Chapter 4 – Christmas
The next break and the next big projects came at Christmas time. I tackled the linen closet which was overflowing and sloppy looking. Anything stained or torn went out. Then I sorted the sheets by size and kept only 2-3 for each bed in the house. Then I kept however many towels fit in the remaining space. This is called the container concept, another idea from Nony the Slob. You set a space for certain items whether it’s a shelf, a closet, or a drawer and you keep however many items fit in the space. This forces you to choose between good, better, and best. I think I still have too many towels, but at least they all fit neatly in the closet.
I also used the container concept when I tackled the craft room. My mom had been an artist and craft collector. When she died I sorted through her large craft room and shed giving away any items that I felt I would never use, but I kept everything I thought my daughters or I would ever possibly want which amounted to a large collection of stuff. As I looked at the over 100 cross-stitch kits I owned, I decided to keep only as many as fit in a certain drawer and only if I felt I might truly want to complete them one day. The rest I sat aside to sell. Then I looked at my two large overflowing tubs of yarn. I sorted them down to one tub. I continued this process as I made my way around the room. I also eliminated excessive multiples. I decided, for instance, that five watercolor sets was enough and donated the rest. As you can see I still kept plenty of supplies to keep my girls happily creating art for years to come. This room took about four days and I donated at least eight bags. I also sorted out things to sell. I am not a big fan of selling my stuff. I don’t like all the work involved, but I decided to put things in groups and list them on a local website. I did get a little spending cash this way. My youngest daughter helped me put the finishing touches on the art room as we labeled drawers and shelves in hopes that things would be easier to find and put back away. As soon as we were done she dove into a new art project. As it turns out a clean space is more inspiring than a messy one.
The next project turned out to be totally fun. I decided it was time to tackle my oldest daughter’s room. She has the smallest bedroom and it was crammed with toys, clothes, and books. On top of this, she loves her stuff. This time I used an idea from “The Minimalists” and we held a packing party. I told my daughter that we were going to pretend she was moving to a new house and we had to pack up all of her stuff. I had her take everything out of one drawer or shelf at a time. I added my own twist to the idea by having her put each item into either a box labeled ‘love it’, a box labeled ‘like it’, a bag for give away, or the trash can. Most items went into the first two boxes (and more boxes with the same labels) but she did collect one bag to give away and we found some trash. When she took a break I worked extra hard and pre-sorted some items for her. I eliminated unnecessary multiples, toys that never saw the light of day, and old school papers. I also sorted through her bookshelves myself since this was too emotional for her. I moved some books to her younger sister’s room and some to a local program for teen parents. As we worked I found lots of stuff that did not belong in her room. I had stored memorabilia including her baby book in her closet. Her sister had numerous clothes and toys hidden here and there. All these items were relocated. When we started this project I anticipated that we would put all the ‘love it’ items back and then make choices about what ‘like it’ stuff would fit. As it turned out, we were able to find places for everything that was left. I sorted toys into semi-logical groups and put like items together. We even labeled the drawers and shelves. The end result was amazing! Her room no longer looked like a thrift store had blown up. Now it was roomy, organized, and ready to use. My daughter loved her new room. My younger daughter thought it looked like fun so we followed the same procedure in her room and created a new, play-friendly place there as well.