Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Tidying Up Tuesday: The Bathroom

My mom is in town, and she's been following my Tidying Up progress, so she offered to help me with a project while she was here. We decided to do the bathroom. Our home has two bathrooms, but one is being renovated, so we did the main bathroom. Fortunately, that's the one that's going to store all our things anyway.

Here are some before photos:
We usually have stuff all over the counter, and on top of the shelf over the sink. 

Ryan hangs his pajamas from this extra towel rack

I keep my cleaning supplies on top of the cabinet

The medicine cabinet on the wall opposite the sink skeeves me out every time I open it. One of my goals was to not need the storage there anymore, so we can tear it down and hang a mirror in its place.

We pulled everything out. I kept forgetting about places we had things. This bathroom really does have a lot of storage space, unlike the rest of our house.

 My mom cleaned up every drawer as it was emptied, and helped me put contact paper down in the drawers and shelves that didn't have it yet.

She wouldn't let me take a proper photo of her, but here she is cleaning out the space under the sink

 Our cat was excited about the empty cupboards. I had to drag him out so I could put the contact paper down in his favorite hiding spot.

We had several paint cans and other miscellaneous things under our sink, so those went out to Ryan's workshop. The cleaning supplies are now under the sink, including the toilet scrub brush and plunger! Not having them out next to the toilet makes a huge difference.

I was able to get the medicine out of the creepy cabinet, with the help of several plastic bins from the dollar store. Our kids are old enough now to stay out of stuff like that, which is why I felt comfortable moving the cleaning supplies and the medicine from their former high-up homes.

 Our travel bags and supplies are no longer strewn all over the drawer.

Even our toothpaste is off the counter and in a handy holder. The boys remembered to put it away without being told when they got ready for school this morning. They are doing a great job of staying on the tidy train.

Having my mom to help me was awesome. Tidying is much more fun with someone to talk to and bounce ideas off of!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Tidying Up Tuesday: Paper

I've been so excited to get to the papers stage of tidying up, mainly because this is how our papers are currently stored:

There are files in the long box with the hanging folders (the one with the apple sticker), two out of three of the plastic drawers, and papers in the accordion files stacked on top. I wanted to consolidate all the papers and get them off the dresser! 

I pulled everything into the living room to start. Our safe has important papers, with a hanging folder for everyone, except Amelia because the safe only came with four folders. So I added one for her papers. Only took me four years.

I started with the accordion folders, and did mine first. My folder for some reason became the storage place for the receipts for our flex spending account. I threw all of those from before 2018 away. Pretty much everything else from that folder got recycled. Ryan's accordion folder was stuffed with informational handouts from the insurance we had from his previous job. In 2011. Into the recycling they went.

As I found papers I knew I'd want to keep, I made piles on the floor and labeled them.

In the plastic drawers I found just about every single piece of sheet music I've ever sung. Most got recycled. I used the Genius Scan app to save the keepers. My sister did her papers last week, and she suggested I use Genius Scan. The app allowed me to take a photo of each page of music and batch the whole song together in a PDF. Amazing! So much easier than scanning each individual sheet, plus the added bonus of batching the sheets together. If you're organizing papers soon, I highly recommend this app.

Then I went through the plastic tub with the hanging folders. I got rid of old tax documents, manuals, and receipts that were so faded I couldn't read them anymore. The tub went from this:

to this:

Turns out we don't need such a large container for our hanging file folders. Once we decide where we're going to keep this, I may downgrade to a smaller one.

Finally, I decided on a new way to organize my "pending papers," or the ones I need to deal with instead of just save for when needed. Normally I keep them on my bedside table until they start falling off, at which point I remember that I need to deal with them. I bought a paper holder at the dollar store in my favorite color, and put it in the drawer of the bedside table.

I know, I know; the rest of the drawer is a mess. I'll deal with it when I do bedroom komono!

Next up: I'll be out of town next Tuesday. My mom is coming to visit, and she said she'd help with the komono, so I guess it'll be Mom's Choice. She'll have a lot of options to choose from....

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Tidying Up Tuesday: Kids' Books

First, as I promised last week, here is the finished photo of the bookshelves after Ryan added the ones he wanted to keep.

You can see the photo albums in the bottom left corner. I'm so happy those are out of the cupboard! Ryan's collection of Cottage Living magazines are on the bookshelves now, too, which freed up a lot of space on our kitchen island. I'm looking forward to filling that space when I do kitchen komono in a few weeks.

Also, highlight of my day: my sister texted me this afternoon as I was tidying up to tell me that she was going all KonMari on her clothes. She also did her books today. Two categories in one day! I was so impressed.

On to the kids' bookshelves!

I forgot to take a before photo of Amelia's bookshelf, probably because hers wasn't terribly messy. But here's a shot of the boys' shelves.

Sam uses the top of the bookshelf as a depository for all his random stuff. Actually, he uses ALL the shelves for his random stuff, as you can see from the photo. I took all of that off and piled it up for him to deal with when he got home from school.

Benjy stayed home from school today because he woke up with a fever, but it was one of those kid sicknesses where you give them an ibuprofen and thirty minutes later it's like nothing was ever wrong. So I decided Benjy was up to helping with the sorting.

My little helpers

I did the kids' books all together because I figured it was time to move a lot of the picture books over to Amelia's shelves. Unsurprisingly, Benjy and Amelia wanted to keep pretty much every single book. When they weren't looking, I pulled some of the more battered board books out of the keep pile. Amelia is outgrowing them, anyway. Benjy also identified some books he didn't want that I knew Sam would, so those went in their own pile for Sam to look through. He kept all but one or two of those (again, not a surprise).

Amelia's bookshelf: a lot more picture books, fewer board books (but still some)

The boys' bookshelf: No longer encumbered by non-book items! They even had room at the bottom for their composition notebooks full of their own comics.

Just like with the drawers, the kids were given a talking-to about expectations for how their bookshelves are to stay. Sam in particular was warned that the bookshelf is no longer a dumping ground for random things he wants to keep.

I think that having the kids help choose their books gives them some ownership over the project. I felt the same way about the drawers. Making Ben and Sam fold their own clothes and decide which clothes went where was really good for them. They are keeping their drawers neat. Hopefully they can do the same with their bookshelves.

Side note: I keep wanting to call them bookcases. I think that's a regional thing, because my grandma (who lives on the East Coast) referred to them as bookcases on the phone the other day. But no one out here ever says bookcases.

Next week: Paper. I am seriously so excited for this one.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Tidying Up Tuesday: Books

While watching Marie Kondo's Netflix show, I noticed that not a lot of airtime was spent on people organizing their books. I guess for most people organizing their books isn't a big dramatic thing? Well... for me it is.

Being a reader is a big part of my identity, and has been since I was a child. Owning lots of books is a huge part of who I am. I reread my books, so I've always said that I *needed* to keep all of them. But ever since I've gotten deeper into the writing world, more and more books pop up on my radar. My to-read list on Goodreads has almost two hundred and fifty books on it. I've noticed that as I've tried to stay on top of new books, I've been rereading my old books less frequently. What really makes me happy is reading new books, not necessarily owning many books. I tried to keep that in mind as I went through the bookshelves.

Here's a couple photos of the sorting piles:

I wish I took better photos so you could get a true sense of how many flipping books I had to go through.

I started with cookbooks; those were easy, because several of them I had never used. Then I went through magazines. Finally, I had to tackle the actual books. Something that helped me was having a plan for the books. I decided that some books would go to Goodwill, some to the library (donations that don't go into the stacks get used for the library's book sale fundraisers), and some would go to the Cathedral Home, which has programs for teens in need. I made boxes for each one, and as I sorted it was quick and easy to put the books in the correct boxes or my keep pile. I ended up with seven boxes of donation books.

Of course, I kept the books I love. It was easy to pick those out: the set of the Chronicles of Narnia I got as a kid, many of the Agatha Christie paperbacks my grandma handed down to me, my signed books. As I went through them I thought many times, "I should read that one again soon." And maybe now I will.

The best part, for me, was clearing enough space off the bookshelves to put our photo albums on display. My mom has made several gorgeous photo albums for us of our wedding and each of our kids' first year of life. They've been in a cupboard for years because it was a safe place for them. Now they are out and the kids can look at them whenever they want. Tidying really is about making space in your home for the things that truly bring you joy.

I don't have an after photo of the bookshelves yet; Ryan hasn't finished going through his books and putting them on the shelves. Hopefully I'll have one by next week!

Next project: the kids' bookshelves

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Bonus Tidying Up Tuesday: Ryan's Clothes

Since I've started my tidying mission, Ryan's been asking me when we're going to do his clothes. I told him we could do it whenever he wanted, and he hasn't taken me up on it. But on Tuesday, he ended up taking an unexpected day off work, and I needed a project, so we did his clothes!

The closet in our room, which has Ryan's stuff in it

When we moved in, we put two tension rods in the closet for Ryan to hang his clothes on. It was a quick fix so we could get unpacked, and we've never taken the time to actually fix up our closet.

Ryan's dresser. He has six fairly small drawers.

For privacy's sake I didn't take "before" pictures of Ryan's drawers. But suffice it to say that they were stuffed full. Ryan often drags his feet on putting away laundry that I've washed and folded for him because getting the laundry into the drawers is such a pain.

The pile. Our biggest by far.

Shoes to sort (I didn't want them on my bed)

It took almost four hours to go through Ryan's clothes, sort the keepers, and get everything back in place. Usually when Ryan or I has a project we do it on our own, and the other person keeps the kids out of the way. Getting to work on a project together was so nice. I got to explain all of Marie Kondo's tidying principles. Ryan got to share a lot of the memories behind his clothes as we sorted through them. Going through his clothing was a chance for us to have a long conversation, and I'm really glad we got to spend that time together. Also, the transformation was really dramatic!

Everything in this photo is garbage or headed to Goodwill or the consignment shop. Except the chair.

Ryan's "hang up clothes" now fit entirely on one tension rod. When he's done renovating our bathroom, our closet is going to get a makeover. We might even have room in there for my clothes, too!

New and improved sock drawer

Gym clothes


We are now completely done with organizing the clothes in our home. Next week is our books and magazines.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Tidying Up Tuesday: The Boys' Clothes

I've designated Tuesdays as tidying days, but with the boys in school, that would mean doing their tidying in the evenings. That's a busy time of day at our house, so instead I did their clothes this weekend. They had a half day on Friday, so we did Sam's clothes after lunch. I chose to do his first because he's older, and I knew he'd have some hand-me-downs for Ben.

Sam has two large drawers that slide under the boys' bunk bed. As you can see, the struggle with large drawers is that things get jumbled up together. Nothing stays in the right place when Sam is moving stuff around trying to find what he wants.

We put the pile on my bed.

Sam and the "keep pile"

Sam is nine, so he had a clear understanding of what we were doing. He enjoyed having a project to do with me. It was nice to spend time together. I taught him how to fold things correctly, and he caught on and was able to do it. When he surveyed his giant pile of clothes, he said, "Wow, I'm really spoiled, Mom. I have a lot of clothes." We talked about giving his unwanted clothes to Goodwill or his brother, and that made it easier for him to say goodbye to some of his clothes. Sam is a big-time hoarder (I dread doing the sentimental items part of his room), so getting him to part with anything is a big deal.

Shirts and pants

Pajamas, socks & underwear, and the ties the boys share

I bought those bins at the dollar store to help Sam keep his socks and underwear from sliding around in the drawer. We had an extra one, which stored the boys' ties perfectly. When Sam and I were done, I showed Benjy the clothes Sam didn't want, and allowed him to choose what he wanted to keep. He loved "shopping" through Sam's old clothes.

When Sam got dressed this morning, I asked him what he did with his pajamas. His response? "I folded them the special way and put them back with my other pajamas."


Saturday was Benjy's turn. Right before we got started, he got mad that his dad wasn't letting him play basketball, and when I told him it was time to tidy, he refused. I was patient (for the first time ever), and waited it out. In a few minutes, he got up on his own and helped make a giant pile. All three of my kids loved that part of tidying the most!

Benjy has an upright dresser with conventional-sized drawers, but he still mixes up his clothes while looking for what he wants.

"Look at all the clothes I have, Mom!"

Benjy told me at first that he wanted to keep all of his clothes. I was still able to get him to discard some things. He was excited to give some clothes to one of his friends who is younger than him. He didn't want to fold, but after I showed him how he gave it a try and decided it was fun. Benjy is like that. He has to decide for himself that he's into something. I let him choose which clothing went in which drawers, and he appreciated getting to choose.


Socks, underwear, swimsuits (yes I went back to the dollar store for more bins)

Pants and shorts

I have high hopes for the new drawers. Both boys were warned that if they messed up the drawers, we'd have to do this all over again. I also offered to help them if they weren't sure where to put things or if something got unfolded. I have loved my new drawers, and I hope the boys will, too. That will make it easier for them to keep their clothes in order.

Next week: My books. I'm a little terrified.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Tidying Up Tuesday: Amelia's Clothes

I have been LOVING the new layout of my drawers. I even showed them to my parents on FaceTime because I was so excited about it. And good news! My husband wants to go through his clothes, too! It's just a matter of finding the time. Maybe when he's finished renovating our bathroom.

This week's project: my four-year-old's clothes.

Her stuff tends to get jumbled up in her drawers as she tears them apart looking for the specific thing she wants. I'm hoping that with our new way of folding, she won't do that as much because she'll be able to see all of her clothes. But, she is only four, so I'm prepared to have to redo these drawers a few times.

Making the big clothes pile was a lot of fun!

We piled her things on my bed. 

Amelia had a lot of fun going through her clothes with me. She said YES to just about everything, even shirts I know she's never worn because they "aren't pink enough." Some of those yeses I honored, and some went into the donate pile when she wasn't looking. We also found several items that were clearly too small for her and for some reason had never been culled out of her clothes.

Her donate pile was much smaller than mine!

In the end, we took clothes to the consignment store, Goodwill, and the Laramie Foster Closet, which provides children's clothes to foster families that have an immediate need for clothing.

Refolding everything took a while. In the end, though, I got everything to fit. One of her drawers had extra blankets in it, so I emptied that out and used it for some summer clothes that I'd saved because they'll probably fit her next summer. That got the summer clothes out of two drawers in one of the plastic containers in her closet. My goal of eradicating the plastic drawers in my house is becoming closer to a reality.

Anyone want to take bets on how long these drawers look like this?

Next week: Sam's clothes