Friday, October 14, 2011

Cleaning closets + Kids = More Clutter?

Who loves to clean out their closet?! Don't all jump up at once! I won't lie. It's not one of my favorite tasks. Since having kids, it's become one of those jobs that keeps getting pushed to the side. Well, I know you've heard me rant and rave about how the FlyLady has helped me get some of the CHAOS (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome).

Her philosophy for decluttering is to set your timer for 15 minutes and declutter (keep, giveaway, or throw away) until the timer goes finishes. When the timer is done, try to put way all the "keep items;" put the "giveaway" items in your car; and throw away any trash. Prior to this timer revelation, I would spend hours pulling out ALL the mess and then trying to figure out what to do with the mess in my room. Inevitably, I felt more overwhelmed than free.

Her decluttering-with-timer technique was "do-able" for me when the boys would take naps. Now, that they aren't always napping, it's a bit harder to have the dedicated time to do that. My fear was that I would get started on a project and have to leave it (and a mess) to take care of the kids.

Instead, I've adapted the process to give myself child-wrangling time. Plus, I'm trying to figure out how to balance housekeeping, cooking, writing, teaching dance, and homeschooling. It's a lesson in flexibility, I suppose.

Back to the decluttering...
  1. Pre-decluttering. The trick to this is spending some quality face time with my kiddos. This can be 10 or 15 minutes of no phone, no tv, no cleaning, no cooking. Just me and my boys. I let them know that when the timer (Yes, I set a timer for them. Afterall, they ARE worth my time.) is up, I need to a few minutes to clean and will need them to find something to play with quietly.
  2. The mess. I only pick 1 shelf out of the closet or cabinet to receive my decluttering services.
  3. The timer. I set the timer for 5 minutes. Yes, that's all.
  4. Go. As I pull an item off the shelf, I must decide whether it's worth keeping, giving away, or putting in the trash. Then put it in the appropriate spot (boxes or bins helps corral the mess).
  5. Stop. When the timer beeps, it's my goal to have the shelf cleared. Now, I just have to put way the items I want to "keep." I used to be better about keeping a small bin in my car for Goodwill. It's moved into a bigger bin in the garage because I haven't taken a trip in a while.
    Hint: Don't forget to get those tax-deduction slips from your donation center. As soon as you get home, fill them out and put them in a "tax" folder with your other bills. It will make tax season much easier!
  6. Repeat steps 1-5 until done.
You may notice that I didn't include anything on reorganizing or revamping the space. That's for another time. Just focus on one success at a time. If, after decluttering the shelves, the kiddos are still cooperating, I may try to rearrange a few items. However, I am happy with the decluttering misson accomplished.

Now to take some of my own medicine, I shall conquer the cabinet above my stove. I use one side for cookbooks and my recipe notebook and the other side for my frequently-used spices. It looks like it needs some help.

Before. Too many food magazines in here and things that don't even belong.
After. Much better. Only took 10 minutes, total. Gasp! I didn't straighten the spice jars!
The labels are facing different directions! I will be ok. I will be ok. {Deep breath}
I'd love to hear about your tips for cleaning and decluttering with kids underfoot.


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