It’s hard to believe that I’m most of the way through the Buttoned Up organizing challenge! I have discovered some shortcuts to make my life easier, and I’m also learning a lot about myself in the process. Thank you again for all of the supportive comments. These posts have been more popular than I imagined, and it’s nice to know that some of you are able to take away ideas to apply to your own lives.
During Week 3 I completed two more tasks in the kitchen, then moved on to my bedroom to tackle some clothing issues.
Day 15: Organize pantry cupboard
I have one cupboard dedicated to pantry items like canned vegetables and soup, pasta, cereal and more. This is a project I first tackled several months ago, and my husband installed a sturdy wood shelf to replace the old sagging shelf like the one I mentioned last week. In general the pantry cupboard has worked quite well, but occasionally my son’s “helpfulness” or my being in a hurry have meant that things end up not exactly where they belong. After this task everything was back as it should be and I can easily see what I have in stock so I don’t waste money at the grocery store. Being organized saves!
Day 16: Rid freezer of old food
We are generally very good about keeping our freezer stocked only with items that we will use in their entirety, so we rarely have anything to throw out. I did find an empty box in there, though! With a side-by-side, we don’t have a lot of space to work with, so my freezer stash is usually limited to bread, meats, frozen vegetables and occasionally a treat like ice cream.
Day 17: Remove wire hangers from closet
I don’t have any of my clothing dry cleaned, so fortunately I didn’t have any pesky wire hangers cluttering up my closets. Hangers are something I was already very picky about–I will only use white hangers in my closet to bring a little uniformity to my mish-mash of colorful clothing.
Day 18: Toss plastic dry cleaning bags
Again, since I don’t dry clean, I didn’t have plastic bags to deal with in my closet. Buttoned Up mentioned that the plastic bags can trap harmful chemicals, and they’re hazardous for kids, so it’s definitely a good idea to toss them if you have any in your closet. Besides, it makes your closet look a lot less junky.
Day 19: Pick clothing up off the floor and put it away
Ugh. Yes, it’s pathetic, but this is one of the things I struggle with most. I have a beautiful bench in my hallway that is almost always under a pile of clean clothes, and often the things that I’ve worn end up on my bedroom floor or laid across my dresser instead of being put away where they belong. A big part of the problem is not having a good routine. I stay up late at night and by the time I can get to bed I just want to crash. The extra couple of minutes it would take to put my things away properly just seem like too much to bear. Changing into my jammies earlier in the evening and putting my clothes away while I still have some energy is probably a good idea. Another important factor that I realized had been hindering me was the layout of my bedroom. My closet is on one side and my dresser is on the other. It’s not a large room, but getting to the dresser meant walking around the bed, and then there was little space to access the drawers. I think just about anyone would feel less inclined to keep neat under those circumstances. This task prompted me to take a second look at my room to see if there was any way it could be rearranged to work better…and there was! I can’t wait to share more about that in the near future. But for now, here’s a picture of my nice clean floor and neat closet after completing this task–it felt so good!
Day 20: Declutter belts
I didn’t find any belts that I don’t use, but they were scattered around in various places. A hook on the back of my closet door is a convenient place for them. I just need to be more disciplined about putting them there.
Day 21: Edit sweaters and sweatshirts
Even though I’m in the freezing cold northeast, I realized that there is such a thing as too many sweaters. I found a few that just don’t look that great on me that I will donate for someone else to use. This freed up some much-needed space in my dresser, so there is now room to put everything away properly.
As I’ve been working my way through this challenge, I’ve been thinking about whether or not it has really been helping. And I realized something about myself as I was sitting at my computer during the week taking note of the accumulating clutter on my desk. I thought, “Ugh. Look at this! You spent all that time organizing, you told everyone how great it was, and you were going to keep it that way this time. And you haven’t. You’ve failed. Soon it will look just like it did before. This was just another one of your cleaning spurts, and nothing really changed. People will laugh at you.“
Have I mentioned I’m my own worst enemy? My train of thought should have been something more like this: “Uh oh, I’ve been really busy and the clutter is starting to pile up again. It looks worse than it is, though, and I did such a great job organizing that I know it will only take a few minutes to clean up. I’ll make sure to take care of it today so it doesn’t get any worse.”
I can clean with the best of them when I set my mind to it, but somehow I have believed that if I didn’t maintain that spotless house, it was a personal failure. Yes, even as a full-time mommy with a three-year-old under foot and a mind that is in several different places at any given time. Being so ridiculously critical of myself has led to feelings of exhaustion, overwhelming and futility. What’s the use in trying if I will be forever going back and taking care of the same messes? Will I ever make progress? Why bother?
But it will get easier. I will form habits and routines and find shortcuts along the way. In fact, I already have thanks to this challenge. If I stay on top of things, cleaning won’t be the exhausting project it has always seemed to be. I’m not perfect, and my desk isn’t like the picture I posted in Week 1, but I have been doing great with some things, like sorting the mail as soon as it comes in the house and throwing junk mail away. There is no junk on my desk right now–it’s all tax stuff and an incorrect bill that I’m trying to get sorted out. It’s not that bad.
If you’re like me, be gentle with yourself! Celebrate your little victories, and eventually you will be able to handle more and more with ease.
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