Organized Simplicity - Week 1

I saw Tsh Oxenreider speak at the Relevant conference in October. She spoke about finding where your talents and passions collide, finding your sweet spot, that place where you are your best self.

A few months later, I heard on Twitter that her book, Organized Simplicity, was free for Kindle that day only. I downloaded it and skimmed it (one of the downfalls of e-readers, in my opinion). I knew immediately that I wanted to give it a try. I live in a cluttered house - two single people got married and merged all their stuff, then we inherited more from parents and grandparents, and, add kids to the mix...well, you get the picture. Almost everything in our house is useful - with a caveat: about every 2 years or so, I'll use something I haven't even thought of for years.

The problem with that is I have a house that's very hard to keep clean. There is the constant influx of laundry - we own too many clothes for each person. The toys scattered through every room of the house. The art/school corner that hasn't been tidy since my oldest was in first grade. The table and kitchen island that collect odds and ends and piles of mail. The pantry that hasn't ever been bare but you still can't find all the ingredients for a single meal.

And so, I shelled out for the ring-bound hardcover copy of Tsh's book. I can't recommend it enough. She lays out a simple yet detailed plan for decluttering and reorganizing your house so that your house works for you, instead of you working for your house.

I started Saturday on the kid's playroom. Tsh recommends starting in one of your main living areas - the kitchen or living room, for instance. I chose the playroom because I know the other rooms will be even more time consuming, and I wanted to create a haven for my kids so that I can clean without interruption as I work my way through the rest of the house.

Last week, our neighbor's house burned down. They happen to have children the same ages and sizes of our kids, so that lit the fire for me to start cleaning. I've donated 14 lawn bags of clothing, bedding, and toys - some to Saver's and some to this needy family - since Saturday. 16 lawn bags of trash have been hauled out to the truck for a trip to the dump. The children's room is beginning to take shape. Furniture pieces and closets emptied out (finally), I am able to start reorganizing the room so it is more functional for the kids to play in. There is a girl zone (dolls, kitchen, "restaurant" and art/game table) and a boy zone (a trunk full of cars, the train table, balls, and a little toddler reading corner). One dresser has been hidden in the closet, and the other acts as a room divider now.

Even though the room isn't done yet, I am beginning to see it take shape. And it will make cleaning simpler. My kids are 8, 7, 5 and 4 now, and they are perfectly able to sort toys into appropriate bins and trunks once they are done playing. By eliminating broken or seldom used toys, they are left with a smaller number of things to play with - but things that make imaginative play more of a realistic option.

While this hasn't been easy for me, especially with health problems continuing to plague me, I feel like I have a doable goal in mind. Thanks to Tsh's encouraging book, I feel like it might finally be possible to take control of my mess and clutter and live in a house that looks a little more Pinterest and a little less garbage dumpster.

If you wish to join me on my decluttering endeavor, check out Tsh's book and blog through your process. Tell us what was difficult for you, give us the weekly tally of junk thrown out and goods donated. What is your favorite thing about decluttering? What has changed in your life since you started to live in a simpler home?