Monday, June 2, 2014

40 bags in 40 days: a long overdue recap

During the 40 days leading up to Easter we chose to participate in a decluttering challenge called "40 Bags in 40 Days" lead by Ann Marie who blogs over at White House Black Shutters, one of my favorite blogs these days. It wasn't so much about getting to 40 bags as it was about being motivated to rid your space of clutter and be happy with your home and the belongings you choose to keep in it. I really enjoyed it and am so thankful for the continual motivation it has given me to keep our home free of "junk" that clutters our physical spaces.

In my initial post I shared our current pictures which will stand as the "before" pictures to the following "afters". Although, for us this is an on going challenge in some spaces more than others. If you'd like to check out the progress along the way, you can follow my instagram account or look up #bngblogdeclutters on instagram, twitter, and Facebook

Being pregnant made the decluttering even more challenging. Some days I was too sick, some days our entire family was too sick. Other days I was just tired, but I'm happy with our progress and how far we've come. 

I can honestly say there is only 1 area that is still in need of some big decluttering, the kitchen. I decluttered the surfaces and a few small drawers during the challenge and a few more recently. However, due to the size of our kitchen it is a huge challenge to even have the floor or counter space to empty cupboards to declutter while entertaining children. So we are saving that project for a time when we are kid-free. It's not even something I could do on my own if Ben were to have the kids for example because I cannot safely reach the top shelves or lift some things that would need moved. All that to say, we will get to it in the future but it's not even messy enough (because it's too small to be) to be too worried about it. 

Here is a reminder of what our house layout looks like...

Our main living space in the back of the house is almost always free of clutter so there wasn't much to be done there. I have however, started a new rule for the kids both for decluttering reasons and for my own safety- all toys are to stay in the playroom or the hallway just outside of it (because it's wood floor where they like to race their cars). This minimizes clutter but also keeps the danger-zones down to a minimum. Last pregnancy I had a not-so-fun run in with a toy on the floor, so I've been extra careful about avoiding silly accidents like that.

This is what that space looked like after decluttering back in April. We have since updated our dining set, garbage can and paint in this room. I will post an update on that and the nursery when they are complete.

Currently the garage is in disarray yet again because it's our "catch-all" space when we've got big projects going on. Over the long weekend we painted the living room, hallway and the playroom that will be little sister's nursery. Furniture was displaced to the garage for the most part and the work station for paint supplies was set up out there. Pictured below is a before decluttering and after decluttering (before painting mess). Most of our work here was purging toys, clearing off the work bench and rearranging to make zones for things. Separate spaces for toys, tools, laundry, pantry items, overflow shoes, and craft supplies. We still have some organizing to do, which will mostly be taken care of once we get some shelving up. Ben is planning on building this shelf for the toy storage bins.

The boys' room got a big change when we got them bunk beds at Ikea in March. It was the ONLY way to fit 2 twin sized beds in their shared room. It's been a roller coaster of a transition, but they love it and the space it saves is amazing. We're also in the process of repurposing their closet which mostly holds Ben's music equipment by moving that out and making space for the extra chairs to our new dining room set, which are taking up too much room in the garage. Plus I don't like the idea of them being exposed to extreme temperatures and our projects as they go on out there. This room currently has no toys or books, it's just for sleeping and getting dressed because Desmond can't handle nap time if there are toys to be had. He can barely be kept from climbing all over the beds! This will change as he grows older and as we need to move the toys from the playroom/nursery to their room.

The playroom/nursery got a pretty major declutter, and now that it has been painted will be completely rearranged. This will involve taking the desk out and either selling it or storing it at my in-laws. The closet here houses all the kids' hanging clothes, baby stuff up on the shelf, baby blankets, and items that they have yet to grow into or have grown out of in a dresser. The dresser also doubles as child-proofing for the entrance to our crawl space which is in the floor of this closet.

{I'm already so much happier with this room just after painting and removing the textured ceiling!}

The front living area which we just call "the front room" is more of an adult space and a major blind spot from where we spend most of our time, so we have a baby gate up at the start of the hallway to this room to keep it limited access. Malakai can open the gate but he knows not to without permission. Here we have our desk and computer, a piano, a sitting area, my sewing/craft table, preschool supplies and more. The coat closet also houses craft supplies and gift wrapping in addition to the current seasons jackets, hats, scarves, etc.

The desk got a major overhaul when I finally went through our file system. I also put some little used files that we still need to keep around in a file cabinet in the garage that we acquired from my in-laws (thanks guys!) which made room in the drawers to actually access the files we need to use on a more regular basis. I purged a LOT of kids' artwork but also kept a lot, reorganizing it by school/church/etc. I also removed a lot of stuff from the top of the desk to give us more work space.

My craft cabinet got emptied out and rearranged. I do still have crafting supplies all over the place, mine and the kids' but they make more sense now rather than a little bit of this and that all over there are kid craft storage areas and then my craft and sewing storage based on material and need. Some of it is in bins underneath the oversized chair (which I love, but most people don't).

I boxed up a lot of books from the shelf, things we want to keep but don't need to display. I also got rid of some and did away with some knick knacks and picture frames. In doing so I tried to make this room a bit more kid friendly so as Desmond grows older he can come in here without being a hazard to himself or our stuff. This will also help if we need to move our preschool homeschooling back out here once the baby's room is in use for little sister.

In our room (which I haven't taken progress pictures of yet) we started by clearing out everything underneath the bed. Clothing has been a big challenge because while pregnant I'm constantly reevaluating my wardrobe based on what no longer fits (so it needs stored), what does fit (so it's in the closet or dresser) and what will likely fit as baby + I grow (in an underbed box). It's an on going process, but I did get rid of a lot of non-maternity clothing that I hadn't worn in ages. Ben also got rid of a lot of clothing and shoes so that helped free up space in our closet. The shelf above the hanging area in our closet has always been difficult for me because I can barely reach it. I toss things up there (we had stored anything from bedding to sweaters there) and it just became a heaping mess. Ben cleaned it out and now half of it is for clothes I've "outgrown" and hooded sweatshirts/other things too large for the dresser or hanging and the other half is our bedding.

Our dresser has more space thanks to purging things and I cleaned up the area next to my bed where the yarn had been been taking over from half done crochet projects. I also have a vanity in this room which I use for some clothing storage but mostly cosmetics, hair products + accesories as well as belts, jewelry and a few keepsakes (my sad and dusty wedding bouquet being one). This needed major decluttering and dusting which took a while but it is so much more useful now that it's done. I do my hair and makeup here rather than our one tiny bathroom.

Speaking of, we did a lot of purging of items in the bathroom as well. Expired vitamins, medications, lotions and shampoos we weren't using, etc. It's not exciting enough to post pictures of, but it's nice to have the space. We also got a new shower curtain with a see-through panel at the top that lets more light in and makes the room feel a bit bigger.

So there is our progress in an attempt to declutter and simplify the way we live. It has been a much longer process than just the 40 days, but getting organized and serious about it over that time really created new habits in us that will help us to live with less clutter, which is essential in a house this size and our growing family!

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