Friday, November 16, 2012

When Life Gets Messy....And How We're Getting Back On Track

I feel like I've been apologizing for the lack of DIY/organizing/home posts a lot lately.   It's been a rough few weeks for our family...among other things, my husband lost his grandfather on Nov 1st, All Saints Day, and our youngest bambino came down with some sort of stomach bug that sent us straight back to those newborn days.  For 6 days straight.  Except instead of being up 3-4 times a night to feed and change diapers, we were up changing sheets, cleaning up poop or puke, and trying to combat a fever.

All at a time when our calendar was exploding with activities.  I cut what I events I could, but still had several commitments we needed to fulfill.  Tired does not begin to describe the physical and emotional exhaustion that has marked our recent days.

I thought I would give you a glimpse of our life at the moment....of what happens when you go into survival mode and let everything else go.  I'm warning you, it's not pretty, but I'm sure it's a place many of us have been before....please.  Tell me you've been here before! 

This is my kitchen.  I walked in and snapped the picture without touching a thing.  I tell ya, you can't stage this kind of crazy.
Yes, my upper cabinets still don’t have doors because I haven’t finished painting them.   And my sad lower cabinets have almost given up hope that they will eventually get a fresh coat of paint too.

I'm pretty sure that's a child's sock on the stove top (totally safe) next to the pile of unopened mail and random bag of Doritos.

The living room has been attacked by a giant princess castle and mountain of laundry.  The laundry on the couch is clean but has been there since Monday.   It’s quite sad how we each walk over to the couch to get a clean pair of underwear and socks every morning.  I should probably get on that.

 There's a couch cushion missing from this picture too. I don't even know what to say....

And the dining room.  Despite the chaos of our schedule, we did have some special birthday and anniversaries to celebrate.  So, I did a little sewing and crafting for gifts, largely driven by the fact that I didn’t have it in me to wrangle the kids alone at the store.  Obviously the creative mojo ran out about the time I needed to clean up.

It's what happens when I let the kids entertain themselves, while I get something done.  Poor life decision.

About every single room in our house is in a similar state right now, except maybe the hallway.  Uh nope, I just looked and there are landmines of the toy and shoe variety from beginning to end.  I will spare you anymore pictures since I want you to actually stick around....and because I might cry if I see another mess captured forever as a digital image.

Now that we're starting to get caught up on rest, I'm beginning to think about how to tackle this disaster we've created.  I know that part of this mess happened because we simply didn't have the energy to stick to a regular pick up routine (evident by my unfolded pile of laundry), but it's also magnified a problem that I already knew existed:  we do not have the right systems in place to manage the in/out of paper, mail, school supplies, and clothing on a daily basis.

So, where to start?  My answer might seem unlikely, but for us, it's the garage and the office.  When one space is not working as it should, piles tend to form.  One pile leads to more piles and those piles (of things that don't have a designated home) end up spreading to other rooms.  Rooms that may be organized and orderly, but soon become equally as chaotic because they now have things that don't have a home too.

I'm choosing to start with the garage because it's as much of a hot mess as the rest of the house, but it's also how we leave and enter our home.  Where the mess begins.  It's also getting colder and colder each day. I would love to be parking our car in the garage right now, but if we did, it would be sitting on the pile of wood flooring and back splash tile that are waiting to be installed. 

We could park on the other side but that's even worse.  This is has turned into the dumping ground for all things I-have-no-idea-what-to-do-with-this-so-put-it-in-the-garage-for-now.   

We were using this old wall-mounted desk that we removed from the original kitchen as a storage cabinet of sorts for paper towels and other household/garage items.   It's ridiculous and completely not working anymore.

Next to it is truly a buried treasure.  My grandmother's settee is a beautiful vintage piece that needs just a little TLC and new upholstery to be a serious show stopper.  It's simply criminal that she's buried under a pile of unorganized tools without a home.

To the left of the garage door, we have a completely under-utilized gem of a "wardrobe".  With a little shelving and a few hooks (..and of course, a little paint), this built-in storage could do wonders to help straighten up this space. 

We have a lot of items in the house, taking up space and contributing to the chaos that should be properly stored in the, a bajillion paint cans, paper products, seldom used kitchen appliances, and emergency supplies. I also haven't been able to finish up any of the lingering kitchen projects because the garage (my workshop) is in such an awful state.

I also mentioned that I would be directing my attention to the office, and here's why addressing these two spaces will give us a great start in cleaning up and organizing the chaos......the office is the dumping ground for all the papers that come into the home.  The file cabinet is so close to done and once organized, will help streamline the paper trail.  We also need seating for an empty wall in the office.....a perfect spot for that settee. 

Sooooooo, here's the plan.......

-Finish organizing the file cabinet and my workspace in the office.

-Move the settee into the office.  

-Get rid of the wall mounted desk (right next to the settee) that is failing at providing adequate storage.  With this wall open, we can then set up the garage workbench/shelf combo we picked up from Costco 2 weeks ago (still sitting in the trunk of my car).   This will help to organize all the tools and give us additional storage underneath for household items that are overtaking our kitchen and laundry area.

-Clear out the "wardrobe" and create additional shelving in there.  

-Move anything that we don't access on a semi-annual (or sooner) basis to the attic.

-Sell our unwanted and no longer used items on craigslist


I think focusing on getting the office and garage in order is key to getting our entire house in order.  The majority of items that don't have a designated home and are camped out in piles around the house as a result, will finally have a place when we are done clearing out and setting up those two spaces.

It's a lot but we do have a specific plan for those rooms.  If I were to say, "we're just cleaning up the whole house", I don't even know if we would be able to since there are so many systems that are not working for us.   Choosing to focus on those two big problem areas first, will ensure we aren't just putting a bandaid on the situation.  Otherwise, the same thing will happen again down the road.  Now, I know my house will get messy...that's just life.  But when it does, I want the peace of mind that all it takes is a little clean-up and putting things back where they belong to get back on track.  Because everything will actually have a place where it belongs.

Not an overnight job for sure, but I have peace amid the chaos knowing that we have a good place to start!

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  1. Seriously, we have been on the same brain wave length recently. A couple weeks ago, I saw mustache mugs at a craft show and was just telling my mom that I was going to make one for my dad for Christmas. Then I log onto your blog and see you mugs! Then, tonight as I was mopping, I was thinking about how blogging can give this perception that our homes are always perfectly clean and neat and was mentally writing a blog post that would include pictures of my house on a normal day, totally unstaged. Two hours later...I'm reading this post with real life pictures. :) It really is encouraging and nice to keep it real. I totally feel you with things piling up. We're working on getting our mail system back in order to try to conquer the never ending mail pile. Oh, and to make you feel better, you should know that my husband will automatically go to the clean laundry pile for clothes before he even looks in the drawer. How sad is that?! Ha! He says he's helping me have less to fold. :) Hope life slows down a bit for you soon and so sorry about your husband's grandfather!

    1. Thanks Samantha. We had a pretty restful weekend and at least feel like we won't be sleep walking through the week :) I love that your clean laundry pile is the first least it's clean, right! And mail is one of our first targets too.

  2. This is such an inspiring post, Deme! I really admire your honesty and openness. I love your plan of attack to tackle the garage and office first! That is great advice to break down projects into more manageable steps. Right now my trouble spot is the guest bedroom, where I tend to dump anything that doesn't have a home {and then have a mad cleaning spree/stuffing things in closets spree whenever we have a guest coming to visit!} Thanks as always for the inspiration. I always look forward to reading your posts!
    Your fan,
    -Dallas :)

    1. you are so sweet, Dallas! And I am all too familiar with the mad grab-n-stash before the guests come over!

  3. Wow! It is refreshing to see a "Real" shown house on any given day. From all the blogs out there it gets tiring seeing the picture perfect house but never the reality. Thanks for sharing Deme and your plan of attack sounds like a good one!

    1. Thanks Andie! We definitely try to keep it real around here...and just pray we don't scare anyone off :)

  4. Your house and my house look like twins right now. Almost every room is a mess. I also find that I let my house go when I sit to work on projects or to sew. I feel like I'm constantly playing catch up. Ps. my garage is a way bigger mess than yours and it's also getting redone this month. Good luck with everything!

    1. Projects tend to stay out for days on our table and so any other messes just kind of gets lost in it all....then I have this to deal with :) Good luck on your garage! I would love to see how it turns out!


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