Two weeks ago, we had a “something’s gotta give,” moment. Wednesday is cleanup day and Thursday is computer day but it took the kids until Thursday afternoon to finish cleaning up which means they did not get their two hour turns on the computer that day. I realized (yet again) that they had a staggering amount of toys/books/clothes/etc and very little organization. So I woke up last Monday morning with what was almost an epiphany – we would do one hour a day of cleanup, using a timer, and with five weekdays and five kids who use the computer, each kid in order of age could have two hours a day to play games, watch Netflix, etc. once we got the cleanup done for the day.
There were tears from a few kids who clearly do not like change and were struggling to see how one hour a day was better than morning until evening on Wednesdays. I told them that we would try this through the summer and that I would be with them for that hour so they wouldn’t be doing it on their own. I knew this was necessary because a) they get distracted easily (um, they’re kids!) and one hour on their own would be far less productive than one hour with mama’s help, and b) being there means I get to be sneaky and throw out/donate things that they never use but would undoubtedly keep if I wasn’t there.
Last week, we put in one hour a day of cleaning – sometimes a bit more if I felt the need to add a few minutes due to total lack of cooperation – and we finished their playroom, which is also where Elias and Erik sleep. I spent nearly $60 on under bed storage so that most of the sets of toys could be stored out of the way. It’s not perfect and I’m confident that we could get rid of a lot more, but it’s way better.
This week we’re working on the “big room” which is our large downstairs family room and is a second play area as well as where all our books are stored, where I workout (when I’m up to it), where they watch movies and play Nintendo. It needs a TON of work. We started yesterday and it looks worse than it did before but that seems to be the name of the game in big decluttering/organization projects like this.
My goal is to make the entire house functional and easy to move out of at any point. Not that we are planning to move but I’ve lived through two moves that were totally dysfunctional – throwing things in random boxes and sometimes not even unpacking them for years. Last night I opened a sealed box to find a bunch of candles I’ll never use, knick knacks I don’t need or want anymore, empty frames that I was apparently saving to use again and various other small things. 90% went into donation boxes. This is proof that those haphazardly packed boxes are not something I want to do again.
The most daunting thing about this job is that I’m slightly more than halfway through pregnancy right now. My energy levels are better than they were six weeks ago but not as good as they have been in earlier pregnancies. This one has been tough on me. I would love to see everything done before this baby comes but I know that it’s not that likely. So we’ll keep trucking away with one hour a day and I’ll try to fit in a few hours a week decluttering my own stuff (hello, craft/laundry room) and hope to be half done by the fall. I’m trying to be optimistic that this is a reasonable expectation and that if I have a few days with extra help at home or the kids out of the house, I might get a little bit further.
It is very clear that the old system was broken. I just hope that this one will get us to a better place and make it easier for the kids to clean up their own messes in an organized fashion. And for that matter, help me clean up mine as well.