Kids’ Clothes Clean-out!

Trying Out a New Method

Over the Christmas break, a friend recommended that I read the popular organizing book “The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo (2014, Ten Speed Press).  Her method, also known as the Konmari method has helped many simplify and de-clutter their homes in short periods of time by identifying items by whether they bring them joy.  I decided to check it out and see if some of the ideas might work for me.  I wasn’t sure if “joy” could realistically be the determining factor for all my belongings (who loves bills?), but maybe I could pair down to what I loved, and truly needed.  I was also skeptical about de-cluttering by type of item rather than room or section of the house, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to give it a try, so after reading, I plunged into the method’s 1st category of items: clothing.  I really wanted to dig into my own clothes, but I decided that I could face my kids’ clothes with less emotion, and their room (and our laundry baskets) were brimming with clothes.  So off I went….

My Clothes-culling Strategy

Step 1 – I started out by collecting every piece of dirty laundry I could find in my home.  I collected everything from kids’ room (I even looked behind their bed) and every room of the house, and took them to the laundry to sort.  I sorted it all into the following piles: kids clothes’, my clothes, husband’s clothes, and linens.  Then I started a load of kids’ clothes and determined to keep washing through just the kids’ clothes until they were complete.

Step 2 – Once the wash was started, I separated the clean clothes that were around the house (like the piles on my couch) into kid’s clothes, and everything else.  I folded all the kids’ clothes and separated them by kid.  The clean clothes would now be ready for when I sorted through the contents of the dressers and closet.

boys 001Step 3 – I already have the kids clothes organized by type in the dressers (shirts in one drawer, pants in another, etc.), so I knew I could just pull one drawer at a time to organize each type of item.  Since, my kids socks were all mixed up and they couldn’t find any pairs, I decided to pull all the socks from both dressers.  I brought the sock drawers into my Living room where I could sort them.  I dumped them all onto the floor and started sorting them by type.  I added in the socks from the folded laundry I had just finished, and matched up as many pairs as I could and then put them away.  I then threw out any that were ripped or were no longer the right size, or I just didn’t like the look of anymore.  I left a small pile of single socks that had no match in the living room, to match up with others later as they came out of the wash.

boys 003Step 4 – With socks done, I started drawer by drawer per kid.  I immediately eliminated any that were not in my son’s current size and put them in a donation bag.  Rather than deciding if each item brought me “joy”, I asked myself: “Does this fit him?”, “Am I sick of seeing this?”, Is it too worn or stained?”  Those questions helped me quickly divide out the ones I no longer wished to keep.  I folded them neatly back into the drawer as I went along.  I then turned to my pile of clean clothes from the washed and decided if they were all keepers.  If not, they went straight to the donation bin.  If I couldn’t fit everything in the drawer, I decided which items we had too many of, and eliminated the ones I loved the least.  **Tip – This process was so much easier with the kids at school.

Step 5 – Repeated steps with other son’s dresser.  I also checked occasionally on washer, stopping to fold up kids clothes and cull/put-away into the drawers I already completed.

boys 002Step 6 – I tackled the hanging clothes and jackets last by the same process.  I only hang my sons’ collared shirts and jackets, so it was fairly easy to cull through.  And I decided how many coats we really needed, and limited my favorites to that number.

The Result

Wow!  I can’t believe how fast this seemed to go.  In 2 hours, I had not only collected and sorted all the laundry in the house in preparation, but I cleared out and organized ALL of the kids clothes in 2 dressers and their closet (including baseball uniforms and swimsuits)!  I had been skeptical by organizing by type rather than location, but let me tell you….I loved how THOROUGH this felt!!  I knew I had organized everything!!  And as items continued to come out of the dryer, I could quickly match up the lingering single socks and cull or put-away remaining items.

I also de-cluttered 5 full bags of kids clothes!!  No wonder laundry had been over-flowing!  I only kept what we loved and used, and the kids still had full dressers.  I had thought that both kids needed new jeans because they had repeatedly come out in the mornings with too-short, holey jeans….but it turned out, the perfectly good jeans were just buried somewhere.  If I had not gone through all the clothes in such a methodical way, I would have spent money on several more pairs per kid!  In the end, I had more pairs of good pants than I needed, and even gave a few good pairs away just to keep from packing the drawers to tight.  So I managed to save $$, have plenty to give to friends or to donation, and every piece of clothes they own is organized and put away!  Boy, that was productive!  Try it and let me know what you think.


A Hotspot A Day Keeps the Chaos Away (or at least to a minimum)

home 015My 30-Day Challenge

A few weeks ago, I was trying to figure out a way to “train” myself to pick up after myself.  I’m a little challenged in that regard.  I’m often so busy thinking about the next thing I need to do, that I set things down without realizing it, and leave a trail throughout my home.  If left unchecked, this little “habit” of mine can leave my house in disaster by night’s end.  The Baby-step approach has worked really well for me in the past, so I decided to give myself a 30-day challenge to start clearing my Hotspots.  A Hotspot is any flat space in your home that attracts objects to be set there temporarily (or more like forever)!  These Hotspots often multiply and can soon lead to a full-out Home Blaze of sorts.  So, I decided that my 1st plan of attack would be to take 30 days to work on one Hotspot area a day.  My focus was not to do 30 consecutive days, (although I try for that) but 30 days total.  Each day, I find a hotspot I want to tackle and try to clear it by days end.  For fun, I take a “before” and “after” photo.

home 004The Blessing of Baby-stepping

I’m now 15 days into my challenge, and the blessings have been huge!  All of a sudden the clutter and chaos are disappearing from my home!  One of the things that continually surprises me whenever I approach a habit in Baby-steps is that your success actually compounds as you move through the process — At around day 5 my whole house is practically clean, even though I’ve only worked on 5 separate small (most under 15 minute) tasks so far.  How does this happen??

home 0052 things happen when you Baby-step:

(1) Once you get a spot clear, you subconsciously work to keep it clear.  I was so happy with my finished “after” photo, that I wanted it to stay that way!  Throughout the next day, I would put stuff away rather than setting things back in that spot.  So at least for a few days, that spot stayed pretty nice.  And when you combine that with the next day’s Hotspot area somewhere else in the house, you have 2 clean areas!  Things start to stay clean!

(2) You start to THINK Clean!  Success breeds success.  I made it easy on myself by only picking one small focused area a day because then I would be able to complete it by day’s end, no matter what was on the schedule.  Since I had a focus, I started keeping things cleaner just because cleaning was in the back of my mind as I progressed through the day.

These 2 factors together = Big, Fast, progress!  It’s also given me a better focus for my afternoons.  I’ve always done pretty well with a simple Morning Routine and Before Bed Routine, but I’ve always struggled a bit in the afternoon since each day was different.  I would jump from task to task and hope I finished the day with some progress.  Now, my Hotspot challenge is narrowing my focus for the afternoon.  I have one main cleaning goal that I can work on alongside dinner prep and kids activities.  If I end the day with just that done, I feel great!  I think I’ll continue this habit beyond the 30 days and make it my new Afternoon Routine!

house 008Find an Accountability Buddy (or a whole group of them)!

Something that really increases your success is to give yourself a support system.  Now, we all have to clean, but many of us find it goofy to talk about it.  But believe it or not, there are whole Facebook groups that celebrate cleaning and organizing, and where ladies daily meet to virtually clean together!  Just look up “cleaning” or “Flylady” on Facebook and you will find a slew of private groups dedicated to cleaning together.  There you can meet friends who are also working to build habits in a closed private setting.  I am a part of several different groups, including my own “Happy Home Habits”, and I find them inspiring and quite helpful.  Each day, I am posting the “before” and “after” photo from my 30-day challenge, so that I have accountability to get that day’s task done.  I’ve also been encouraging the friends in my group to pick a 30 day habit they would like to work on and post on it daily as well.  So many of us are seeing the wonderful compounding results of Baby-stepping into habits.  Some are working on drinking more water, clearing their clutter, or keeping their kitchens clean.  We all start at different times, and we are working on different tasks, but we are making progress together and cheering each other on.  Find a group, or find a friend that you can share your plans and success with.  Accountability is your secret weapon to keep you motivated.

Baby-stepping works so well for me, that I’m going to continue this approach into other habits I’d like to lock in place!  I hope this idea propels you into setting up some new habits of your own.  Try it for 30 days.  You’ll love it!