My journey began sixteen days ago.
Sixteen days, three rooms, several trips to the dumpster, one journey to organization. This is my journey.
It began with this post:
The Mess that lies within… My 30-day Organizational Challenge
I have a problem. Just a little one. Ok, no, a BIG one. … I’m a recovering Messy. But don’t worry, it’s okay, I’m in rehab and I’m quitting. As many of you know, that’s a long and hard road and once you quit you’ve got to steer clear of clutter and mess completely. Just one little pile, and you’ll fall off the bandwagon and straight back into Messy-ism. . .
You can read the rest of that post here: The Mess That Lies Within; My 30-Day Organizational Challenge
And now here’s the rest of the story:
I started with a pad of paper and a pen and I developed a well thought-out plan of attack. I thought about what I wanted to accomplish, what needs needed to be met, how I wanted each room to function. Setting those guidelines helped me determine things like, “which room should the tv go in?”
After I knew what I wanted to do, I called in the re-inforcements — my sister-in-law. With her help I was able to get a great jumpstart on my project. That was especially helpful since I got such a late start.
Our first task was to get the girls’ bedroom cleaned up and reorganized as the “kids” bedroom so that they would all have a clean place to sleep, and all the furniture would get rearranged into their appropriate rooms. We started by cleaning up: throwing away the trash, taking out the dirty laundry, and scooping all the toys into the available toyboxes. We then pulled out the furniture (and toyboxes) that weren’t going to stay in there and moved in the new items. We got everything rearranged, vacuumed, straightened the closets, made the beds, hung a shelf, hung a canopy, and before you knew it, we had a beautiful “new” bedroom for all three kids to sleep in. Check out the before and after pictures:
We put a smaller tv on this printer stand (which was serving ineffectively as a shoe stand in my closet) and used the bottom shelves for a couple of blankets and pillows. There are also two sleeping bag chairs at the end of the crib to sit on and watch tv.
I hung that shelf to hold all their fancy dolls. You can see how much cleaner the top of the closet is, too.
Organizing the hats, ball caps, backpacks, and totes.
I hung the canopy up again, it had to come down when we had the cat. I’m hoping it stays up this time. Plus, they’re getting new sheet sets for Christmas! Shhhh. 😉
The only things left to do in there that I would like to accomplish at some point is to paint the shelf and tv stand white and get some fasteners or a staple gun and fasten the cord for the light fixture to the ceiling so that it doesn’t hang down. I don’t want it to get pulled on and pulled out of the light.
One room down, one to go…
The next task was to dig in and get working on the new playroom and school room. With a second visit from my sister-in-law we got right to work on cleaning it up.
We picked up the floor and put everything in available boxes and toyboxes (minus the obvious things like trash and laundry.) We made a stack of the boxes along the back wall, and got to work on the closet, pulling out everything else that did not belong in there. After that we were able to move the dresser into the closet and then shuffle the rest of the furniture around and bring in the little bookcase out of my bedroom. As we did all of this, we did some generic sorting–books to the bookcase, that sort of thing–so there would be less to go through when I got to that step.
And then I was on my own…
After those two big work days I was on my own. With only my three little ones to help (HA!)
I set to work on the toyboxes. I pulled all four of them to the living room and dumped the toys into one huge pile. I circled the trash can, a carboard box for the women’s shelter, and three of the toyboxes around the pile — one of the toyboxes had to go.
My eldest daughter and I began the task of purging and sorting the toys. We put all the baby’s toys into one, all the dolls and doll stuff into another, and everything else into the third. Once we were finished I took the toyboxes to the playroom and moved the remainder of the stack to the middle of the floor.
On another day, I worked on that stack and knocked it down to just a few boxes and a laundry basket. Then my sister-in-law came over for a couple of hours and helped me go through the last few boxes — the infamous boxes of “pieces.” WOW – was that a task! We gathered a bunch of containers and began sorting everything: crayons/markers/colored pencils, pens/pencils, game pieces, puzzle pieces, craft items, cards/flash cards, playdough accessories, legos, play money and other counting/math items, and other miscellaneous items like ponytail holders/hairclips, small toys, refrigerator magnets, etc. It took a few hours.
After she left, I could see how much we had done, but it still felt like everything suddenly looked MUCH worse. There were containers of things everywhere! With a pounding headache I was forced to go to bed and leave it for the next day. I hate leaving it for the next day.
The final stretch.
The last day was AWFUL. There were so many containers of so many little things…and my kids wanted to get into all of it!! I really didn’t think I was gonna be able to get it all done in one day. I started by putting away what I could. The craft stuff, crayons, paint, etc, went immediately into the closet. After that, I filled the shelf on the bookcase with the colored baskets so I’d have places to put things and then I got started on the rest of the pieces.
There was only one way to do it. One container at a time.
I sat down with all the cards and quickly sorted them into the larger flashcard size and the smaller playing card size. I set aside all the empty boxes and a stack of plastic sandwich bags for afterward. Then I went through each stach and sorted them into piles, put them into a box or a bag and put all the cards into one of the baskets. I did the same thing with the puzzles, sorted the pieces into “large,” “small,” and “wooden” piles. Then I had my daughter help me put all the puzzles together and we put them in the closet. I went through the rest of the containers and further sorted or containerized everything else until they were all gone and all those baskets were full.
After that was accomplished, I put away all the remaining items that needed to go in other rooms, did some touch-up organizing in the closet, added the toys to the bottom of the bookshelf, did final furniture placement, and vacuumed the floor. Gee, it sounds so easy when you write it. This last stretch literally took me ALL DAY to do. I think some of it was the “extra help” I was getting, though. 🙂
Man, once it was finished, though, it sure felt GOOD to stand back and see the final result. I don’t know how I managed to get it all done in time. All I know for sure is that GOD is GOOD, and he’s given me the motivation and energy I needed to keep at it and not stop until it was finished. Here’s the finished product:
Pulled this table out of my dining room. It’s easily accessible for school projects that need a bigger table, for sitting and coloring (the coloring books are stored inside the pink desk), or for other crafts.
There is plenty of room for them to sit at these desks. They are centrally located between the project table, the bookcase, and the school supplies.
I’ve used the storage area under this desk for baby puzzles.
They each have a school box (with a notebook, scissors, glue sticks, etc) to contain their school supplies and prevent them from getting lost and mixed in with craft supplies. These and a container with the Math-U-See manipulatives are on top of the bookshelf — out of reach. The top shelf is school books and other educational workbook, etc. The second shelf contains flashcards and some smaller games and puzzles (those without original boxes), and other small items like these. The bottom two shelves are reserved for the baby. His toybox ended up going in the bedroom at the end of the bunkbed. I intended to put the baby doll toybox in there, but realized that when he’s napping his toys won’t be needed, and theirs will still be available this way.
The purple and green toybox holds dolls and doll stuff. The big one is “everything else.”
I used the refrigerator to store the food, plates and the hotplate stove.
The dress-up dresser is great on this wall! The two barbie boxes are stored underneath. Those don’t fit in toyboxes too well.
The closet is amazing now. That infant carrier is only there temporarily. My baby just outgrew it and now I’m putting it on ebay.
Colored paper, paints and brushes, playdough accessories, craft items, crayons – each in their own container.
Stored items on top, games and puzzles on bottom.
I love these hanging baskets. The baby won’t have a lot of shoes and hats, so they’re a good size. This will prevent these from taking up drawer space.
The three gray tubs hold fabric (on top), off season clothes for the girls (middle) and hand-me-downs for the baby (bottom). Extra blankets are folded on top.
I used the new floor space in the closet for bigger toys that can be brought out an played with and put away. Now they won’t take up floor space for playing.
Speaking of floor space… LOOK at all that floor space!!
I know it can be hard to tell how the whole room fits together in the pictures. The room is so small I can’t get far enough away to take a shot of a whole wall. There’s still more I’d like to do. I’d like to paint the walls and put up new curtains. But my goal was to accomplish this project with as little expense as possible. My total bill for these two rooms: $10.50 for containers and $13.00 for dresser knobs. Everything else, I already had.
But there’s more! Getting organized was so freeing, inspiring, motivating and satisfying, I didn’t stop with just these two rooms. I also took care of these small projects:
The shelf in the kids’ bathroom.
Under the sink in the kids’ bathroom.
Under the sink in my bathroom.
Under the kitchen sink.
The cabinets over the washer and dryer.
And my journey isn’t over yet… Like most journey’s of this nature, the journey isn’t over when the deadline is up. I’m still growing and learning.
You may have noticed that the tagline at the top read “three rooms.” In order to organize these two, I had to take a bookcase out of my bedroom and add the old wooden toybox. To do that, I need to shift my dresser. So, the one project affected my bedroom, too. I’m still working on my room, and when I’m done with that, I’m doing my closet, too! I’ve got a few other little projects to do, too, but more than that I’m learning how to upkeep these areas.
I need to learn how to maintain this organization so that I’m not overcome with clutter again. By God’s grace, he’ll enable me to keep it this way. The best part is seeing the kids getting into this. They’re enjoying it, they like having their rooms clean. They are helping keep them this way. And THAT right there, makes this sooo worth it.
The joy I have, the serenity of those clean rooms rather than the chaos of the cluttered ones, the healthy new habits we’re developing, and the trend this has started for the rest of the house…these are the things I’ve gained, these are the blessings God has given for this undertaking.
I’m so glad I signed up for this challenge, this journey to organization!!