Thursday, April 15, 2010

feel the clean

the past six months, i've been on a steady incline to.....something. its hard to put into words, but its a combination of personal revelation, a feeling of balance, a clarification of purpose, and a real increase in the feeling of peace and an invitation to more joy in my life. lots of things have led me here: my part-time work, my women's workshop, establishing a yoga practice again, and the exciting realization that I will be 30 this year which makes me feel ripe for change. i think i've made a real effort to make room for growth as well.

so in the spirit of this, i decided to jump on the spring cleaning party bandwagon, led by the simple mom blog. i'd heard about it last year, but didn't feel like i could pull it off, and secretly promised myself that i would do it next year. next year is here...and it seems like the perfect time to take on this project which involves decluttering, cleaning, and organizing your ENTIRE HOME. no wonder its freaked me out so much last year, right? i've had time to warm up to the idea this time around, and as i waded in realized that having less STUFF, means more time to spent doing other things like playing with my kids. i realized that i spend way more time keeping our large home tidy than i'd like. its constant work that is usually undone as soon as it is finished, even with the whole family doing their part--time spent keeping all those piles of stuff in their tidy little piles, and then digging through those piles to find what you need and re-tidying again.....ridiculous! not to mention our home is very large (over 3000 sqft), with three full bathrooms and ...gulp....6 bedrooms. let me be the first to say that bigger is not always better! when i'd declutter in the past, really all i was doing was taking the clutter from one area and hiding it somewhere else (like my sewing room--eek!!) so taking the time to just tackle each room one-by-one using the declutter, cleaning, and organize process once a year in one concentrated blow makes so much sense!

here's the plan of action:

The Plan

...and here is the mantra:
“Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”

On day one, I went through our house and looked at all the surfaces like our bookshelf, dresser, sideboard, desk, and countertops with a garbage bag and empty box in hand. they both filled up fast...and some items I immediately returned to a better lots of photos and books that were floating around for some reason or another--and later i went through the box and quickly decided what was donation and what needed to find a proper place in our home. it happened to be housecleaning day anyway, so after i was done the house already looked incredible! and the best part is that it has STAYED that way, because there is less to pick up. and the whole family seems to be in awe of the state of things so THEY are being more careful too. i have heard blake say more than once to the kids,"let's clean up so we don't ruin all of Mama's hard work..."

Day two was living room: part one, and this was easy because we don't spend a ton of time in that room like most families do. since a-frames have slanted walls, you can't fill it with traditional furniture, only low pieces, and since we have a toddler who gets into stuff if its low, the room is not a clutter-magnet. but we do have one very special two-sided art deco book shelf which houses books, puzzles, cd's, the phone on one side, and mayan's special "fort" on the other (mayan's middle name is "clutter-bug" ;) some plants on top. i spent a good hour getting rid of trashed or no longer needed books, same with the cd's (who really needs those anymore anyways??) and made the top look beautiful instead of a convenient place to set your useless odds and ends. i also sorted through the two coat-and-bag bins we keep by the front door.

since i had spare time, i also, without even planning to, found myself in the art closet which was TRASHED!!! every scrap of paper and kid drawing, paper towel tubes, broken crayons, gift wrapping supplies, and yarns bits were all jumbled together in complete disarray...i ended up with four huge containers of recyclable material, and two trashbags of garbage. and if that wasn't enough, next thing i knew i was up in the hallway sorting through the hall closet and putting the old hats and gloves i'd taken fromt he bins downstairs and finding a place for them until they are needed again next winter. there were already three bags of clothing i'd managed to purge from my closet a years ago, thinking that somehow i could make some money selling them (though buffalo exchange ended up rejecting them, i stubbornly kept them there.) i had such momentum built up at this point that i didn't even care--out, out, out! along with a giant box of unneccessary cables and nails mixed up with precious old letters and photos, every item there had to pass a test: garbage, donate, or keep. by the end of day two i was getting to be addicted to this process.

Day three is supposed to be living room: part two, but i didn't need to spend more time there sorting. instead i cleaned the areas now exposed and the areas that are hard to reach. i got out my 20-foot-pole duster for the beams (for those that don't know we have a glass roof with exposed beams) to terminate all the spider-webs, old and new. then i vacuumed under the couch and bookshelf...then i had the rest of the day off.

today i am very excited to do the one room that i never really thing of as needed to be decluttered: the kitchen. when i think clutter i think paper and toys and clothes. but food and kitchen utensils pile up, too, so first i am going to hit the pantry and see how far i get. i also would like to get rid of all of my mismatched dishes and buy some new fiesta ware to round out our collection--they seem to hold up much better to family-life than ikea pieces (bug surprise!)

wish me luck! i want to keep up the momentum, and not fizzle out. i know the end result will be SO worth it..and i'm almost halfway there. during the course of my "living on purpose" group, i have more clarity on why i need my surrounding to be beautiful, and accepting how important it is to my well-being that my home feel clean and looks aethetically pleasing. turns out that it may not neccessarily be that a clean, organized home equals a happier mama, but instead a happier mama equals a more clean, organized home--a place to be joyful!


UrbanHippieMama said...

I LOVE feeling the excitement and joy pouring out of your words. <3 I am so inspired by this... I may need a year to get myself ready to do this as well, but what an amazing process this sounds like!

Mama Worker Bee said...

Leah I've missed your blog!!! So glad to see you back and with such inspiring words. This is something that HAS to happen soon in my life and house. Unfortunately I have the addition of boxes and boxes in the garage of my stuff from my parents. When they moved house they stopped by and dropped off 10 boxes (!) of things like notes from junior high, stuffed animals, etc. Momentum is sorely needed!