Nothing creates more mayhem than clutter!! Clutter=Chaos=Mayhem!! I used to waste so much time trying to organize things that really just needed to find new homes or be tossed out. My oldest son, My Sweetness, loved coloring, drawing and writing little notes. I saved every single thing he made me for years. I also saved every little memento that could be “used someday if I ever started scrapbooking”. 🙂 Ever done that?
Problem was that I started doing this with each of my kids. I’d tell myself that no good mommy throws away any love note, church craft, coloring page, noodle art, clay creation, or doodle. Right? We have to store them — somehow. Yet, somehow this cycle had to end! But, it seemed the more kids we had, the more stuff we accumulated and had to sort and organize.
I justified keeping things, because I’d just create a box for each kid’s stuff. I’d even color-code all the kids different things. I’d stick pretty labels on box after box of “treasures” until I realized I was creating “organized clutter.” This wasn’t good!
So what to do with clutter? Clutter can accumulate quickly! So, unless you plan to move out of your house and leave everything behind, you need to schedule some to purge!!
I typically start in the garage when I’m beginning a big purge. That is usually where I find much of my clutter. I justify that if it’s not in the house and I’m not tripping on it, then I can keep it. I also start here, because I need to create space for things that truly deserve a place in my garage. I will say that if you have a main living area that is in desperate need of some de-cluttering, start there! You can start wherever your little heart desires, as long as you start! Make a list of all the rooms that need organizing. Then go down your list, tackling one room at a time.
Now don’t laugh, but before I start, I pray. Really, I do! I pray for God to help me be ruthless as I sort through things. I pray for strength to say good-bye to things that are creating clutter and stress and interfering with my ability to manage my home and my time better for Him. I also ask for vision for each room. By this I mean that I might spend time at the end of my purge moving furniture around for better function, or even have an idea for something new to put on the wall to make the room more inviting and bless those who enter the room. I think God blesses our work when we invite Him to be a part of it.
After I pray, I go into the room with four laundry baskets. Laundry baskets are handy for a lot of things beyond just laundry, sorting is one. Each basket is given a label or sticky note with it’s category on it.
My “Four-Leaf” approach to sorting goes like this:
1) Keep 2) Toss 3) Give away/Donate 4) Sell
- Keep–Be brutal about what you keep. Keep only the best. One way to keep this process easier is to have a camera handy. I take pictures of as many “treasures” as possible, then toss the original piece of art. I save only the very special pieces of work. I even enlist my kids sometimes to help pick their very favorites. Then, I photograph everything. Nowadays, I try to get pictures of my kids holding up their art or clay project. This way I have it time stamped with my camera, plus it’s fun to see their sweet smiles with their masterpiece. This also makes throwing things away much easier. If you are really on the ball, you can create little art photo albums for them of everything they have made for the year. I’ve never quite made it to that stage. 🙂
- Toss-As the “toss” pile gets full, it can be moved to the trash. It’s best to do this without kids looking sometimes. Many of their “trinket treasures” go in this pile. Trinket treasures and any small meaningless decor is really just “house dander.” You don’t want it laying around. You only want significant things to be kept — this works with decorating as well. But that’s a different discussion.
- Give Away or Donate-This will hopefully be a big pile. Remind yourself that you might be creating treasure for someone else with your no-longer-needed items. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure!
- Sell–Now this pile is a dangerous pile!! I usually start with the wonderful intent to have a garage sale or put things on Craig’s List. Give yourself a time frame for this — a goal! Otherwise, this pile needs to become a second trip to your favorite donation location.
Once I’m done sorting through these four piles. I quickly take my “toss pile” to the trash. I try to pack up my “give/donate pile” to take to the Salvation Army right away. My “sell pile” is taken to the garage, if I’m not already in the garage, and I put a deadline date on my calendar to get rid of it. I will even take photos of the items before I store them, so I can quickly post them to Craig's List.
Now my “keep pile” is ready to tackle. I try to sort things into “upstairs” and “downstairs” items within the basket (separating things to the right and left). I take my basket to whatever rooms it contains items from, and deliver my newly found treasures.
Clearing out clutter always feels so good. So, the very last thing I do is celebrate my hard work, and the fact that I just kept myself from debuting in the next show of Hoarders, with a little victory dance — and maybe a bowl of ice cream, preferably something with chocolate! Job well done! Now onto the next room!
When it comes to sorting through individual boxes — you know the ones that are either stashed in a closet or in the garage — I find it best to bring it into my family room after the kids are in bed and sort while watching TV (or in my case, a Hallmark movie). 🙂 This makes me feel like I’m rewarding myself for doing the work that I’ve been putting off. I use the same “Four-Leaf Approach” as mentioned above. I usually just use sticky notes to label each pile on the carpet.
This rule of “clearing the clutter” can also be applied along with Rule #1 to remember our first priorities. Keep in mind that a cluttered schedule counts as clutter! So, keep “sorting” and saying “no” to things that don’t need to be cluttering your calendar. Again, don’t just try to better organize things into your calendar or set-up more carpools, some things need to be “trashed/tossed.”
One final note: This is a good time to pray about the content of items in your home. In our home, we try to keep only things that are true and lovely (thinking through Phil. 4: 8) in our home. Sounds crazy, but we’ve found that book covers, hand-me-down clothes, DVDs, CDs, and toys can sometimes have messages or images on them that I wouldn’t let Jesus wear, look at or listen to. And if I wouldn’t let Him, then I don’t want my kids near it either. Even things as basic and mundane as Magic Tree House books sometimes have things in them that are contrary to our Christian worldview — like millions of years or ghosts, living mummies, etc. You may think this is extreme, but for us this is something God put upon our hearts. We just try to keep certain things out of our house. It’s been hard, but we’ve seen the blessing through it.
“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever, is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”
Stay tuned for Rule #5=Don't Eat of the Bread of Idleness!
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Introduction to M.O.M.
Rule #1: Don't Forget Your First Priorities!
Rule #2: Baby Steps!
Rule #3: Get Your Groove!