You cannot organize chaos . . . part II

Collections.  Everyone seems to have them.  A group of like items that tend to serve an identical function.  You're not living until you have 15 or 20, or even 60 matching things, right?  Most people are natural-born collectors, whether we care to admit it or not.  

Tank tops - 35 different shades, that keep your drawer from closing.  40 pairs of old, ratty jeans (I NEED extras for painting in!  I need my "fat" jeans!)  100 pairs of shoes (that are guaranteed to come back into style, right?).  25 really expensive water bottles (we drink a LOT of water in this house!).  Cookie tins, decorative trinkets, old books, tupperware, china, toys, clothing, spices, tools, frames, toiletries, throw pillows . . .

The list goes on and on.  One thing I know from so many years of making things "just so" as my husband Brian calls it, is that you cannot organize chaos.  How can one expect to organize 60 vases, or 22 scarves, or 17 similarly sized pots/pans?  There isn't enough room in your house for duplicates.  We tend to want to save and save, and save some more.  Why do we need to hold on to so much?  What are we afraid of?

SO many water bottles, so little time!

SO many water bottles, so little time!

I often urge clients to get rid of their (multiple) duplicates.  Say there are 5 people in your family - stick to 5 of your favorite water bottles.  Are some of them personalized?  Were others very expensive?  Whatever the reason you hang onto so many of the same item, ask yourself:  "What purpose does this serve me today?  In three months?  In a year?"  Would you ever walk around with 2 water bottles at once?  Or 5?  You cannot organize chaos.

Another area for improvement tends to be:

The closet!  Overstuffing since the beginning of time . . .

"I don't have anything to wear!"

"I don't have anything to wear!"

The idea of the closet was a very good one.  I can't seem to find who invented it, but we can thank them, whoever they are.  The problem with a closet is that it closes - which means that your items become "out of sight, out of mind." 

One of my favorite things to do is go through my own closet.  Usually every 6 months I ransack the thing, looking for items that I haven't worn.  I am quick to get rid of things - quick to pass it along, because there is absolutely nothing worse than looking at chaos like the picture above.  When I work with clients in their homes, it comes down to the age-old question:  Keep it or get rid of it?  (Hint:  I usually say "get rid of it!"). 

Currently I have 9 summer/fall shirts, and 9 summer and fall dresses.  I have 2 pairs of jeans, 2 pairs of shorts, and 2 pairs of sandals.  It makes life much easier when I'm looking through my closet.  As I mentioned before, you can only wear one pair of jeans at a time right?  The other million pairs are just vacationing in your dresser drawer.

Having so much clutter in your home not only takes time to find anything, but it can negatively effect your brain function.  From the New York Times in 2013: 

In a study published last year titled “Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century,” researchers at U.C.L.A. observed 32 middle-class Los Angeles families and found that all of the mothers’ stress hormones spiked during the time they spent dealing with their belongings. Seventy-five percent of the families involved in the study couldn’t park their cars in their garages because they were too jammed with things.  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/10/opinion/sunday/living-with-less-a-lot-less.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&hp
It doesn't have to be like this!

It doesn't have to be like this!

Easier said than done, but who really needs 12 sweatshirts?  You can only wear one at a time.  Save two, or even three.  If the shoe (or clothing) doesn't fit, GET RID OF IT.  If you have 2 or 3 of the same thing, pick the best one, and leave the rest behind.  You cannot organize chaos.

Give yourself the piece of mind you deserve in your home.  Streamlined closets and organized drawers.  Piece of mind that you know you have exactly what you need, and you know exactly where it is.

Oh.So.Clean!

Rainy Saturday project

Several months ago we purchased an old schoolhouse turned duplex, and vamped it back into a single-family home.  During construction one of our bedrooms was converted into what is now known as "the teen room".  I have avoided the entertainment center like the plague.  Maybe the fact that I have absolutely NO idea how to play the games it holds . . . PS, PS2, XBOX, XBOXONE, WII, WIIU . . . is why I have steered clear of this cluster.

With the doors shut . . . it's ok, right?

With the doors shut . . . it's ok, right?

Oh boy . . .

Oh boy . . .

Just looking at it stresses me out!  Not to mention I am not a fan of video games altogether ;)  I can't play one to save my life.  My kids will verify that statement.

Well today seemed like a perfect day to reorganize - humid, rainy, quiet Saturday.

What IS all of this junk???!?  This is NOT Oh.So.Clean!

What IS all of this junk???!?  This is NOT Oh.So.Clean!

I of course started with emptying the entire thing, and cleaning out all of the cabinets and drawers.  I then had to SORT the things I know nothing about.  I grouped into piles of like items (I think).  Next, I found some storage solutions that are easy to clean, and easy to use.

Containing it will make it look better . . . right?

Containing it will make it look better . . . right?

So much junk!

So much junk!

Oh boy . . .

Oh boy . . .

Oh.So.Clean!

After several back and forth texts to my husband, Brian, who was at work . . . I figured out what was important and what could be stored away in the drawers below.  With only a few minutes of organization, the project is complete! 

Total time, approximately 25 minutes

Oh.So.Clean!

TOYS.....the biggest cluster of all!

Ok my friends . . . who admits to owning exorbitant amounts of toys for their children?  They could be new, used, hand-me-downs.  Regardless of where they came from, you know you have them.  Too many.  Piled up into toy bins, and baskets, and basement boxes, and attic boxes.  We've all been there.

Oh.So.Clean!

The idea of having toys is a remarkably positive thing - brain teasers, phonics strengtheners, hand-eye coordinators, shapes, matching, games, stuffed animals to love.  Who wouldn't want to grace their child with all of these items to shape them into the wonderful human you know they can be?  Your intentions are good.

The problem lies in your space.  You don't have it.  Yes, I said it, you don't have enough space.  Even if you have storage space, and attic space . . . what good is a toy in storage?  There are only so many hours in the day for every toy you own.  Many toys go weeks without even being considered.

Oh.So.Clean!

Consider this:  take 10 minutes out of your day, and evaluate your child's toy bin(s). 

Sit down. 

Take everything out. 

One-by-one, take each item in your hand. 

Has your child played with the toy recently?  Is it one of their favorites?  Is it broken, in need of batteries, or damaged in some way?  Is it age appropriate?  Is it missing pieces?  Does your child have 702 of the same thing?  (toy cars, figurines). 

Hopefully you will be able to identify items that your child no longer uses.  HINT:  If it is broken, throw it away.  I know, I know.  That is very hard to do.  But do it.   And when you throw broken toys away, take them to your garbage bin (outside) shortly after . . . unless you want your children to trash-dive after you're done, and pilfer everything back to their rooms (and they WILL do this).

Kids will grow out of toys much like they grow out of clothing:  QUICKLY!  Allow yourself time every 3 months to assess what toys they are using, and what they have outgrown.  And just think:  by donating your child's toys, another lucky child will enjoy the thing that has been taking up space in your home.

Consider rethinking the way you store your child's toys . . . there are many options out there (bins, baskets, drawers).  Have fun, and happy organizing!  :)

Oh.So.Clean!



Secrets of a cleaning lady . . .

Like most families that I know, our family is very busy!  My husband works as a pharmacist, and prior to Oh.So.Clean!, I was a registered nurse working full time.  I loved to clean but lacked the time to do so.  I was pretty headstrong that "only I can clean my house the way I want to."  So I used to spend my weekends cleaning my house from top to bottom.  I ran the washing machine endlessly.  I cleaned for hours at a time on Saturdays or Sundays, while my husband was working.

Oh.So.Clean!

By the time Sunday night hit and my husband walked through the door after a long day, I would be exhausted - BUT . . . the house was clean.  Fast forward through our busy week with three kids and two full-time jobs, and the house would become a mess all over again.  If we wanted to have guests over on a Friday or Saturday night, we were stuck with a messy house to deal with.

It was a backward process - the house was clean ALL WEEK, and in complete disarray by the weekend.  I started to resent my long cleaning weekends, and wondered how this backward process could change. 

Here is my secret:  I hired a cleaning lady! 

Oh.So.Clean!

Searching Craigslist was a challenge - the first person I contacted never responded.  There were several ads for cleaning services claiming to be "cheap and quick".  At last - we did find someone who comes on a weekly basis.  I realized that while "only I can clean my house the way I want to", the truth is that I still need help.  It is a cost that we are willing to make sacrifices for, and it is well worth it! 

And from that challenging search for cleaning arose my new idea for Oh.So.Clean!  Despite my ability to clean and organize, time is another ordeal in and of itself. . . I just didn't have enough of it to maintain my life and roles as a mother, step-mother, wife, and entrepreneur. 

Oh.So.Clean!