Clearing the Clutter

My neighbor is a miracle worker. Like a legit miracle worker. Let me explain. Whenever I go into her house, which is a lot, it always looks so nice and it makes me feel calm. I know that sounds weird but stick with me. I don’t have a designing bone in my body. So I asked my neighbor for some advice about how I could make my house look a little better. We’ve lived there nearly five years, and I think I had a total of three pictures on the walls. I gave her free reign so she basically did some personal, affordable shopping for me and I paid her back and she put everything where it should be. But her design services ended up morphing into a major de-cluttering project that I was not expecting.

We started in the kitchen pantry. She asked what my concerns were and I told her that I basically just shoved everything in there and hoped for the best. I constantly had mail on the counter, along with my daughter’s school stuff, and it drove me nuts but I didn’t know what to do with it. That launched a trip to Target. About 20 storage bins later coupled with some serious organization lessons, I had a well put together pantry complete with bins and labels. Labels, you guys! My neighbor has a label maker because of course she does. As I mentioned, she’s a miracle worker. She also set up a mail station in my pantry and a place to put all my daughter’s school drawings so it wasn’t all over the counter for two weeks at a time. And I have TONS of room left in there.

The next thing she did was clear my counter space of almost everything. My canisters with flour, sugar and coffee went into the pantry. She reorganized all my cabinets to put things in places that made sense. I donated some random glasses and dishes that we simply do not use anymore. So now I even have some EMPTY kitchen cabinets!

Next, we moved upstairs and I was seriously scared at this point. My neighbor and I have gotten close over the past five years, but my girls’ bedrooms sometimes made me feel like a straight up hoarder. I was nervous to even have her step foot in them, especially having seen HER kids’ bedrooms which are pretty perfectly organized and clean. We walked into my 5-year-old daughter’s room and both took deep breaths. And then, I got tears in my eyes and damn near had a breakdown. I had no idea how much all the clutter was stressing me out. And I had no idea how to get from really unorganized to organized. I had attempted this several times but I just felt like I was moving stuff from one place to another.

My neighbor will now tell me this room even seemed like a challenge to her, and that’s saying a lot. But we just jumped in and started making piles. And then those piles went into, you guessed it, bins. Those Sterilite three drawer organizers are my new best friend. We moved a Lego table out that was just a place to pile stuff and after several hours (yep, it was THAT bad), my daughter had a wide open bedroom. Again, I teared up because of the relief I felt. My daughter then spent the next two hours doing somersaults and flipping around her “new room.” She didn’t even get out any toys! My daughter is so in love with her “new room” that she’s wanting to get rid of things and buy some more organizers for her shoes. It’s crazy.

My neighbor has helped me with even more rooms including our master bedroom which had become a dumping ground for toys, my 2-year-old daughter’s room and my bathrooms. She has even more plans for me, too, which will involve cycling out some toys that simply don’t get used. I’m also planning to have her help me tackle my closet. Thank goodness she loves to organize. Thank goodness she’s such a good friend and pushed me out of my comfort zone. She basically just didn’t give me time to be embarrassed (because I was) and just forged on. I am darn near ecstatic to make my coffee every morning because it is all in one little station now. If I find 80 Shopkins in my room, I know where to put them. Piles of doll clothes? There’s a bin for that, too!

Here are a few things that really helped me the most and might help you if you need to get organized!

  • Sterilite 3-drawer bins – I have one in my daughter’s closet that holds all kinds of little toys. Those little toys are all grouped together and in freezer bags, so all the Shopkins are together, the Magnatiles, dinosaurs, etc. I am planning to get another set of these for my daughter’s shoes.
  • Plastic bins – I bought mine at Target but you can obviously get them anywhere. My neighbor had me organize my pantry into different categories and those items went in the appropriate bin. For example, I now have bins for “Baking Supplies,” “Breakfast,” “Crackers,” “Bread,” “Medicine,” “Pet Items” and, my favorite, “Condiments” (because I have the sense of humor of a 12 year old and it makes me chuckle). I also use these for cleaning supplies under the sink. Basically everything that can be in a bin, is!
  • Mail station – We just got wire horizontal mail stacker things. One is for mail I need to deal with immediately, the other is for stuff I am hanging onto but isn’t urgent. Then we got a standing file to put my daughter’s artwork and school papers in. The good stuff makes it onto the fridge and I try to go through the rest once a week to decide what to toss and what to keep.
  • Cabinet organizers – I bought some for my bathroom drawers at Ikea for $2 to hold toothbrushes, toothpaste, moisturizer, etc. Somehow having all of that stuff in an organizer works much better than having it randomly roll around a drawer.

I won’t lie. I had a little bit of sticker shock when we started buying all these bins and organization things but after feeling the calm that comes from not having crap everywhere, I would have easily paid double or triple that. And, oh yeah, my neighbor’s friendship and selflessness to help me? Priceless for sure.

I am certainly still a rookie at this whole organization thing so please share your favorite tips and ideas so we can all clear the clutter!

Hey! My name is Julie and I use too many exclamation points! My husband Grady and I are attempting to raise two wild women, Mia and Reese. We live in Shawnee where our faux bulldog Marge rules the roost. My hobbies include driveway drinking, going to parks and desperately trying to have date nights. My likes include the Jayhawks, coffee, craft beer and ChapStick. My dislikes include samesiders (people who sit on the same side of the booth when no one is on the other side), jerks and grocery shopping.