How to get started and get a grip on day-to-day clutter?

jenathegreatJune 17, 2009

It's been a long long time since I've posted here.

I'm feeling a little overwhelmed right now. I don't know if this is an organizing problem or a time management problem or both.

It's not the big organizing projects like cleaning the garage that bog me down (not that my garage is organized or clean but it's so far down my list that I don't care right now.) It's the little day-to-day stuff. I can't keep up. I have a 2yo DD and I'm pregnant. I work 3 days a week and home with DD the other days. And I just feel lazy.

Right now on my couch beside me are a couple books, some play food, a mailer bag that something came in yesterday, the tags off that item, an empty gift bag from DD's birthday party 2 weeks ago, a curtain for the baby's room that is 90% finished and hasn't been worked on in 2.5 weeks, 2 empty grocery bags, a throw blanket, and I think there's probably some dirty toddler clothes under there.

Around the room there is a smattering of toys, a cardboard box, the sales flyers from yesterday's mail that DD claimed and scattered to the winds, and my coffee table is pushed crooked from my mad search for toddler shoes Wednesday.

If I got off my rear, I could make the room presentable in 15 minutes with some stash and dash. In half an hour I could put the stuff away. In an hour the room could be pristine.

I like it when it's clean - or at least mostly clean, I'll never be a neatnick. But even though I know I could do it, I'm just so freaking tired and can't stand the thought of getting up to do it.

My other problem is that some of this stuff, I just don't know where to put it. We're in the middle of converting our study into a bedroom for my SS so even what stuff we had a home for has come loose from its moorings and is adrift in our house. But as I look around the room (the only public room we have in our house now) I see that I can't blame any of this junk on the study conversion, it's all just day-to-day debris. GAH!

How do you train yourself to be a neat person? How do you find homes for everything? (I'm guessing that in neat homes the sunscreen does not live on top of the TV like it does in mine) I remember reading posts about having the right infrastructure for your stuff (talley sue?) but I don't even know how to get my stuff into logical groupings to decide what infrastructure I need - and we have very little storage space so i know we need some.

Ok, that was probably way too long and rambling and thank you if you read it all. I think I better go to bed now.

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I have all the exact problems as you. Right now my house is underconstruction because we're making our lower level into an apartment for our daughter, age 20. She's footing the bill but I have to be around to accept supply deliveries and deal with carpenters, etc. Every room of my house is a mess. On top of that, my best friend is coming to stay for three days at the end of the month. I expect to do a lot of stash and dash the next few days. Even the garage is a terrible mess. Dtr came home from college and stuck all her college belongings in our garage. I wish I knew how to get motivated to get everything nice and keep it that way!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 11:06AM
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"How do you find homes for everything?"

Sometimes you don't.

Sometimes you start by getting rid of everything that is broken, stained, too small, too large, not used, unloved, unwanted, etc.

THEN you can see what's left and work on homes for it.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 1:30PM
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I know what's wrong. You have a two year old and your pregnant. Either one a lone can keep you from getting anything done.
What the real problem could be is if when your kids are grown and you still can't keep up. That's where I am right now. Desparately seeking to be clutter free but always finding something that holds me back. Like right now I'm in front of my computer thinking about all that I have to get done today. But have I gotten up off my rear to do it? Nope. Not yet.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 2:51PM
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Justgotabme - Ha ha! Sadly I wasn't much better before I had kids. At least not about getting organized and staying that way. But I did have more energy to just stay up an extra half hour and tidy up so it didn't get quite so crazy.

The good news is that after I wrote my pity-party posting last night I did get up and pick up the scattered mail, any trash on the floor, DD's books and got the toys back to her zone. Some of the stuff is gone off the couch too, mostly just the trash stuff though.

Looking at what I just wrote about not being able to get organized and stay that way... I'm not sure that's true. I don't think I have EVER been organized. I have gotten my house neat and clean, but I think I can't keep it that way precisely because it is not organized. On the other hand, I think my kitchen is fairly organized and everything there that belongs there has a home... but it doesn't stay neat because other things like to camp out on the kitchen counter and table.

I don't think most of my house is unorganized because I have too much unloved stuff (though that's certainly true of the garage), we do haul stuff to Goodwill several times a year and there's an ongoing goodwill pile in the garage. But I'm sure if I started digging through my closets I could find more to haul away.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 3:28PM
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A few things come my mind, what works for me. My house gets to be the way I like it to be when I'm having company. That gets my butt in gear. Otherwise, it's clean enough to be healthy and tidy enough so I can find everything. I don't have much clutter, and what clutter I need or want (Xmas stuff, hobby stuff) I've found ways to keep organized and out of sight. Are you being too hard on yourself? Pregnancy and toddlers are both very tiring.

It sounds like you need to think in terms of categories and then aim to return things to their category home base -- toiletries and first aid (sunscreen), books, laundry, mail, toys. It's just the same ole story -- a place for everything and (almost) everything in place. And invite someone you want to impress over for coffee. Maybe you'll push yourself a bit and inertia will kick in. For some people routines work well, but not for me. Laundry every morning. Dishes put away by a certain time. Simple menu and wardrobe cycles. Vacuum on Wednesday. Something like that work for you?

    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 5:59PM
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Years ago I knew a gal that had 3 kids and each one of them had a laundry basket in a different color. Each evening before they went to bed they picked up all the things that belonged to them and put them away. They just knew to do it. Our kids were pretty good at picking their things up. I have done daycare for many years and we pick up things at lunch time and then about time for Mom or dad to come. A little here and there helps.

Having a young one and going to soon have another can be difficult. We all have our lazy days, too. It is just my hubby and me now and sometimes mine can get pretty bad.. Just hang in there.


    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 10:41PM
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I have found no easy answer but to put things away every day that find a home on my kitchen island or on the sofa. My kids think the island is a place to place things they don't want to put away. As far as mail I do it right now or else it grows and grows. It is hard to start but once you get in the habit it gets much easier. I would suggest that you get rid of things that you no longer need. I would bring every thing to GW or perhaps put your stuff on FreeCycle and they come to you. I have been know to do a "free" garage sale on freecycle and every thing is gone fast.

With a 2 year old they can start putting their things away as long as it is easy. My DD had a big bin for the kids toys and they had to have it done before Wheel of Fortune was on or they didn't get a snack. It seemed to work because at first they didn't think she was serious but after a few nights they could collect their toys and put them away. They were 2 and 4 at the time.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2009 at 12:32AM
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Just 2 ½ years ago, I was in the same place with kid #1/work/kid #2 on the way. I too struggle with getting and staying organized.

I think the most important organizing tip I have read and instituted was that things should be put away where they are used and left. So, for example, if you use the sunscreen only in the living room, making its home in the bathroom is going to always be a hassle and the likelihood of it always getting put away is slim. While the top of the TV may not be the perfect place, a drawer in the entertainment center may be a better location.

We are just about to turn our hall closet into a toy closet for the kids. They want to play in the main living space and having their toys stored in another room means they donÂt play with them or donÂt get them put away when they are done. Hopefully by putting the toys in an easy to access space, the kids will play with all their toys, the basket of toys in the living room will disappear, and it will be easier for the kids to clean-up.

One other hint, as also suggested above, is to have clean-up time before bedtime stories. The kids want their stories so they will clean up. When they are young, you get to help, but by now, the 5 yr old can pick-up his toys, and I can pick-up mine (or do the dishes, etc.)

    Bookmark   June 21, 2009 at 1:08AM
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I'm guilty of not putting things away as quickly as I should. Have always been that way. There is a psychological reason for this condition according to that Morgenstern lady, but right now the name of that condition fails me. LOL I think it's just a matter of making time and doing it. For me it means spending less time on the computer and more on picking up on a daily basis.

If I let my desk get too messy I just get a large basket and swipe everything into it. Then one day I pull out the basket and go through everything. I'm able to do it on my now, clean desk.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2009 at 2:15AM
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With a toddler and baby on the way, plus working from home, you have definitely got your hands full!! It is very hard to stay on top of clutter with kids around and the busy-ness of day-to-day life.

I've found to be very helpful in keeping me mindful of clutter, and how to manage it in my home. This is a free website and a great help getting started with baby steps. She offers a ton of great tips and processes for keeping things from getting out of control - so many that I can't keep up with them all but I pick and choose what works for me.

Good luck to you!!!

    Bookmark   June 21, 2009 at 9:28PM
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