Take your mark

Oblige me for a moment while I relive the first twenty-six weeks of Norah A. Babysaurus’ life in photos (minus the crying and spitting up and crying), which doesn’t have much to do with the rest of this post.

She turned six months old a week ago. Today, she’s scooting around on her bottom. Next month, she’ll be asking for the car keys.

This means that several of the fairly important home projects that we planned to do but couldn’t do before she was born and haven’t had time for in the months since she was born are becoming critical. These projects tend to fall into at least one of three categories:

Safety, Organization, Mental Health

So next week, Keith and I are taking some time off of work-work to put Norah A. Babysaurus in daycare and do home-work. I have big hopes although we don’t yet have a solid plan, which I think is key to succeeding at an undertaking of this magnitude. I’m excited. And nervous. Excited to finally have the time we need, but nervous that my lofty goals for the end result are just too lofty. We may actually end up sleeping all day.

However, I’m pleased that I can finally start talking about some of those goals I mentioned before. (Remember those? Neither do I.)

Safety. This will be one of our primary goals for next week, and probably the most important because now that she’s (awkwardly) self-propelled, Norah A. Babysaurus seems to have her sights set on practically everything really expensive and/or hazardous. Creating a safer home environment will involve more than just covering outlets and hiding electrical cords, though. There’s climbable furniture, breakables, and general crap without a proper place to consider. Which brings me to my next point.

Organization. The big focus here will likely be the kitchen and the craft room (if I’m lucky). I’ve already identified a few kitchen cupboards that have been neglected for too long, and with all these extra bottles and spoons and dishes and cans of formula, we really need the space. And the craft room? Ah. And the laundry closet? Eh. And our bedroom? Oh.

Mental Health. This mostly includes general catching up and seasonal chores, sorting through clothes, some aesthetic touches, and — most importantly — holiday decorating (and shopping. Online.). After the October I’ve just had, I’m shooting for the least amount of stress possible in December. WHERE IS THE TIME GOING?!

So that’s the executive summary! We have one more (fun) commitment to get out of the way, and then we’ll be ready to attack this beast. When we have an actual plan, I’ll try to share it, along with a report of how we did at the end of the week. Or whenever. In the meantime, I’ll be accepting good-luck wishes, friendly advice and/or encouragement, and applications for a laundry put-awayer.

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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!