#Back2School in #31Days: Day 7 – Let’s talk stuff.

B2S Day 7 Stuff 1

Before we packed for our move, I knew we were going to be staying with my parents for a while. My mindset for what we brought while us was: pack only the essentials, less is less.

Less to clean, less to manage, and less to maintain.

I was already reading these two books: The Money Saving Mom’s Budget and Organized Simplicity. They both agree that a life of peace and purpose is a life that has removed the clutter and tamed the stuff.

While boxing up our whole home last year, we got rid of a lot of extra stuff. And then we lived without 80% of what we kept for an entire year.

Some of it we missed and looked forward to using again someday, but a lot of it was forgotten and no longer needed.

I learned a lot more about simplifying while away from all the stuff we had boxed up. As we unpack, I am finding it very easy to remove, reorganize, and remember that we truly need less than all we have.

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This day #Back2School in #31Days has taken me more than just 1 day, but I’m sure it could have been done faster – I’m just a very slow processor.

Here’s my plan:

Go through everything I’m “saving for later” – furniture (desks, felt board, baskets), resources (books, curricula, etc.), toys and separate into 3 categories:

  • Will use for younger children later (store)
  • Useful but not for us (sell or donate)
  • No longer useful (trash)

I have to be very strict on myself when deciding what get’s labeled “will use for younger children later.”

My kids helped!

My kids helped!

Remember my mental issue with the water bottle for my daughter? Right. I tend to equate love with buying all-the-things. I feel through gifts, stuff, and treasures. (I’m actually a lot like my trinket loving girl.)

I have been doing a lot of positive self-talk to help myself get over some of the seriously ridiculous connections with stuff that I’ve had. And it’s been so much better.

To be stored are:

B2S Day 7 Stuff 5

Useful but not for us (sell or donate):

  • Play Dough set – I almost kept this, but I had to face it – play dough drives me crazy. It had to go.
  • All extra puzzles
  • Books that are good but not favorites (50+ of these!)
  • Games that were played with less than 5 times
Explaining to my son that a torn shoebox that once was a marble game isn't worth keeping - it's time to recycle.

Explaining to my son that a torn shoebox that once was a marble game isn’t worth keeping – it’s time to recycle.

No longer useful:

  • Anything broken – there’s an exception for this one: if you know someone who would really enjoy it and they would be able to fix it, then by all means, give it away instead of trashing it.
  • Toys, puzzles, games, etc with missing pieces
  • Notebooks full of doodles – My rule for keeping memories is one notebook per stage. I have one kid who will fill a notebook per week, and I make it a point to save these treasures for later – but I simply can’t store them all.

A great friend of mine taught me something simple in nature but life changing in application in the cleaning product aisle of Meijer one day.

She said something like:

Only keep the stuff that gives you an immediate desire to use it. When you lose interest in it, get rid of it. Chances are, if it is a household item, book, game, item of clothing, etc – it’s replaceable. Don’t store something with only “good intentions” attached to it like – I’ll get around to learning to knit someday, I’ll use that vegetable steamer someday (where did the instruction booklet go?), or I’ll keep this dress just in case I’m ever invited to a retro-prom-dress themed party. The moment you have the desire to use something or learn something new – that’s the moment to give the item a home and use it. Once it’s lost your attention, it’s lost the reason you had for having it. It’s time to get rid of it.

So here’s my secret to this day that has allowed me to heal from past hoarding issues and take major steps forward and feel good about it: making this list. Either before the process of decluttering or while taking a break from it – make a list of what is allowed to be stored. Thinking this through while not looking at the hidden treasure in box #103 gives me a clear mind and allows for an unbiased decision.

And when I stumble upon something sentimental that I truly don’t want or need, but comes tied in memory strings – I take a picture of it and say goodbye, and thank God for the good gifts that He has given in remembering.

The frame we bought in Mexico on our honeymoon. This picture is enough evidence of that memory.

The frame we bought in Mexico on our honeymoon. This picture is enough evidence of that memory.

Keep only the great stuff. If you need help deciding what the great stuff is, ask someone you trust to help you. I read books, listened to podcasts, and watched TED talks which all helped me get into a new mentality – essentially, my thinking has changed.

Thinking leads to acting which leads to feeling. This is the right progression. When I put my feelings first, I usually make bad decisions.

One last point on stuff, especially kids’ stuff: become an expert at spotting interest. Whatever keeps one of my child’s interest for more than 10 minutes is good, if it keeps their interest for an hour that’s better, and if it keeps their interest and they go back to it for days that’s the best.

This is a great twaddle-free book. Keeper!

This is a great twaddle-free book. Keeper!

The items aren’t always the toys, games, and books that I love or want them to be interested in which is why I have to put my feelings last.

I hope this day has helped you and encouraged you to go through that old stuff and make room for interest! I know it has helped me to write about it – it meant I had to do it!

Further reading:

This is Day 7 in the #31Days to #Back2School series; check out Day 1 and the Index by clicking here.

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Thank you for reading this post. If you've found it helpful, bookmark or share it for future reference. There are affiliate links in this post, because that's just good business - they are all marked by underlining. If you want to know more about affiliate links read my disclosure. As always, be sure to subscribe for more free content and to download your free guide to writing your own Parenting Purpose Statement.

#Back2School in #31Days: Day 5 – Creating a Book Nook

In Day 3, I revealed the awful pictures of what I was starting with for a schoolroom. I hope if you’ve been at this home education thing for a while you were able to sigh with relief that you weren’t starting from that point this year – or if this is your first year of educating your kids at home you were able to see how possible it is to overcome overwhelming odds to set up your space.

Each of our challenges for facing a new year are unique.

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Today’s bite size piece was deciding to turn the closet into a book nook for the kids.

The original plan for this space was to convert it to a hallway-accessed, built-in shelving unit because we don’t have a linen closet. And our bathroom is tiny (in a cozy, we love this house no matter what sort of way).

So, I let my mind explore the idea of using this under the staircase closet as a special kid-sized area and also started brainstorming what we would do for bathroom storage. (I created this Small Bathroom Solutions board as a result, and we’ve actually accomplished some of these. Setting goals for using Pinterest really works.)

As the idea continued to form, I knew it was going to be a big hit with my kids. I was convinced that I just had to create it.

And out with all the random things as seen here, in order to first move in our small 2 shelf bookcase.

First, I hold myself to the cardinal rule of my own creation – Thou shalt only move an item to its home, or it must move out of our home. I can’t tell you how many times during each of our 11 moves (in 10 years) that I’ve driven myself crazy by busily shuffling things from one flat surface to another.

So busy, but never getting anything done.

Constantly “rearranging” but never giving an item an official place in our home.

It was enough to make me motivated to reach out for this book and change.

Finally.

As each item was moved out of the closet it was carefully given a home somewhere else, or it was thrown out or donated. I’ve learned to just go with my gut because another one of my crazies with moving is indecision. (Again, thank you Tsh. This podcast is a gem.)

Second, I grabbed the small shelf to see if it would fit, and with that in place I was free to start unloading my kids’ favorite books. In went pillows, a small ottoman, a pretty curtain to cover an unfinished wall, and 2 lamps. Oh, and the guitar – of course!

B2S Day 5 Book Nook

Finally, I revealed the space to the kids and the magic took over from there. Books and pillows in a small space with a cave-like, secret hiding spot feel? WIN.

Serious win.

All the what if we really need storage? And where will we put hairdryers and towels, extra toilet paper and toothpaste-questions paled in comparison. It didn’t matter. So what if I have to run down to the basement for extra toilet paper or reach into the over head cupboards in the schoolroom for my hairdryer (that I only use an average of once a month anyway)?

My kids’ affection for our home and their cool space has just gone through the roof.

And I now am completely convinced that creating spaces with purpose within the home is a non-negotiable. When I first read through Organized Simplicity the winter of 2013, I had no idea how to see the purpose of a space – I was instead the master of multitasking spaces way beyond their design.

Now looking back I see the huge difference of asking too much from a space, by hoarding and cramming too many “good things” into one place.

So, do I sometimes think this closet/storage space turned Kids’ Book Nook is a waste of useable space? Not at all.

B2S Day 5 Book Nook 2

The joy our whole family gets from it is irreplaceable.

What space in your home brings the most joy to your kids? How can you make it even more enjoyable for everyone?

If you’ve missed a day, check out the index of posts: click here.

Further reading:

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Thank you for reading this post. If you've found it helpful, bookmark or share it for future reference. There are affiliate links in this post, because that's just good business - they are all marked by underlining. If you want to know more about affiliate links read my disclosure. As always, be sure to subscribe for more free content and to download your free guide to writing your own Parenting Purpose Statement.

 

#Back2School in #31Days: Day 4 – Using Pinterest with Caution

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You know that sinking feeling? The one where you have no idea how to begin bailing yourself out?

Like scooping water out of a sinking ship with a small toy bucket?

Yeah, that’s me and Pinterest.

Once I click open the page, I get that I’m smaller than a pigmy shrew feeling. I want to crawl in a hole and ignore all the pretty pictures for fear that my life will end up in pictures and somehow side by side with all the beauty plastered all over the inter-webs for the world to see.

Plus, I’m easily overstimulated by color.

So, to say I usually avoid Pinterest would be an understatement. (And Target too – but that’s another story for different series.)

That is until a few weeks ago.

I’ve grown so much in understanding how I tick, what motivates me, how to keep momentum toward my goals, how to accept my weak spots without shame, and all that rolled into some healthy strength to be able to face the once was scary things in my life.

I knew I needed some clever ideas for how to use our small space in our new home, so I started a board for that on Pinterest.

Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 6.18.49 AM

But first – I outlined these rules for myself!

  1. The most important rule is look for items you already own that someone is using differently or creatively.
    • I tend to be an “inside the box” type of thinker, so this helpful scan is huge for giving me a new perspective
    • I stop myself if I start looking at pins that would require me to buy any thing
  2. Never look for the sake of “just looking”
    • This wasn’t a time to tackle creating a list of ideas for the garden, garage, or any other space in the house
    • No rabbit trails allowed
    • Getting caught up in looking at pretty things slows me down and dissolves my motivation
  3. Use the search carefully
    • The more specific words the better
    • Put the most important word first (even if it feels weird and out of order)
    • Don’t waste your time if the first results don’t look right at a glance, do a new search right away
  4. Scroll quickly, don’t look for pretty – look for key components like size, space, and matches to the search terms
    • Make a list mentally or on paper of 2 things:
      • What your components need to be
      • Any unused furniture or supplies you already own for repurposing – keep the vision of using these things in mind
    • Don’t get caught up in color – keep only the key components in mind
  5. Think in scale – don’t try to match something point for point – there are somethings that work well smaller or larger given the space you have available
  6. If the pin earns my click, then go to the source and decide within 1 minute if the project is A.) practical B.) possible (preferably within a 1 week time frame) C.) purposeful for more than a few months and D.) peaceful (will the finished product bring joy to my life and help me to breathe)
  7. Zap distractions, this isn’t a time for idealizing, dreaming, or if I ever win the lottery-thinking
  8. Use the categories at the top navigation, under the search
    • For example, I typed in “Homeschool Book Storage” and I have the option of just scrolling the results OR narrowing the results to specific categories like: Bookshelves, Built ins, Dining rooms, Classroom organization, Desks, Magazine holders, DIY, Tips, Home Libraries, and the list goes on…
    • Also, under the categories are Pinterest’s organization – you can choose to look at “All Pins, Your Pins, Pinners, or Boards.” I like to look at both “all pins” and “boards.” Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 6.31.24 AM
  9. Once you’re finished pinning, review the board
    • You’ll see that I don’t have a ton of pins on my Homeschool Room board or my Small Bathroom Solutions board. That is on purpose. I went back through my boards after searching, and decided between conflicting ideas. I can have two types of craft organization or towel storage systems.
    • Weed out ideas that won’t really work quickly. Don’t let your board get so full that then you don’t know how or where to start.
  10. Use a timer (one of my favorite household tools ever!)
    • It may sound silly, but I set goals for what I want to accomplish on Pinterest and I time myself.
    • Time is a resource, don’t give it away for free – make sure there’s a return on your investment.

My searches were for:

  • Drawer storage ideas – we have 8 unnecessary drawers in our schoolroom. Seriously, I’m open to suggestions as to how on earth to use these extra drawers. (I’m not a fan.)
  • Homeschool room ideas – lockers, desks, shelves, etc. I wanted ideas for using the wall space we have for storage and flow. So, thinking about using a table for a desk means that we will need to have separate storage for books and supplies. (I know you may be thinking about the 8 unnecessary drawers right now, but don’t. These drawers are wooden and deep – difficult for kids to open and shut. Not ideal for keeping a single subject inside.)
  • Small storage spaces – for ideas on how to use the closet that I pictured here in Day 3 – that catch-all space. (Tomorrow I’ll show you what we did with it!)

Things I did not search for:

  • Craft storage – this will be a future search. I wasn’t ready for little detail ideas. I knew I needed to get major pieces put together first.
  • Workbox systems – I already found the system I like for keeping the kids’ materials separate, organized, and easy to access. (I use this cart, I explain a little bit about it here.)
  • Wall decor – I quickly decided this one already. We only have 2 walls – so one gets the chalkboard and the other will get a map of the world.

So, I’m feeling good about my healing relationship with Pinterest. I think we may be able to be friends after all. I respect it for the tool that it is, and I respect my limits in attempting to use the tool wisely without falling prey to the never ending pursuit of the elusive “perfect.”

Have you found a good way to use Pinterest? Do you have a great Pinterest story? I’d love to hear it! Let me know in the comments.

If you’ve missed a day, check out the index of posts: click here.

Further Reading:

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Thank you for reading this post. If you've found it helpful, bookmark or share it for future reference. There are affiliate links in this post, because that's just good business - they are all marked by underlining. If you want to know more about affiliate links read my disclosure. As always, be sure to subscribe for more free content and to download your free guide to writing your own Parenting Purpose Statement.