Getting My House In Order

I'll be the first one to confess that I am NOT the world's best housekeeper. I have been a single mom of my 18-year old "baby" since he was just a couple of months old and it hasn't always been easy. As a matter of fact, I think the toddler was more tidy than the teenager. He has a habit of opening cabinets and not closing them, dropping things on the floor wherever he happens to be, leaving items on the counter and so on. After lots of arguments and not making much headway, I decided to pick my battles and let him do his thing in his own room. Then a few things made their way to the living room and little by little, you get used to things being out. And yes, I got lazy and didn't feel like messing with it.  Then one day I looked around and thought that if someone happened to pop in unannounced, I would be totally embarrassed. So, something had to give.

There are as many methods of cleaning and decluttering as there are ways to make a mess.  I have looked throuh the Fly Lady's method of tackling the house room (or zone) by room each week. Wow! It DOES make a huge difference to clean the dishes and start the day with a bright, shiny sink! Who'd a thunk it that just one thing could make you feel a glimmer of hope in a hopeless situation. And I was quite sure I could get my butt up off the couch to do the 15-minute declutter trash-a-thon.

Then I recently visited a cute, colorful little Airbnb casita in McKinney, Texas that was small, but neat, tidy and inviting and I was very impressed...and motivated. The homeowner told me about how she minimalized (is that a word?) everything after reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. I got the Kindle version when I got home and started reading it. Here's another tidying method by Marie Kondo called the KonMari (do you see what she did there?) where you declutter by category not by room.  So...starting with clothes, you get EVERY piece of clothing in the house. Yes, everything from the dirty hamper, dryer, thrown over the edge of the non-used athletic equipment, under the bed, on the shelves, hanging...well, you get the idea. The idea is that you will usually see how totally over-stocked you probably are and you go through handling each piece of clothing one-by-one and determine if it sparks joy. If you normally pass over it in your closet and doesn't fit well or you no longer need that shirt from that event back in 2008, you make a nice pile to donate or just toss it out after thanking it for its service.

I didn't think I could handle my stuff and my son's stuff all at the same time, so I started to focus on my piece of the house. I knew for a fact that I had WAY too many t-shirts, so I broke this task into manageable steps, or else I'd still be surrounded by the mound of clothes. I had several stacks of shirts on my closet shelf that were about 2' tall each and were toppling over on each other (and sometimes on me).  I pulled them all down and I pulled out the sweaters that I had in a few dresser drawers. After going through them all, pulling out lots of non-joy-sparking garments for donation and refolding the remaining shirts into small packages in  (mostly) KonMari style, I was able to store them vertically in the drawers. I can actually see and easily retrieve the ones I want to wear now. Because they are not pressing down on each other, there's less wrinkles, too. Win-win! The sweaters went into only a couple of boxes and went on the shelf, since in Texas, we only have winter for a couple of weeks each year. I got rid of about 30 pounds of shirts!

That gave me such a boost and it really did make my room feel lighter and more enjoyable to hang out out in. I enjoy listening to podcasts, so I searched around and found The Purposeful Home Podcast by Allie Casazza and Kelsey Van Kirk. Two Jesus-lovin' minimalist mamas that have a down-to-earth approach to decluttering and home care that seemed to click with me.
I started listening to them on Stitcher on my way to and from work and while I was here in my room sorting, tossing and folding items that brought me joy (or that I had to have for work). Did you know that if you don't have as many clothes to start with, you have less laundry to do? πŸ˜‰

Of course, as I mentioned, my "baby" just started college, so there are a couple of episodes on dealing with homeschooling and young children that I skipped, but I'm already almost caught up to real-time of over 30 episodes. They also cover getting out of financial debt, time management and more, so it's not just a podcast about decluttering.  I am also working on the debt part and have been for a while now and I'm making big strides there.

They like Trello for blocking out their time and I love my Google Calendar. I'm still overwhelmed by putting a monumental task on my To Do list as I like to see things crossed out or checked off, so I really like using Google Keep to keep up with individual tasks.
Declutter t-shirts...check.
Sock drawer...check.
Night gowns and underwear...check.
Pile of boxes and papers for recycling...check.
Hanging clothes...check.
That looks better to me than All little check. Checked off items move to the bottom of the list in this app and my "Still To Do" list is getting shorter and shorter.  Now I find myself voluntarily picking up things around the house as I walk through and I actually enjoy walking in from a long day of work and driving for Lyft and Uber.

There are many different methods out there and I think everyone has to find what works for them, and if you're like me, you may need to take a combo of several styles and put your own spin on it to make it work for you in the season you are in.  The one thing that they all have in common is that it has to start with motivation. Find your why and kick it in gear. You'll get there and you might even enjoy the ride. Take a deep breath, say a prayer and get moving. Don't forget your pedometer, you'll be happily surprised.

I still haven't finished Marie Kondo's book, but I haven't wanted to sit still and read it because I am in declutter mode. I am a long way from being done and being in maintenance mode, but it's a LOT better than it was. This house didn't get in this condition overnight and it certainly won't be fixed in a day. If someone says they need to drop by, I don't have to do the flight of the bumblebee and pray to God no one looks in the closet. Actually, I was quite proud to show my Mom my closet recently. 😊