Monday, October 5, 2015

Reclaiming my home

I’m reclaiming the spaces of my home.  It took one signifiant repurposing of the 3rd bedroom to set into motion a purging and reorganizing of every space in our home.  

Whether it was the long string of time we’ve now lived here (4 & 1/2 years), the drowning in chaos that comes with having a few small kids at home all day all week all year, or my own underdeveloped skill set for homemaking, our house had become a puzzle of shuffled chaos. 

It’s easy to think I’ll get to that another day when I have more time.

Earlier this summer a family member pulled out her phone and I saw a notification for over 2,000 unread emails. I won't say who here, but she knows because I gasped. ;) 

I could not sleep at night if I didn’t know exactly what those 2,000 were about, if I hadn’t sorted them and called them by name. I could not think clearly without those emails in their respective homes. 

But yet my house was just as much an unclaimed, waiting mess of stuff.  Things are mostly in their places but cozied up next to neighbors who had found their way there by accident and never left.  In the kids’ room mostly toys but also binders & board games. In the laundry room mostly cleaners but also tools & manuals.  In the garage, mostly… okay, everything is in that garage… but also lots of garden essentials that would have a wonderful home in our shed if only just escorted. 

And so it is I’m reclaiming the spaces of my home.  It feels good. It also feels a bit embarrassing, but I’m used to that.  As an INFP, I live life in a dreamy landscape and then reality sometimes bites me in the ass just as I’m musing at the pink sunset. That reality right now, teeth deep in my cheek, is that the linen closet provides the impression a drunk person was in charge of cleanup after a camping trip.  

Contents of our linen closet. I wish I was joking. 

Here is exactly how I’m getting everything in their places and booting out all the rest:

  1. I’ve set a deadline for myself: 

Paul and I listened to a podcast a couple weeks ago that made me rethink deadlines.  Essentially, our work expands to the time we give it.  Often we aren’t getting what we want done because we aren’t setting a deadline to do it. 

I’ve set a deadline for New Year’s Eve.  It’s always been one of my very favorite holidays.  Since I was a little girl, my love for a new year has known no bounds. It’s a bit ridiculous how excited I get.  This is what is pushing me. To know our family is starting a new year with all the things we love and need in their right places so we can seamlessly work hard and play hard too—the best! 

2.  Follow a thorough system. 

This is just how I’m doing this. I’m incorporating a lot of things I’ve learned from professionals like being comfortable with extra space in areas and getting as many alike things together in one place to increase simplicity. With those gems, I made my own system appropriate when one finds their home is a kaleidoscope of unorganized nonsense and they have to mostly start all over. 

1.  take everything out

2.  think of the function that is best for this space & declare what it is and what it is not 
3. bring as many things for that function into this space (and do not worry yet about lack of space or extra space) & take all extras that were in this space but now don’t belong to an interim space to be pulled from later (for example: basket in the garage or spare room)  

4. make order of what is here without buying extra things to do so (buying organizational stuff is often a distraction from the real work of making decisions & you can do this at the very end when you know you truly do not have any extra container but need one)

5. come back (later when other spaces are established as well) and make decisions about letting go of things that no longer belong
       * caveat: if purging is so obvious and automatic that it takes no energy—do it right away

5.   paint, decorate, and organize with whatever is needed to do it. 

3.  Thinking grateful thoughts and multiplying benefits.

This weekend I worked on creating a board game closet.  Right now, there’s no fancy system in it.  I just have all things in that group in this space and the space makes sense because it’s as close as possible to where we will use them. 

As I put everything in place I did two things.  A prayer of gratitude for the past.  And then a thought about a more productive future. 

I thought of all the memories we’ve made so far with those games and puzzles. Thomas naming the states our extended family members live in and where Nana went on vacation.  Paul schooling me in Monopoly. Sharing beers and laughs with friends over games of Wizard and Telestrations and Taboo. Piecing together 1000 piece puzzles with Thomas last winter as the snow fell just outside the sunroom windows. 

And then I thought of how a new home for these things means more likely use and easier cleanup. Organization is not a blueprint for living in a museum home, seeing our things tidy and beautiful at all times.  Organization's ultimate purpose is so we can live a full, rich lives. Lots of play. Lots of work.  Access to the things we need in the way that works the best for our family.  And that’s how I think of it as I’m moving things.  A laundry room that makes me want to fold and sort.  A kitchen that calls your name in to bake.  A kids’ room that allows for play but doesn’t also give mom a heart attack… still crossing my fingers on this one. Send your suggestions.  At this point, burn all the things is an option I’m strongly considering.  

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So there you have it.  A “how I’m doing it” from someone who is totally making it up as she goes.  I’m not too proud to share that I’m not great as housekeeping. It’s humbling to see that I’m really bad at something that is a good chunk of my job at the present. 

But I’m 30.  30 is, for me, a license to freely admit my faults, and to work on them with joy.  

Life is too short to hide from our shortcomings.  Embracing them and learning intentionally how to wade through the new, foreign, or messy in order to get to the things we know we need is much more fun! 

Leave me a comment. Let me know if you have had similar “findings” in your house. If and when you’ve purged or reorganized or if you need to now.  If you’ve got tips, tricks, or advice, I’m all ears for that too! 


  1. Your cleaning product cabinet makes my mouth water!

    1. Do you stock up on supplies too? I'm a bit of a "stocker"-- I LOVE having extras on hand ready to go. However, when I say that to people.... it sounds like I'm saying, "I'm a bit of a stalker." LOL

  2. We have been on the same mission to live simply since last fall. It's a process, but boy is it life-changing. Good for y'all!

    1. Kathryn, you've made such an impression on me. Last year I read a whole bunch of different home management and organizational type posts from you. I was in awe but also felt a bit defeated as I was seriously struggling to just get the minimum done at that time. I told myself that I could just never be that together. You are pretty together. Like, woah! But now I'm telling myself to get after that. If I want a family culture that has systems and structure and beautiful things--it's up to me to make it happen. Thank you for sharing how you do what you do. You are one impressive, inspirational momma!!

  3. I'm with you on this. Totally with you. I love the idea to make a deadline!! I think that will hem me too!!

    1. Are you organizing your house too? As I'm going through things I'm thinking ... that I'm the last woman on Earth to be figuring out how this works... :)

  4. Or HELP me!! 😂 Not hem me.