Decluttering For Young Mothers: What I Wish I Knew Then

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I have a lot of young mothers in my life and I’d like to share some ideas that I have discovered as I’ve decluttered my life and well, basically, since I’ve gotten older. I think I might be able to help you a little in this area of decluttering, organizing and keeping your life simple so you can enjoy your family.

Let’s be honest, having kids, raising kids, is all very emotionally charged. Little things they give you, rocks, flowers, a piece of paper they colored means the world to you!!

The clothes they wore when they were infants, that card that great-grandma sent when she found out you were pregnant – all these things are pregnant with meaning and emotion.

If you keep every little thing that touches your heart, you will be drowning in stuff before your kids graduate high school. I know. I did.

THE CIRCLE OF LIFE (OF STUFF)…

Your kids make things. They save things. They give you things. Not long after they make, save or give, that thing is highly important! “Where’s that acorn, Mom?!” And if you threw it out their heart will be broken. From then on out, you save the acorns.

When they get a bit older, you’ll pull out that acorn and you will be all sentimental and tenderhearted about it remembering precious moments and your child will be like, “That’s just an acorn, Mom, OMG, you’re so dumb!” Then your heart will be broken.

Then when they’ve graduated and moved to college and you’re drowning in acorns, you’re ready to throw them out and your child says, “I don’t care, Mom, do what you want, it doesn’t mean anything to me.”

Then you’re at a crisis point, standing in the living room with your hands and house full of acorns not knowing what to do.

WE’RE NOT FULL CIRCLE YET…

Then your child “finds someone.” They fall in love. They want to show them their childhood and the acorns. Lucky you saved them. Their heart is bursting to share their acorns with the one they love. Hearts are happy. You’re glad you saved them.

Then they get married and start a home. “Yay!” you shout. “I can finally get these acorns out of my house.” But your child says, “I don’t want them, they’ll clutter up my house.” You’re angry. “Those stupid acorns have been cluttering up my house for years and now you don’t want them? I’m not your storage service!” There you are in the living room with your hands and house still full of acorns. You still don’t know what to do.

Then, the babies are born. You pull out the acorns and you and your child cry and take pictures of the babies with the acorns. “I’m so glad I kept them!” You sob. “I’m so glad you did, too, Mom!” Your child hugs you. Hearts are happy!

“Now you can take the acorns to your house,” you say to the new mother. “What? No. I don’t have room. Can’t you just keep them here?” SMH. Here we go again.

WHAT TO DO?

I told you a really long story to give you a short and simple solution: Save one acorn.

Actually, you have 2 choices. Save one acorn or get a plastic bin, put it in the closet and every time your kid brings, gives you or colors an acorn, put it in the bin and got through all the acorns when they’re 18.

It would have been easier and quicker if I had made the decisions as I went along. I suggest that way. Yes, you have to make emotionally charged decisions as you go along. You’ll have to choose between the painting of that blue blob or the unidentifiable clay thing. But believe me, it’s easier than drowning in tons of stuff.

Fortunately, technology is here to help you. I wish I had this when my kids were little.

SAVING YOUR KID’S ARTWORK

Thankfully, The Pioneer Woman did a blog post that gives you 4 apps that help you digitally save your kid’s artwork and then you can have them printed and bound in books. The perfect gift to give them when they leave home and/or have kids of their own when they can really appreciate it! I wish I had this! Click HERE to go to PW’s website.

SAVING YOUR KID’S CERTIFICATES AND AWARDS

I haven’t searched (and in fact, you might be able to use the same app) but you could do the same sort of thing with certificates that your child receives. In these days where kids get awards for breathing and being alive, you’ll end up with a lot of them. So, create a digital copy and discreetly dispose of the certificate. As far as actual trophies, let me segway into my next topic…

KEEPSAKES AND PRECIOUS ITEMS

For those trophies and little things that are precious that the kids give you or save or make, here’s what I did. I bought a relatively cheap curio cabinet from Ikea. A china cabinet would work, too. A curio cabinet is a cabinet with glass doors and shelves inside. Then you can put all those items on display! When the cabinet fills up, then you can make decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of. And by then, the decision may be easier because the cuteness and sweetness may have worn off. I made a rule that all that stuff HAD to fit in the cabinet. That was its place. (and my mantra is, “Everything must have a place!”) So, I made it all fit! You could also TAKE A PHOTO OF IT AND KEEP THE PHOTO!

BABY CLOTHES & TOYS

I will refer back to the acorn story. Save one or two important items. Save the dedication/christening outfit and one or two others. And only save a couple of special toys. Here are some reasons:

  • Your daughter may only have boys and your son may only have girls and you’ll end up with a bunch of clothes for nothing but just looking at once or twice.
  • Your kids won’t use them for real. It will be fun to pull out and look at take one or two photos with the babies wearing it. But believe me, your grandkids will not wear those old, out of date, dry rotted, yellowed clothes that have been in storage for 20 years to preschool. Seriously.
  • The toys will be dangerous and out-of-date. I say that with confidence because, by the year 2039, there will be more and different safety regulations and your kids WILL follow current safety trends no matter how safe you thought their toys were today.

PHOTOS AND VIDEOS

As much as it’s trendy to print out photos or have those cute canvases, tiles or books,  I am telling you, listen to one who lived through the years of rolls of film, negatives and prints and VHS tapes and the giant cameras, 8mm and the projectors – DIGITIZE YOUR PHOTOS AND VIDEOS!! I have 30+ years of videos and photos on 2 thumb drives. And I LOVE photos! So much easier and SAFER! We had a pipe burst and I almost lost all of my photos and VHS tapes- and they were the originals with no other copies!

You are probably more familiar with what is available out there. I’ve heard of several apps that might help, so look around.

HEIRLOOMS & MEMORABILIA

Heirlooms are special items that are passed down from generation to generation. Memorabilia are souvenirs, things you saved to remember a special time or event.

Let me give you a general rule of thumb: Your kids don’t want your stuff! 

However, heirlooms are important and they will get them whether they want them or not. Then I’ve done my familial duty and they can decide if they want to stop the chain and get haunted by Grandpa Jack, haha!

As far as heirlooms that originate with you, your jewelry or special items that you own, you need to decide exactly who gets it and make sure you state that in your will. (GET A WILL MADE, EVEN IF YOU THINK YOU’RE TOO YOUNG TO MAKE A WILL!) Store the item carefully, or better yet, use it and have it out so the memories of you using it will go along with the item.

About your memorabilia, your kids won’t have your memories to go along with it so it won’t mean anything to them. They might like to look at the stuff once but don’t pressure them to keep it forever. What a burden! And get rid of it before you kick the bucket so they won’t have the guilt of having to give it to Goodwill or chuck it in the trash. Do them a favor!

COMBINE SOME IDEAS

Since my kids are older, I was able to create some shadow boxes to display important items and photos all at the same time. I have one devoted to my daughter’s ballet years with her shoes, photos, newspaper clippings, etc. That way they’re protected and on display to enjoy all the time. The act of limiting the items and photos to what will fit in the display made me have to choose and eliminate thereby trimming down the number of keepsakes.

WHEN WILL YOU STOP BEING THE STORAGE SERVICE OR FAMILY MUSEUM CURATOR?

I decided that when my kids were settled in their adult lives I would stop storing their stuff. In our case, when they were married and settled in a home. It helped, too, when they had their own kids. That’s when they could see how meaningful the stuff was.

After they were settled, that’s when I said, “Come get your stuff or I’m going to get rid of it.” Then, when they didn’t take stuff that I thought they should have, I realized it meant more to me than to them. I had to decide again and I kept one acorn. So, I still have a cabinet of my favorite things that belonged to my kids. I have some shadow boxes. Of course, it’s up to you!

NOW THAT I PREDICTED YOUR FUTURE…

Let me remind you that decluttering and living that minimalist life is very difficult with kids. Your kids are their own people and it may be important to them to keep stuff. Be patient, you can have their room back in 18 years. And that goes by too quickly! You can let them have their space for now to become the people they’re meant to be.

Also, you are being financially responsible to hang on to toys and clothes that the next child can use. So, don’t get frustrated that you have to have more storage space than that cute childless couple in Simplify magazine.

Unless you spend every waking hour chasing after your child and guaranteeing that they will need counseling when they’re older, just resign yourself to the FACT that your house will be messy, dirty, crazy, CLUTTERED and unorganized most of the time. You can reel it back under control periodically, but this is your life with kids. Don’t worry, when you’re my age, you can have your minimalist dream house. But by then you’ll miss the craziness!

Do the best you can.

I wish you peace and sleep,

Jill

 

 

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Interior Decor: What You Love vs. What You Can Live With

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Photo courtesy of American Vintage Home

One good thing about getting older is that you’ve had time to try out a bunch of decorating styles and you can easily pick out what you like and eliminate what you don’t. Maybe you haven’t found a name for your style, but by the time you’re in your 50’s you pretty much know what you like.

My problem is that I like all sorts of things. My taste is pretty eclectic. It took me forever to discover what I loved vs. what I could live with. I mean, I love primitives.

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Photo courtesy of Decoholic

 

And I love Colonial and Early American.

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Photo courtesy of White House

I also really, really love French Brocante.

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The problem is that I can’t live with any of those styles. The Primitive style and the French Brocante ends up looking run down and dirty to me. I mean if I had a brand new, quality house, then maybe the chipped paint, the worn and stained elements would be charming.

I can’t live with Colonial and Early American because it’s too delicate and fine. I’m really not a furniture polisher. I also want people to feel comfortable when they come to my home, not have to watch where they walk or sit.

So, I opt for the Cottage Style, the beach cottage, the easy-going, relaxed vibe. I choose fabrics that are durable and don’t show all the spills and dirt that frequent my life. I want the grandkids to be able to pull all the cushions off the couch and build forts. I don’t want collectibles and knick-knacks that might get broken. I don’t use china, I use Chinet or paper.

And I’m happy with it.

One of the perks of getting older is knowing yourself. And being okay with it.

What’s your style?

Peace,

Jill

The Emotion of Color

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I have a friend who is so laid back and we tease him about how he can just put up with anything and nothing bothers him. There’s an old joke about someone like that who they say, “sat on a nail and didn’t move. When someone asked him if it hurt and shouldn’t he get up and move he said, ‘Nah, I’ll get used to it directly.'”

Sometimes I think that there are things in our lives that we just put up with and suffer from when, with a little effort, we could be freer and happier.

That’s the way I feel about decluttering and organizing. I don’t think people realize what a burden clutter can be. It’s a mental, back-of-the-mind sort of burden. That’s the way I feel about To Do lists, too. It mentally bogs me down until I can get all the things done.

But I’m straying off topic.

I want to talk about color in our homes and how it can help or hurt us.

Husband and I heard a statistic yesterday, “Most people live in an average of 11 homes in their lifetimes.” We did the math and it’s true for us. 9 of those homes we lived in were rentals. We were very restricted to what we could do to make those homes comfortable and peaceful. We had to live in what we had.

So, I understand that, but if you have some freedom or own your own home, you can do things to create a living space that nurtures your body, soul, and spirit. Simply by addressing color. You may not realize that color is affecting your mood and your ability to concentrate or sleep unless you pay attention.

One thing you can do is to be intentional about the colors you choose for each room. You can paint the walls or if you’re not allowed to, then choose fabrics and rugs and accents to change the effect.

Think about what each room is used for and choose a color that supports that activity. You can do some research yourself online, read some articles, it’s not secret information after all. But here’s a basic introduction:

Blue .         Calming, peaceful, soothing. Good for bedrooms and bathrooms. Think of the sky and the ocean. Pair it with the color of sand or white for a relaxing, spa-like atmosphere.

Red .         Exciting, motivating, energetic. Good for rooms where you are very active. Living room, dining room, kitchen. Too much can be overwhelming. Orange is in this category, too. I think of a big glass of orange juice to give you a kick start to your day.

Yellow .     Warm, cheery, friendly. Yellow reflects light so it’s good for dim rooms. I think of daisies, bright and happy.

Green .      Natural, relaxing, welcoming. Great color for offices, living rooms, and bedrooms. I think of forests, bamboo, green fields. A great natural color.

Purple .     The color of royalty, dignity. Be careful with the shade and how much you use.

Black .      Elegance in small amounts. Of course, don’t overdo it or it will be depressing.

White .     Crisp, clean. Gives a bright, airy feel to rooms.

Tan, Beige, Sand. These natural colors pair well with almost any color. They give a soothing, relaxing effect. Think of a day on the beach in the sand.

Of course, the shade of these colors you choose can affect the mood, too. So, think carefully before you overdo it.

I know there are people out there who like wild, bold colors and lots of patterns and that’s awesome in the right setting like a studio where you want to be inspired to be creative. However, I would never be able to relax in a bedroom like that.

See, clutter, in all it’s varied colors and shapes affect us in the same way. When you have a room full of clutter, your eyes can’t stop flitting from item to item and so you’re not encouraged to rest and focus.

These are just some things to think about. I hope it helps, encourages and inspires you!

Blues and greens to you,

Jill

 

 

Maintaining a Decluttered Life

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As I was getting ready for my day and thinking through what I needed/wanted to do, I thought I might write a post about the things I do periodically to stay decluttered and organized. And lo and behold one of my readers said she was doing the same thing and would appreciate suggestions.

We are on the same page, Joy!

It’s really easy to lose the initial feeling of freedom and happiness after you’ve lightened your load by decluttering and organizing your stuff. So, it’s not unusual for clutter to creep back in and set up residence. It’s also normal to slack on the habits that help you maintain a minimalist life.

So, let’s don’t waste time and energy beating ourselves up. Let’s just get back on track.

After you’ve gone through the process of decluttering, minimizing, simplifying and organizing your home, it’s really not difficult to get back on track.

Since I just moved into a new house, I haven’t really found my best systems yet because it takes some time to adjust to a new house and find the right place for all the stuff – because everything must have a place.  So, I’ll be killing two birds with one stone by doing these New Year updates.

  1. Since it’s January, it’s time to go through my files and safe and update them. So, I will take all of last year’s bill statements and payment receipts and put them in a labeled file and put it in my plastic file box (the one that I only get into when I need to – you can see a post about that on “An Organized 2019” page.) I will quickly go back through the files and the safe, make sure I have updated information and papers. I’ll double check my bill paying system to make sure it’s working.
  2. Since I’m going through the files, I will make sure that I gather everything I need for taxes. It’s not a difficult job since I have a manilla folder that I keep at my desk and I’ve been putting receipts and documents all year to make tax time easier.
  3. While I’m at it, I’ll probably go through my digital files as well. I’ll clean out my email, clear out some old documents, download all my photos from my phone and collect any that I want from social media and put them on a thumb drive (I talk about photos on a Bonus Content post on “An Organized 2019!” page.)
  4. I’m feeling a little claustrophobic in my closet, so it’s time to go back through my clothes. I will do my pseudo-KonMari system and put ALL my clothes on my bed. Go through each piece one-by-one and if it doesn’t fit, doesn’t fit right, if I don’t love it or if I haven’t worn it in a year – out it goes! 
  5. I’ve been clearing out the fridge, freezer and pantry after the holidays. I’ve been trying to use up food that I had planned for the holiday but didn’t use by donating it if I can or throwing it out. I also want to get rid of all the treats so I won’t eat them!!
  6. I am making some plans and goals for the new year with my calendar so I can be sure to save for trips and make sure Husband can take the time off from work and we can budget for the things we want to do.
  7. I’ll be making “sweeps” through the house again and noticing any clutter that I can get rid of. I’ll tune up my systems and cleaning schedule to see if I need to change anything to fit my life as it is right now.

That might seem like a lot, but I’ll do it as I have time. I don’t stress out about it.

I really think making “sweeps” through your house periodically with the mind of noticing the clutter and the things that slow you down or bog you down or make you unhappy is a good way to keep your life simplified.

And as much as we need to keep on top of STUFF, I think we need to keep on top of how our TIME gets cluttered, too.

I hope that helps! I guess I need to go to work on the list above.

Don’t forget to check out my “An Organized 2019!” page and feel free to share it. Thanks!

Happy New Year and Peace,

Jill

 

More Content on “An Organized 2019!” Page

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I’ve been adding more content today on my “An Organized 2019!” page today. Just look up at the page tabs across the top to find it.

I’ve got a lot of decluttering, organizing and systemizing tips on there to help you get your life more orderly in 2019.

I’m thinking I might do a Facebook Live broadcast next week. So, keep checking here and follow me on Facebook if you’d like to join me, ask me questions and just virtually hang out!

Peace,

Jill

An Organized 2019!

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Happy New Year! 

 

I’d like to invite you to go to my page titled, “An Organized 2019!” where I will be writing posts to help you declutter, minimize, and organize your home, your possessions, and your life so you can free yourself up to enjoy more of the things that matter to you! 

I will be giving you about 2 weeks of instruction, advice, and encouragement to help you achieve some peace of mind.

So, hop on over to that page and let’s have some fun!

Peace,

Jill

 

New Year, New Plans!

I love office supplies! I love organizing! I love making a plan, an itinerary. I love checking off a to-do list! I love dreaming and scheming. I love a New Year where the months and days are a clean slate and I get to start all over again.

I love that line from “You’ve Got Mail”

“Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.”

I know it’s not fall, but the idea of a bouquet of sharpened pencils is exciting! Haha! Nora Ephron was a genius! I read her book and it’s a really good, fun, and quick read! (You can click on the book cover below to go to Amazon.)

So, I’ve printed out a year of monthly calendars that I got for free at imom.com

They’re really cute!

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And now I’ve got to figure out a pretty way to hang them on the wall. I like to see the whole year in front of me. I don’t know why, I just do.

Next, I’m going to sit down and make a dream list of all the things I want to do, have to do and need to do.

After that, we’ll see what stays and what gets kicked off the calendar.

But first, to the grocery store for the traditional black-eyed peas, collards and cornbread for New Year’s Day!

Happy planning!

Peace for a new year,

Jill