April 13, 2011

Tidying

I did SO MUCH boring-but-satisfying work around the house yesterday! I dispersed the contents of FOUR large bins from the basement shelves: some of it was warm-weather clothing that went into children's rooms, but I put about half of it aside to be donated: I noticed we had about twice as many pairs of shorts as I needed for Edward (probably this was the size that got lost long enough I'd finally concluded the previous child had skipped the size and so repurchased it), and also I think it's time to conclude that William is the only boy who's going to wear slims so it's safe to get rid of those handmedowns instead of hanging on to them just in case one of the two younger boys needs them, and also I threw out some jeans with holes in the knees---good thing I stored those for four years! My dining room will look SO MUCH BETTER when I finally remember to take the half-dozen bags of clothes to the donation dumpster.

I also took a binlet (like, not a BIG HUGE bin, but what do you call it so as not to give the impression of largeness?) of pure miscellany that Paul had dumped into it while moving furniture: all the pens and pencils and game pieces and refrigerator magnets and puzzle pieces and playing cards and small toys and pieces of possibly-important paper he found there. I'd been putting off dealing with it out of resentment: he got big glory for moving furniture, but would I get any for doing the fiddly cleaning up, even though it would take longer and be more of a pain? NO I WOULD NOT. And why would he just leave it there, as if somehow it were MY job? I went through it and tossed a lot of it (some of those game pieces were to games we haven't had for years), and put away the rest of it (SIX rolls of tape! no wonder I can never find tape).

I also threw out a large pretty platter. It's a neat shade of green, and it looked gorgeous sitting on our bureau with its matching pitcher on it. Until the pitcher broke several years ago. I couldn't replace the pitcher (Target clearance, long gone), but I didn't want to get rid of the platter, because every time I thought of doing so, I got mad about the broken pitcher again. As if perhaps saving the platter would mean the pitcher HADN'T broken. Anyway, I threw it out.

I planted a bunch of daffodil bulbs my mom didn't want anymore, and while I was out there I planted the little pine tree I bought around Christmastime and the blueberry twig I bought to replace the one that died over the winter.

I went through a bag of Edward's Christmas stocking stuff that turned out to be still hanging on the back of a dining room chair. I put away the few things that were in it, and threw out a handful of red and green M&Ms.

I dispersed the contents of a box I'd started as a "Donate This" box. Some things weren't even worth Freecycling, so I tossed them out. Other things were worth Freecycling, so I Freecycled them.

I gathered up the singleton gloves I'd been noticing here and there and another-there, and put them in a drawer in the mud room. I took Elizabeth's winter coat out of the mud room and hung it up in the hall closet. I found a pair of shoes, realized I hated them, realized that keeping them anyway wasn't going to get me my money's worth from them, and put them in the donation bag.

It was a lot of puttering: allowing myself to be led by what caught my eye next, instead of trying to work in a steady line across the room. And so the net effect is of a nice overall improvement, mostly in the dining room, though I also have the private satisfaction of knowing about the change in the basement a visitor wouldn't see.

And this morning I melted a bag of frozen pineapple juice into the sink, which doesn't SEEM like a big deal, and ISN'T, except that it marks The Attitude Change that comes with working steadily to improve the state of the household: I've noticed that instead of thinking, as I have for probably a year, "Oh, yeah, that bag of pineapple juice---we're obviously not going to use that after all, and anyway I'm sure it's no good anymore. Well, no sense dealing with it right this second if I'm not also going to deal with the bag of bread ends we're apparently never going to feed to ducks, and also tidy up the freezer in general, and anyway there's still plenty of room in there so there's no rush," I yoinked it when I noticed it and brought it upstairs with me and plunked it into the sink. Maybe later today I'll yoink the duck bread.

39 comments:

Misty said...

I would like to channel some of this myself. Send me your energy! Or do I just need to read the book, get disgusted with myself, and DO IT?

:)

Marie Green said...

I've been doing stuff like this too! Look at us, spring cleaning like big girls. :) I cleaned out our freezer the other day: I shoved our kitchen garbage can right up to the freezer and ruthlessly purged. It felt GREAT. I threw out so much stuff that had literally been in there for years; stuff that we couldn't have possibly eaten because we had NO IDEA it was even in there. Now I DO know what's in there, and it feels great. I need to do our food cabinets next.

The frame of mind that I need to be successful at projects like this is "be ruthless". It's what I tell myself. I find that will everything I toss/donate, I breath a little easier, feel lighter etc. Also, feeling our house become less and less STUFFED with STUFF makes me want to KEEP GOING. Win, win!

Saly said...

YAY for steady progress!! I tend to work like you do too--I get bored if I'm doing the same thing for too long and so I sort of flit from thing to thing. This, of course, is when Hub comes home and is all "What did you DO all day?" and then my head explodes.

Amanda said...

I need to do this too!

Christy said...

Why not take the littles out with the duck bread and feed it to the ducks? Then you get the satisfaction of using the stuff for the purpose you intended. Unless of course, the duck bread is so old it might make the ducks sick...

I never do this, but my word verification is nouckee, as in NO UCKEE stuff left in the fridge!

Jess said...

This post makes ME feel refreshed and accomplished. And I haven't even done anything! Except read this post, obviously. Apparently that was enough.

MoMMY said...

I have a long road of dealing with boxes of pure miscellany ahead as we are in the process of moving and as we are nearing the end of packing we've reached the just toss it into a box or bag portion of the adventure. (holy run on sentence Batman!) It would render me into a useless blob of panic but I'm still focused on the "We need to be out in TWO DAYS." panic instead.

Congrats on the purge. I find it makes me feel lighter!

Erica said...

My first thought was that I needed to do these things, too, but then after reading all that you did, I have a vicarious sense of accomplishment. So, thanks for that.

lifeofadoctorswife said...

You know, I tend to get caught up in the whole idea of "don't do it at all if you can't do it fully." But it's a DUMB idea, as you have so clearly illustrated, because small improvements here and there can make a big difference once combined. And don't take any of the horrific mental and physical energy that a Total Deep Clean does.

I did a Mini Clean the other day, when we got a notice threatening that some sort of Inspection People might possibly enter our apartment. That was enough of a scare to get me to do a super quick clear and toss. It made a very noticeable difference, even if I didn't vacuum or dust! I must remember to do this more often.

LoriD said...

Oh, that does sound satisfying. The one thing I do is to put the donation bags right into the trunk of the car instead of storing them in the house. Then they're really gone and I can appreciate the cleaner space right away.

squandra said...

Yay! I love this, because I am just that particular brand of nerd. I wish I could come organize your house for you! (WEIRD; sorry.) In real life I am not actually a professional organizer, but I often think that I would like to be, but really I would only like jobs like this. You don't have a TON of clutter, but just because you have five kiddos you have enough that it's satisfying to deal with, but you are so REASONABLE that you would make it EASY and FUN.

You are my dream client at my imaginary job!

Linda said...

I have been doing stuff like this, too, and it feels GREAT! And I enjoy reading about your boring-but-satisfying tasks. Thanks.

Swistle said...

Squandra- HA HA HA!

Jenny said...

Like several of your commenters, I feel better for your organizing! Perhaps I should do some of my own, oh dear. Drops in the bucket, right?

Nik-Nak said...

Oh wow, this makes me feel incredibly clean just reading about all the stuff you threw out. Ahhhh I love cleanliness. It's so satisfying to dump the clutter! Congrats!

Laura @ the Diniwilks said...

I love decluttering posts, makes me want to tackle my mayhem and foolishness. Or to call Squandra and have her do it for me :)

JCF said...

Ooh, I also have the good feeling from reading this! I need to do much of the same. We're moving in two months, and I really want to purge things slowly over the next 6 weeks or so, in order to avoid a mad rush at the end, or just packing stuff we don't need because I don't have time to deal with it otherwise.

I don't know if this would work for you, but when I feel overwhelmed by the mess and know that I don't have time to deal with it all, I set a timer for 10, or maybe 15 minutes, but that's all. I get as much done as I possibly can during that time, and then I stop when the timer goes off. I'm often impressed by what I can do in that time, and I feel free to let it go at the end of that time.

d e v a n said...

In an odd way, I love spring cleaning! I went through drawers and closets yesterday and I got such a thrill out of organizing and purging.

Nicole said...

Oooh, those jobs are so satisfying! I have to go through the massive amount of children's artwork one of these days. I have two giant bins full, plus about 100 pictures on the fridge, and about 100 sitting on top of the fridge, and OMG no one needs that many markered-pictures of Ben 10.

Elsha said...

I love doing stuff like this! Of course, I always think afterward-- why did I wait so long?! But I feel better anyway.

clueless but hopeful mama said...

Wait, wait, WAIT. Did you really THROW AWAY perfectly good M&Ms?

Send them to MEMEMEMEME!

Not really, though I just went searching for any chocolate in my secret chocolate stash and there wasn't any so I looked in Z's leftover Valentine's candy but there wasn't any chocolate left. Boo. I'm pretty sure we finished her xmas chocolate.

Anyway, congrats on tidying! I'm inspired! I may just tackle the tower of newspapers next to me!

Christina said...

BINLET!!!!!

Christina said...

Oh, also J does that all the time where he throws all the stuff from a table or shelf in a box and then somehow it's MY responsibility to sort through. Or when he's clearing HIS space he comes and puts stuff he doesn't know what to do with in MY space. He always claims it's MINE, but it's just stuff he is confused so he pawns it off.

brzeski said...

When you say "so I Freecycled them" what does that mean? Did you post them, or actually find people and they came and got them? I have been so sad about Freecycle - I thought it would be this GREAT THING but maybe we live too far out in the country. I get crickets when I post.
Just curious what your experience has been/is.
and G-DOUBLE-O-D-J-O-B (use your cheer voice) on the many drops in the bucket!

Sara Hammond said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Swistle said...

Brzeski- Ha ha! How fun to define the word "Freecycled"---and it WOULD vary in usage, wouldn't it! Neat! Anyway, when I use it, I mean it as "found a taker for it, through Freecycle." We've only had one or two things (out of hundreds) not get almost immediate takers. I've wondered in fact if our area might have a bunch of hoarders or eBay resellers or something, because we can find homes for almost ANYTHING. One of our Freecycle problems is that we'll get several dozen responses to an item and then have to deal with the nagging repeat emails until we can post that the item has officially been taken.

Sara Hammond said...

I have been trying to do this myself. If I can maintain (not make it worse), then I figure that even if I only deal with ONE thing a day, I am making it better. Giving myself permission to be happy about the little things has made such a difference. And I find it hard to stop once I get started. (Which I usually *have* to do, because I only gave myself 30 seconds before the next obligation...) And I have been pleasantly surprised with the progress I have made! So yay for progress for both of us!

Firegirl said...

Well Done You!!!

I think "yoink the duck bread" is going to make me giggle for the rest of the day. Also, I will apply to every nonsensical yet necessary task in my life from this point forward.

Melissa Haworth said...

Yay for progress. I send my congrats and now resolve to defrost the never-to-be-used bag of homemade chicken broth in my freezer (I see your pineapple juice and raise you a bag of broth). Only problem is it froze AROUND the shelf thingy and I can't quite figure out how to dislodge it. But I have faith and I will overcome.


thanks for the inspiration.

el-e-e said...

Oh, the FREEZER cleaning. Very good accomplishment! Makes me think of the bad of Amish friendship bread starter that i've had in my freezer for a year-ish, that I just want to get rid of. Everytime I see it I feel BAD that I haven't baked it yet (and I never give that stuff away, I just dump out the cups you're supposed to share - i know, I'm not a friend).

ANYWAY. Thanks for the inspiration.

el-e-e said...

bad = bag.

ha! it probably is bad, though.

Julie said...

This was so satisfying to read. I have been trying to throw something away every day. You just have to be in the mood, you know? Some days you cannot throw away something that is undeniably garbage, and other days you can part with "sentimental" things you've held onto for years.

Bibliomama said...

I like Lori's idea of putting donations in the trunk because aren't donations kind of the kiss of death? You can't really throw them away but they're not really yours but they're still taking up space. Of course, then I often drive them around in the van for months (yes, I like to give my trash regular airings and scenery). Sigh.

JMT said...

"Maybe later today I'll yoink the duck bread."

"Maybe later today I'll yoink the duck bread."

"Maybe later today I'll yoink the duck bread."

i think it's my new motto.

Kelsey said...

Hmmm - my first comment disappeared.

I was just saying that I'm hoping to work the phrase, "Yoink the duck bread," into my daily conversation. Best phrase ever.

We've done a lot of purging around here lately - it is so good!

velocibadgergirl said...

High five! Or several! I love this kind of small putter-y cleaning because I always, always feel so much better when it's done. I may be the little bird carrying away the grains of sand, but give me enough time and that mountain is TOAST!

Also, "binlet" and "yoink" are my new favorite words.

velocibadgergirl said...

PS I see the advice that people are giving to take stuff to the car right away and feeling overly proud of myself because I took two boxes of consignment-bound clothing to the car just this evening! Yay!

squandra said...

Laura, I'm in! Ha!

julie said...

Can I come live at your house now?

I, too, am a big fan of yoinking.