It went like this: I was looking for something in the kitchen, maybe something for school, and in a last ditch effort I searched a cluttered pile of paper I keep near the phone. I knew it whatever I was looking for wouldn’t be in there because I have a vague idea of the age and contents of that pile, but I went through it just in case.
What I needed wasn’t in the pile, but it occurred to me that cleaning that small mess would take me no more than 15 minutes, if that. Then I moved onto something else.
A couple of days later, I couldn’t find my baking powder. The pantry has devolved into a tumble of dried goods now that Nico is tall enough to pilfer the shelves for granola bars he is sure I’m hiding from him. When I finally found the baking powder behind the cereal, it occurred to me that cleaning that small mess would take me no more than 15 minutes, it that. Then I moved onto something else.
The same thing happened when I received a low grade alert notice via email for Mikey. I had to scramble through my pile of tests and homework for this year to prove the error because I haven’t yet cleared out the tests and homework from last year.
Little things seem like nothing, but they give peace, like those meadow flowers which individually seem odorless but all together perfume the air.
The other day I posted on Facebook that I came up with a way to still do William Morris Projects for the month of October without spending much money or taking much time. This is it. I’m tackling all those little things that I normally put to the side because they aren’t squeaky wheels crying for grease. They’re also the jobs I wouldn’t blog about because they are so small and inconsequential.
In blogging, it can be tough to put yourself out there and share small and inconsequential. It doesn’t sell. It can seem like navel gazing. It can be really boring.
But it’s also real life, and in an environment where dressing your child in Carter’s can feel like a sin and you can’t make a damn cupcake without 22 flavor profiles and freaking “bourbon drizzle,” a little reality check might be due. About 2% of what I do in real life is Pinterest worthy. Gird your loins, Internet, because you’re getting the other 98% over the next 31 days. And I might not even do all 31 days because I’m not going to put pressure on myself. Please, please, please do not expect anything fancy or revolutionary. I’m merely doing the little projects I’ve let slip by the last few months. Just your regular, everyday household clutter. Nothing exciting!
Have I inspired you and made you feel welcome, yet?
When I shared this plan, Shannon had some questions about my process. I told her to let it rip.
- Did you plan out all your projects in advance or just look around at what you thought you needed to do next?
- How do you keep the rest of the things going when you are in the midst of a WM project?
- Do you have a WM uniform of sorts for being in project mode?
- How much of your family’s input did you see in the projects – especially the decluttering or where things were assigned to live (my DH and I aren’t really on the same page about where some things should live)?
- Do you shop for project materials here and there or only when you were ready to actually start?
- Have you regretted getting rid of anything?
- Have you found any of your systems too hard to maintain?
- Did you have a set day(s) you worked on WM projects so that your life wasn’t just decluttering?
- Where do you find inspiration for your home/organizing? (I see no chevron in your house so I’m guessing not Pinterest!)
- If you did plan your projects, do you keep in them in a spreadsheet/planner to keep on track?
For the most part, I don’t plan. Something big, like the laundry room, is always the result of a plan just because of the money a larger project requires. The other stuff, like cleaning out my purse or purging toddler utensils, is a result of day-to-day living. I’ll stumble upon something (much like I talked about above) and inspiration hits. This lackadaisical approach is why I’m not a big-time blogger, by the way.
The 31 day series did require some planning. The first time I did it was crazy, so the second time I tried to roughly sketch out some potential projects for the week using my list as a guide.
I’m assuming you mean school, homework, dinner, sports, social activities? I’ll answer this in three parts.
One, I have a very helpful husband. He’s a true partner. He travels a lot now, but when he is here I know he will clean the kitchen if I cook dinner. He’ll do the laundry if I put it away. Not everything is perfectly 50/50. Instead, we focus on our strengths. He will cook only if absolutely necessary, and I will probably never mow the lawn. Some of this I see changing now that he is gone so often, but for now this is what we do. Interesting trivia: these are all “house rules” we set up during our pre-marriage counseling sessions required by the Catholic church! During our Engagement Retreat we had to plan out who was going to cook, do what chores, pay the bills, etc. It was a lot of work (and so boring) at the time, but I’m glad we did it. This is a long way of saying that I’m not the only one keeping everything going.
Two, we are quiet, low-key people. Total homebodies. It’s easy to keep up when you don’t go out. You think I’m exaggerating, but ask Andrea. My husband and I are total recluses.
Three, contained chaos. If I’m working on purging the boys closets, for example, I keep the mess to one area and I’m conscious of the time I have to spend. I make a schedule if it’s a big project (like the closet) and factor in clean up time. If it’s a small project, I work fast. We all work fast because it never takes as long as you think it will.
Sweats, a t-shirt, and a sports bra because the twins are huge and hurt my back. This year I’ve just been using my walking outfit and do projects before or after a walk to save on laundry. I’m horribly practical like that.
My family gives me very little input. Honestly, my husband doesn’t care. This is one of those we focus on our strengths v. 50/50 situations. His input is along the lines of “just tell me where I’m supposed to put the glasses.” His only request is that I not go near his closet, and that’s because he knows I’ll toss 75% of the contents into the donation pile.
I allowed the boys very little input when it came to purging their toys the first time around and it went smooth as silk. The second time they were home and caught wind of what I was doing. What could have been a 2 hour project turned into days of agony. Nico is a pack rat. Even old underwear has meaning to him. Tip: don’t ever declutter toys with your kids.
Only when I am ready to start, and that’s because I don’t plan and because I don’t have the budget to allow me to stockpile. Also, that kind of shopping can get you in trouble. Buy when you need something and you run less risk of buying something you’ll never use. The only exception to this was last year’s 31 days. I bought a bathroom rug for the yellow bathroom that I never even blogged about!
Yes. Those systems that involve the boys have been the hardest to keep up. I’ve had to refine a few systems and completely revamp a few others. In fact, I’m blogging a complete revamp this week for Wayfair.
For the 31 day series, I did projects every day and blogged every day. This month, because the projects are so simple, I’ll be able to do a couple each day–I hope. Those days will probably be M/T/W. If I don’t manage to double up on projects, I’ll have to skip a post.
This question made me laugh out loud! No, there is no chevron in my home. The older I get, the less I appreciate trends. You can’t keep up, so I don’t even try. I prefer a traditional, classic look. Not very popular and downright stuffy, I know, but I won’t be struggling to sell a grip of neon on Craiglist next year, either.
As for inspiration, I see lots of ideas on Pinterest I like! I just adapt them to suit my practical ways. For example, remember the Lego storage I did for the boys? That was loosely based on I Heart Organizing’s Lego storage idea. I knew a team of crafters couldn’t get me to cut out color-coded letters and modge-podge them to another piece of furniture, so I looked for something clear that stacked and would fit in the one cabinet I planned for their room. My projects are the Uncle Knit Knots version of what you see on Pinterest.
When I do plan my projects, like for last year’s 31 Days, I write it down on a paper month-at-a-glance calendar or a to-do list on a 8.5×11 piece of paper.
I hope that answers your questions, Shannon! Let me know if I misread something or if my answers trigger any more questions. (That’s directed to everyone.)