We're spending this week getting our house de-junked and totally ready for the new year. It's a huge process, but it absolutely invigorates me to see clean shelves and closets. My mind can breathe! Our de-junk goes something like this, if you'd like to try it:
(1) Pick one major room each day, plus maybe a little cupboard/closet/bathroom (so you can have the whole house de-junked within a week). If you're balancing a heavy workload, a full-time job, or lots of little ones, it also works to pick one major room each week and space out the process a bit more.
(2) Plan to stay home every day in your pajamas, if you have that luxury. Shower in the afternoon once your room is dejunked . . . it's good motivation to get your work done. Serve quick meals for dinner.
(3) Get your whole family involved in the process. My husband doesn't love de-junking, but he's very good at it, so he works with me as much as possible. I'm usually the one who does it, though, because he has a tendency to throw everything away. :) My children will help take out trash, sort toys and art supplies, and run things to their "new homes," but mostly they play and color and come in and out to ask me questions once in awhile. They like seeing all the "new things" that have been hiding deep in the cupboards. It's a party.
(4) Go around the designated room systematically, emptying every shelf, cupboard, drawer, etc. Toss/donate/relocate everything you possibly can, and put back only things that are beautiful, useful, or really special. Jot down anything you need to buy or do to make that space more functional.
(5) Once you have that space clean, teach your children how to keep it that way (they can usually keep it nice for at least 30 minutes), and then dance around the room to your favorite music. Open each drawer at least three times so you can "ooh" and "ahh." Celebrate the fact that you have conquered one portion of the mess.
(6) Repeat until the whole house is beautiful. You will feel like your square footage has doubled, and you'll feel excited about life, and you'll walk around your house thinking that it is heaven. (For detailed instructions, my FAVORITE book on this is "It's Here . . . Somewhere.")
(7) If your children are anything like mine, they don't naturally keep things clean. That's okay, though. They can learn to pick up after themselves, and when the house is de-junked, it's easier to keep on top of the mess. One or two things "out of place" are much more manageable than 115 things.
We've finished the master closet, the kitchen, the pantry, the laundry room, the garage, and the children's rooms, and now we're going to tackle our office, our master bedroom, the bathrooms, and the living room. It is SO worth the effort (and think of all the things you can donate to charity!).
The challenge I'm having right now, though, is that in the process of taking care of my home and family (and potty-training Spencer . . . YAY!!!!), my heart is hurting over all the things I simply can't do.
I know there are millions of discouraged mothers out there who are living in tough circumstances. I wish I could alleviate their burdens, visit their homes, give them hugs and shoulder massages and tell them, "You can do this. Don't get down on yourself. Don't doubt yourself. All this hard work is making you stronger. You have so much to offer your family and the world."
I know there are children living in situations full of abuse, poverty, and neglect. I wish I could take care of them all--or even just a few--and give them a home and family where they could be loved and adored.
I know there are political campaigns going on that need support, people struggling with illiteracy, and homes sinking in mud from our recent California flooding (my husband helped dig around a practically-destroyed house for several hours yesterday).
Even though I know I can do many "good" things in the world, I'm just going to take it one step at a time. I'll get my home clean and organized, I'll help my children to grow, and I'll involve them as I move on to more projects within my community. I'm also hoping that as I help mothers get organized through Mind Organization for Moms, we can all reach out a little more--thereby multiplying our efforts.
And now it's time for bed. I've got lots of de-junking to do tomorrow. :)