As I am sitting here typing, I have (almost) sorted out every room in the house. (The craft room remains a challenge.) And I started thinking … Dangerous, I know.
When I was much younger, I was a slob (maybe the post title should be confessions of an ex-slob 🙂. My room was always a mess. Mind you, my cupboards were always pristine, because I would not put anything away unless it is in the right place – not that that worked, so everything ended up everywhere, except where it was supposed to be anyway.
Skip a few years, enters a young married women with a full time job. Yes, you’ve guessed it. The house was a constant mess. Dirty dishes that no-one felt like taking care of (who does after along days work?). Clean laundry ended up on the spare bedroom’s bed instead of the cupboards, because if you only wash once a week, that is a LOT of folding and putting away.
Skip a few more years. Living in a double bedroom in a ‘share-house’ in London, UK. ALL our belongings in one room. I have never been able to pinpoint when I turned into a neat freak, but I think this might have been it. If one pair of shoes were not in it’s place, you trip and fall, never-mind heaps of things. But suddenly I couldn’t stand a house where things are all over the place. (Still trying to convert the husband though, so imagine it – as soon as he enters the house, he starts put things down on the first surface on his way to where ever he is headed, with me trying to put it all away. I must admit that some days I just don’t fight it, until I simply can’t take it any more.)
My dad has a saying: “Everything has a place, everything in it’s place” (unfortunately he does not follow his own advice, it came from our camping days). If everything in the house has a place it lives in when you are not using it, I have found that it is very simple to keep the house neat. Added bonus is that you always know where things are when you need it. (Ask that husband, I ALWAYS know where everything is, it is my party trick 🙂
So how do you do this if your house starts a mess? I mean, it is very easy for me. Half an hour tops and the house is back to, as some of my husband’s students called it a ‘Top Billing’ house. But if any or all of these reflect your reality, you are sitting there, reading this, thinking: ‘She doesn’t have a clue what she is talking about.’
Please trust me, this used to be me.
So where to start? I know, just thinking about it makes you want to quit. And you haven’t even started yet.
The most important step, is to get out of your own head and way. Thinking about it will only overwhelm you. So instead of thinking about the seemingly impossible task, ask yourself: ‘Which room will give me the most joy if it is sorted out?‘ This is not the room that impress guests – people will always talk behind your back, forget about them. Which room will inspire you to tackle the next room if it is ‘Top Billing’ worthy?
That room that just popped into your head, that’s the one you start with.
Please do this when you have enough time to finish what you have started, otherwise it will just end up more of a frustration.
I have read this so many times and it really just makes so much sense to me, that here I go as well with this advice. Get three boxes. Mark one ‘give away’, one ‘keep here, one ‘wrong room’. Make sure you have a rubbish bin or bag handy for the things that you have to throw away as well.
Step 1: Go through the room and start by throwing everything away that is just garbage, or in such a state that ‘the poor won’t even want it’, to quote Maria from the Sound of Music. (By the way I try to do this once a term with my craft room, not easy letting things go.)
Step 2: Look at the things that you have decided to ‘keep’. It needs to go in one of your three boxes.
Hold each item in your hands. Feel it. Does it bring you joy? Or will it bring more joy to someone else if you gave it to them? Or does it simply not belong in that room? (Like that scarf that ended up as a dining chair decoration for days or weeks.) Put it in the appropriate box.
Repeat until the room is neat – in other words, everything that was lying around is now in a box. Take the ‘give away’ box and put it in your car immediately, before you change your mind, or worse, it just ends up cluttering another room. The ‘wrong room’ box – well that one you put just outside the room you are fixing up. You will deal with it later.
Step 3: Look at the room. It should be neat now, but not necessarily how you want it to look. Take every item that is in the ‘wrong’ place and put that in your box as well. In my case I will now sort out the cupboards and surfaces in that room. I will do the same as I did with the room. What am I going to keep? What is in the wrong room? What do I throw away and what do I give away.
Step 4: You should now have a box (or ten) of things that belong in that room. Cupboards and surfaces should be empty. This is a good time to quickly clean all the cupboards on the inside.
Where possible, use boxes or containers to organize the inside of your cupboards. Don’t stack things on top of each other, unless you absolutely have no choice. Do yourself a HUGE favour and label everything. You get amazing tools online to help you design labels if you want to go that route. (Even my freezer has labels – outside and inside.)
Here is some beautiful inspiration.
Step 5: Now you make the room beautiful. It is actually real easy once you have a neat and tidy room. Small things can make a big difference – throws and scatter cushions for example. I try to keep my big and/or expensive items (curtains for sure, as well as living room furniture and paint colour) in a neutral colour and only use splashes of colour for my inexpensive items – that way it is easy and cheap to change a colour-scheme when you feel like it. (I feel like it a lot)
You should by now be inspired by your own handiwork!
Step 6: Take the ‘wrong room’ box. Sort through it. Put everything in the correct room until you have an empty box.
Step 7: Remember where every important object’s ‘new home’ is (like keys, sunglasses, wallets, handbags). Make sure every time you’ve used it you return it ‘home’.
Be inspired to tackle the next room as soon as possible. Use your momentum. And keep the ‘new’ room the way it is right now.
PS – every night before I go to bed I make sure the dishwasher is packed, all blankets that was used in front of the TV is put away, cushions straightened and all surfaces clutter free. That immediately puts me in a good mood the next morning when I walk through my ‘Top Billing’ house.
Next time we’ll talk about how this is definitely not your job alone – chores are very important (yes, for the husband as well 🙂