Declutter Week Two: All the Bedrooms

Well, it is school holidays here in Tasmania, which makes it a perfect week for the children to declutter their own bedrooms. To add an extra fillip of motivation I have bribed the girls with the promise of an expedition for tea and cakes upon successful completion of this project. As the holidays are two weeks long, I have extended the deadline for them. Fifteen minutes of decluttering and tidying and emptying cupboards per day may do the trick. Well, at least it will improve the situation immensely. Surely?

As for me, I will just spend the one week on my room, because otherwise I will be on this decluttering project until Christmas. I don't know about you, but I tend to use my room as a dumping ground for various unclassifiable piles of things that I need to do something about at some unnamed future date. Currently I have Posy's outgrown school uniforms to give way or sell, a bunch of Posy's dolls that she doesn't want anymore that I can't bring myself to just take to the op shop (Mummy sentimentalism..), a stack of pictures that I haven't hung yet since the renovations happened, a pile of clothes that I can't decide whether I want to keep or not.. you know how it goes. Also, the tops of the cupboards in my dressing room are decorated with tubs of computer accessories, bags of gift wrapping, children's art supplies and other detritus that doesn't belong to me. And really, who knows what is lurking in the depths of the wardrobes?

I have an idea that I would like a space that is an expression of me, rather than a Useful Place to Store Odd Things. It may take a while to find out what it is that I really want in my room, but there is quite a lot that I know I don't want in there. Again, I will be updating during the week. I will start with sorting the piles on the floor, proceed to the Unidentified Objects on top of my wardrobes, and finish with forays into the dark depths of the cupboards. Oh my. Then I will spring clean. Luckily the weather is vile this week, excellent for staying in and sorting out.

Monday: Today I merely clutched at my aching head and repeatedly asked myself why I had said 'yes' to the giant weekend sleepover. Also spent some thankful hours in a quiet theatre watching Rosy's ballet competitions, which was quite tedious, but at least no-one was squealing, crying, or making a mess.

Tuesday: Here is what I am starting with:

Today's washing all over the bed. Somebody should fold that and put it away.
Chair one:

..and Chair Two:

When I inherited these chairs from my Granny I fondly imagined all the hours I would spend sitting and reading in them. Well, I have done that, but generally only after tipping a pile of clothes off them first. I can understand why the Japanese invented rooms where you pack away the bed everyday and decorate merely with a vase of ikebana. It removes the temptation to drape 'stuff' on every horizontal surface. Must. put. clothes. away. Actually, none of these are my daily clothes. I do put them away. They are all piles of clothes I need to mend, give away, children's clothes to take up to the shed for next season, etc etc. At least the cat enjoys sleeping on them.

Update: It took half an hour to tidy and put everything away, including the washing. I haven't actually resolved any of the piles as such. Just moved them. I still have a pile of school uniform, a pile of Posy's outgrown clothes, a pile of dolls, and a pile of books to take to the secondhand bookshop. It is really a pile of errands. I will try to get through it all this week and find deserving homes for everything. Oh, and see that lovely skirt up above? It is a very nice Italian tweed skirt that I bought for $5 from the Red Cross shop two weeks ago. It has been languishing there because I haven't tried it on yet. Because I just hate trying on clothes. So today I finally did, and it fits perfectly. This increases my winter work wardrobe to four outfits, which is nice for everyone who has to see me in the same thing every day:) Yes, I know everyone else in the country has moved on to summer outfits, but this is Tasmania. We get summer between January and March. Sometimes.

Wednesday: Posy's room is a repository for treasure of many different kinds. It has been the children's room since we moved in here fifteen years ago. First it was The Boy and The Girl sharing, then The Girl and Rosy, then all the girls, then Rosy and Posy, now just Posy. Very little has been removed from the room in that time, and going through it is like an archeological dig, slowly peeling back the layers.

Today we set the timer for fifteen minutes and I had to drag Posy in kicking and screaming. But then we couldn't stop, 'Oh wow, here is my yoyo/slinky/down ball/book light. Thanks for making me clean up Mum!' Now there is a sentence I never thought I would hear coming from the lips of any of my children. We filled up the recycling bin with mountains of paper. Glory be, Posy feels that she is finally able to let go of half-coloured ten-year-old colouring books that she inherited from her sisters. We sorted through eighteen years' worth of dolls' clothes. Oh my. It is very hard to get rid of dolls' clothes that your eighteen year old sewed as a six year old, but where do you draw the line with precious memories? I can't keep everything forever. And The Girl will always be the same person who sewed dolls' clothes at six. That part of her is within her forever, and I don't need an artefact to preserve that moment.

I also climbed up to take things off the top of my wardrobe, but it was too hard, so I put them back again. There is always tomorrow.

Thursday: So tomorrow came, and I managed to avoid all forms of decluttering until 7.30pm, when the children were all playing canasta with The Man, who is home for a few days. No, I lie, earlier in the day I pulled a shoebox from the top of the wardrobe which proved to be full of photos, which I spent an hour going through. I got them out again at dinner, and we all walked down memory lane again for a while. Such adorable baby children I had! So easy to get distracted when decluttering!

So here is the mess I had to contend with: Wardrobe One

And Wardrobe Two:

Having slept on the problem of what to do with all the mess on the tops of the wardrobes, I went up to the shed and hauled down an old trunk. I bought it many years ago when The Girl was a baby and we lived in Port Adelaide. I used to potter down the esplanade which was lined with second hand shops, and bring back treasures balanced precariously on the big old English pram, with The Boy trotting alongside and complaining.

Anyway, I have decided to store everything that is archive material (photos, cards made by my children, the box full of paintings and hilarious stories written by my genius children) into the trunks. Done. Also stored a large bag of Christmas themed cards and gift tags in there, along with the Christmas crackers I bought on sale last year.

I threw out most of the old paint, because it was, well, old, and saved some good paint to give to friends with small children. Then I realised that most of the rest of the stuff on top of the wardrobes was stored there while we were renovating and had absolutely no storage space in the rest of the house. Now we do. And yet, out of sheer habit I have been climbing on a wobbly step stool every time anyone wants gift wrapping, or when I need my boots, which I store in their boxes. I have been needlessly risking a broken wrist for over a year now, just because I was used to it!

I found a spot for the boots in the wradrobe. Gift wrapping and the bag full of useful bags were sent downstairs to the study, along with a tub full of possibly useful computer-related accessories. Maybe I will sort them when I get to decluttering the study. Maybe. So, now the wardrobes look like this:

Wardrobe One:

Yes, I know that trunk is painted blue. It was the 90s. Remember how the 90s were all about blue and yellow? And ducks? It takes me a while to catch up with interior decoration trends. One day I will paint it white, or French Grey or something. Or I will just leave it until blue comes back and then I will be totally On Trend once more:)

Wardrobe Two:

Most boring photo ever. Isn't it wonderful? Now that I am not distracted by the annoying clutter, it occurs to me that there are two bare lightbulbs adorning the room. Ah well, decluttering first, decorating later. I am not superwoman.

Friday: Today I opened the wardrobe doors. It was entirely on the cards that I would be writing to you from Narnia this evening, but, silly me, these are Ikea wardrobes, and the most I could hope for was a magical trip to Sweden. That didn't eventuate either, but there was a miracle after all - clean and organised clothes storage.

I must say, that with all the downsides and miseries of separating this year, it makes me feel a little guilty to be quite so gleeful about all the extra storage space I now have. The Man has left a few of his clothes here until he has a permanent other home, and those that didn't fit in the small wardrobe downstairs were all in their original drawers and hanging spaces, until today, when I rationalised them into a very small space indeed, and spread out my clothes luxuriously. I took the opportunity to weed out pieces that I don't absolutely love (quote from Helen Fielding, author of Bridget Jones, 'Only buy clothes that make you do a happy dance,' or in the case of decluttering, only keep clothes that make you want to do a happy dance when you wear them.)

I pulled out a number of strange items that had no business cluttering up my wardrobe - piles of mending, piles of Posy's outgrown clothes to move along, piles of bits and pieces that I clearly intended to send to the op shop but never quite got that far. There are now bags waiting in the back of the car to leave the property, and the clothes in the wardrobe are hanging, rather than being squashed in on top of clutter piles.

I am so happy. I did imagine that these weeks of organising the house were going to be dreadfully tedious and boring, and I am quite sure my life looks extremely boring to the casual observer, or blog reader:) but I must say I feel enormously chuffed with myself having accomplished what feels like so much, but really, without expending much extra energy at all, just doing a little each day. More life lessons.

Saturday: There are really no significant cleaning jobs to do in the bedroom, so a nice day off - except for one annoying job. I have been meaning to scrape the builders stickers off the 'new' window for, oh, two years now. So today was the day. Four minutes. Two years!!

And today, the only thing I had to clear off the bed was the cat..

So how about you? Bedroom an oasis of tranquility? Or will you join me in sending some of that stuff to a better place?


Anonymous said…
I used to store stuff that had no home, or items that needed attention (like my tax or mending or things waiting to be returned) in my bedroom. But then I started The Great Declutter of 2000 and something, and my bedroom became all clear and calm. And I love it.

So now I store the stuff elsewhere. And I love having my calm bedroom to retreat to. Communal areas will always have the junk of offspring and Mr S but my bedroom has a clear floor! I recently bought a Robo vacuum cleaner and if needs a clear floor, especially under the bed, to do is magic. Another reason to keep stuff out.

Somyadvice is to move the stuff elsewhere - a kid's bedroom cupboard perhaps?

And well done on increasing your outfits. Time for me to pack away my winter outfits - summer has hit here! Spring lasted about a fortnight.
Jo said…
Ah yes, Lucinda, always ready with a brilliant plan. I didn't realise the children were decluttering their rooms so that I could relocate all the stuff from my room there, but now I have seen the light. Of course that is what I will do!
I like your thinking with the roomba too. It's like having a cleaner - you feel like you have to clean up before they come, and now you have to clean up for the vacuum cleaner. Hilarious really:)
Heather said…
I just organized my closet by hanging pants with pants, long sleeves shirts together, etc. I've made it a few weeks without just putting all my clothes on hangers straight from the dryer and hanging it all on a rod mismatched and slamming the closet door shut on another task I JUST WANT TO BE DONE WITH. It is still orderly and, truth be told, very nice to be able to see all my clothing options in the morning without searching for "that shirt". That is kind of amazing for me.

I do very much like your chairs. I have an old gray leather chair in my bedroom that was half eaten by my dog when she was a puppy. Even slip-covered it still looks shabby. It sort of just lives in our bedroom, because we can't figure out how to get rid of it.

Have a great day!
Jo said…
Heather, that is a very enviable habit you have got on top of there! I think I will rearrange my own wardrobe to do something similar. I have a lot of black clothes that I tend to 'lose' amongst the press and mess.
My chairs need recovering as well. They are very shabby, and the cat sharpens its claws on Chair Two. At least the clutter hides the fact that they need work! But I love them because I grew up sitting on them at my granny's house.
Linda said…
Good luck with decluttering your bedroom. I'm afraid our bedroom collects piles of things too. A lot of books, waiting to be read, magazines from the weekend papers, again waiting for me to find time to read them. Etc etc! I had every intention of getting to the bottom of the mess yesterday, then ran out of time so I only made a small start. Not got back to it today either. Tomorrow, perhaps!!!
Anonymous said…
The spare bedroom...that's where the Wild Things are!
CJ said…
No oasis of tranquility here unfortunately. Cupboards are rather full and not neat. Children's rooms are, oh, ugh, I don't want to think about it. I'd love to have a declutter of them though. I shall take a deep breath. CJ xx
Jo said…
Linda, there is always tomorrow:)
Fran, yes, we have traditionally had a room full of Wild Things. I think that is what spare bedrooms are for?
CJ, I share your feelings exactly.
Anonymous said…
I have to laugh about the Roomba! Sir Reg has been In Charge of housework since he finished work a couple of months ago. Before he finished work, dog hair was invisible. Now, it's everywhere! The endless sweeping of fur is doing his head in, and he saw an ad for the Roomba last night and he was all over it.

My side of our room is semi-oasis like. Sir Reg's side however... I allocated him a chair to put his still got a couple of wears in them clothes, but I think that unless I move the chair to right in front of the wardrobe, he won't use it!

When I sorted my wardrobe on the weekend, I have hung like with like - so easy to get dressed in the dark when I can tell where stuff is! I even sorted my chest of drawers, so walking clothes are all together, civilised tshirts are all together... of course, this will last for a month.
Anonymous said…
Took a blog-reading break for a month (I have been reading blogs for almost 10 years, and it was time for a brain-break!) and it was lovely to come back and see all your positive, interesting posts.

It took me about 10 minutes to put away all the clean clothes, barely worn clothes and assorted tat that I'd dumped on my bed yesterday. SUCH a good feeling! I have been decluttering for about 10 years, and it is never over, but I have a much more orderly house, and even though it can be really messy with 2 kids, a husband who works from home, and a dog, it doesn't take long to tidy up as there is - usually a place for everything (apart from my daughter's bedroom but let's not go there). BUT it took 10 years to get there!!!

We've only been in this house for 2 years, and it is double the size of our old one. Lots of lovely empty spaces but oh so tempting to fill them with stuff. Made a pact with myself this year not to buy treats for the house, but MAKE them; hence I've been crocheting blankets, cushion covers, and darling little baskets using upcycled t-shirt yarn (so quick and easy and fun!) and am making a pretty quilt to go on our bed. My own private fight against consumerism:-)
Jo said…
Ooh, Miss Maudy, that wardrobe does sound civilised.
Funny how being responsible for something makes it loom large in one's mind. That is why my house always looks far more untidy than anyone else's. Hope you hub wins the battle against dog hair.
And friendly anon, good to have you here:) I know what you mean about the length of time it takes to get the clutter level where you want it, yes, several years here too. I LOVE your commitment to making things for your house, I am trying, although you sound far more accomplished and dedicated. I would love to see a link for the t-shirt baskets if you have one. said…
The Tshirts basket sounds great. Like Jo, I would love you to share your pattern. so I look forward to that. Thank you!
i have a room that becomes the place where i pile bit of paper, bills etc to sort and read and file - to move on. they can languish there for months. then i put them in from of the television, thinking i'll sort/read/put away while i'm watchign TV. problem is i don't watch much TV. so now they are sitting in the bedroom, because i may do them before i go to sleep. but i'm so tired and just want to fall into my bed... i really should just chuck the pile out. i obviously am not needing anything in it :-) what a liberating thought!
Jo said…
Oh, those piles of paper! Where is that wonderful paperless society we were promised? Is it just my imagination, or are there even longer paper trails now? I think your paper pile is just begging to be composted!
Anonymous said…
Short note. 1 hand. Sleeping child...
Take photographs of the memorabilia. Digital pictures take up little real space. :)
Jo said…
Yes, Jessie, good idea:) I realise I already have photos of said child sewing doll's clothes at age 6. So all sorted. But this is such a good idea for lots of kid art and craft. I have archived kid work in those folders with plastic pockets, and anything too big or 3D to fit in them I have photographed and stuck in. BTW Jess, this is also the way I archived daily learning for home school certification, those unquantifiable things such as field trips, amazing artistic creations, exciting bugs they found in the garden etc. Home school certification people always loved that:) and now it is a great record of the kids' home school years.

So impressed at your dexterity.
Anonymous said…
Oops, anonymous is me, Loretta. Sorry about that! I got my instructions for tshirt yarn baskets from this fab DK book called crochet, butI've had a poke around the Web and the best instruction I can find is on the Instructables website. I can photocopy the page in the book if you'd rather, and email you. Just let me know.
Jo said…
Hi Loretta, I figured it was you, but didn't want to guess in case I was wrong. Which would be Awkward!
I must say I hunted around the web myself. Is this something like what you are doing?
Anonymous said…
Hi again Jo. Yes, that is exactly what I mean! My Poppet is fab; Cintia's shop used to be across the road from my kids' primary school so I knew her a little bit. Good luck with the baskets. Loretta
Jo said…
Oh, really? She seems so energetic and productive, and such lovely, lovely things:)
When you made the yarn out of the t shirts did you sew it together to make one big ball, or just crochet in a new strip as you went along?
I'll be saving all the old t shirts now until I have enough to make one.
Anonymous said…
Sorry, I didn't see this question before. No, I haven't made anything big enough yet to have to worry about joining material. I think I read you can just sew the ends together. Also, try to find t-shirts without side seams (quite rare, I only found 1 in the op shop) if you want a nice flat finish, otherwise side seams are fine, I just turned my bowl inside out to hide the bumps. Loretta

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