Gearing up for paring down

Whorl by Sarah Ehman

Lately, I’ve been on a major “simplify!” kick. This is something I’ve always known to be good for a more productive, peaceful life but since Norah A. Babysaurus came along, it’s become a family necessity. Our complicated home is getting in the way of living life, and Keith and I have finally had it.

With daytime highs staying below eighty degrees (hurrah!), it’s time to start preparing to hunker down indoors for the winter months, which only aggravates the need for order. I’ve been trying to simplify everything from closets and meals to key rings and RSS feeds. I’m removing things from my home/computer/life, consolidating, and organizing. It feels really good. But we still have a long way to go.

Toward the end of my maternity leave, I purchased and read Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living by Tsh Oxenreider of Simple Mom, which really got me excited. Her approach was unexpected (I hadn’t read her website before I read her book) but really appealed to my analytical, neurotic, spreadsheet-loving side. I’d recommend giving it a read, especially if more traditional declutter-and-get-organized methods haven’t really worked out for you.

The Loneliest by Sarah Ehman

So I thought it would be nice to share some of the things we’ve been working on to meet our home and family goals. Here’s a modest list to start, but I’ll share each project in more detail (photos and all! Maybe even charts!) as we go along, making our way toward a manner of living that more closely matches our standards.

1. Family motto. Oxenreider suggests starting the quest for simpler living by creating a “family purpose statement.” The approach struck a chord with me. Instead of feeling guilted into tossing out old clothes and getting rid of every knickknack, here is a method that is meant to provide focus in one’s home life — allowing you to steer clear of any stuff, activities, or commitments that would obscure your ultimate priorities.

2. Project management. Instead of having our own ideas floating around in our separate heads about what needs to get done around the house, Keith and I have created a shared “master list” that we can review, discuss, and choose projects to fit our schedule and our most pressing needs. Between this and the day-to-day tasks that have suddenly become three times as difficult to complete, we’ve been trying to share information more openly and more efficiently.

3. Laundry closet shelving. Our washer and dryer are stuffed into a closet in the main hallway of our house — the one that connects the front door, living room, kitchen and back door. The closet also houses our hot water heater, tools, car washing supplies, house paint, coats, and other odds and ends. The closet and the hallway area is a perpetual mess. But with some customized storage solutions, we hope to make this heavily used area more efficient and more accessible.

4. Hard flooring. It’s cosmetic, yes, but it’s also practical: we both have allergies and Keith has asthma, so a house full of cheap carpet is less than ideal. But while replacing ALL of the carpet in our house isn’t an option for financial (and mental health) reasons, we can afford to replace the few hundred square feet that gets the most foot traffic.

5. Babyproofing. Norah A. Babysaurus is getting really good at sitting — and even better at being insanely curious. Electrical cords, yarn stash, and photography equipment beware! While we won’t be going crazy putting locks on anything with hinges and foam bumpers on every corner, we want to create an environment that Norah A. Babysaurus can live in. And that means creating plenty of spaces that are safe for exploration.

6. The craft room. When I say this, it should be followed by an ominous *DUNH-DUNH-DUNNNH*. The craft room has been the bane of my organized life. It’s the creative nerve center. The work zone. The catch-all. It is the epitome of disastrousness, and we’re out to tame it once and for (mostly) all.

Have you ever undertaken a similar quest, or have you thought about it? I’d love to know what you did and what you learned!


7 thoughts on “Gearing up for paring down

  1. I do this to myself at least 6 times a year! Every other month I’m tackling the next room that’s too cluttered – mainly because we live in small space – but mostly because I never buy the PROPER organization tools I need. I end up rearranging things to simplify but really I just need to spend the money to buy the right shelves and containers .. looks like that’s on my wish list this year!

    • I hear you on the small space issue, and I tend to do pretty much the same thing — purge, purge, purge, reorganize, and rearrange, but within a month everything is right back to its cluttered state. We keep falling into the “bigger is better” mentality, but in reality we can make our small house work for at least a few more years if we invest in the right storage systems. Better to give everything a real home, rather than constantly shuffling it around! (And maybe hire someone to put our clean laundry away.) Good luck!

  2. I organize what I can and we’ve tried to streamline as much as possible. I like to have a place for everything, such as in my linen closet. I have a few small baskets for things like wash cloths, baby washcloths, handtowels etc. I also have an over the door organizer, with wire shelves (made by rubbermaid, bought on amazon). This is great for our toiletries, medicine, etc. I also realized that I couldn’t hang onto 20 towels, and knowing that I have plenty, it prevents me from wanting to buy more linens (a strange weakness of mine). I know this is a random example, but it works for us!

    • That’s a great example — our linen closet is pretty neat, but now that you mention it, we could probably cut down on towels (and bedspreads…), which would make room for those bulky flannel sheets, and who knows what else! “Everything in its place” makes perfect sense, but the key to making a system work seems to be getting everybody to participate. For example, I like to keep refrigerator staples (milk, butter, etc.) in the same place, so I always know where to find them no matter what else is in there. Maybe it sounds a little persnickety, but it makes cooking so much faster! But Keith’s outlook is that it doesn’t matter where things go, as long as they make it back in there somewhere. How do you overcome that? *sigh*

      • Hmm, for most part, Scott is well trained. Our fridge isn’t organized, though!

        As far as bed linens, here’s what worked for us. We bought bed risers and we store everything in shallow, long tubs from rubbermaid. So, one tub is for sheets, another is for blankets, another is for random things like pictures and school miscellany. Jamie’s bed has drawers underneath, and we store his bedsheets in there. My linen closet isn’t big enough for sheets and comforters!

        Townhouse living can be tricky, but it forces creativity. We also have a hall closet simliar to yours — we store coats there, as well as Christmas decor…but the hot water heater is in there, which takes up quite a bit of room. I see beautiful closets on Pinterest and am always left thinking, “yes, but where’s your STUFF?”

  3. Pingback: Take your mark « Looks Like Dinosaurs

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