Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Home Organization Week

My post two weeks ago was about the organization urge I was experiencing with the upcoming arrival of spring when I will want to be outdoors with my kids.  Last week's absent post was a casualty of my frenzy to implement my plans.  Two weeks later, I am sitting in a clean and organized home.  I know, right? So what did we do in about one week that we couldn't do in nearly 3 years?  Well, I'll admit that it started with a tax refund!  We allocated a fair amount of this year's refund to this project because our small home has almost no storage. We have four kids and a lot going on in this house, and all my previous attempts at conquering the chaos had only been partially successful.  This time, however, I had a plan and some cash!

We took a week off of formal homeschooling and talked about budgeting, organizing, assembling furniture, cleaning, and other related life skills.  My kids were incredibly hard workers and were rewarded with special little gifts and privileges during the week. My boys are 9 and 7, and my girls are 4 and 1, so their contributions to the effort varied.  The baby spent a lot of time on my back in her carrier.  To help them take ownership of the new system, they got to choose the way their possessions would be stored.  They got to choose which toys would be put into storage in the attics off their rooms for later use.  Most helpfully, they worked with me to sort the toys and discard the broken or no longer useful pieces.

Every evening my husband and I would assemble a few of the more complicated storage systems, and during the day the kids and I would assemble the simpler ones and sort, clean, purge, and organize the clutter away.       We re-arranged bedrooms, cleaned carpets, vacuumed baseboards, installed coat hooks, made our dining room into a multi-purpose playroom and home school storage room, and put an culinary-grade wire shelf into my kitchen.

Every evening my husband would come home to an entirely different home.  Some nights it was mass chaos as we were tearing apart another room.  Some nights I was pulling styrofoam out of the toddler's mouth. Other nights he would walk in and say "wow!", and sometimes that was a good thing! We ate a lot of pizza and soup because those meals were easy.  We listened to a lot of silly music on Pandora and danced while we dusted.  This project gave our family a surprisingly pleasant week!

Rather than being mired in a sense of failure at my inability to get this project done prior to this month, I gave myself a lot of grace and reminded myself that our move to Wheeling has been a big adjustment.  We didn't really have enough money to put in this kind of storage before.  Throughout this project, I kept things light and positive for all of us and took breaks whenever things were getting overwhelming.

The change is dramatic, and the change in our family dynamic has been just as dramatic.  When the kids have places to put their things, they are more helpful when it is time to clean up.  When their environment is less chaotic, their behavior is more peaceful.  Every night we go to bed with a clean home, and everyone feels able to help maintain it.  Rather than beat myself up for not doing this sooner, I remember that I have learned a lot in these last three years, and that has brought me to the place where we could get this project done so efficiently!

Next week: Pictures and descriptions of how we pulled off a room-by-room organization in one week!

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