When we found out we were pregnant, one of the first things I did was think about our third bedroom, which was currently a storage room, and the amount of work we had to do to get it ready to be a nursery. There were boxes from our move in, almost two years ago, and plenty of random junk that didn’t have a place and ended up in that room. I had been wanting to go through everything and donate and trash what we could, so getting pregnant was definitely a big push in the right direction.
What I didn’t know was just how MUCH we would trash and get rid of.
I was asked to share how we’re doing it, how we are taking those pictures above (yes, those are various places in our house) and decluttering and getting rid of the junk. I don’t have an organized system, I’m more so following some simple tips that I’ve picked up from others (television, books, blogs).
1. If You Haven’t Used It (Or SEEN It) In 6 Months…
It goes. Whether it’s to the donation pile (I prefer a box or bag), or to the trash, realistically, if you haven’t used something or you haven’t seen it because it’s been buried, then it’s time to let go. This goes for clothes, knick-knacks, toys, kitchen utensils/tools/equipment, tools.
There were so many things in that spare bedroom/future nursery that we hadn’t seen in almost TWO YEARS (since our move in!) that we just cut the cord. We donated so much from just that room, and still had two trash bags overflowing of trash.
There’s no need for two of something (unless you have twins), or three of something. You don’t need the paperback AND hardcover of a book, so donate one. If you’ve held on to two of the same toy because you bought one and Grandma bought the other, donate one (bag the small pieces and tape to larger item if needed). This one goes hand in hand with #1, because if you have multiples of something, or multiple SIMILAR things (think kitchen utensils, tools) that you really could just use one for the job, out it goes. Think of all the kitchen utensils and gadgets you have. I have knives, but I also had that “As Seen On TV” Vidalia chopper thing. Is that REALLY needed when I can just use knives? I donated the chopper and kept the knives. The knives are going to get much more use, and they also take up less room in the drawer or cabinet.
3. Size and Sort
This is for toys, shoes, and clothes. Try things on (clothes and shoes). Most women have several different sizes in their closet because of dieting. If you wear a 14, and used to wear a size 8… keep what fits NOW. Yes, your size can change when it comes to clothes, but you have to be realistic. With children’s clothes, if you plan on more children AND have the storage, sort the clothes into bags by size (label the bag with masking tape and a marker) and store the clothes for future use. If you DON’T plan on more children, ask family and friends if they want/need any of the sizes you have, then send the rest to donation.
When it comes to the toys, this is more a strategy for organizing. Put all the Hot Wheels in ONE bin, the Legos in another. Put the Barbie dolls in one, and her clothes in another. If your child needs it, label the bins. Apply #1 to this step as well, if your child hasn’t seen a toy, or hasn’t played with it lately, think about donating it. If they seem to take an interest in again while you are sorting, then put it into a bin. Take this bin to storage, and bring it out in a few weeks BUT SWAP IT with other toys. Swapping toys out is a good way to see what still interests and what can ultimately be sent away.
The third picture in the collage above, the top right, is supposed to be our homeschool area. Because we are switching our first floor rooms, we are going to go through everything in that picture and trash and sort. What we are keeping we are putting into bins that will have a new home in the closet on our enclosed porch. We have to be careful because this porch isn’t heated, but workbooks/flash cards can all be organized and out of sight. Art supplies will find a new (and permanent) home, possibly next to our pantry cabinet in the kitchen. This will be at child level, but items will be contained by bins (markers, paint, paper, glue, etc).
The top middle picture is our hall closet, and everything is pulled out because I went through the coats and shoes. I have not put everything back because I am waiting for a shelving unit to be put together, which will house the shoes on the bottom shelf, and gloves/scarfs/hats in baskets. We will also be purchasing an over-the-door organizing unit that we will utilize for our stockpile toiletry items (shampoo, deodorant, soaps, toothpaste). It won’t quite work in our bathroom, but this is the closet place AND will be out of sight from visitors.
What it comes down to is how much STUFF you want in your home. If you’re tired of the piles and the boxes, then do something about it. We have a baby coming at the end of March. I want to be able to tell someone “Oh the diapers are ____” and for them to be able to find them without stepping over things. I want to be able to find the coloring book that my 5 year old has asked for without having to practically dump the book case on the floor! We buy so many unnecessary things, and this just adds to our disorganized lives. If you buy something, why not send something away? If it’s a pair of shoes that you got on a great sale or clearance, then send an old pair off to donation or to trash. Same for clothes and toys. It’s not hard, and instead of accumulating more, you are replacing the old with new. You have to keep up with it though, because once you stop the swapping, you’ll see those piles start to grow again.
I know it seems like a lot of work, and if you’re time strapped because of work or kids, then break it down. Take 15 minutes to go through a closet and ONLY collect the trash. Then take another chunk of time to decide what to keep and what to donate. Then another chunk to organize. Tackle one area of your home at a home. I really don’t like taking a whole day or weekend to take on the whole house, so I break it down. It works (not only for my pregnancy-related lack of energy), but also my attention span and that of my family’s. Find what works for you!