Decluttering and making a house a home: a family effort!

It is a blessing to have someone on your life who loves you enough to kindly tell you how you could do better…some one who loves you enough–as you already are–to help you grow even better. My big stepsister Dymphny is like that. Totally accepting, yet boldly courageous in proclaiming the truth with love.

She flew down to help me reorganize my home, because we have been fortunate enough to be able to rent the suite below us, and now have the whole house! Instead of 3 bedrooms for 9 people, we have 5 and a den, besides an extra little kitchen and bathroom. One of the most exciting parts is the large living room, which will be our new homeschool room, instead of the tiny, narrow dining room we’ve used for school till now.

Things have been rather quiet on my blog because they’ve been so packed here! The kids and I, with some help from Grandpa, my brother and my lovely landlord Joe, repainted the downstairs…transforming the pale, depressing, hospital-gown green suite into cute Bubblegum Pink bedrooms, a Thai Teal bedroom, and a English Daisy yellow schoolroom! 🙂

Everybody helped…

It was quite the fun project…home renovation and interior decorating 101! My 12 year daughter became an overnight IKEA expert and made a massive list of everything we needed to make our new space beautiful. Since I never usually buy many new things for our home, the list was huge, and we had a rather epic expedition involving a 5 hour shop and a U-Haul. Happily my sister and brother were there to help!

Of course my productivity manager came along as well…

We survived!! IKEA soft ice cream was a definite must in our way out the door.

But besides buying new things to make our space lovely…we had an even more important job to do: purging everything unnecessary, ugly, extra, etc, that was currently making our home cluttered, chaotic and well, rather resembling a ramshackle thrift store instead of a beautiful, intentional space. No more!

My daughter’s new bedroom

This is where having a loving big sister with an objective eye for crap came in so handy. She wasn’t going to let me hang on to anything that didn’t make my life better. Rather, she helped me dig out the precious things hiding under the clutter so I can display and enjoy them instead of having them tucked away and forgotten, like the fancy tea pot I bought for my birthday on my last IKEA trip last Advent…and still haven’t used, less than a month till my next birthday!

It’s a gift to have someone affirm that you’re better than some kind of recycling bin, and that you don’t need to hold on to everything that comes your way. Sometimes when trying to sort stuff alone it’s hard to cut the invisible strings of guilt that make you keep stuff for “one day” or because it’s from “so and so”…or because getting rid of stuff feels wasteful.

Sorting books

The minimalist mom Allie Casazza says that whatever takes up your space, takes up your time. You don’t need to lose time shuffling around odds and ends you don’t need. I’ve done this for years. And what’s really wasteful is harming your relationships because of unnecessary stress….not being able to find things, arriving late, not wanting to have people over because of mess, etc.

It’s so freeing to let go. Chuck those old shampoo bottles and extra creams into the recycling. Take pictures of all those kids drawings and then let them go. Let someone else enjoy those books and clothes you don’t need. Live with a lighter heart and be able to find things. A clear beautiful space is so calming. A study quoted on a Gretchen Rubin’s podcast Happier found that women’s cortisol levels, indicative of stress, were directly related to the amount of clutter in her home. No wonder I’ve been on edge!

I was so grateful to have Big Brothers to pick up our porch full of donations, and Half Price Rubbish Removal to come the next day. Seeing what we don’t need has opened our eyes to see how we could enjoy our home even better. Having space to do so more peacefully and enjoying the presence of family, including our IKEA expert building expert Opa, has been the best gift so far this season!

6 thoughts on “Decluttering and making a house a home: a family effort!

  1. Aaaaah I love it!!! That’s so awesome you have more space AND a big sister to help with the clutter!!! I can’t wait to see it all. 🙂 I’ve been trying to declutter too as I totally agree that whatever takes up your space takes up your time. I spend so much time tripping over things we don’t need, or trying to dig through extra stuff to find what I do want, or just not doing something because it’s too much work because of too much stuff. 😦 I do have two boxes in my van to take to Value Village so slowly… 🙂

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  2. My Random Thoughts on Clutter and Clothes. Your and my Great-Grandmother, who I called Nana, taught my mom; A Place For Everything and Everything in its place. This might work if I added “ and put it back when you’re finished with it!”

    My Lebanese friends Mother say that if you make the bed first thing , the house will naturally follow.(there may be something lost in the translation but I get the gist)

    And scientifically, A body in motion tends to stay in motion while a body at rest tends to stay at rest. (Aka staying in bed for a jammy day)

    A Chinese lady I met named Nancy, who keeps house and laundry for a family of 3 Autistic boys plus a sister, Told me that her secret is “Hands and feet moving all the time.”

    The FlyLady. Com and the Sidetrack Sisters all tell you that consistency is the key. Give Away Put Away Throw Away

    I once met a man in Africa with a starving family and he asked me to send clothes. He could trade clothes for food and medicines. Now I find it easier to get rid of clothes believing somehow that someone else needs them more.

    I mention China and Lebanon and Africa, because for years I’ve been trying to figure out the formula. I was trying to collect housekeeping saying from around the world. Let me know if you’ve heard of any.

    Which brought me to this thought.

    Having a home is a wonderful blessing that many have not been blessed with. I appreciate this and share my home as often as possible. I didn’t always do this because I was so freaked out about having a messy house. When company would come, I would be worried the whole time that they would see something out of its place, knowing my hands and feet had not been moving all the time and most likely my bed was not made. This had a huge affect on my life. I know now that not everyone is able to keep on top of it all. My Rules of the House 1. Our house is a no-yelling zone. All complaints and arguments are respectfully and kindly spoken. I had to lay down this one hard! 2. We are all on the same team. We are not at war with one another. 3. Laundry must be delivered Monday morning to the laundry room. Kids fold and put away their basket of clothes and make their own bed. Oldest help and teach the littles. 4. Toys and clothes left out will disappear for 1 Week. Hmm didn’t mean to go on like this, but got some good memories. It’s hard to be consistent. That was my downfall. Aunt Kathi

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    1. Thank you, Auntie Kathi! These are great tips! Dad is enjoying Marie Kendo’s new book “Spark Joy” from Japan. It’s on decluttering and enjoying a beautiful space.
      I’ve certainly learned to eat humble pie and just have friends over despite the general mess and chaos, but it sure is nice and peaceful to have a clear floor for the kids to play on, and a comfy couch or clean table for the moms to have coffee!
      I like the idea that relationships matter most, and any “stuff” that gets in the way of them should go.
      Love to you from all of us here in Crazyland!


  3. Mary Gallagher

    Oooh, I love the pandas! Anneke’s favourite too 🙂

    And the yellow.

    And the massive discard pile you mention. Yes! It gets to the point where it actually feels good to let go (is that a virtue?)

    Hope you all have a very happy Christmas ❤️ Mary


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Mary! Yeah, in our culture of material abundance I think it’s a thing to celebrate…letting go of what you don’t need to make room for what’s really important.
      Merry Christmas! Huge hugs to you and the girls!


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