Minimalism is all the rage right now. I see tons of blogs, pins, tweets, books, etc. about living with less. I keep hearing about the Marie Kondo method…If it doesn’t spark joy, then get rid of it. Most Americans have so much stuff and we don’t even realize it. We have to buy bigger houses and rent storage units just to hold all of our stuff! While I’m not exactly ready to go down to three outfits or buy a tiny house, I am ready to live with a lot less than what we have.
We have been in our house now for almost three years. Before we moved, we sold, donated, and trashed tons of stuff. You would think we would not have accumulated a lot of junk within the last three years…but apparently, we are hoarders (well, my boys and my husband are). So, over this past Thanksgiving break, I decided it was time to clear out all the crap!
I chose that week because my boys were going on a three-day trip to Gatlinburg with my parents. I would have three entire, kid-free days to declutter and organize. And it was the perfect time to get rid of all the old, broken and unused toys they had been holding on to. If I try to get rid of toys when the boys are around, I hear…“Why are you getting rid of that? I need that! I still play with that!” The truth is, they haven’t played with it in two years and forgot they even had it.
The first two days of the week the boys were going to be home, so I decided not to touch their rooms until they were gone. I devised my plan to declutter and organize the house room by room in five days…and it was a success! You can do this in five consecutive days (like I did) or you can do it one day a week or once a month. Nonetheless, all you need is five days to get your whole house in order!
WHAT SUPPLIES DO YOU NEED?
A lot of these organizational-type posts will say you need a donate box, a keep box, and a throw away box. Well, I didn’t have a bunch of big boxes lying around and I certainly wasn’t going to buy them. I just put everything in piles and remembered which was which.
Also, if you’re like me, you have a lot of junk in storage bins and baskets throughout your home. Once you start clearing those out and donating the stuff inside them, you will have a lot of empty storage bins left over. You can simply reuse these to organize all the stuff you’re going to keep. For this reason, I don’t recommend going out and buying a bunch of storage bins before you get started.
The one thing I do recommend buying (if you don’t already have one) is a label maker. I don’t know how I got through life without one of these! Here is a great one! I also bought these steel shelves and this tool organizer on Black Friday (for a great price) which fit perfectly in our garage.
SUPPLIES I BOUGHT:
· Label Maker
· Heavy Duty Garbage Bags
· Plastic Drawers
· Steel Shelves (for the garage)
· Tool organizer (also for the garage)
· 2 large plastic storage bins
· 2 medium plastic storage bins
· 2 small (shoe box size) plastic storage bins
SUPPLIES I ALREADY HAD:
· Command hooks
· Storage bins/containers in various sizes
· Shower curtain rod (I know, you’re thinking “why that?”. Keep reading to find out!)
• Day 1 – Coat Closet and Linen Closets
• Day 2 – Kitchen
• Day 3 – Boys’ Rooms and Bonus Rooms
• Day 4 – Garage
• Day 5 – Master Closet
Day 1 – Coat Closet/Linen Closets (Kids were still at home this day):
We have one coat closet and two linen closets in our house. Our coat closet had turned into a “catch all” and was piled high with stuff. I wanted to make it functional again and have an area for gift wrap and craft supplies. I also needed to store the vacuum, suitcase, and popcorn machine (because it’s too big for any of my kitchen cabinets) in there.
I pulled everything out and figured out what I could donate and what needed to be stored somewhere else. I saw this pin on Pinterest and it gave me an idea for storing the gift wrap and gift bags. I took an old shower curtain rod and put it in this small corner of the coat closet. Then, I stuffed all the big gift bags and rolls of gift wrap behind it. It worked perfectly!
I reused some plastic baskets from Dollar Tree and hung them on the wall with command hooks. I used one to store small gift bags and the other to store bows and tags.
On the shelf above, I stored tissue paper and a small plastic bin of craft supplies. I kept one large plastic bin on the floor to store leftover party supplies and party favors. Next year, the boys’ birthday parties are going to be “Super Mario Emoji Pirate Circus” themed…gotta reuse ‘em somehow! I was able to fit the popcorn machine and vacuum in nice and neatly. Here is what the finished product looks like (2 months later!).
With the linen closets, I basically just donated any old towels and sheets. Then, I folded everything and put it away neatly. I got this cool idea on Pinterest for folding sheets. It makes them look so much neater.
Day 2 – Kitchen (Kids still at home):
I’m not gonna lie. This one took me several hours. I started by taking everything out of the fridge and throwing out all of the old, expired stuff. Then, I took out all the shelves and drawers and hand washed everything. Once I dried them and put them back in the fridge, I put everything back in neat and organized. I didn’t wash all the shelves in the freezer because they weren’t that dirty. But I did throw out all the old, freezerburned food and made it look tidy in there.
After the fridge/freezer, I started on the pantry. Again, I took everything out and threw out all the old expired stuff (even that bag of brown sugar that had basically turned into a brown rock). I reused some white plastic bins and made labels for baking supplies, pasta/bread, and nuts/grains. I already had two larger bins for the boys’ snacks and for aluminum foil/plastic wrap/Ziploc bags. I also keep one of these plastic 3-drawer bins in there to store paper plates, cups, plastic spoons, etc. I labeled each drawer and organized them.
Next, I organized my spice/medicine cabinet. Doesn’t everyone put their spices and medicine together? We sure do! I love a good Tylenol with a hint of cumin. I separated our medicine into pain relievers, stomach, cold/cough, vitamins, and first aid. Then, I reused some small plastic bins and labeled them by category. I threw out all my old spices and rearranged them neatly.
Then, I went through all my dishes, pots, pans, silverware, utensils and donated anything we didn’t need or use (which was a lot). I put all the lids to my plastic containers into their own plastic bin, and I stacked up the containers from largest to smallest. I donated old dish towels, cookbooks, sippy cups, and kids utensils. I also organized the junk drawer by making dividers out of a cereal box. Who knew I was so resourceful?
Day 3 – Boys’ Rooms/Bonus Room (Kids are gone!)
This was day one of the boys trip with their grandparents. I could finally get my hands on all those toys! I filled 3 garbage bags full of toys to donate to Goodwill and 2 bags full of trash. I also donated a lot of larger toys that wouldn’t fit in the garbage bags. Believe it or not, the boys did not even notice that anything was missing when they got home. That’s how much junk they had!
I made sure not to donate any toys that they really love or play with often. The toys I did keep, I put in all the various toy bins and labeled them. I made categories for action figures, vehicles, play weapons, instruments, costumes, big vehicles, etc., etc. Now, when I tell them to clean up, they know where everything is supposed to go. I did not get all three rooms done in one day. I was just able to finish the boys’ rooms and start on the bonus room.
Day 4 – Finish Bonus Room/Garage (Still no kids!)
This day my husband was off work. I let him start on the garage while I finished up the bonus room. He pulled everything out of the garage and cleaned the floor. Then, he yelled for me to come and tell him what to do with everything. We had some discussions (arguments) over what I thought we should throw away and what he swore he needed to keep because he might “need it one day.” Once we got all of that figured out, we then organized everything.
I reused some plastic bins and made an area for recycling our plastic bottles and plastic grocery bags. The new storage bins I bought were used to organize camping supplies, pest control supplies, paint supplies, and tools. I reused some old storage bins for gardening supplies and outdoor Christmas decorations. We stored all these bins on our new steel shelves. Then, we used our new tool organizer to store the shovels, rakes, brooms, etc. Mission accomplished…We could now get out of all four doors of the car without having to squeeze past a bunch of stuff!
Day 5 – Master Closet/Dresser (Kids got home that afternoon)
We got started in the morning because we knew the kids would be home that afternoon. We went through all of our clothes and shoes and filled three garbage bags to donate to Goodwill. Let me just say, my husband has way more clothes than me…because he won’t get rid of anything! Most of the clothes in those bags were mine. I had to buy him some plastic drawers like these because his dresser drawers were overflowing. I also made labels for each drawer so that he would know where to put (cram) everything. I saw this cool idea on Pinterest and used that to hang his hats and belts, genius!
I organized all of my clothes by color. It’s just easier for me to find something to wear that way. I let my husband organize his stuff however he wanted. We already had shoe racks to organize our shoes. I also saw this on Pinterest for storing my boots. It worked like a charm! Two months later, our closet still looks pretty good.
There are still a few things in my house that I want to organize and declutter. The storage bin in our backyard is one of those. There are a lot of old, dirty toys that need to be thrown out or cleaned up and donated. I’ve decided I can wait until spring to do that. I also want to organize the drawers and cabinets in my bathroom, but they are not too bad at the moment.
Some other projects I want to get around to are organizing my old photos and going through old keepsakes to decide what I can part with. I saved this pin for when I’m ready to tackle that. For now, those are on my “Projects” list.
Decluttering your house is a big undertaking, but it can be done. Decide what rooms or closets you want to work on and make a plan to get it done. You (and your house) will feel 50 pounds lighter when you are finished.
I’ve got some great organization ideas and printables on my Pinterest boards! Follow me here.
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