Taming the Clutter Monster

February 14, 2011 at 2:08 pm 2 comments

I feel like I’m waging a war against stuff.  And the stuff is winning.

It’s hard to believe how much stuff a family of four can possess.  Or make that an American family of four, because I’m fairly confident that the contents of my home could outfit an entire Ugandan village.

Sometimes I feel as if my life is 1/2 people management, and 1/2 stuff management.  I mean, parts of my daily routine are devoted just to maintaining things.  Laundry multiplies in the hamper like Gremlins in a rainstorm.  I load and wash the dishes over and over and over.  And toys…oh, the toys.  Why does every toy set we own have an average of 52 pieces, of which we can only find 50?  We have toys upstairs, we have toys downstairs.  They are in the kids’ rooms and the living room and the bathtub.

Do you ever watch the show Hoarders?  I often understand where some of these people are coming from.  (Except for the ones who have 47 cat carcasses festering on their floors, or over 2,000 domestic rats nestling in their walls.  I will NEVER understand that.)  But I can see how someone could easily become overwhelmed when the disorganization and chaos reaches a critical mass, and how easy it would be just to give up and let the stuff overtake you.

Don’t call Hoarders to come help me yet, because I am still fighting against the tide of clutter that threatens my house.  It’s a daily battle – sometimes even an hourly battle – that takes place within the walls of my home.  I would love to be able to reach a state of “everything has a place, and everything is in its place.”  Right now, though, I’d settle for “everything in the general proximity of where it belongs.”

Even accomplishing this good-enough state takes some work.  Organizing is like opening a Pandora’s box; you start in one area, but then you need to organize another area to put away all the stuff in the first area, and so forth.  And if your house is anything like mine, I usually organize one room only to discover that my minions of the devil children have completely destroyed another room.

We have great storage space in our basement, between the laundry room, under the stairs, and the storage room that doubles as the kids’ downstairs playroom.  Unfortunately, this area becomes the “dump it so it’s out of sight and deal with it later” space.  Then later comes around, and I don’t want to deal with the mountain o’ discards that’s lying around down there.

This month I’ve been working on organizing the kids’ clothes, the out-of-season and off-sizes.  I have several types of clothes to deal with: the ones that Ashley has outgrown and I need to get rid of.  The ones Alissa has outgrown but Ashley can wear later.  And there are some for Alissa to grow into, collected from clearance sales and bags of hand-me-downs from friends and family.  Here’s how the end result came out:

Yes, I have SEVEN AND A HALF TUBS of kids’ clothes in my basement.  And that’s AFTER I’ve given away all the 0-6 month stuff that Ashley grew out of last year.  (Proof positive that my children are waaaaay better dressed than I am.)  Every tub is labeled according to size for easy identification.  And my lovely husband cleaned up the laundry room and moved all the tubs into one spot, so they’re easily accessible and nicely stacked.

(Side note: some months ago I posted a link to cute printable labels for storing kids’ clothes.  I didn’t use them because we’re almost out of printer paper.  But if you’re thinking about taking on a similar project, click here to get some cute labels.)

I’m kinda proud of how organized it is.  Too bad it’s only one project completed out of several on my list.

But what about you?  What are your tips for taming the clutter monster and staying organized?  Share your ideas, because I definitely need them!

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Entry filed under: Life in general. Tags: , , .

This could be a conversation at my house. We’ll go outside in a minute, kids, after Mommy’s done blogging.

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Shaunda  |  February 14, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    I’m in the same mode at our place. Here are some of the things that I have learned mostly the hard way. Okay, I must admit that I’m an organizing junkie and if I had all of the time in the world, then I would have my house organized and I would try to help others do the same.
    1. Even having five minutes, a person can put a couple of items away, don’t wait for large blocks of time because they typically don’t come with young children in the home.
    2. If you have multiple levels in your home, then keep a container such as a basket or box near the stairs for putting items that need to go to another level. Bring the container with you when you’re going there.
    3. I have a set of dish pans (one for each person in our home; these containers are handy because they stack well when they are empty) and use these when I am organizing things. For example, if I’m clearing out the living room, separating socks, etc, then I just throw the things that are for that person or needs to go to their room in their container. If I’m using the containers to organize a room, then I try to at least bring the containers to the proper rooms if I don’t have time right then to put them away. If the container is already in their room, then it’s a lot easier to find a couple of minutes later that day to put the items away.
    4. I have an area where we put things that we need to give away. There are so many times that we are in a room, closet, etc that we see something that we need to give away, so I try to bring it to the give pile right away instead of waiting to organize that area later.
    5. I try to have things in areas that they will be used. This makes it easier to access them when I need them and to put them away when we’re done. For example, in the kitchen we have our markers, crayons, coloring books, etc because we only let the kids use them at the kitchen table.
    6. Is there a large package of an item, such as toilet paper, that I could just have a few stored in the bathroom cabinet, store the rest of the package in the utility room, and have more room in my bathroom cabinet to store other things that are needed there as mentioned in five above.
    7. Clear plastic storage containers are great to be able to see the contents, but if you want to be able to stack them several containers high then they are more likely to crack. We have a lot of the solid colored containers (they will stack better and wobble less if you stay with the same brand and size) and we have written a large number on each side (if you only write it on one side, then you have to be careful every time you’re putting it away to make sure that side is facing out) of the container. Then we have an Excel spreadsheet with the numbers, general description of the contents and a note of how full it is. Then we can do a search in the spreadsheet to look for the item that we need to find and then we know which container to find versus having to go through so many containers to find it. If we have only numbers written on them, then it doesn’t matter if we are later changing the contents of that container. Otherwise if we write in permanent marker the contents of a container, then we would be marking it out if we needed to put different items in it. If items are stored in plastic containers, then they’ll be a lot safer than cardboard boxes if there is any moisture or water damage.

    Reply
  • 2. Getting Organized: From The Readers « Blankies & Booboos  |  February 18, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    […] 18, 2011 Earlier this week, I asked for readers’ suggestions about how to get organized.  I got some great comments from several readers.  Here are a few I thought I’d highlight, […]

    Reply

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