It’s reached breaking point

by on September 19, 2012

I have debated long and hard about writing this blog post. There are some things that perhaps should not be blogged about. Things that might be best left “behind closed doors”. Things you might not want to know about me. You see, this is something I’m not proud of. It’s something I’m positively ashamed of. It’s a situation that’s been brewing for a long time, that has finally reached a head. I could tell it was bad when it started bothering the geekdaddy enough for him to comment on it, and saying we had to do something to change things.

Yes, our house is a complete tip, and we have to do something to sort it out!

I think it’s probably fair to say that the geekdaddy and I are not the most tidy of people. I have always been the kind of person that allows things to build up and then has a huge blitz and sorts it all out. But since we’ve had kids, the amount of clutter has just increased exponentially, and I’ve really lost control now. If I’m honest I lost control a while ago – the main reason I didn’t want to host the geekdaughter’s last birthday party, almost a year ago, in our house was down to the state of it. I didn’t want parents of her friends from nursery, who had never met me before, to come into the mess that is my house and judge me.

I’ve said before that the life of the working mother is a life of compromise. I can’t spend enough time doing any of the things I want to do, so I constantly juggle what I’m doing in order to keep everything “ticking over”. I am fortunate in that one of the perks of me working is that I can afford a cleaner, so my house is kept pretty clean, but they are cleaners, not tidiers, which means that anything we haven’t tidied away before they come each week is just piled up in the most convenient place. In the kitchen that’s the sideboard, and in the lounge it’s one of our sofas. We have two sofas in our lounge, but only one can be sat on at the moment because the other one, as you can see from the picture at the top of this blog post, is buried in kids’ stuff.

The state of the house has been really getting me down recently, so it was like a breath of fresh air when the geekdaddy commented that it was also getting to him, as it meant we could work together to make a plan to improve things. We’ve got basically two problems. Firstly we have too much stuff, and secondly we don’t have enough storage space. So the solution is pretty simple. Get rid of some stuff and get some more storage.

We have a grand master plan. It involves major decluttering and redesign of 4 rooms of the house, but I’m hoping we can do it all both cheaply and quickly. I want to talk about what we’re doing here, and share photos so that I keep a record of what we’ve achieved and so you can see how we’re doing.

What follows are the “before” pictures.

First of all, the room of most concern is our lounge. We all spend lots of time in this room each day, and at the moment large chunks of it are unusable due to the amount of clutter we have.

 The solution we’ve chosen is to sort all the toys, donate a lot to charity shops, and moving most of the rest into the kids’ bedrooms. We’ll still keep some stuff in the lounge, probably things like the Lego and the train set, but we need to get a lot out.

Which brings us on to the playroom. When we bought this house originally we deliberately bought bigger than we thought we needed, so that we’d had enough space, as we’d grown out of the previous house in about five seconds flat. So we’ve always had one room that we didn’t know what to do with. It’s actually our second largest bedroom, which started off as an office, but we then converted the dining room into an office, and half reverted the bedroom back to being a bedroom before it became a general junk-dumping room.

This room also has a desk in one corner – this is because at one point we were going to make this into an “escape” room for the geekdaddy to work in so the kids wouldn’t bother him. He’s never used it once (I think he quite likes the kids bothering him really!). Our plans for this room are to clear out all the clutter and turn it into a playroom and guest room (yes, there is a bed under all that clutter!). This will be where the toys we want to keep from the lounge end up, and I hope over time it will become a “den” for the kids to hang out in. The desk we plan to move downstairs as and when we tackle our office.

Ah yes, the office. I think this is the room that really shows our geeky nature. I don’t think I know anyone else who has converted their dining room into an office, complete with industrial-strength air-conditioning for those hot summer days! We spend a LOT of time in this room, but again we haven’t got enough storage, so a lot of stuff ends up on the desks and all over the floor…

It’s a big room which currently has four desks in it, one in each corner. As we don’t have as many computers as we used to have, we’re going to take out one of the desks and replace it with floor to ceiling shelving. This should then give us enough storage to get the clutter out. We’re also going to replace one of the more rickety desks with the one from the playroom as well.

In addition to the above we’ll do a small amount of shuffling around in the kids’ bedrooms to put some extra shelves in each of those too. We’re really making sure that we have plenty of storage everywhere!

So there you are. I am still very unsure about sharing the state of my house with you all, but at least we have a plan of how we’re going to tackle it. We’ve already removed an awful lot of junk from the bedroom that’s going to become a playroom, so I feel like we’re already making changes and we WILL sort this all out. It’s a bit like a giant sliding  puzzle in that we have to tackle things in a logical order – decluttering to make space to enable more decluttering and then storage of the stuff we’re keeping. I expect it will take us a while to get everything sorted, but I’m very much looking forward to getting it all under control at last. I will post updates here from time to time, as I will enjoy seeing the whole situation improve, bit by bit.


{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Helloitsgemma September 19, 2012 at 7:30 am

Ive gone from Queen hoarder to Princess Declutterer. I’m now a bit evangelistic about decluttering. It really makes such a huge difference. Good luck.

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Mediocre Mum September 19, 2012 at 7:59 am

Well done you! I’m not being flippant but the best money I spend every week is on a cleaner (£16) it allows me as a working mother to keep on top of things and then we can enjoy our precious time on the weekends as a family.
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Olivia September 19, 2012 at 8:40 am

Oh how I understand you!! You know me, I know you and the fact you’re not a tidy person is one of the reasons I love you! Because I am the same and I do not feel ashamed around you! But here too we have the same clutter/space problem and we are trying to tackle it too :) (Actually my reading of the Flylady book enlightened me about the importance of decluttering)

Good luck! And even if it’s still a mess when we come and see you, we’ll still be glad to see you all ;)
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The Mummy Diary September 19, 2012 at 10:05 am

My life is one constant battle to declutter, I have a couple of places that are just stacked with rubbish that I intend to sort out ‘one day’. I am so grateful to you for sharing your pictures as I now know I am not alone.

Sometimes I look at the mess and then the sun outside and I think, the mess can wait and instead take the kids out to the park.

You are certainly not alone and I look forward to seeing how you get on. :)
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Jen aka The Mad House September 19, 2012 at 10:25 am

Clutter in the home really effects my general well being. I know it sounds odd, but it really does. I am now working on every room again and all the toys before Christmas. We have a box in the garage that all the toys go in to and if the children do not ask for them within two months, then they go!

You will feel lighter in your life if you clear the clutter
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Stephanie September 19, 2012 at 11:23 am

Well done for tackling it, thats the hardest part, Andre and I are tackling 2 houses at once! I am quite good at throwing out and sorting it just gets tangled on the way out of the door and might take a few more weeks than needed!

But the odd thing is once you start it gets easier, but dont worry you are also normal I have 3 cats, Andre, Kerenza and my mum living with me about 7/8 assorted computers and have plies everywhere of stuff going, staying and to be recycled. Try Freecycle, ebay and car booting to help towards your plans for storage and good luck x

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Sarah September 19, 2012 at 1:07 pm

You’re doing the best thing to make a change. I know my house was a tip when my little girl was born and I thought I’d never see my sofa again at some points but it’s good to have someone on your side with you.

Good Luck :)

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Hilary September 19, 2012 at 1:42 pm

Yep, same here. Same sofa-as-holding-pen, same big blitzy tendencies. I even started a blog a while ago to try to capture it but only posted once. No time, as usual. I may go back to it now! It’s not that we don’t do any tidying, just that the mess is created/stuff comes into the house faster than we can deal with it. Paper and books are our biggest problems, because there just aren’t enough homes for them. Toys and clothes aren’t quite so bad when they’re put away (we have 3 toyboxes, several baskets around the house and a few drawers in the girls’ bedroom). It would be worse if we didn’t have to clear our spare bed for visitors quite regularly – that’s also the only time we hoover *blushes furiously*. Good luck. If I get a few more Clutterista blog posts up I might actually go public with it.

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Richard J Foster September 19, 2012 at 2:37 pm

Meh! It’s not good, I’ll grant you, but I’ve seen worse around our house from time to time. ;-) Good luck with your cleanup attempts.
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nyssapod September 23, 2012 at 2:18 pm

Good luck with your decluttering project!

I reached breaking point a couple of months ago. So I started tackling the toys and then the handbags and then the dining table and then the kitchen and the bookshelves and so on. Now, after a lot of work, we have a house I’m happy to come home to.

I should have taken some ‘before’ photos really, but I didn’t realise what a big project the decluttering would turn out to be.
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Danielle (@witches_rave) September 24, 2012 at 11:47 am

Hello!!

awwww, I don’t even think it looked that bad! It’s a right pain in the arse though when you have kiddies who are spoilt by the relatives. We have to declutter at least 3 times a year and we only have the 1!

Lincs loves to get all his toys out and stick them on the sofa. Sometimes I’ll be blogging, look up and realise I have a sea of cars around me! I think he should come with some kind of hoover that follows him round.

…and then there’s us parents (who are probably worse!). Post is a bloody nuisance in our house… and just gets stuffed on tables or ‘on the sides’. It’s like spinning plates!

Anyway… you are NOT alone.

xx
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Emma @mummymummymum September 26, 2012 at 2:00 pm

I’m glad someone else’s house is like mine…I really must start to declutter too. x
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celine September 26, 2012 at 7:08 pm

You are so not alone! I live under excuses at the moment as my 2 kids are both under the age of 3 so they dont spend any time ever playing alone in their rooms which are in the attic level so 2 staircases up! So our lounge is a family room/den/clutter toys r us looking area…looking forward to see your storage ideas!

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nyssapod September 30, 2012 at 5:37 pm

You’ve inspired me to write a quick blogpost about how we decluttered the toys and reclaimed our living room
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MummyWhisperer October 1, 2012 at 1:50 pm

TBH this doesn’t look so crazy when you consider that you’re both working, blogging, geeky, and have 2 kids!

But I think that you are right, once it’s done you will feel lots better – there will be room to breathe in and it will be easier to find stuff too!

I’m a huge fan of decluttering, not because I started that way, but because I had to become that way.

My biggest tip is to use the ‘time of the month’ to get decluttering – don’t do it when you are knackered, do it when you get that boost of energy and it’s much easier. On the tired days, just keep tidy what you’ve done so far (plus make sure that you organise it in a way that makes sense so that from now on the cleaners can tidy for you!!!).

Also use Pareto’s 80/20 rule – first of all do the stuff that will get 80% of the chaos organised, so that you have space for the rest to be finished. Then set aside longer periods of time to hit the remaining 20%.

I must admit to being terribly in love with IKEA, because it’s so flexible and movable when I change my mind. But ebay, and freegle are much cheaper options and often just as good – especially if you can be a bit creative with a dash of paint.

Do you mind me pimping my decluttering posts? Just incase you fancy reading them: http://mummywhispererblog.com/get-sparkling/more-space/
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Alexander Residence October 2, 2012 at 8:16 pm

Thank you for sharing this, rings lots of bells! I love a tidy house, i just can’t be bothered. I spend my life decluttering and it’s still an ongoing nightmare. I think my problem is tidying as I go. I hate tidying for the benefit of others and I hate going to people’s houses when they say it is such a mess when there’s actually just an empty plate or two on the side. I love it when people are honest about mess. Good Luck!

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