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Sunday, March 18, 2007

everything you own in the box to the left

My bedroom is freaking awesome. It's so big (don't ask dimensions: math's hard). High ceiling. Excellent view. Walk-in closet. Bathroom. It's the first of our bedrooms that's fit more than our king-sized bed.

The problem is that my bedroom is the only thing which occupies the 4th floor of my house. Why is this a problem? Because rather than being my haven, it has become my catch-all.

I wish I could accurately paint this for you: it's been a wicked-bad mess since we moved in, almost 4 years ago. My tradition is that I spend all of conference weekend (that's twice a year, folks) locked in my room, "to clean it". What I actually do, AFTER SPENDING NO FEWER THAN EIGHT HOURS ON IT, is make a teensy dent.

I've decided to change all that. If we ever move, I don't know that we'll ever have such an awesome bedroom again (unless we design it ourselves, in which case, I imagine we'd design it after this one, plus add a fireplace with a tv over it). But for now, I want to ENJOY IT. I realized that my main problem is that I never spend any time up there. I put stuff up there while I'm cleaning downstairs, stuff to be dealt with later: mail, toys, clothes, younameit. Next thing I know, it's 1:30 in the morning and I'm stressing out about how I need sleep but can't find it, and I make myself go up to bed, only to find it covered in piles: stuff to fold, stuff to hang up, stuff to shred, stuff to recycle, stuff to fix, stuff in which to replace batteries, stuff to file, stuffstuffstuffstuff, which all gets thrown onto the floor -- on top of all the other days' stuffs.

And so it began, with the springey fever that is about us, that I began to clean. UPS-sized cardboard boxes filled with papers and toy pieces and such are dumped out and what remains to be kept is a pile of seven papers. (I realize that I have Pack-Rat Disease; cut me some slack. I'm a recovering 'just-in-case' girl, striving to realize the idealistic minimalist inside.) I put things in their place, but inevitably I run into a problem:

That stuff right there belongs in another room...which also needs some serious cleaning.

And so the cycle begins, that ridiculous phenomenon where, in order to clean, you have to make an enormous mess. For some reason, I can't fit this into my multi-tasking. I can cook, make phone calls, write checks, give baths, get people dressed, and a whole lot of other things while I'm holding the baby. But for some reason, I just can't clean as a multi-tasking activity; at least, not the kind of cleaning that I know needs to be done, and this frustrates me a great deal.

It's not easy when the only time I feel I can effectively clean is when Darin is home to hold the baby and manage the other kids. Sometimes, after I've done a.m. carpool, I'll spend a little time in my room, Bubby in the bassinet and Superstar downstairs watching tv while I go through some papers or fold clothes or whatever. But then later I realize that Superstar was watching tv for, like, 2 & 1/2 hours straight without me talking to her, just so I could get a few things done. That's not how I want it to be. And I'm the LAST person to think that "kids shouldn't watch tv" (don't get me started...), I just feel that I could have used Superstar's awake hours in a more effective manner, you know? Better for both of us.

And so one of my struggles is letting go of the home *sigh*, most especially when I have a newborn (or post-newborn, whatever). I am confident that things will get better, organizational-wise, once IKEA gets here (oh hurry up, oh hurry up...).

Am I the only one who deals with this nonsense?

Today's Yay: The whole day, really...which will have a post of its own, probably later in the week.
Today's Boo: will be 1:30 soon, and I can't find my sleep.


Elizabeth-W said...

I can only offer words of encouragement and support, no help at all. My favorite part was the making of the mess in order to get de-cluttered. If you find any magical solutions, please let me know.
Sometimes I'm convinced we need a larger house, but then I just know it will be more square feet for me to mess up.

QueenScarlett said...

YES - that's our office, the kitchen counters... and the laundry basket where all my girls' clothes that I need to pack away or hang in their closets ... it's this nagging...that I need to get things sorted, thrown out and put away...but you're absolutely right... I always find that it's much more valuable just playing or teaching my babies... I've tried the leave Kalea watching TV and Melia playing on the floor... but then I feel AWFUL that I left them to do what...organize? So it's a constant battle...frustration. I could so use someone to come and organize my house/life for me.

my YAY from yesterday - seeing some guy walk across the freeway overpass carrying a kayak and a paddle...and seeing 20+cows and 5 horses roaming the fields on one side of the freeway.
my BOO not getting to spa to get my pedicure in time... and costco.

Carina said...

I know, I know, I know. I'm a recovering pack rat. It was only by being brutally honest that I've come as far as I have. I've trashed so much stuff, with more to go. Split second decisions--keep or throw.

No keeping anything 'just in case.' Just in case what? You can't find something just like it at Target next week when you've realized your awful mistake (that NEVER HAPPENS.) The only exception is some documentation.

Ikea opens in May, you'll be ready by then!

wendysue said...

That's how I spend my conferences too! (And my Mom always calls while she is doing her ironing--a chore we both hate, so she does it all during conference, and if it doesn't get done....too'll have to be 6 months later or not at all!)

I know I'll spend my conference weekend clearing the junk (again) only to have it 'magically' re-appear a few days later.

So, NO, you're not the only one dealing with the c.r.a.p.!!!

wendysue said...

I guess when I reread that it made it sound like my 'mommy' does my ironing too. HA! If only I were so lucky.

La Yen said...

When I come we will clean like crazy. That will be my birthday present to you!

{natalie} said...

ummm yeah my room is the same. we eliminated the office to make room for Add and now all the junk is piling up on my floor. i don't like it too much.

i'll meet you at the front gates to ikea on opening day.

Anonymous said...

clean up your thoughts.

ummmm......did that work?

Ryan said...

We have four bedrooms. When we first moved in, we had:
- Master, Nursery, Craft, Den.

After #2 came along, we had:
- Master/Craft, Nursery, Boy room, Den.

Now that we have #3, and #1 and #2 need more space to play:
- Master/Craft/Den, Nursery, Boyz room, Play room

How has the Master turned into such a Slave? ;)

i i eee said...

If it makes you feel any better, my apartment is a disaster area...and I don't even have kids!

O Ye Spring Clean! Come Unto Me!

I plan on cleaning while I listen to conference as well.

sue-donym said...

I have probably read every organization book ever published. I wpould love to help you anyway I can! I think we will all struggle with clutter all our lives - it's called living! But I have come across some pretty good tips along the way. Just call me.

~j. said...

elizabeth -- I know what you mean about the larger house. I was so overwhelmed when we first moved in, I found myself wishing we were still in a dinky apartment!

queen -- yep, I like to think that I've got a handle on the rotating clothes, but in reality, the kids grow and the seasons change faster than I can seem to store things. So there are piles (too small for each kid, as well as "right size, wrong season") that just need some guidance in finding their way into the boxes.

azuc - You're so right. What am I holding on to things for? You are such a level-head in my topsy-turvy world (and I'm so poetic).

wendysue - I came to a realization once that I call people when I'm doing dishes. A friend said, "Are you doing dishes? You're always washing dishes when you call me." I think I was subconciously distracting myself from a chore I didn't enjoy.

yen - hopefully when you get here, we can just ENJOY instead of cleaning! (my mom has offered to bring darla out here to help...)

natalie - it's a date. Let's have the meatballs for lunch.

tito - uh, did what work? You trying to call me to repentance? Yeah, it almost worked.

ryan - how many rooms in the new house? (I presume that's still moving forward?)

meta - oh, I've always been this way, with the piles of papers and such. Kids is merely another excuse for me to not get to it all.

sue - another voice of reason: "it's called living". You're so right. And I'd call you if my cell phone weren't (wasn't? why do I never know that one?!) broken. *sigh* Maybe you can come over, take a gander, and give me some tips??

Anonymous said...

i totally hear you on all of this. i'm trying hard to overcome packrat syndrome. i've even had sarah come over and hold something up... say a pair of shoes from my freshman year of college... "do you plan to wear these anytime soon?" ... "well, no, but that doesn't mean i might need them in the future" ... "have you worn them in the last say, two years?" ... "well, no, but..." and she throws them IN THE GARBAGE!!!

i am trying not become a packrat down here, although i'm afraid that it's starting up again. we have so much crap all over. but i'm working on that. it's mainly in the office where this has occured. i wish i could be there to help you.

dalene said...

I think I've commented before on why one of the reasons I like to read your blog is because sometimes you write right out of my head. Or my life. Or my master bedroom.

No! You are not the only one. But somehow I always feel pathetic because I think I am the only one.

Sometimes I just want to get a dumpster and park it outside my house and just cart out wheelbarrow loads of just stuff. Stupid, stupid stuff.

You know the truth is there is very little I would miss if I didn't have it any more. Mainly my kids. My husband. (Yes. Despite their propensity to packrat as well, the family could stay.) My quilts. My books. And a few photographs and letters.

So what's wrong with me? And why do I feel compelled every now and then to go buy more stuff?

Geo said...

I have the same problem with stuff. ONly difference is we have a ridiculously small "master" (hahahahahahahaaaaaaaaa) bedroom. And almost zero closets. I am also doing the pee-pee dance waiting for Ikea to OPEN. Somehow I'm just so SURE it's going to fix my life. I bet having Sue over to advise would be the better choice, but unlike you, I would wouldn't have the guts to let somebody that organized into my space to help me with my disaster. I mean, hey, what if she never spoke to me again? What if she called Social Services? These are real possiblities in my Basement from Hell.

Carina said...

I'm glad CW mentioned the dumpster. Honestly, one of the hardest parts of clearing out is that we have the one trash can. I've found myself in a panic on Tuesday nights thinking, "It's garbage day tomorrow, time to figure out how much space is left in the can so I can throw stuff out."
If I get too carried away, I've got bags of stuff to be thrown out that have to go successive weeks. UGH.

May I also recommend Freecycle? It's one of the most awesome online communities. They have Freecycle groups all over the country.
Say you have something you want to get rid of, but you figure it might be useful--just not to you.

You can post the item or items, people email you and tell you why they want it, you pick someone and they COME AND GET IT FROM YOU. You don't have to go anywhere, you can even leave it on the porch if you don't want to talk to people. It's awesome--Geo? Can I get a witness?

I've gotten rid of old doors, old screen doors, random sewing stuff, pieces of wood, furniture, clothes, etc. It truly is the best illustration of another person's trash is another man's treasure. Did I mention they come pick it up? Because that should be mentioned again.

Cari said...

I've come to the realization that I won't have a clean house until the kids are grown and on their own. (It doesn't help when they get older. People say to me, "At least your kids are older so they can help!" SO NOT TRUE!) My mom, bless her heart, always tells me when I'm complaining about my house, that my priortities are set on my kids. In other words, I focus more on my kids' activities, developing talents, schoolwork, etc. than on my house. She said people with emaculate houses, almost always, don't spend enough time with their kids. I tend to agree with her because it makes me feel better.

Lyle said...

Is a HAZ-MAT team needed? If the answer is no, then who are we to judge?

Sister Pottymouth said...

Ah-men, sister.

pflower10 said...

UMMMMMM, SUE....gonna need those tips too!

I too am guilty on all counts. I would love to sign up for one of those shows that come and clean it all up. They are never in Utah. And I don't think they will come back and sustain their own organization.

Who wants to play four-square with me back at square one?

Bek said...

Sue... you are on!! I acutally had a friend here (who is an actual minimalist..lives in a house w/ concrete floors and walls and glass every where and has 4 kids!! ) come and help me. Lisa is a good one too.

I think we all fight that beast. Our room tends to be off limits to the kiddos and therefore I never go in there b/c I am not yet in a place where I can leave the kiddo's alone. I am with Azucar on the "make a split decision" thing. Most things taht we think we need, we don't. Once I actually got my husband to "give me permission" to buy things again if I needed them, it was easier to throw them. I, like you, am of the "I might need this someday" school. Even though I don't need his permission to buy things, just having him say "please throw it out and if we ever need 100 small furry chickens again, you can take the credit card and buy them again" that was it. It worked for me.

May I offer another piece of advice. I was drowning in all my "I don't want to throw it away b/c it is still good so it needs to go to Goodwill" stuff. I finally gave it up. On one major clean out I just threw stuff away. It was heaven. Now I have the Salvation army come and pick stuff up and that stuff goes in a box in the garage. No more bags of "stuff" waiting to be given away.

The Fly Lady has helped me alot. You can check out her site. I also can never find the time to do a BIG clean out. So do you know what finally worked for me? Lauren and I do this every night, we take 15 minutes (from 7:00 - 7:15) and we both just clean up as much as we can till the buzzer goes off. The only rule is that things must find a home RIGHT THEN or go away into the bag in the garage. No matter how messy your room is, it will be done in about 2 weeks. Try it, it works. Actually, having it not be a huge chore made it easier to dive in. It has stayed pretty clean once I figured out that I needed to throw things away. Now, instead of the time thing, I do the 27 thing fling (you pick a room and find 27 things to get rid of...check out flylady....).

Sorry this was a novel, but this is something I have struggled with this. Lisa and Tina the Sista are MASTERS at this stuff. Lisa once told me "this stuff not only takes up room in your house, but it takes up room in your head. You need to decide if it deserves the space it takes weighing on your mind". It is really and truely liberating to throw things out b/c you don't have the manage them any more. Chances are, you won't miss them. I will take things that I think I might want and put them in a bag and in two weeks if I know what is in there, I get it back, if not, It gets chucked. I do this w/ the kids toys too.....

I need to do a post about this...

Bek said...

oh...btw, when we need a "big" dumpster to put things it, we load up the car and take it to Stanford Campus and dump it in the dorm dumpsters. I know that this technically isn't allowed (although we are alumni and pay the fees) but it happens about 2x a year... and it better than having a pile of garbage in the garage that you are trying to dole out... BYU has dumpters at Wyview.... I am just saying.. will die when IKEA opens. I am amazed at how much storage they manage to fit into the little display rooms. I can really and truely say that IKEA has changed my life... :-)

Emily said...

Why are companies so slow to realize that Utah is a good market? IKEA should have been there years ago, before AZ, I think. And, the boom of restaurants and movie theaters in Utah Valley should have happened decades ago. There was nothing good when I was in school, 94-97.

sue-donym said...

I didn't mean to sound like I am an organizational genius. I just love to read about it, and sometimes actually use the principles I have learned. I do love helping people organize their spaces, so bring it on. Seriously anyone.