Steve and I moved to this house in 1997 from a 1200 sq. ft. townhouse. This house has 2418 sq. ft., and we barely had enough belongings to fill half the rooms here. For years, there were empty rooms. Then the dogs and the children came along, one at a time, over a period of 15 years. Flash forward to this year, 3 kids and 5 dogs later, and we had a house full of "stuff." And I mean full. Like, if you looked in a thesaurus the word clutter, it would say Clutter: The Burgess House. Ugh!
I've been trying to get rid of stuff every week, but was always limited to however much our city trash can could hold, and then I had to stop. Trouble is, 15 years of accumulated junk can't fit in one city trash can, no matter how many weeks you fill it up.
So we decided to take the plunge and rented a 30-yard household debris dumpster. Day and night, right through Thanksgiving week and the week leading up to it, we worked every waking moment from dawn until about 1 AM filling that thing up. And fill it, we did! I mean, we filled it to the top in just about 10 days. And here we are, two weeks later, with a house that's gone from trash to treasure!
We can now relax without a million to-dos of housework to be done. We've organized every nook and cranny in this house and have literally touched everything we own in the last 2 weeks. I finally have a real pantry closet! All my cans are sorted and organized, and all my baking supplies are in tubs with labels, neatly aligned on a shelf. It's amazing the transformation we've achieved!
Short of removing everything from the house onto the street and literally moving back in and hauling away what remained outdoors, we couldn't have done any better for ourselves. It was a lot of hard, exhausting, back-breaking work for the whole family. The kids had to let go of their stuff and keep only their most treasured belongings. And we're finding that in doing so, those few remaining things truly are more treasured. We assigned one cabinet downstairs with deep shelves in it to house the kids' toys that aren't neatly contained in their rooms, and they were designated just one shelf each in that cabinet. They could only keep it if it fit on their shelf.
I went through tons of bookshelves and sent 4 big Rubbermaid tubs of books down to my neighbor's house. We freecycled some really great excess clothing and sent a pile of quality winter coats to a homeless clothing drive. We pulled up our dilapidated decks and put them in the dumpster. We removed excess furniture. We consolidated things and organized them neatly so there is a place for everything, and everything in its place.
Picking up in the evening is now a simple task that requires only a few minutes. The vacuum could be run at any given time of day, and the floor would be ready to receive it. I can grab a mop at a moment's notice to take care of the dogs' footprints as they come in the back door after a rain.
I've switched to doing all the laundry EVERY day, so there's only ever one day's worth of laundry to be done. I sort it into tiny baskets assigned to each person, and in the evening after dinner when everyone is ready for their baths, they grab their basket and go put away their own clothes...for just that one day. Easy peasy! The dishwasher gets filled and run every night and emptied every morning.
Aaaahhh. The sweet peace of a tidy household. Now, when there is free time, we can truly sit and relax and really enjoy our house that is now, finally, a home. We love it!
This week, as we got back to our normal homeschool routine, the kids showed me that they could finish school in about 2.5 hours instead of dragging it out until bedtime. That's because they wanted to race each other to see how fast they could get done so they could go play in their new spaces with whatever things they kept.
Now that the dumpster is gone, we're kind of considering renting another smaller one to finish things up. We never made it into the shed before the dumpster was full. I never got into Haylee's bedroom closet. I never made it through my overstuffed closet full of clothes I no longer wear. The posts from the old deck still have to be removed and disposed of. And I still have two more large bookshelves to clear out. We clearly underestimated the amount of "stuff" that was in the house.
All I know is that it feels good to have it gone.
Bye, bye, stuff!!!