My House is Driving Me Crazy!

I’ve been praying a lot about how to get my house clutter under control lately.  It’s seriously eating at me and I get so anxious and moody and seriously depressed about the mess.  We have too many things and I can’t make decisions about where to put everything, and nothing is organized nicely. Things collect on counters and shelves because they don’t have a spot.  I get rid of things from time to time but it hasn’t started to help much yet.  Things get stuffed in cabinets, and maybe cabinets get organized but they don’t stay organized.  I clean one side of the house but while I’m doing that the other side falls into chaos.  It’s making me sick.

Anyway.  Yesterday I was talking to my aunt and somehow house clutter came up and she recommended a book to me that I mentioned in my last post. It’s a short book, but even with how short it is you can buy summaries of it on Amazon instead.  Here is my summary though. I’m mostly typing up this summary for myself but also for anyone interested in what I learned from the book.  It is not really an organizing book, as far as telling you how to organize every individual closet and cupboard, but it has helped me realize why my house is always chaotic and it had some good tips for deciding what things to get rid of, and the author points out that THAT is the key to getting organized — get rid of your clutter that sits around collecting dust and giving you anxiety, THEN you can have the motivation to move forward and get your house in order. It’s not a minimalist book but I think it’s great if you’re wanting to get into minimalism. The book is “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by Marie Kondo.  I borrowed it for FREE through the Kindle Owner’s learning library through Amazon Prime, but if you buy it for Kindle it is only $3. I read the whole book in a couple of hours while also watching HGTV so reading this book is not going to consume your life, which would be very ironic since I am trying to hurry and get my house clean NOW instead of taking on other projects like reading a giant book about cleaning my house. I took three pages of notes and am typing them up here for you.  You’re welcome. I still recommend reading the actual book because she sort of explains her tips as she goes. Still, this summary basically covers all her main points. Here is a chapter-by-chapter summary (is this legal?):

1 – If you’re always cleaning but your house is never clean, it’s because you’re just cleaning a little bit at a time.  If you only clean a little at once, you’re likely moving clutter from one room to another. If you clean the whole house at once, everything has a place and it’s organized and you’re less likely to regress.  I totally move piles of crap from the kitchen counter to the master bedroom, which I always think is fine because it feels like a small amount of progress so this was a wake up call for me because it really isn’t effective since the piles you move around just keep getting moved and keep giving you anxiety.  I mean Nick is always telling me that all I do when I clean is stuff crap somewhere else.  But anyway.  The key is to get rid of stuff that sits around collecting dust.

2 – Storage bins are stupid.  You are just using them to hide your clutter.  Yes.  Sometimes I open up storage bins of old crap and have a panic attack.  I have a storage bin full of old CDs I will NEVER listen to but I keep them because I feel guilty throwing them away or something or I think I may end up wanting to listen to them someday. I know if I got rid of all but about four of them I wouldn’t miss them at all.  So instead of storing things, you need to DISCARD or DECIDE where to put them.  Of course I think it’s OK to store things like camping gear, breast pumps, and christmas decor, but not old books and CDs and things that just aren’t getting used (I’m looking at you too, fabric scraps).

3 – Discard ALL AT ONCE.  If you throw away one thing and then go buy eight new things … that doesn’t work.  I’m so guilty of this.  Get rid of ALL THE THINGS you don’t need and then you have taken a hundred steps forward, so then if you take eight steps back you only have to get rid of eight things to get back to perfection, right?  There are two types of cleaning you should be doing: 1) Your giant whole-house spring cleaning where you dejunk and organize all at once, and 2) daily cleaning, where you put everything away it its designated place.  You need to get rid of all your junk before you attempt to put anything away, otherwise you’re not going to get anywhere and you’re just going to get depressed and give up.  Another key thing is to VISUALIZE the end result — what do you want your house to look like when it’s all clean and organized?  That’s super helpful I think and can help you decide what to get rid of.

4 – Deciding what stays and what goes is hard, especially if you feel bad throwing out hand-me-down clothing family members have given you or when it comes to other somewhat sentimental objects.  You obviously discard what is out of date, no longer functional, or what has been unused for a year.  With clothes, for example, if you haven’t worn it in a year, get rid of it.  If you’re not sure whether to keep it, wait 6 months and see if you wear it, and if you don’t, toss it.  Don’t be rash when dejunking and just throw everything away, though; focus on what you most want to KEEP.  Marie Kondo’s key thing is to hold each individual article of clothing or other item and see how it makes you feel.  If it makes you happy then keep it. This doesn’t mean keep all the things that remind you of the past or something, but think about having a collection of all the things you really love and get rid of what doesn’t belong in that collection.  Keep what makes you happy, and toss things that give you anxiety since those things kill your motivation to clean.

Sometimes you might feel wasteful for getting rid of a shirt you bought that you found you don’t like, but you should think of that shirt of having served its purpose by showing you what doesn’t work in your wardrobe, so learning that lesson wasn’t a waste and now you can give that shirt to someone who will actually use it — so by keeping something you don’t use you ARE being wasteful, by giving it away or selling it you are being useful. Yay. So live in a house full of things you love, not in a house full of old magazines and textbooks or whatever. When you have a hard time tossing something, think about why you have it in the first place, and that might help you make a decision

5- It’s important to tidy by category, not by room.  The latter gets overwhelming, but if you get all the coats in the house and put them in one pile you realize how many coats you actually have (since some were probably in the hall closet and some were in the bedroom closet) and you realize what you really need, then you obviously make “go” and “stay” piles and decide where all the coats go.

A suggested sequence for dejunking and organizing forces you to do the easier things first so that by the time you get to the harder stuff you’ve developed skills and a system for deciding whether to keep or discard things.  The sequence goes: clothing, then books, then papers, then magazines, then miscellaneous things (more on that later), then (eek!) mementos.

6 – The last chapter already! Here are a few suggestions for storing the things you decide to keep.  I think it’s great to go on Pinterest or whatever and get tips for storing and organizing things, but only AFTER you have properly dejunked your house.  That’s the key with this book.

Clothes – Fold your clothes nicely and store shirts sideways like a bookshelf in your drawers so you can see everything instead of stacking them.  I hope that makes sense.  Then she suggests hanging things up by weight and length – long heavy coats and dresses on one side, light shorter items on the other side.  She also suggests that storing off-season clothing is silly and that if you minimize enough you can just keep everything in your closet.  I like that idea because it could inspire you to avoid buying items that are super specific to their season and this gives you more room in the garage!  So instead of keeping a red pea coat for winter and Christmas, just have a nice ski jacket that maybe is still a good style and color to wear hiking in cold places in the spring or even summer.  Instead of buying lots of neon clothes for summer, stick to more grey and black, which I like to do because you can wear them all year.  There are a lot of things you can do to make your wardrobe smaller but more versatile and this chapter really got me thinking about that when she said not to store off-season clothing.

Books – when deciding what to keep, imagine having a collection of just the books that you really love.  That’s helpful! Usually I just think, um I might maybe read or re-read this someday so maybe it should be kept?  Books are hard but this tip was helpful.  I wouldn’t mind having a wall full of books for my kids to read someday but that would include mostly classics and Harry Potter and The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and the Book of Mormon and the Bible but not all the silly textbooks I will never read again. It’s hard to get rid of books man. Ugh.  I still need help with that.

Miscellaneous – DVDs, CDs, lotions & potions, makeup and nail polish, jewelry, credit cards/passports, electronics, headphones, cameras, notebooks and writing utensils and stationary, medicine, cleaning supplies, pots and pans, tupperware, figurines, sewing and craft things . . . ugh.  Her main tip is not to live in the past.  You don’t need to keep all your mementos or whatever — get rid of them so you can move on to your future life.  I agree with this — take a picture and move on.  I’m glad my mom kept all the vintage Little People dollhouse furniture but Ava actually uses that stuff when we go over there so it’s useful.  If it’s not useful, get rid of it dudes. Yay for less clutter and dust collectors!  She says if a memento doesn’t “spark a jolt of joy” when you pick it up that you shouldn’t keep it.  My sister still has her baby blanket and I think she still sleeps with it, and that’s cool (if a little disgusting) so don’t get rid of those things but if it’s going to sit in a box and drive you crazy, you know what to do. I just threw out a bunch of nail polish and I can see if my sisters want several of my old necklaces, and with figurines you need to definitely get rid of whatever you don’t want to display.  If you wouldn’t buy it right now, get rid of it, usually.

K now I need a book on motivating myself to get of my comfortable couch and actually go clean my whole house . . . shoot.

Maui, Mold, and More

Just a little personal-life update We went to Maui for a week, and it was glorious.  I think it was one of our most enjoyable family vacations to date!  It’s fun to travel with the kids now that they are older and less fussy.  Nixon definitely threw his share of tantrums on the trip, but we could chalk that up to jet lag for the most part.  The kids were SO happy to play in the kiddie pool all day every day.

I also have to note how awesome my husband is.  The whole time we were on our trip he was INCREDIBLY helpful.  He helped get the kids dressed and suncreened every day (some days he did it ALL himself while I either got ready for the day or just stayed in bed like a bum), he brushed Ava’s hair, he took the kids down the water slides a million times, and he was just so pleasant for the whole trip.  We usually argue a lot on vacations because I’m just not a happy traveler and we’re all tired etc. When I started complaining the first day about something dumb he sternly told me to not start with my usual vacation grumblings and that helped most of the trip go much more smoothly 🙂  Last time we took the kids to Hawaii I was MISERABLE with Nixon being a whiny baby so this trip was much better and I’m so glad we did it before the next baby comes. We are planning to go to the rec center’s outdoor pool LOTS this summer since we have passes there. Yay!

Nick has just generally been extra awesome lately.  We really had a rough, oh, 6 years of marriage but the last year or so things have become much better and I owe that all to Nick.  We don’t have nasty arguments and we are just very content together. Ever since my miscarriage Nick has been much more compassionate and helpful and happy.  I’m not sure what changed but things between us have been so much better. I’m not saying his moodiness was making our marriage bad before — he is just putting up with my annoyingness much better than before! Ha.  I love Nick so much and I don’t know what I’d do without him.  He has done so much around our house over the last year since we bought it and he doesn’t complain a bit.  He has been organizing the garage lately (while singing some made-up tune called “King of the Garage” or something) (he also sings LOUDLY in the shower) since it has been too rainy to do much in the back yard. The kids drive me nuts but they are oh so cute.

Nixon talks SO WELL and in complete sentences.  He loves asking me what things are called and copying what I tell him.  He knows a few colors but I’m not trying too hard since I’m afraid he may be colorblind like his daddy.  I’ve been told colorblind genes skip generations and are passed down through the mother and all this weird stuff but I don’t know. Actually my Grandpa Doug is colorblind, but that’s on my Dad’s side.  I don’t even know how it works and I’m to lazy to Google it right now. Nixon recognizes purple, pink, and orange, but calls everything else blue.  He also got his first shiner at Costco (don’t let your kids out of the cart, duh.  They will pull an entire shelf of crap onto themselves).  I still think one of my favorite things he does is when he walks up to me with his hands stretched out and says, “Mommy, I sticky!” He is obsessed with monster trucks, construction vehicles, tractors, and Lightning McQueen and Mater. He sometimes fights nap time but generally takes good naps and sleeps great at night.  He hates having poopy diapers and sometimes (TMI alert) pulls poop out of his diaper and brings it to me.  The other night I put him to bed and he pooped and smeared poop everywhere.  Fortunately this is not a frequent occurrence (yet). (UPDATE: Ava has just directed my attention to the fact that Nixon smeared poop on the couch while I was writing this post.  So there you go). I still have no desire to attempt potty training but I know it’s time and he could totally do it.  I just absolutely despise potty training. Ava wasn’t fully trained until she was three and a half and I was totally fine with that.  The problem is that Nixon is totally ready and I should probably not miss this window where he is ready for it. Ugh.

We have been stocking up on camping gear and we hit some pretty good Memorial Day Sales.  Yay!  We already have good backpacks from gun shows but we bought a 4-man tent and a couple of sleeping bags and 4 sleeping pads.  Nick also has some cooking and eating gear from his last camping trip so soon I think we’ll be pretty set.  Too bad the 1-lb camping chairs I love are $70-100 each. Ick. Watching “The Walking Dead” (which I think I’m done with after the last gruesome episode I watched) has REALLY motivated me to get into survival stuff, so I want to start camping and backpacking more to sort of learn to survive in the wild or whatever.  That sounds really stupid but I have never been much of a camper because camping is gross.  So much gross. We need to do it though.  The kids will (probably) love it! Ava is a feisty little one but she is so smart.  Even though she hasn’t done preschool this year she’s developed an incredible vocabulary due to hours of Nick Jr. and she’s learned a lot from playing ABC Mouse on the computer. I love reading with her and Nixon.  We just (finally) bought magnetic letters and I like making three-letter words with her.  I think she’s totally ready for Kindergarten — as soon as we can get her to start, erm, listening and sitting still and not interrupting during story time.  For this reason I am considering summer preschool just so she can get used to being in a classroom.

I have been teaching the Laurels class at church and they are the cutest girls and we have the best Young Women’s president.

I finished reading the Book of Mormon, which my family has been doing in the six months before Matt’s birthday since that’s what he asked us to do 🙂  I finished a week late and then today I am drinking a celebratory Diet Coke with Matt’s name printed on it that I found at Smith’s yesterday 🙂

Also.  Prayers are totally answered.  Three magical things happened lately:

1) We came home from our trip to a somewhat flooded basement.  Yes, this is a blessing because I’ve been wanting to call mold people to come look at the slight leaking and mold that have been showing up in the basement.  It’s been haunting my dreams.  I may or may not have prayed for something big to happen to finally convince Nick that we need to call restoration people.  So when things finally started really flooding and he opened the wall to find TONS of rot inside the wall, he called a plumber and found a friend whose brother does home restoration.  The plumber is a guy Nick’s uncle uses on his buildings and he didn’t charge us anything (I think Mark is paying for it, bless his heart) and he said the upstairs bathtub hot water has been slowly leaking over the last 6-12 months.  So the restoration guys came and removed drywall from the downstairs bathroom, Nixon’s room, and a bit from the master bedroom next to the upstairs bathroom.  They got all the mold out and sprayed solution on everything and have had fans going in there for several days and the drywall guy is coming today.  AND even though it’s like a $5k job, our home insurance is covering it AND we can take a chunk out of our $1k deductible by doing the painting and baseboard replacement ourselves.  AND we didn’t have to destroy anything in the upstairs bathroom that we just re-tiled and painted.  So basically the whole mold situation has worked out amazingly and without me having a major (recent) panic attack.

2) The house has been driving me nuts.  Like the clutter is out of control and it is ruining my life.  I’m always grumpy and snappy with the kids, I feel like I have no time to spend with the kids or develop my talents because I’m always cleaning the house … which is still never ever clean!  I never know where to put things, I feel like be have too much crap, etc., and every room I go into makes me grumpy and anxious because of all the stuff.  So I just generally want to throw everything away (definitely need to get rid of a lot of toys, books, CDs, old clothing, etc. Anyway, yesterday we were at Grandpa Doug’s and Grandma Jani’s home for the annual Memorial Day Barbecue and Aunt Johanne and I were talking and somehow the conversation led to her recommending an amazing book to me, which I read last night and finished this morning and it’s been soooooo helpful.  So that was definitely an answer to prayer.  I will probably write a summary of the book in another post so the rest of my family can read it real quick, since I know Johanne has a waiting list of people in the family who want to borrow the book.  It’s called “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by Marie Kondo and I borrowed it for FREE on my Kindle since I have Amazon Prime but if you buy it it’s only $3.    I think it’s fantastic if you’re trying to become a minimalist.  I think it’s definitely inspired a lot of other organizing books and blog posts that I’ve already read on Pinterest but even just in the first chapter what she said was HUGE for me: she said that if you’re always cleaning but your house is never clean it’s because you’re just cleaning one room at a time so you’re just moving clutter from one place to another.  So much truth.  Ugh. Duh. So she says you need to do all your Spring Cleaning at once so everything has a place and that you need to really visualize your house with the things you love in it and get rid of everything else. I used to not be a neat freak and I’m still a giant slob but I’ve come to realize the importance of having my home be in order.  I want it to be clean but also organized so that it takes LESS TIME to clean.  If everything has a place it’s so easy to clean and you don’t have anxiety attacks over where to put stuff.  I will write a summary of the book in my next post but I still recommend reading the book.

3) Ben and Mel have been looking for an apartment but everything is sooo stupid expensive so I was really hoping I could get ahold of the landlords of our first apartment that’s next to UVU.  We only paid $475 for the two-bedroom apartment (the basement is split into two units).  Anyway, I didn’t have their number so I wasn’t sure how I was going to get ahold of them and I’m pretty sure I muttered a vague prayer asking to magically be able to get ahold of them somehow, and then the other day we ran into the landlord at Costco and that unit happened to be available for the first time since we moved out of it!  So weird.  Ben and Mel said when they called it all worked out magically and so the whole thing has been cool.  I just love when magical things like that happen.  Prayers are answered.  I’m so glad they found an apartment close to campus and it’s fun that they’re living in the exact same apartment we lived in as newlyweds! I

n other news, I drink waaaaay too much caffeine (in the form of Skinny Blue Bombshells from Sodalicious) but I am trying to get back to the gym to get healthy and feeling better.  I went a couple of times last week and the second day hurrrrrt.  I wish I could run without my uterus / ligaments throbbing.  I mostly just want to do yoga and weightlifting for the rest of my pregnancy so I’m strong for labor and I think maintaining strong muscles is the best thing to help you bounce back to looking your best after pregnancy. My bum is huge, guys. It has grown more than my belly, I think.  I’m glad my belly is finally showing through, yay! I hope I can run after the baby comes but it’s hard for me to work out much while I’m breastfeeding because I’m always starrrrrving and its so hard to eat enough to be able to work out hard and nurse a baby and not vomit or pass out during workouts.  So I think I just really need to get into hardcore power yoga because yoga feels good. K thanks for listening to me as I’m making my fitness plans.

Have a good week and eat your vegetables!