40x40 Adventure 2 completed: Combining Complete a declutter project AND Organize the house

Sunday, June 21, 2015

40x40 Adventure 2 completed: Combining Complete a declutter project AND Organize the house

As a teenager I had to catch the bus and walk just about everywhere, so I didn't want to carry too much around. A couple years later, I went to college two plane rides from home, and had to pack up my whole life just about every semester. I got into the habit of traveling light, and hopefully living light: ideally, all the things I loved I could mostly fit into my backpack and/or my car. My board. Music. Writing stuff. Clothes. A water bottle.

And then I got married, and the stuff piled up.

My husband doesn’t throw away things, and comes from the “might be useful someday” school of thought. In addition, he is a mixed-media artist, so every damn cardboard box, magazine, piece of plastic, empty model paint container, and bit of styrofoam has potential utility. I find it slovenly and depressing to have so much crap around--some of it years old--but as long as he kept it in his own area, I didn’t mind so much.

And then I had kids who use him as their example, and it became like living in a landfill.

Usually, I just clean up one smallish area a couple times a month, but I decided to really get after the clutter this time, which is why two of my 40x40 list items ended up getting crossed off. Or maybe just combined, so I have an additional item I can accomplish--I haven’t decided yet.

I used this 40 Bags In 40 Days blog post as inspiration:

But as you can see, it asks that you do a bunch of planning, and really if I were that organized, my house wouldn’t be cluttered in the first place. I used her idea of doing the entire project over Lent, and I also liked figuring out places to put the clutter, other than the trash.

Here’s how my forty days broke down:
  • Bags of rubbish I threw away: 20
  • Bags of goods for recycling: 3
  • Bags of stuff donated or handed down: 14
  • Bags of stuff repurposed: 2
  • Bags of stuff used (you know, canned goods, craft stuff, projects finally completed): 3
  • Bags of junk my husband threw away from his garage workshop: 3 (I noted this because it is a big deal for him)

Total: 45 bags!

While I was chucking stuff, I realized that: 1, I had a lot more space in some places, so I could put more stuff on shelves, or put similar items together, whereas before they had to go in separate areas; and 2, it wouldn’t be that much more effort to just organize a bit. So that’s how I ended up organizing the following:
  • All the closets (sheets, towels, blankets, and clothes)
  • The kitchen cupboards (including the small appliances that I will never use [sorry, wedding-gift ice cream maker], reusable plastic containers of varying sizes with and without matching covers, paper goods [I’m embarrassed to say I had about four different stashes of paper goods in random places in my house], and canned goods)
  • The medicine cabinet (why did we keep five empty bottles of kids’ medicine?)
  • The book shelves (including our books, Sol’s collection of figurine-making magazines, the kids’ books [and I finally got rid of the half-eaten baby board books], and the kids’ collected school work)
  • My craft junk
  • Our paperwork (ok, so it may not be completely organized, but it is neatly packed away)

I also made the kids get rid of a bunch of stuff once school ended. I mean, they may have put a lot of work into it, but I don’t want to keep all their worksheets and spelling workbooks. Does this make me a bad mother?

Overall, I would say our house is about 20% emptier than it was before. I think we just get in a rut, keeping stuff out of a false sense of sentimentality (like spelling books) or guilt (I know my husband will feel guilty about throwing away things, as if the trash collectors are looking at our bags of trash and passing judgment on us), or even habit (such as all the plastic bags I tell myself I will use eventually, or the plastic containers who have no mate).

Would I do it again: Eventually, I’d like to get rid of about 30% of what we have left, but that will probably have to happen in 3-5% increments over the next year or two. And then there comes maintenance--the whole thing reminds me a lot of weight loss. But, sure! I’ll keep going.

Status: Success!

No comments:

Post a Comment