fantasized about going in and cleaning her house :

My rule is: 6 months and it's gone, If it can't be used in 6 months, it goes. NO MATTER WHAT. Seasonal items like a Christmas tree (fake) are the one exception.

2 towels per person, give the rest away. Clothes with stains, give away, "stuff", "trinkets" aren't needed. Give away. For now, put DS1's clothes that he's outgrown in a rubbermaid tub, but only the nicer stuff. Toys that don't get played with, books you wouldn't pick up and read right now - say good bye. Just start putting stuff in bags and taking it away, a couple bags at a time. Make a goal to put presents in your closet so you can put more clutter in your trunk to take away.

Amy ~ Web Designing Single Mom to 4: DD14, DS12, DS5, DS3
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#7 of 82 Old 12-12-2006, 08:08 PM
 
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Just couldn't read this without posting oceanbaby! I feel your pain everyday too. I have 3 boys and twins on the way in a 3 bdrm house that is full of stuff like you say. I agree with the other poster about rewarding yourself afterwards with a new rug and to start small but also starting on one room at a time could work also. Like deciding to clean off the kitchen counter I know my husband has done this one many of times for me. But also delegate that's another big key!! I have been making the boys help more because as I said I'm having twins around Feb. and all need to help! What are the ages of your two? Envolve the whole family including dh. Just focus on one thing at a time or two things possibly but just so you don't get overwhelmed. It won't happen overnight I can tell you that, but I have tried the fly lady like you were talking about! Funny but not.... I know how you feel because when someone is coming over it is a panick at my house to just to get things picked up. Have been known to throw a sink full of dishes in the oven! Just kidding!! Hugs Hugs Hugs!! If you have a close friend I've always said I would switch houses for the day just to wash different dishes. No but sometimes a motivator is the key! My friend is a neat freak so she came over one day and cleaned out the fridge and helped organize some so if you have a motivator maybe that would be the key also. Just throwing some ideas out there.: Bye for now and the best of luck!
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#8 of 82 Old 12-12-2006, 08:24 PM
 
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Oceanbaby

Be ruthless. Unless its a picture of your child or a check it CAN be replaced. So even if you accidentally throw out something insignificant don't worry. Call your city and have a trash dumpster delivered. Get your shredder fired up. THROW THAT JUNK AWAY. Don't agonize over every decision. Get a good friend to come in and help you. Hand her a box of trash bags and say GO FOR IT.
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#9 of 82 Old 12-12-2006, 08:30 PM
 
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I could be you. I am not because I am deathly afraid of becoming my mother. What started as clutter is now a debilitating hoarding disorder. So I have to make a VERY conscious effort every day, every hour, even evry minute to keep my house clutter free.

Some tips.....

Do you need a rug? We had a white area rug too (except we were dumb enough to buy it after we had dd). It is still in good shape, but I saw that it was going to be ruined if we kept using it. I have a pukey cat and dd eats in the living room. We thought we needed it because I thought the bare floor would be too hard and/or cold for dd to play on. We rolled it up a few months ago when our cat was sick and put it in the attic. We quickly found that dd did not care one bit, I have stopped worrying about spills and puke, and the floor is MUCH easier to keep clean.

On games/puzzles/art supplies. Dd is pretty young so it has been easy for me to start "policies" that she accepts just because that is all she knows. We never ever buy toys so I am usually dealing with what others have gotten her. Anything with lots of pieces that I know will be hard to keep track of are treated specially. Those get kept in thier box/bag (if they have one) or are given a box bag and put on the shelf in dd's closet. She is welcome to play with them any time. But the rule is that only one thing can be down at a time. She is pretty good about cleaning up (as well as a 3 yo can be) but even when she completely neglects to put it back in the box/bag, it is not overwhelming to me to put that one thing away. Same with art supplies except that they are kept in the cabinet above the fridge. All of her other toys are easy to chuck into bins. There are days when she gets every single toy out and I can still clean it up in 5 minutes. The nicer thing though is that SHE can clean it all up in 5 minutes. I never force her to, but since it is easy, she often does it without being asked.

The best way to combat clutter is to not allow it to come into the house. Junk mail gets dumped in the garage and is not even allowed inside. That includes "really cool" catalogs. Real mail has a spot and the stuff goes there immediately. We do not buy anything unless it can be eaten or otherwsie consumed. If something must be bought, something else must go before the new item comes in the house. This goes for gifts as well.

I also have to tackle a whole room at a time. I am not longer at the point where things get to that. If I have 10 minutes while I am waiting for water to boil, I will use that time to tackle a small job like the junk drawer or a pile of something that is growing on the dining room table. But I used to have big jobs. I would spend 5 hours if that is what it took. And I did regress many times. But over time (about 5 years in all), I am now at the point where I have to think of what the "big job" is going to be when I find I have time to tackle it. Right now, that is my attic. It is very neat but I KNOW
there is stuff up there I do not need and it WILL multiply like bunnies if I do not get up there soon.

I with pps agree about the towels. Do you not reuse them? I do laundry once a week. We each have one towel that hangs on a hook on the bathroom door. Those towels go in with the sheets once a week. We only have 6 towels in the whole house. When we have more than 3 guests (which has a happened a few times) I borrow a few from friends. If there is some sort of towel emergency (like when rotovirus struck), I hit the beach towels (which we have three of).

Good luck!
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#10 of 82 Old 12-12-2006, 08:33 PM
 
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Move


































:

Ok sorry bad idea

But think, the further you move the less you want to pack and take with you.
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#11 of 82 Old 12-12-2006, 08:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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That includes "really cool" catalogs.
OMG, I am dying laughing. That is so me. I do sort the mail in the garage, but the "cool" catalogs make there way up to the living room. I do get rid of them but there is always 3 or 4 of them crowding up the end table.

Quote:
How many towels do you need? 2 bathtowels per person, maybe 3. 4-6 handtowels. 2-3 washclothes per person if you use them.
Would you believe it never occurred to me to only have a few bathtowels per person?

Quote:
Move
Ha. You think you're joking. I have had to face the fact that one of the reasons I have been wanting to move is to that I can throw all this away. But I love our house and I love our city. I have told dh that what I want to do is pretend like we are moving, and throw everything out that we don't love. Including the furniture. I want to START OVER!

Fighting kids, gotta run.
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#12 of 82 Old 12-12-2006, 08:59 PM
 
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HUGS Oceanbaby! I so could have written your post word for word... and am hoping that i can use everyone's advice here to get my house in order!! Hang in there... I know it will happen.. OH and I have seriously thought on more thaqn one occasion that i want to put everything out in my driveway and move in again. then throw out everythign that doesn't have a place BEFORE it even enters teh house!!
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#13 of 82 Old 12-12-2006, 09:03 PM
 
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Couldn't read without offering a - you've gotten some great advice, I hope it works for you.

Maybe you could pretend to move- box everything up with the plan to move...and then be able to put it back one box at a time, where you want it- where there's a place for it, and get rid of everything that you would have tossed/donated/sold.
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#14 of 82 Old 12-12-2006, 09:06 PM
 
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Starting small never works for me. What works for me is taking EVERYTHING out of a room or area and ONLY putting back in what we actually use. The rest goes into bags to donate or throw away. If you do this one room at a time it is not too bad, except for making the rest of your house impassable for a couple days. But we live in 500 sq ft; it would probably be easier if you have a larger house. Seriously, for me, this is the BEST way to get rid of stuff. Otherwise I pick and choose and hem and haw and end up keeping almost everything.
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#15 of 82 Old 12-12-2006, 09:11 PM
 
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[QUOTE=wantingagirl2b#4;6747021] Have been known to throw a sink full of dishes in the oven! QUOTE]


You are joking, but I have really done this, and more than once! Oceanbaby, I just wanted to tell you you aren't alone. I think some of us are just born this way. I, too have tried flylady- it helped some, but didn't change my life. I have tried the Messies books, they just rub me the wrong way. I have tried Confessions of an Organized Housewife, it helped the most, but I think it is partly my personality and maybe some kind of deepseated adolescent rebellion. My husband is a bigger slob than me, so usually I am faced with my mess, his, my 2 year old's and my friend's 1 year old's. No advice, just commiseration. If you discover some miracle cure, please tell me. Oh, and I so understand the dinner thing. I have resigned myself to chick-fil-a and frozen pizza many time because I didn't have any clean pots or pans. Does this problem spread to other aspects of your life? I have so much trouble making menu plans, grocery lists, etc. and trouble remembering to pay bills and write thank you notes and do laundry. Funny, I rarely have trouble remembering to knit or read a book! Anyway,
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#16 of 82 Old 12-12-2006, 09:13 PM
 
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Originally Posted by oceanbaby View Post
Seriously. I must have some kind of mental disorder. I don't know if this belongs in Personal Growth, Health and Healing, Homekeeping, Parenting Issues, or what, because it involves all of it. It's not just about organizing, because I really think there's a bigger problem here.

I cannot organize this house. I really can't. I've tried. I've hired personal organizers. Honestly, I've even gone to therapy over it. I can't do it. And living in this mess is making me crazy. It's not like those people you see on Dateline where you can't fit in the front door, and no one's going to call CPS on me or anything. But every surface is covered with crap. Every single surface. If it's flat, it has something on it. It has toys or books or mail or whatever. My kitchen has bags full of stuff just sitting there because I don't know what to do with it. My bedroom has stacks of dirty towels because I can't fit them into one of the four hampers in our bedroom.

The kids just tear this place apart. I mean, we work on picking stuff up, and I know kids who are worse, but I just can't get ahead. Right now ds1 is playing with his piggy bank/coin collection. He dumped all the books of his nightstand to get to it, and there are coins all over the floor. Yeah, he'll pick most of it up, but not all of it. There are puzzle pieces everywhere. We baked cookies so the kitchen is a nightmare. It's the single biggest stressor in my life that makes me yell at my kids. I don't know what the line is between allowing them freedom for creative play versus not messing up the house. Even our nutrition is being affected, because sometimes I am so down about things I can't muster up the energy to get dinner made. It's just one more mess that I'm going to have to deal with.

I don't know what to do. I am so depressed living like this. It makes me crazy and I cannot change it. No matter what I do, how much I throw out, it just doesn't change. It's been years I've been trying and nothing changes.

Yeah, I'm limited on time, but even when I do have time, I don't know what to do. People say to start small but I don't know how. How do I sort through all the art projects? I don't know where to store anything. How do I sort through my desk? I don't know what to keep, and I don't know how to organize what it is that I do keep. How do I organize the games? What do I do with Halloween costumes? What about toilet paper rolls ds uses for art projects?

I'm not just venting. I need help and I don't know where to find it. We are not rich, and the times that I have paid professionals to help have been money that was hard to part with. And nothing helps. Do I have some disorder? I mean, it's not severe enough that anyone would think twice about it, but it weighs on my 24/7. I don't want people to come over, which is really unfair to ds. He sometimes asks to invite a friend over and I don't because I don't want them to see our house. I don't even want to be here.

It's a small house, but not that small. Our Christmas gifts are being kept in the trunk of dh's car because we have no closet space or even room in our 2 car garage to keep them.

The area rug in the living room is totally stained because I let the kids eat in there (and it's white because we bought it before we had kids). We need a new rug but I don't know how to buy one. Can I tell you that my mom even traded with an interior designer (she does accounting) to help me, and after four hours worth we still don't have an area rug?

I am overwhelmed by the kids' clothes. What to keep, what to sell, what to give away. What to do with stained clothes? Trying to organize what ds1 has outgrown and remember when to get it out for ds2.

I've bought books. I've read websites. I've tried Flylady. Nothing works. I have been in tears over this more times than I can count.

I don't know what to do.
Holy crap! I almost fell over because I could have written your post. I have 4 kids and a smallish house. The clutter...It really drives me crazy and I'm overwhelmed by it. I was never a messy person. But with the kids and their stuff, it's just so hard to keep ahead of them. I don't know how it started. I always hang out in here to get advice, ideas and inspiration. We should support each other by pm becuz I think we were separated at birth.
I am doing better though. I realize that I have an emotional/psychological attachment to stuff. Like I still have all 4 kids infant bedding...I realized that I will need to part w/them so, since I'm learning to quilt I'm going to make a few swatches from them and pass the rest on...you know the bumpers and curtains...now I think I can let them go. I'm embracing freecycle. It was hard for me to get rid of stuff becuz I would think of the money and time I had spent acquiring these possession, so now I realize it's my way of helping others and the environment. Baby steps! I'm a work in progress, but I'm working.

Sabrina , mom to 4 fab kids!

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#17 of 82 Old 12-12-2006, 09:23 PM
 
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i, too, could have written that post.


i've been working on each pile of clutter every day, just making sure to de-clutter a little each day, and it keeps it under control... but then there are days when i turn around and the kids have torn the place up again when i wasn't looking, and it drives me nuts. i think everyone has given some really great advice, but as for Completely getting everything under control.... i think we have to surrender at least some of that until our little ones are grown and out of the home, because there is NO WAY i can keep this place tidy with little ones running around. i try, and the trying helps the large scale i guess, because when i don't put some effort toward it things are even more out of hand... but i've had to just step back and realize that little kids leave *some* degree of mess no matter what.
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#18 of 82 Old 12-12-2006, 10:07 PM
 
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It's called TMS, too much stuff. It is a forever kinda fight cause it's so easy to slip and start cluttering again.
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#19 of 82 Old 12-12-2006, 10:09 PM
 
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Then every-freakin'-thing else goes into a big bin
: And the best part about this method is you can *see* improvement immediately. Also, your kids, even 2 year olds, can help you put the stuff into the bin. Next step I'd do, is take two more bins and a trash bag, and just sort "put away" "give away" "trash"

And remember, when it starts to get overwhelming, lay down on your bed. Look up. What do you see there? That's right, the ceiling. The ceiling is organized. The only things on the ceiling that should be there are maybe some dust and spiderwebs and those could be cleaned up in 2 seconds so they don't matter.
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#20 of 82 Old 12-12-2006, 10:54 PM
 
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And remember, when it starts to get overwhelming, lay down on your bed. Look up. What do you see there? That's right, the ceiling. The ceiling is organized. The only things on the ceiling that should be there are maybe some dust and spiderwebs and those could be cleaned up in 2 seconds so they don't matter.
Oh my you just gave me 6 months of therapy right there! So THAT'S WHY I spent much of my (chaotic and sometiems traumatic) childhood staring at the ceiling, pretending I lived up there!

Oceanbaby, I can tell you moving a lot and also living in small spaces has helped us declutter enormously.

But aside from that i wanted to say, for me, sometimes chaos and mess makes me feel totally overwhelmed, depressed, angry, etc...and other times it feels cosy and homey. It totally depends on other stuff going on in my life. Likewise on good days I have no problem tackling the chaos, but on days when other stuff in my life is overwhelming the mess just knocks me over completely. You may hire professionals, get the place perfect, and find some of the feelings are still there...not to totally depress you, but just to say, dealing with the mess is one part, and dealing with our responses is another, kwim? Hope that comes out in the friendly, supportive way it was intended...
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#21 of 82 Old 12-12-2006, 10:55 PM
 
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Hugs! It's difficult to keep a house neat and tidy and organized. It is possible though! I am much more relaxed now that I've (mostly) gotten control over my clutter.

Are the Halloween costumes used for dress up? We have a toy box just for dress up clothing and next to it we have three baskets -- one for dress up shoes, one for hats and one for pocketbooks. Inside the toy box I also have a large jewelry box (ok, I'll admit ... it's my Caboodle from what ... 1989?) that is home to their costume jewelry. I've also seen people put hooks on the back of bedroom doors to hang dress up clothing. If it's not used for dress up, buy one bin, label it Halloween costumes and neatly tuck the costumes inside and put the bin away.

Art supplies are difficult. We have so many supplies all of different sizes and shapes! I cleared out a bathroom cabinet and that's where we store everything. I have those plastic boxes with drawers -- one drawer for coloring books, one for stickers, one for construction paper, etc. The paints are lined up neatly and I have small stacking bins that store markers, paint brushes, colored pencils, crayons, etc. Stash the toilet paper rolls in a bin and only keep as many as fit in the bin.

You need to find the balance that works best for you -- either tackling large projects at once or doing bit by bit. I suggest writing a to do list and prioritizing it and then go from there.
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#22 of 82 Old 12-13-2006, 12:18 AM
 
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Wow, there are some great suggestions here -- some I'm going to take advantage of! I just wanted to add that you should give yourself permission to throw away things that are "perfectly good". I'm a committed reduce-reuse-recycler, but when I'm really feeling overwhelmed, the prospect of gathering up things to give away -- sorting them, taking them wherever, etc. -- makes me put off the purging. Either that, or I wind up with a "give away" pile that just becomes one more pile of junk driving me crazy! : When things really get out of hand, and the mess is interfering with my ability to be the kind of mother I want to be, I give myself permission to just haul out a trash bag. I've thrown away perfectly good toys that some child somewhere might have enjoyed, but you know what? The shelves at Goodwill are already stuffed with toys just like those. How many more do they need? I feel a little guilty, but I try not to dwell on it. Sometimes personal peace and family harmony is worth a little environmental incorrectness. JMO.

Stephanie mom to Brianna (6/00) , Alexander (6/02) , and Ethan (9/07) .
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#23 of 82 Old 12-13-2006, 12:54 AM
 
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Over the past few years I have paired down what is in our closets/laying on top of dressers/under beds, etc, a lot. there are so many tips to decluttering. analyze yourself and your family and try to figure out WHY you keep all that stuff. if it isn't emotional is just because you are overwhelmed? if it isn't emotional you are in good shape, emotional attachments make it harder to get rid of anything! whether you attack in small or large batches is up to you, but set guidelines beforehand. like, if the thought of getting rid of 'thing' brings tears to my eyes, that doesn't necessarily mean you need to keep 'thing', you just need to evaluate, will you ever use it? will your kids really care if you keep it? can you just take a picture of it? maybe designate one closet, shelf, or large storage tote for those 'things' that you just can't part with, and if it is full, then something has to be cleaned out.

a tip i figured out for most (not paper) things (clothes, towels, tools, knick knacks, whatever) is to set a monetary amount. mine is $30. if i have a 'thing' that doesn't have a home I evaluate it's monetary value and when i will use it. is it worth over $30? did I/will I use it in a 12 mth period? Is it worth it to me to keep it? if all those are no, it is gone gone gone. i can always buy another. i know it sounds consumerist, but if you do that with all your 'things', you may get rid of piles of stuff that qualify but only need to 'rebuy' maybe $60 worth of stuff over the year. having an organized place to live is worth $60 to me, it is worth more...

oh, and go out and spend some cash on totes before you even know what they will be for. get different sizes etc. so when you get that urge to organize you don't have an excuse. and labels w/ a marker or labelmaker.

you should try to set a reasonable goal, and also set written guidelines for keep/sell/toss. leave your house, go out to lunch by yourself w/ paper/pen and evaluate the problem w/o the emotional baggage. do things just need homes (do you have room for homes for all your things?). do you need to get rid of most of it because there is just no space? do you need new shelving, new storage bins to make it more efficient? what is your monetary limit? is something almost immediately replaceable (tp tubes) or can you borrow it from a neighbor (steam canning pot). does it have a home w/in your home or can you find it one? if you have a 'thing' w/ no home and no hope of finding one, meaning it will sit in the corner of your bedroom for all eternity, and you haven't used it in 12 mths, pass it on.

good luck! ask a friend to help you enforce your guidelines, and dig in! sorry so long, maybe one of my tips added into all the other good ones will ring true w/ you and you can get started! i have cleaned/assisted in cleaning out several deceased relatives houses and that was a huge lesson in what happens when you keep too much stuff and how to get rid of it w/o too much guilt (and also not allowing yourself to bring boxes of new 'things' into your own house!!!)
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#24 of 82 Old 12-13-2006, 02:38 AM - Thread Starter
 
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You are all awesome. These are some great ideas. There are many things that really resonated with me.

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I just wanted to add that you should give yourself permission to throw away things that are "perfectly good". I'm a committed reduce-reuse-recycler, but when I'm really feeling overwhelmed, the prospect of gathering up things to give away -- sorting them, taking them wherever, etc. -- makes me put off the purging. Either that, or I wind up with a "give away" pile that just becomes one more pile of junk driving me crazy!
This is a huge one for me. Like I'll go to get rid of a puzzle, and it is missing a few pieces. I know the pieces are in the playroom, and will be found (they always are), so I set it on top of the dresser until I can find the pieces. But of course that could be months. But the thought of throwing away a perfectly good puzzle just eats at me. And I can't tell you the amount of "goodwill" bags sitting in the garage, and that's after they sit in the hallway for a month driving me crazy.

And then there's the "I should sell this" issue. There are so many items that are of value, but I rarely every get around to doing this. And it's kind of the money, but not really. It's like I SHOULD sell it, like I'm obligated too. I don't know where this comes from.

Quote:
Like I still have all 4 kids infant bedding...I realized that I will need to part w/them so, since I'm learning to quilt I'm going to make a few swatches from them and pass the rest on...you know the bumpers and curtains...now I think I can let them go.
Oh yeah, that's another one for me, especially with the clothes. I hate to get rid of anything they wore. I like clothes in general, and get really attached to the baby clothes. And because I like clothes, I tend to buy a lot to begin with. And then I am so disorganized I end up buying stuff for ds2, then finally get around to going through ds1's old clothes, and now ds2 has drawers that are overflowing.

And the Halloween costumes aren't really dress up. Some are, but not all. But again, I hate to get rid of them because of the sentimentality. But then I think "What would I do if my mom gave me all my old Halloween costumes?" I really don't think I'd be into it one bit. My dad recently gave me a little box with all my baby teeth he'd saved. Well, that's great and all, but what the hell am I supposed to do with this? I can't throw it away after he hung onto it for 30 years. The box even has "My Lucky Tooth" written on it! How cute is that!

It's like I got the worst of both my parents. My dad is very sentimental. He kept a lot of our drawings, every picture ever taken, baby teeth, etc. But he has very little in terms of "I might need that someday." In that sense he is almost a minimalist. But my mom is Queen of "I might need that someday" with some sentimentality sprinkled on for good measure. She is very clean, but is forever sorting through her garage full of stuff. And yes, every surface in her house has something on it.

Okay, you have all given me a last ray of hope. I think I am in the category of having to do a big purge rather than one little spot at a time, because like someone says, then something just comes along and fills up that spot.

I wish some of you lived here, so we could do it together. That's what I need - someone to sit down and do the whole thing with me. Well, that and a week without kids. Yeah, right.

But honestly, I have sometimes wondered if there is something "off" with me in regards to this. I mean, if you ask anyone who's been to my house, they'd say it was a lovely house. No one would describe me as a slob or dirty or anything. I have perfectionist issues, definitely. I get in the mode of thinking "Well, doing this one thing won't make it all perfect, so what's the point?"

Maybe it is simply that I suffer from the Too Much Crap syndrome. And it doesn't help that we live in a very high income area, so many of my friends have housekeepers and/or huge houses, making me feel even worse about my place. I go to take ds1 to a playdate with his friend from his old preschool whose parents are both attorneys and I think "Yeah, right, I am going to invite them over to my house."
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#25 of 82 Old 12-13-2006, 04:07 AM
 
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Wow, this has been an interesting thread. I agree that this calls for "drastic action", not "one small step." Inertia overcomes me when I try to be really orderly about purging stuff- I start putting way too much thought into each item ("I should sell this," "I should donate this," "Oh, maybe the kids would like this someday," "I should find the pieces to this," "Let me just sort through this file") ... I think you need to give yourself permission to just toss stuff, regardless of whether it is wasteful. Toss those craft projects you mean to do but haven't gotten around to, those books you've been meaning to read, etc. Once you have your life in order, you can reward yourself with taking on a new project or new book that reflects who you are now. Once you get control over the situation, then you can come up with a system that helps fits your goals of how you would like to manage your "stuff"- i.e., I will keep a Goodwill bag and donate it the first of each month, I will clean out the kids' clothes after each season, I will list stuff on eBay if it is worth more than $20, or whatever.

So, I would rent a dumpster, start at the top of the pile, and start tossing. Toss out bags of mail. Toss out the dirty towels. Toss out toys that are broken or missing pieces. Toss out clothes that don't fit someone in the family. Having a friend there would be great, as it is always easier to clear out other people's space. It will be slow to start but there is something about having a big dumpster in the driveway that will inspire you. Anything that you think you want to keep, I would sort into a few major piles: clothing, linens. dishes, kitchen stuff, books, toys, CDs, etc. Then find a place for each category of stuff. I have found it really helpful to keep all like items together- all the books go on one bookshelf, all medicines and toiletries go in one cabinet, all the CDs go in one drawer. Down the road, having stuff organized like this will make it easier to stay on top of things. And, once you decide where each type of item will go, the space will limit how many of those items you can keep- like all the books you keep have to fit on the bookcase.

After you have gotten this far, then you can start to refine your system. Like, we have 2 sets of sheets per bed and 2 sets of towels per person. I've seen others that only keep one dish and cup per person in their cabinets. This way, you can't let a week's worth of dirty dishes accumulate, or forego laundering the towels for months.

You can do this!
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#26 of 82 Old 12-13-2006, 04:27 AM - Thread Starter
 
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One system that dh and I put in place awhile ago that stuck was the clean sink routine from Flylady. Almost every single night, by the time we go to bed, every dish is washed and the counters are wiped down. On good nights the floor is swept! So, dishes accumulating isn't a huge problem for us, even though it does mean that I do dishes about 3 - 4 times a day. For some reason this stuck, and boy am I happy about it. I think it was because after ds2 was born it became clear that if I had to start the day with a sink full of dishes I was going to lose my mind.

I'm actually pretty good at cleaning, but not so good at organizing, purging, sorting, etc. Things are not often dirty here, but we just have too much stuff. And we do have a small house, and it's an old house, so the closet situation is pretty pathetic. But having so much stuff makes it harder to clean.

I think I have to focus on toys and children's clothes first. I actually did a huge purge of my closet about six months ago and it was fantastic! I did have a friend come over, my fashionista friend. We went through every item in my closet, and I would say at least 60% was bagged up and given away. For weeks I would be giddy just opening my closet and looking at how bare it was. But I have a much harder time doing that with the kids' clothes. And there is just way too much.

Oh, and the towels! That is inspired, and is actually easy. I don't have much emotional attachment to our towels! We have a hamper in our bedroom dedicated to towels and sheets, but we never use it because it is always full of towels! In fact, if all my towels were clean at once, there is no way they'd all fit in the linen closet. I think that's a pretty good sign we have too many towels. My kids each have their one favorite towel, which is pretty much the only one they use.

Would you believe that my email inbox actually mirrors the clutter in my house? I am always saving emails thinking that I might want to have that information at some point. The homeschooling yahoo group emails are the worst. Oh, and all the favorites I have bookmarked. I can't even find stuff anymore because there is so much on there!

Quote:
Inertia overcomes me when I try to be really orderly about purging stuff- I start putting way too much thought into each item ("I should sell this," "I should donate this," "Oh, maybe the kids would like this someday," "I should find the pieces to this," "Let me just sort through this file") ...
My best friend calls this "analysis paralysis" and it is exactly how my mind works when I start to organize.
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#27 of 82 Old 12-13-2006, 01:14 PM
 
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I love this thread, and I so sympathize with you on this. My dh was ROTFLAO last night reading your op, because he knows that without him this is exactly where I would be. We, however, have moved 9 times in our 17 years of marriage, and that has helped immensely. And, we have only once had what I would call a large space (1600 sq feet with a big attic) and had we stayed there I am sure we would have accumulated much more.

I also think homeschooling just raises the guilt bar on this one. I should have a nice, clean inviting place for my kids to work; I should have organized art supplies so we can find materials when the moment of inspiration hits; I should be working with my kids and not cleaning.... And, of course my kids are always here so there is no chunk of time when the house can get cleaned up. I know so many people who really got their house and act together once most of their kids were in school. That's not an option when you are homeschooling, which probably makes it more important to do the big purge and get it together and organized so the daily and weekly tasks are not overwhelming.

I'll be reading all the suggestions. We have a big decluttering day planned for Monday!
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#28 of 82 Old 12-13-2006, 02:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I also think homeschooling just raises the guilt bar on this one. I should have a nice, clean inviting place for my kids to work; I should have organized art supplies so we can find materials when the moment of inspiration hits; I should be working with my kids and not cleaning.... And, of course my kids are always here so there is chunk of time when the house can get cleaned up. I know so many people who really got their house and act together once most of their kids were in school. That's not an option when you are homeschooling, which probably makes it more important to do the big purge and get it together and organized so the daily and weekly tasks are not overwhelming.
Yes, yes, yes to every word of this post.

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I think you need to give yourself permission to just toss stuff, regardless of whether it is wasteful. Toss those craft projects you mean to do but haven't gotten around to, those books you've been meaning to read, etc.
I agree with this, as it is where I get stuck. But I don't know how to actually do it!
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#29 of 82 Old 12-13-2006, 02:51 PM
 
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oceanbaby-

I am a success story. I say this not to rub your face in it, but to give you hope. I could have written your op a few years ago. Here is what I've done.

1. Flylady's Clean Sink- keep it up.

2. Throwing Stuff Away- this is tricky, and covers a lot of ground, but it is the most important part of a decluttered house.

-You can throw it away, burn it, take it to the recycling center, or set it by the curb with a "FREE" sign. Or, you can take it to Goodwill, St. Vincent de Paul, Salvation Army, etc. Or, if something is, for example, very large, place an ad in a local free publication (ours is "The Action Shopper") and list large thing as "Free to Whoever Will Move It". I did this a few times and my phone broke from ringing so much.

-Give yourself permission to get rid of stuff that was given to you as gift. It's okay. The gift is not the person, does not symbolize the person, nor your love for each other. You love your Dad, not the teeth. Our culture is really screwed up on this point.

-BUT (and here's the kicker), you have to set rules about SELLING things. DO NOT, under any circumstances, plan to have a yard sale. This is way beyond where you are now. If you have something that you do not need but is very valuable, give yourself permission to sell it on eBay. (I did this with some gold jewelry- I don't wear gold.) The key thing here is to not set eBay as your default method of getting rid of stuff. The vast majority of your junk is junk so junk it.

Do Not Save Stuff for Your Kids- they will save the stuff they truly love on their own. My mom saved a ton of s**t for me, and it was an albatross, a burden. The best thing you can pass on to your kids the ability to wade through our age of excess.

Do Not Save Art Projects- take a picture.

Do Not Save Photographic Negatives- we are in the digital age now.

Do Not Save Baby Clothes- it's too easy, just say no.

Regarding Art Supplies-get some plastic shoe boxes ($1 each). Designate and lable each box- "Markers", "Glue", whatever. For your little guy, you may need to label with pictures. DO NOT put more than one type of thing in a box, even if that box contains just one pair of scissors. DO NOT allow a group of things to grow into more than 1 box. (If you have that many markers, it's time to purge!)
Once this is done, get a big Rubbermaid type tote, and put all the plastic shoe boxes in it, with the paper/coloring books stored vertically between the shoe boxes and the side of the tote. The lid does not have to fit on the the tote, it can be stored vertically between the back side of the tote and the wall, and used as a hard art surface for coloring.
Label the tote "Art Supplies" and make it clear that anything else found in there will be summarily thrown out.

This system also works well for small toys.

Make the Move To Homemade, Non-Toxic Cleaning Supplies, and Away From Convience Foods- this sounds off topic, but it helped me so much. If I have staples on hand, I don't need to run to the store. If I don't make as many store runs, I don't buy as much stuff. PM me if you need recipes.

Regarding Towels- get as many hooks as you have people in your family. (Hooks should have at least two prongs.) Hang them in your bathroom. (Or, if you have a kids bath and a grownups bath, hang two in each.) Hang a sign above each hook with the family member's name.
Then, once this is done, buy each family member a terry cloth robe of a different color. This is now this person's color. (In our house, DH is forest green, I am white, DS is blue, and DD is purple.) Each person gets their robe, a single bathtowel, and a single washcloth in their color. (If you want to include hand towels, great. Our handtowels are community, and match the "guest" towels, because we are now so used to this system that we each dry our hands on our own bathtowel. ) Because I have long hair, I also got a "Turbee Twist" sort of terrycloth, hair towel/turban type of thing, in my color, of course. I wash towels and robes each Thursday. I do one load. It is nothing short of amazing.

Do Laundry EVERY DAY- if you do this, everyone needs fewer clothes and your closets and dressers are easier to organize and keep tidy. It took me years to figure this out, but man it helps!

Trying to turn hearts and minds toward universal healthcare, one post at a time.
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#30 of 82 Old 12-13-2006, 02:56 PM
 
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I have the exact same problem!!!!!!! It really boils down to two things - too much stuff, and the sentimentality or I might need it someday issues. My parents died when I was in junior high - and I really think that led to my need to hold onto stuff. Some because it actually is from my childhood and therefore a part of my parents that I can hold on to, and some because I can have some control over what is mine and what isn't taken away from me. If that makes any sense...

Two things (both tv shows) that have REALLY helped me:

Clean Sweep!!!! I LOVE that show!! They are brilliant. Peter Walsh is just a genius. I use his system a lot. I tackle one area at a time (because my three kids are never gone for a week or a month or however long it would take me to do the whole house!) If you wait for enough time and energy to do a large space - well, I never have that much time!

So for example, I did our game closet. It is a closet in the upstairs hall. Top shelf is sheets; on the floor is tp and kleenex storage; all shelves in the middle are games (kid games on lower shelves and adult games on upper shelves). I went shelf by shelf. EVERYTHING on one shelf came out; I sat there and made two piles - one to keep and one to give away. You have to be ruthless. If it is a game that your family actually plays, and likes, and wants to play again - keep it. The others go. Yes, they are perfectly good games. Yes, Aunt Julie gave it to Junior for his birthday. But there is only so much room! If it is broken or missing pieces then it absolutely goes! Put back the keepers and the others go in a big box. Then do the next shelf the same way, repeating until the closet is done. Closet now is so wonderful to look at that you will smile for a week just about that. Box(es) of giveaway go on your front porch for pick up. In my area, you can call Services for the Blind and they will pick up for free. They then sort through and sell stuff I guess. There must be some upside to it for them. I do feel like we could have a garage sale and I could make some money back on the stuff, but we are too busy for that! Just get rid of it and feel better!

Ok, game closet done. Next day do the pantry. All the expired food gets thrown away. All the food that you just keep skipping over for whatever reason gets put in a bag to go to the food bank (we have drop off bins right in the grocery store - easy). Organize the canned goods, cereal, pasta, etc. I actually had bought Tupperware to organize pasta products (I hate it when you have a half open bag of penne or whatever....) but hadn't used anything but the spaghetti keeper. So the other Tupperware was littering up my kitchen cabinet! Ugh! But I dug it out and put the pastas in them and it is so much better!

One area at a time. Get rid of what you don't need. Take pictures of the kids holding their art project, then recycle the art!!! This isn't as hard after you do it a few times. You have the photo!! It is ok.

You need a place to put everything. I am great with cookbooks and kid art supplies and games because I know where they go. They have a place to live. It is mail and papers that the kids bring home from school and coupons and ads and lists that clutter up the place mostly. Our art supplies are great because I bought one of those plastic towers (white with clear drawers) and labeled each drawer with my label maker (love that thing). So drawers for: crayons, pens, paint/paint supplies, construction paper, coloring books, stickers, pencils and scissors. I know where they go. The kids know where they go. Babysitters or Gramma or whoever might be around know where they go. It is great.

I understand how hard it is to get rid of things. Really I do. But you'll feel so much better when you do!!!!

Oh, the other thing (I said two shows) was an Oprah show where two guys helped her go through her closet. Oprah! You can imagine how many clothes and shoes SHE had! But she said it changed her life to do it. She kept only things that fit three criteria:

1) Does it fit?

2) Is it flattering?

3) Is it the image I want to portray?

If it doesn't fall into ALL THREE categories, it has to go. They did give her three items that didn't. So maybe you keep your wedding dress even though it doesn't fit, and two other special items. But that is it.

If it is too big, please do not keep it and allow for the day you'll gain weight back! If it is too small, you'll deserve new current styles if you lose weight. Really, I've done this. You lose the weight and can fit back into those jeans but they are so out of style now and you just want (and deserve) something that is hip and fashionable after all the work to lose the weight.

If it fits but isn't flattering, why keep it???? You know how you feel so great when you know you look good? Feel like that every day! Wear only what is flattering to you. One of my three items is a paint/clam digging/whatever messy thing you do outfit. Old jeans and a crummy tee and sweatshirt. But just one outfit for that! You don't need four pairs of crummy jeans!!

Even if it fits and is flattering, is it the image you want to portray? Does it look like something a teenager or a gramma would wear? I got rid of my flannel shirt even though it fit and was a little flattering I guess. Because I want to look like a cool 30-something woman, not a cowboy.

Sorry so long. Having the same affliction myself, I have a lot of understanding around this issue! I'm still working on it.
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