So, this goal of mine to systematically declutter my home… It’s taking a while. Definitely longer than I had hoped.
Unlike getting out of debt, which was totally gazelle intense for us, decluttering is proving to be one-step-forward-three-steps-around-in-a-maddening-circle. Sigh.
Focusing on the positive, I have decided to work on “foundational” projects. For me, that means closets, dressers, cupboards, pantries… and, one day, the basement store room (dum, dum, dum, dum).
I’ve been emboldened by the success of my kitchen decluttering project. Stuff still gets left out. Dishes still pile up. But when I set my mind to cleaning up the kitchen, it’s pretty straight-forward. I may not have “everything in its place” at all times. But knowing that “everything has a place” takes the anxiety out of a messy kitchen.
(This has actually been a major revelation for me.)
Two weeks ago, I turned my attention to my linen closet. I had 30 minutes, tops, before my daughter woke from her nap and was determined to get ‘er done.
Therefore, I didn’t even take the 2 minutes to snap a before shot. Imagine a narrow closet, with deep shelves, stuffed with a jumbled mess of sheets, towels, medicines, flip flops for the pool, and a ton of other unidentifiable stuff.
I’m a big believer in the empty-it-all-out method of decluttering. The upside is you can see everything you’ve got and deal with your clutter in one fell swoop. The downside is that you often have an even bigger mess on your hands while you are “cleaning”.
By dumping it all out, I managed to identify two big bags worth of mismatched sheets (like for beds we no longer have), some reeeally old towels, and several other linen closet odds and ends (like a set of curtains we never even used!)
Then I gathered up everything that was left and sorted it into piles:
- Sheets were divided by beds – and the ones for our bedroom were put upstairs in our bedroom. Why should I have to go downstairs to change the sheets upstairs?
- Towels were divided into guest bath towels and hand towels. I moved the kids’ towels into an empty drawer in their bathroom – using the same rationale as I did for moving our bed linens.
- Summer “stuff” — beach towels, pool toys, sunscreen — was corralled into a big beach bag, which will reside on the top shelf of the closet until summer comes. Then it will probably clutter up my living room floor for three months. (Note to self: Come up with a system for pool toys and towels before it gets hot out.)
- Extra blankets were folded neatly and stacked.
- Rags were folded and corralled in a plastic basket, which lives on the bottom of the closet.
Then came the fun part: Putting it back in the closet and LABELING the shelves.
Yes, I probably could just label the shelves with a piece of masking tape and a Sharpie. Or I could not label the shelves at all. I mean, clearly that stack on the left is double bed sheets and the one on the right, with the Spiderman and Toy Story sheets, is for my boys’ room.
But I have learned that labeled shelves, drawers and containers tend to stay a lot neater than non-labeled ones. For example, my daughter has these plastic drawers in her closet. They are labeled – Onesies, Tights & Socks, Winter Play Clothes, Jeans, etc. I’ll tell you what: Even my boys can find her stuff – and put it away – when asked. Labels are a good thing in my house.
And as for the fancy labeler, what can I say? I like the uniformity of it. And it’s a rather small price to have paid for making me smile during my decluttering projects. (I have the Brother Family Labeler, but this price from Amazon is no great shakes. I got it for $10 less on sale last year.)
Plus, it turns out that this little decluttering project actually saved me a decent chunk of change.
You see, for the longest time, I have wanted to get all white bath towels. I figure they’d be great because we can bleach them if/when they get stained. But really, I was attracted to the idea of the spa-like uniformity of white fluffy towels.
Plus, being surrounded by a sea of clutter and disorganization makes me anxious; and when I’m feeling anxious about clutter, I tend to fixate on how I “just need to buy X” to fix all my anxiety-producing woes. For our linen closet, that “X” was white bath towels.
(I’m so hoping someone out there can related to what I’m saying and that you don’t all think I’m a total weirdo for obsessing about white towels.)
Anyway, once I had reshelved the linen closet and affixed my neat little white labels, guess what I realized? Even mis-matched towels can approximate that spa tranquility (sorta)… provided that they have a place – and are in that place.
I’d still love some fluffy white towels, all lined up neatly in a row. But they just aren’t in the budget right now. There are too many other things we actually need. Especially with Pesach coming.
So with that realization, I closed the door on my organized linen closet – and on my white towel obsession.
In thirty minutes, I not only gained a tidy and pared-down linen closet, but also a good deal of introspection into my consumption-will-solve-the-clutter problem.
Just think, if I can finish decluttering the “foundations” of my house, I may be able to talk myself out of ever needing to buy another thing again!