September 16, 2007

Spring Cleaning: Better Late Than Never?

This is a small portion of my living room in its current state.
I am in the process of trying to thin out the excessive amount of toys we seem to have accumulated over the years. This is way easier said than done, especially since I am a disorganized procrastinator who may very well have a bit of ADD. Needless to say, I don’t keep after my kids to pick up their toys as much as I should. For that matter, I don’t go through their toys and donate/discard the things that I should very often either.

Most people with kids have inevitably attempted to have a ‘toy basket’ in their grown-up living room at some point. What begins as a small basket that coordinates well with the d├ęcor and is filled with a few choice toys can turn to inevitable chaos in the blink of an eye. I don’t know why I keep trying to have a toy basket in the living room. It always ends the same way. During the night, the toys breed with each other and turn into a volcano that slowly erupts and begins to try to take over the rest of the room. A basket for toys seemed like such a great idea...

The road to hell (and my cluttered house) is paved with good intentions.

Let’s go back to the day when I had one child. I was a single parent in a small apartment with two bedrooms. She had a bed, a toy box with a shelf, and a couple of dressers. I had no idea how simple the majority of my life was at the time. I called the shots and we acquired and tossed everything on my terms. Every couple of weeks I would sort through her toy box and make sure everything was the way it should be. I would discard the broken toys (which were rare) and make sure everything was in its rightful place. I had complete control.

Let’s fast forward to today: I have three daughters and a husband now. Since I don’t tend to get rid of much, we still actually own a good majority of my oldest daughter’s toys. Factor in all the birthdays, holidays, and ‘just because’ things and it brings us to the chaos that I live in today. I have a knot in my stomach just thinking about it.

I’m also a little sentimental. I blame my mother for that. What’s new there, huh? (Hi mom!!!) She still has many of the toys that I played with as a child and loves to randomly send them home with my children.

Because we don’t have enough chaos going on around here.

She is constantly pointing out the fact that they head straight to my old room the minute they get to her house and are occupied for long periods with my old My Little Ponies and Barbie Dolls. Wait. Most of the Barbie Dolls have already made their way to my house! My kids have many of the Barbie Dolls that I played with as a kid. Many of the Barbie Dolls that I played with belonged to my aunts, older cousins, etc. I’m telling you, this woman gets rid of NOTHING.

When it’s too overwhelming to clean my house as well as I’d like because it’s too complicated to organize, it’s time to downsize. If my youngest isn’t able to play with every single toy that belonged to my oldest (or even myself) the world will not end. These are things, not people. Toys. I’m starting to think that fast food is a bad idea not because of its health risks but because of the clutter the kid’s meal toys bring home. What a waste! And who has the time or energy to argue with a child about why you need to get rid of said toys? I pick my battles and I am about to pick a new one very soon.


I need to break the cycle here and now. I need to allow the children to choose their most precious belongings and get rid of the rest. I have been calling our local DAV (almost) weekly and sneaking a few of their things in. I have gotten rid of a lot of clothes and even a few small appliances that I don’t use and take up too much space in my kitchen. My kitchen has very little space for stuff. Counter space, cabinet space…whoever designed this house really does have a sense of humor! I just need to teach my kids that things are not memories. Memories and people are important. This stuff is just stuff. (As long as we’re not talking about MY STUFF.)

Hee hee hee…

Speaking of my kitchen, I received an awesome birthday gift from my parents. (See, not everything they do makes my life more difficult!) They got me a Food Saver. I have wanted one for years but could never really justify spending the money on one. Now, I own one. Hooray for me!!! I have had a really good time trying to see exactly how many things I can vacuum seal. I even cut the top off a Ziploc bag and then sealed it shut.

Yeah, I need to get out more!

While my food storage needs are met even more than ever before, my appliance storage needs are becoming even greater. I now have one more appliance to find space for. It’s totally worth the grueling thought process, however. I just either need a better way of organizing or a bigger house!

And I’m beginning to wonder which one is actually more plausible….

Does anyone have any suggestions or tips that they can share? I’m always on the lookout for new tricks to use around the house.

You should see my collection of books on organizing. When I can find them all…


Jessie said...

Go to Target and buy one of those shelves that has brightly colored tubs on it, rather than just a plain old shelf. Teach them to sort the toys, like my boys have a car tub, a take apart car with tools tub, a stuffed animal tub, a hard book tub, a race track tub, and the like. It has 9 tubs on it, 6 are skinny and 3 are wide, like double the size of the small ones. Use this to your advantage. If you cant fit it in the shelf, you dont fucking need it. If it's too random to be placed in any other box, you dont need it.

Its helped us a bit but my boys destroyed the tub holding shelf so now we just have tubs on the floor until we find something else to put them on. But it did help us cut down.

Anything sentimental should be put in a trash bag and stored where you store crap, like in the garage or shed or a closit.

Mom Tu-Tu said...

I'm in the same disorganized boat over at my place!

Kari said...

I was going to say the same thing as Jessie. I put a picture of what was supposed to be in said bin on the front of it so they would know what goes in where. It really did help the toy situation.

Cory said...

Howdy! Finally made it to your new blog :) I have a favorites folder titled "really great blogs" and you're there! Don't know if I'll make it here every day, but I'll sure try :)

Suzanne Says... said...

Last year our house burned and we lost nearly everything. This toy/clutter overtaking the house problem was solved instantly for us! While I don't recommend torching your house, it does solve the clutter problem really well! In the year we've been back home, I've purchased each of my kids a large Rubbermaid storage tub (was lucky and found tubs that color-coordinated with their rooms) and when the lids can no longer snap shut on them, they know it's time to chuck some of the contents. And they know if they don't, I will.

Wife Soup said...

I can really relate! I have been trying to deprogram what I learned from my mom about saving EVERYTHING. I have gotten a lot better at it. I posted about it at, but it is really hard to let go of things.

Kyle @ said...

Great post, my wife and I bought a coffee table for the family room that opens up and the entire thing is storage for their toys, books, etc. It is awesome, every night they have to put all their stuff back in there, out of sight, out of mind every evening!