Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Clutter Buster Challenge: Day 20

Well, people, tomorrow is Day 20.  We made it!!! Way to go, my friends!!!

How did you do?

I'll say it like this: I'm not where I want to be, but I'm a lot better off than I was. Am I right?

So now we look to the future. What projects do you have left? Drawers that need sorting? Closets that need emptying? Items that need to be culled?

If you're like me, just the thought of all the little piles of hidden clutter make you break out into a cold sweat.

Never fear, my friends. The final challenge is just for us!

Thanks for tagging along with me in the Clutter Busting journey! 

Day 20 Challenge: Take 20 minutes to sit down with a pencil and a calendar, and whatever hot beverage makes you happy, and make a plan. You have spent a few minutes every day, for the last twenty days, clutter busting your home. Why stop now? Maybe daily clutter busting isn't possible. But how about weekly? Or even two or three times a week? Make a plan to bust up that clutter a little bite at a time! And remember: don't worry what you haven't done yet. Celebrate what you've already accomplished! Now get out there and clutter bust away!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Clutter Buster Challenge: Day 15

Hello, internetlings. 

So we are on day 15 of our Clutter Buster Challenge. No, you did not miss anything. We may or may not have skipped a couple days. 

So here's today's lesson: Sometimes we get thrown off our goals. Babies teeth. Kiddos get sick. Schedules fill up. And the housework has to stop for a bit. 

But you know what? When the dust settles, we can pick back up where we left off and get back to work! 

Today, I will dive into a large, messy, cluttered closet. My plan is to go through one box at a time, only pulling out what can be put back in about 20 minutes. 

Won't you join me? 

Today's Clutter Buster Challenge: We've done lots of little steps; now it's time for a big one! Let's tackle that big project you've been putting off. Start with a small bite. Pull out one box. Sort through one stack. Only pull out what you can sort in 20 minutes. After that 20 minutes is done, you can make the decision to stop and return tomorrow, or go another 20 minutes today. (Pro Tip: minimize, minimize, minimize! Don't just pull it out, move it around, and put it back! Ask yourself: Do I love it? Do I need? When was the last time I used it?) 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Clutter Buster Challenge: Day 9

Day 9 Challenge: Recruit the family! Grab the kids and clean out that toy box! Bat your eyelashes at the hubs and work on the master bathroom closet. "Many hands make light work" and all that. So ask for help and see how much you can accomplish together! 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Clutter Buster Challenge: Day 8

Okay, my people. It's Monday, and we're back at it!

We all have them. Hiding there, out of site. The all consuming junk drawer.


I actually have one in every room.

And you know what? I am totally okay with that. I love my junk drawers. They are the perfect "holding place" for items that don't have homes yet. Better they fill up a random drawer than clutter up my tables and counter tops (and floors, and beds, and minivan....)

But there's one problem with using them - they fill up. And right now, I can't open mine at all. It's too stuffed with, well, junk.

So I spent my 20 minutes re-homing all the items that have been temporarily stored in my primary junk drawer in the kitchen.

I dumped it out on the kitchen table, replaced some of the items (like matches and rubber bands), threw out or donated a few things, found new homes for everything else.

A place for everything, and everything in its place. And all that jazz.

I will probably never get rid of my junk drawers completely. I love them and use them too much. But I will add them to the regular cleaning schedule to be organized and maintained more frequently. 

Day 8 Challenge: Clean out your junk drawer! In the kitchen, the bedside table, the coffee table. Wherever it is, re-home its contents! Easy peasy mac 'n' cheesy!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mothers Day

Tonight I crawled into bed, shoulders sore, feet aching, heart full. I reached up to take my hair down and realized it was actually up in a clip - the clip I use to pull my hair up while doing my makeup... Before I fix my hair in the mornings. 

I had walked around all day with unkempt hair in a 1980's style clip. 

And all I could do was laugh. Because, as Mother's Day comes to a close, I can't think of a more appropriate representation of this phase in life. 

Sore shoulders. 

Aching feet. 

Hair that hasn't been brushed since yesterday morning. 

Full heart. 

So Happy Mother's Day to all you mamas. To you with the whiny toddler who sat in your lap while you ate your Mother's Day lunch. To you with the crying baby who wouldn't let you sit through a whole church service. To you with the teenager who is growing up too fast. To you who will someday hold your baby in Heaven. To you who mother children not your own. To you who long for children to fill your heart and home. To you who miss the children no longer  under your roof. 

To all the mamas and the mamas' hearts: Happy Mothers Day. May your shoulders be massaged, your feet propped up, your hair forgotten, and your heart overflowing. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Clutter Buster Challenge: Day 7

Sometimes life gets really busy, and I don't know about you, but when that happens, my housework is the first thing to fall by the wayside. 

Such was my day yesterday. 

So what do you do when it's Friday night at 11pm, and you realize you haven't completed your clutter buster challenge? And you haven't blogged about it either? 

You remember all the things you did right that day, give yourself a little grace, and make plans to clutter bust tomorrow. 

So I'm up and at it a little earlier this morning, with big plans for the weekend. 

And you know what will get a lot of use this weekend? My swagger wagon. The minivan. Her name is Dot.

But poor Dot has been neglected of late. He is full of wrappers, and toys, and books, and crumbs, and sippy cups, and something sticky in the very back cup holder. 

So my 20 minutes this morning will be devoted to her. Twenty minutes won't make her perfect by any stretch. But it's enough to get the "stuff" cleaned out so we can vacuum and wash her another day. 

Day 7 Challenge: Clutter bust an area your family uses frequently. Maybe it's your car? Maybe it's the basket of bathtub toys? The shoe holder by the back door? Take 20 minutes to clean it out and organize it. Your weekend will thank you. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Clutter Buster Challenge: Day 6

This mama has a cold and a migraine. 

This mama has two babies with ear infections. 

This mama doesn't feel like busting anything except a nap on the couch! 

Nevertheless, the clutter busting must go on. 

So today I sat on the couch and cleaned out my many bags - my wallet, my purse, my diaper bag. Just call me the bag lady.

At least now they're organized bags. 

Day 6 Challenge: Clean out your bags! Pull up your Netflix, grab a cup of warm lemon tea, complain to your husband about how crappy you feel, and spend the next 20 minutes organizing your wallet, purse, and/or diaper bag. Enjoy! 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Clutter Buster Challenge: Day 5

Getting organized is fairly easy. It's about rearranging our "stuff" in a way that it's easily accessible (and pleasant to the eyes). Refold the sheets, and stack them neatly. Line up the spices in alphabetical order. Put pencils in one box, crayons in another, markers in a third.

Easy peasy, mac 'n' cheesy.

Staying organized - now that's a horse of a different color.

That's not even a horse.

It's a unicorn. 

It's magical, and elegant, and peaceful, and always elusive. No one really knows if it exists. (At least, no one who lives with other horses human beings.)

I myself have only experienced the "staying organized" unicorn once in my life. It was when we were living in South Korea. That entire year - even with a toddler and a newborn running things - our home stayed tidy and organized.


Because everything we owned could fit in 6-8 suitcases. 

We had one outfit for "church" that we wore every Sunday. Two pairs of pants and six or seven shirts for the other days of the week.  Toys fit in one small box in Miss C's room. A couple pairs of shoes each. Minimal kitchen gadgets and appliances. (I didn't even have a coffee pot - what?!)

So what's my point?  You and I can rearrange our "stuff" all day long, and it could look tidy for a minute. But if we really want to live an organized life, we have to cull. Cut. Reduce. Minimize. Get rid of that junk.

My Goodwill pile is growing by the day. How about yours?

Day 5 Challenge: Find 10-20 items in your house that you can sell or donate. Then go put them in the trunk of your car. Don't create a pile in your home; you will be too tempted to put some of the items back. Put them in the trunk of your car, and swing by your nearest donation place the next time you're out and about. Be sure to comment and let us know what you're getting rid of today! Maybe it will be something we haven't thought of, and we can join you!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Clutter-Buster Challenge: Day 4

My favorite cleaning tool in the world is a simple egg timer. 

What's that you say? An egg timer isn't a cleaning tool? 

I beg to differ, my dear. 

I am convinced that an egg timer and a good apron are all that's required to keep a semi-clean house. (And semi-clean is about as good as it gets 'round these parts.) 
 Here's why: 

1. An egg timer helps me tackle big projects with small steps. I determine how much time I have, or how much time I'm willing to give. Then I set the timer and get to work. It helps me overcome Perfection Paralysis which tells me that if I can't do it all right now, then I shouldn't even start. It also defeats my procrastination when I just don't feel like spending three hours cleaning something. I tell myself, "I'm going to clean for 20 minutes."  I can do anything for 20 minutes. When the timer runs out, I stop working, whether I'm done or not.

2.  An egg timer keeps me focused. Studies have shown that multi-tasking doesn't actually help us get more accomplished. On the contrary, dividing our time and energy among too many things can hinder our momentum and wear us out more quickly. So my kiddos and husband know: if the timer is set, leave mom alone (unless they want to get recruited for work). I can get more done in 20 minutes (with a timer), than in an hour full of "multi-tasking."

3. An egg timer shows me that housework doesn't take as long as I think it does. Today I woke up knowing I had to mop my kitchen floor. Ugh. I really hate that job. It feels detailed and time consuming, and I just wasn't in the mood. So I pulled out the handy dandy egg timer and set it for 20 minutes. By the time the bell dinged, I had swept my entire kitchen, moved the kitchen chairs out of the way, and mopped 3/4 of my floors. It took me an additional 4 minutes to finish the job (which I did). Who knew that sweeping/mopping my floors only took 24 minutes?!

If you don't have an egg timer, you can use a microwave or oven timer - or even your phone! I like the egg timer because the "tick tick tick" reminds me to stay on task,and it has a very satisfying "ding!" at the end. So grab your timer today, turn on some upbeat music, let your family know what's going on, and get to work! 

Day 4 Challenge: Pick one area that you have been putting off. Maybe, like me, it's mopping your kitchen floors. Maybe it's wiping down cabinets or cleaning behind your toilet. Maybe it's an overflowing closet. Set your timer for 20 minutes and get after it! When the timer goes off, you're done! Comment below and let us know how it went! Did you finish in the 20 minutes? Did you realize it would only take a few more minutes to finish and kept going? Did you make a dent in an otherwise daunting task? We want to celebrate with you; so let us know!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Clutter-Buster Challenge: Day 3

 A few days ago, two large shelves in our laundry room fell.

Off the wall.

And spilled a can of paint.


We were within an hour of having our entire youth group (and families) descend onto our property for a bonfire and had no time to deal with any of it.

We laid down some paper bags over the paint so we could have access to the items we needed for that night. We stacked the remaining paint cans in the corner. And we made plans to come back later and clean it up.

Only, later, the paint had dried and caused the paper bags to stick to the laundry room floor. We peeled up what we could and re-stacked the paint cans a little further out of the way. But the whole room has become an impractical storage area that needs a few hours of concentrated work.

Eight days later, it still sits like that. The only evidence of our presence is the increase in the trashcan lint from cleaning out the lint trap.

So why am I doing things like de-cluttering a corner of my kitchen cabinet when I've got that mess going on?

Two reasons: 

One: I don't have hours to dedicate to a big project. I have minutes. And our temptation when we have minutes, and not hours, is to do nothing. Because, really, what can we do in minutes when there are so many hours of work to be done? But minutes make hours, my friends. Two days ago I spent 20 minutes organizing my cleaning closet. Yesterday, I spent 20 minutes de-cluttering some counter space. Today, I spent 20 minutes on a drawer under my stove.  And you know what? In the last three days, I have spent a total of one hour de-cluttering my home. Over 20 days, that's a minimum of 400 minutes. A little more than 6.5 hours. 

So let's suppose I do suddenly have a free Saturday, where I can dedicate hours to a project. Instead of splitting those hours clutter-busting my house, I am free to dedicate them to the big project of cleaning out the laundry room. See how that works?

And Two: Willpower is a muscle. We often think it's something we "do have" or "don't have." But the truth is that it is something we build. So maybe I don't have the willpower today to tackle a huge task like reorganizing the laundry room. But I do have the willpower to clutter-bust for 20 minutes. And maybe tomorrow it will be 30 minutes? Or even an hour! Soon, tackling that mammoth project will feel normal, maybe even easy? (I'll be sure to let you know when/if that happens.) Regardless, we don't have job-specific willpower. Building that muscle affects other areas too: eating, exercising, daily quiet times, patience with our children (and spouses). So let's flex those muscles, people! You can do anything for 20 minutes!

Day 3 Challenge: Do something just for you! Clutter bust an area that no guest will ever see, but you know needs work. For me? It's the pots and pans drawer under my stove. It seems to be a magnet for crumbs and food; so I emptied it, washed it out, and reorganized it. For you? Maybe it's a jewelry box or "unmentionables" drawer. Maybe a linen closet or the bottom of your clothes closet. Do something that will make you smile to look at, even if it's never seen by anyone else! Be sure to jump in the comments and let us know what you're tackling today!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Clutter-Buster Challenge: Day 2

*My computer is having issues loading new pictures. Hopefully I'll get the issue resolved and be up and running tomorrow! 

Today is a busy day for our family. So I literally have only 15-20 minutes to focus on a clutter-buster project.

I decided my kitchen is a great place to start because it's the room where I spend most of my "mom" time. It's where we do homework. Where we do arts and crafts. Where I cook. Where we eat. Where the kids' get dressed. (Yep, the kids' dresser is in the kitchen, where it doubles as a coffee bar for moi.)

So I looked around the room and tried to find one spot that bugs me. One spot that seems like things are not quite in the right place.

For me, it's in a corner of my counter top between the sink and the stove:

*See, this would be a perfect spot for me to insert a picture
 of said corner, complete with piled up dishes and baby bottles.

This spot is supposed to be the "dish drain" area. I have a Boon Lawn Drying Rack where, in theory, my bottles and accessories dry before being put away. I also have a cheap-o plastic dish drying rack that usually contains our juicer parts and a couple large cookie sheets that won't fit in our dishwasher.

*Insert second picture. Stupid computer. 

This corner is always cluttered and impractical. My dish rack isn't the right shape for the items I usually dry (cookie sheets and large pots), and since I nurse 99.9% of the time, the Boon Lawn has become a catch-all for any small plastic item that doesn't have a permanent home.

I set my timer for 20 minutes and got to work.

First things first, I have too many bottles for one mostly-breastfed baby boy. So all but 2 bottles went into the Goodwill bag, as did my beloved Boon Lawn. Farewell thee well, faithful companion.

Moving on, the dish dryer isn't working for what I need. It too landed in the goodwill bag after a good washing.

Then I had to decide what would work for that space.

For now? A dishtowel.

*Insert picture of newly organized corner, complete with 
clean towel for drying future clean dishes. It would've been inspirational, trust me.  

It absorbs the moisture, is easily replaced if it gets dirty or soured, and has the space for the items I need to drain in that corner.

Total time: 23 minutes.

It's not life-changing, but it is a peaceful place for the eyes to land. And it will make washing dishes and cooking that much more enjoyable. And mainly? It feels good to check it off my list.

Day 2 Challenge:  Clutter bust an area that you see everyday. You know what I mean. That corner of "stuff" you meant to put away after your last camping trip. Or the mound of mismatched socks sitting on the loveseat. Some small pile of clutter that you can bust in twenty minutes or less. Turn on some music, set your timer, and have fun!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Clutter-Buster Challenge: Day 1

Spring turns me into a spaz. The first string of warm days feel a little like waking up from a long winter's nap, only to find your nest has been ravaged by squirrels. The warm rays come streaming through my dirty window panes, and land gently on the layers of dust and clutter that have accumulated during the gray, winter months.

There are suddenly piles of clutter that need to be sorted (and taken to Goodwill). There are rooms that need to be painted, furniture that needs to be steam cleaned, cobwebs that need to be swatted, and blinds that need to be dusted.

But when it comes down to it, I just want to play work outside. I want to separate bulbs and lambs ear. I want to paint my chicken coop. I want to mulch the flower beds and plant the garden and lay on a blanket and read a book and sip lemonade do other productive things.

And this year, having chickens and ducks roaming the yard while I'm outside playing working has made the temptation so much stronger.

I'd love to tell you that I have chosen housework. I've been a good homemaker and mopped my floors and dusted the cobwebs and kept the laundry in check.

I'd love to tell you that....


Today is the first day of May. The last month my two older kiddos will be in school. The month before the chaos and fun of summer.

This is my best opportunity to get these things in check.

So I'm declaring May to be... 

Why not 30 days? It's very simple... I'm going to the beach at the end of the month. (WOO HOOOOO!)

Everyday, there will be a new homemaking challenge. Some will be a quick 10-15 minute job (like knocking down cobwebs or dusting ceiling fans). Some will be a bit longer, but still manageable (like culling my summer wardrobe). Each challenge will be something that can be completed during nap time because, ya know, that's all the time I have.

You can join me in doing the challenges I'm doing, or you can spend 15-20 minutes on your own challenges! Either way, be sure to check in every day from now until May 20, and let us know how you're de-cluttering your space!

Let's make peaceful homes for ourselves and our families before summertime hits! 

Day 1 Challenge: Get prepared! Spend a few minutes today going through your cleaning supplies. Throw out empty bottles. Make a shopping list of items you might need for cleaning and organizing. Throw your apron in the wash so it's pretty and clean for tomorrow's challenge. As you go about your day today, start making a mental checklist of things you want to accomplish in your home in the next 20 days. Remember: nothing that takes longer than one nap time! Have fun!