towards simple living

More Cleaning and Organization…

With my post the other day about toy clutter and clutter in general, I wonder what routines other parents (and non-parents) have.

There are way too many times that the weekends are for cleaning and we don’t have much time to do family stuff or get beyond the normal housework. I have never liked to clean and used to have a lot of trouble letting go of stuff. When I finally decided to make a change, and started to get rid of clutter I realized how much easier it was to take care of the house and how much better I felt.

I used to have a great routine at keeping on top of things but things happened, pregnancy, change of routine etc and that routine went out the window and the house became messy again. Of course, the more messy the house is, the less motivated I become and the cycle continues…

Now I am getting back into a routine…

I never got into Flylady (she lost me at wearing shoes in the house… to me that is a great insult) but one thing that I do think helps in keeping up a good routine is for the sink to be clean. When the sink is clean, the rest of the kitchen naturally follows. I hate to get the sink dirty again so I keep on top of things and the more I do so, the less daunting the task becomes and it only takes a few minutes to get things back in order. Because the kitchen is so central to the home, when that is done it feels easier to do the rest and it too naturally follows. Then I have time to do some of the “extras”…

Having kids in the house all the time of course can make thing harder because mess gets created often faster then it can be cleaned up. But they are also a great help and when they work together it goes quite quickly. We don’t do “chores” per say, but, everyday the kids have the job of cleaning up the stuff on the floor, and I follow behind with the broom, sweeper or mop. After eating, they put their dishes away and then all I need to do is clean up the table. I also ask them to help clean off the counters, put things back where they belong etc. I have also been asking them to head downstairs before supper and clean up the playroom/their room before we eat. I don’t see these things as “chores” and they don’t see the as chores… it is just part of being a family and having so many people live together.

Though I don’t put housework above the family, I do realize that when the housework is done, we are more inclined to just do stuff together.  I also feel that when it is all done there is just less choas in general (or maybe I am just more patient) and that makes things just run more smoothly.

It takes time and effort to keep a routine in place but I really think that it is worth it…

What is your routine? How do you get it all done? Do your kids help out? Have chores? I want to know!

Toys

Today Simon tackled the boys room and we finally went through the books and got rid of quite a few, next are the toys.

Toys are hard to de-clutter, especially with 4 kids. Some toys are played with, some are not, some are outgrown, some are just being grown into. In any case, we have way too many and the kids are not ready to let go. I don’t know what to do. I used to have an addiction to buying cheap used toys or other things. I found so many great deals but the mess and clutter just grew and grew.

A few years ago I finally decided to make the change. To stop buying, to stop cluttering up the house with stuff that we really didn’t need or wouldn’t use and start getting things under control. Over the last few years we have gotten rid so much stuff, including toys, often by putting them in storage and them having them disappear. Now I can often skip that step and no longer have such an emotional attachment as I used to. Xavier however, is a lot like me and has trouble letting go so it makes things hard at time.

If I could go back, I would have done things differently.  I loved when I was at Annie‘s that there were just not many toys. A mess was easy to clean up. I wish that we would have stayed minimalist when it came to that, to everything really. But now that we have them it is such a hard thing to deal with.

Our problem is the bulk of the toys… the Legos, the Playmobils, the Star Wars figurines and ships. All toys that are played with often but all have little pieces that make a playroom look like a dump within the span of a few minutes…

We have tried so many things to keep things under control to no avail. The room is always chaos, and of course, when there is a mess, they are less likely to use the space; and when they use the space, they make a mess. It is a vicious cycle. The boys are in change of cleaning the space, and once in a while we would step in and help. It is too much though, for all of us and we have had enough of the chaos.

So, Today is the day that we are tackling it.

The things that have a home, can keep their home. The rest is up for grabs. We have a bin. A large bin with a top. What can fit in it can stay. The rest will go.

So… how do you keep the toys under control? Who is in charge of cleaning the toys space? How do you dea with kids that have trouble letting go?

clutter…clutter… clutter…

I was looking back at old posts this morning and realized that there is a pattern of me needed and wanting to declutter in November. Seriously, blogging is a great way to see what was happening in previous years.

Yesterday I put Wilhelmina on my back and attacked the cupboard above the fridge. It attacked me back and I have the bandages toe to prove it.  It still seems full but I got rid of a half of a garbage bag worth of stuff. I still can’t fathom how that all fit in there! The more I declutter the more I realize how much I have  (or had) a problem with keeping things. I was always thinking “maybe I’ll need this one day” and it would just sit there for years. My mom had the same issue when I was younger, there were times that we didn’t have much so she kept a lot of things ‘just in case”. The house was always clean, but there was clutter.

It is hard cycle to break but it feels so good now to get rid of things. It feels so good to have space to put things, to see what I have instead of forgetting about things. It feels good to be able to clean up the main living space easily and quickly. It feels great to know where things are and be able reach it without clutter  getting in the way. It feels great to look at room and only see things that you like, and need and use. It is that feeling that drives me now. When I look at the things that I was keeping “just in case” I am starting to see it as what is preventing me to be happy in my home. I see it as garbage and well, clutter.

I would like for us to sell our house and move closer to Montreal. Even if that means renting again. I can’t fathom doing so with so much clutter in our lives. I was to simplify, I was to make things easier, I want have less things to think about if we were to move.

I also want to break the cycle with my kids. Xavier has a lot of problems letting go of things, I want to teach him that letting go is OK… yesterday, as I filled that garbage bag I was proud to see that Xavier came and looked at what I was doing, and accepted that the things in there and accepted that they would be leaving the house. He didn’t protest when he saw the old sandbox next to the curb, and was excited to see that it was gone about an hour later.

I try to do a bit every day, even if it is just a stack of papers or a kitchen utensil that I don’t use any more. We still have a lot to do, but our efforts are working and little by little the weight of having so much stuff around us is being lifted.

Organization…

Last night I went to a parents meeting for the homeschooling group that is a bit farther away… the theme for the night was organization and for some that was more about homeschooling and how to organize time and priorities etc.. for others it was about other things like cleaning the house…

When we bought this place 5 years ago I thought it was big… I had only lived in apartments and small spaces before so in relation to what I was used to, it is big… but now our family is bigger and the space is definitely small and it is cluttered and it is just not working as well for our family as I would have hoped… If we could move one day, I hope it would be sooner than later but for now we just need to stay put and deal with it for a while more…

But going back to organization… a while back I had a great routine going for a bit, I would wake up, I would make breakfast and clean the kitchen, I would put things away and sweep and wash the floors and do a quick clean up of the bathroom etc and the house felt tidy and presentable with minimal work every day…I have a feeling that there are many people that do this with no problem but it took/takes a lot of effort for me to have that routine… then something happened and the routine went out the window and  the house went back to being a mess and needing the weekend to clean up… I hate this though… I would love the weekend to be family time, not clean up time…

I hate cleaning, I have never been tidy, but I also know that I hate being in a messy house… and when things are tidy and clean it reflects on my mood and on my energy… it is like a vicious cycle and I see that I need to get back into that routine again…I need to start decluttering again so that we have less stuff and everything has a place. We are no where near that yet.

So please… tell me!

How do you do it? What is your routine? Where does your motivation come from? Do you care if housework is done or not? How do you deal with a smaller space where everything doesn’t have a place?

Give me your tips!

TV free…

Well… the TV went off last week and the boys took it perfectly well…

I mean so perfectly they haven’t asked for it, they haven’t had the reflex of turning it on, they haven’t said a thing about it… it is like we never had it for them…

and they were completely addicted to that thing before…

It was really surprising…

There are still a few shows that I would like to continue watching so I download them… but there are not many and because I have to chose the shows that I would like to download I choose the ones that I really enjoy and it feels better for me knowing that I am watching something because I choose to watch it and not just because it is on…

I decluttered the playroom more last week and got two garbage bags worth of toys out of there and Simon cleaned it even more over the weekend and got our wooden trains back out and the boys are playing a lot more and that is really a good thing…

The saddest thing I find is how hard it was to actually do it… but I am so happy that we did…

eta: after reading this post… Simon called me to say that he saw Khéna turn on the TV as a reflex in the morning when he got up… of course it opens to a black screen though… he should lose that reflex soon though…