The Great Purge
Updated: Dec 31, 2019
You have to urge to purge! Maybe it's the new year, or the influx of new toys and games that come with having three kids! But the urge is legit! You feel like you're being swallowed up by mountains of things and nothing has a home. So you take a big breath, get out your trash bags, boxes for items to donate and you ask yourself, "where do I start?" "Where do I even begin." If you're anything like me you'll open a closet and start pulling items out, find an item that belongs in another room, take said item into another room, open the drawer or closet to put it away, and then start pulling things from that area as well! That room wasn't even on your radar girl! And here you are on the floor looking at baby pictures forgetting about the original task at hand! In college my roommate would tell me I have cleaning ADHD and every time I start multiple projects while not yet completing the last. Happened to me earlier today while battling a sock drawer!
But we all do it! We leave one room a mess, or not yet completed, only to start pulling apart another! So how does one successfully clean, tidy, and organize a space without going crazy? Well, grab some coffee and follow these five steps to get you started! But first, take a picture of your messy space before you clean it!
Does this all bring me happiness or is having all of this making me unhappy?
Step 1. Choose your Battlefield
Yes, that sounds a bit dramatic, but when I've been ignoring the hall closet, other than putting things away in it, you better believe it looks like a bomb went off inside! So whether you're clearing your own bedroom closet, under the sink, or the kids bedroom; stay in that area. It's easy when pulling things out to want to get up and put them right where they belong in another room but don't do it! If you have kids they will hear you, or even smell you, and they'll want a snack or a drink or have some random request they didn't need two seconds ago, so girl, don't leave that room!
If you have a lot of items that don't belong in the room you're in, then make a pile that looks like the land of the lost toys and relocate them at the very end. This will make it easier, more streamline and less distracting for you in the process.
It's also helpful to start small. Instead of cleaning and reorganizing your entire garage, start with one drawer in the kitchen and build confidence from there! Small victories will lead to a bigger reward, so choose an area you know you can accomplish and build from there.
Step 2. Dig Deep
Sometimes we clean the same way we dust the counter tops: We go around certain pieces on the shelf. We don't take things down and go underneath or individually dust it, We just sort of sweep past. So in this step, once you've chosen your space, you're going to dig deep and pull everything out! Only when everything is out will you be able to see the amazing space you have, You'll appreciate it and be inspired to keep it as open and fresh as possible, cutting down on the number of objects you want to put back in!
Not too long ago I went through my children's closets. My oldest daughter and son share a room and a very small closet. It's hard, but not impossible, and I knew I had to really pull everything out if I wanted a worthy result.
My oldest and youngest are both girls (with a boy in the middle) which means clothing and shoes are saved for many years between! Would you believe I had six sizes worth of girl shoes in bins taking up space in that closet? Yes! What a waste! Instead, I went through the shoes, bagged them according to their size, so it would be easy to pull out and use when the time came, and put them in a separate bin in the basement storage closet! I gained back so much usable space! I also paid close attention to sizes. My daughter, just turning 6, should not have a size 2T cardigan lingering in the back corner somewhere. Had I not pulled everything out and really taken a look, I wouldn't have been so diligent about pulling out excess clothing.
So if you're going to clean under the bed, pull everything out, vacuum underneath, go through the bins (to see what might be in there, what you need, what might serve a better purpose elsewhere) and organize accordingly. Those boxes in the attic, pull them out and really see whats inside instead of sitting collecting dust since you moved in! So pull it out, look the issue in the face and tackle one small thing at a time.
Step 3. Time to Say Goodbye
Depending on your personality type this can be harder for some than others. For me personally, it depends on the item at hand. If I'm not emotionally attached to the item I don't have a hard time donating it. It seems that children's rooms are sometimes the hardest because of the emotions brought on when organizing their belongings. I always like to use the #Mariekondo approach. Thank the item for bringing me joy and move it along.
When you have a less cluttered space you'll have a less cluttered mind. I love bringing joy to others and really do enjoy giving my items away. It's hard for me to say goodbye to children's clothing because so many outfits remind me of specific memories or experiences shared together. Fortunately for me, I have two wonderful sisters with beautiful children whom I can give it to and watch them enjoy it! I know I can't possibly keep it all and it's important to make organizing and reorganizing children's clothing and belongings a continual priority.
One thing I've enjoyed doing is keeping a memory bin. Now yes, I have the nice boxes for each children but I'm talking about a bin. A bin that doesn't make any sense other than just putting things in it that make me happy and it's just not going anywhere. I have my t-ball jersey in it from my childhood, my favorite toy, the outfits my children came home in, the first birthday outfits, and so on. These things are special to me and I want to keep them so I do. But 75% of items I go through I don't really need. So donate them or throw them out.
Once you've decided what is staying, trash and donation don't let it sit. Take out the trash right away. Take the bags down to the donation center right away. Better yet, know where you're going to donate it beforehand to keep it from sitting around! If you have trouble motivating yourself to do this, call the Veterans to pick up on Monday so that you're held accountable to someone to get it done!
Step 4. Be Realistic
We tend to fill the space we have. In my current home my kitchen has two drawers. Yes thats right, just two. That is not very much space so I utilize it accordingly. Because of the limited space I've limited what I need. I don't need 3 can openers and 4 spatulas, I really only need one. So since all my extra cookware was just sitting in storage in the basement and not being used. (Let's be honest even if I had ten drawers who needs three can openers, am I right‽)
Having less doesn't mean you need more, it means you learn to love what you have and use it accordingly. If you have a bin of unused shoes, donate them to the local women's shelter, organizations which help young moms, or women looking to get back into the work force. What we remove as trash could aid in another's transformation. So when you're staring at a mountain of clothing, baby gear, pots and pans, think, "do I really need all of this?" "What is the minimal I could really live with?" "Does this all bring me happiness or is having all of this making me unhappy?" We all have different relationships with our possessions and that's another blog post all in itself, but consider living life with open hands instead of trying to hold onto everything.
Step 5. Everything in It's Place
For me this is the most fun part! Putting it all back! Once you see the empty closet you won't want to put it all back in. If you have mounds of t-shirts stacked sky high that you haven't touched in over a year, they don't go back in! Organize clothing by color or type. Find better stacking, folding, or sorting methods so things don't get lost again. Out of sight, out of ming is a real thing, so try labeling bins if you can't easily see inside them.
When you complete this dig out, reshuffle and reorganization be sure to take an after picture to see the work you completed. Only when comparing the before and after will you squeal with happiness and delight at the work you accomplished! You'll probably text it to your friends and family, and it will motivate you to continue doing more! You should feel proud of yourself because dang girl you did it and it looks great!