August 8, 2016. I had just finished my first time through the Uncluttered course, the summer musical my kids were involved in was over, and I was looking forward to a few leisurely weeks of getting the schoolroom and records in order before the start of a new home school year.
One-who-shall-not-be-named made a mistake that morning. The master bath tub was left running and overflowed for many minutes before a wet spot on the carpet two rooms away sounded the alarm. Over 1000 square feet of floors were soaked, water was seeping out the foundation, and the inhabitants were scrambling to minimize the damage and begin the drying out process. Needless to say, it was a long day.
For a short time I entertained hopes that we could get the repairs taken care of before school started. In reality, they were finally finished the day before Thanksgiving. So we lived and home schooled upstairs and renovated downstairs. Did I mention my daughter was getting married in December, just before Christmas? So yes, add wedding plans to the mix. Let me just add here that I am a creature of habit, and I get out of sorts when my normal schedule is disrupted. I had been offered new floors before and turned them down to avoid the disruption and expense. I would never dream of remodeling in the same half year as having a wedding. And before the house was back together, more life happened: one child had a massive sinus infection, same child had a car wreck (totaled car, no injuries, thank God!), several children had head lice (eek!). Also drama happened, and ongoing drama kept going on, because many children can mean much drama. Each time I thought I couldn’t take one more thing, I found out that actually, yes, I could. August through December 2016 was one of the most intense times of my life, in both good ways and bad.
In the midst of it all I was grateful. After all, it could have been worse. I could have had more stuff, and more stuff might just have made the difference between being able to take one more thing and… well, not being able to. Here’s how working through the Uncluttered course prepared me for when life happens:
Less stuff on the floor: Did I mention that one of my goals in the Uncluttered course was to get as much as possible off of the floor? About half of the downstairs floor was involved in the bathtub overflow, and we replaced the other half while our life was turned upside down. Less stuff on the floor = less stuff damaged + less stuff to move around. None of my shoes were on the floor of my closet, so none of them got wet. In the way of furniture, I had removed a large bookcase and a sideboard, so there was that much less furniture and contents of furniture to move around.
Less stuff in closets and furniture: For the demo/remodel, I put as much as I could upstairs or out in the garage, including the contents of closets, dressers, and desk. All of these places had about half the items that they used to, so again, less stuff to move around.
Fewer decorations: Less stuff on the walls/tables/counters = less stuff to move or dust (am I starting to repeat myself?). Because we decided to replace all the downstairs flooring with wood look tile, we had to demo the existing tile in the kitchen, laundry room, master bath, half bath, and front hall. You can only imagine the amount of dust this creates. Or maybe you’ve been through it, so you know. I left the last day of the demo for a wedding shower out of town, so my family dealt with the worst of it. Although I didn’t plan it that way, I highly recommend this strategy.
Less stuff in the pantry and kitchen cabinets: Last summer the kitchen was absolutely the hardest area to declutter. I even set aside a whole Saturday just for the pantry. During the demo/remodel, I chose to leave everything in the pantry and cabinets, but because I had decluttered, there was that much less stuff to get the dust off of before we could use it.
More room for temporary storage: Because minimizing our stuff created more space, I had places to put things as we moved them around. There was room in the garage for furniture, and room upstairs for clothing. This extra space was still working to our advantage when we moved on from the remodel to wedding prep. I had plenty of room on the floor in my bedroom to store all the stuff to transport to the wedding venue, and plenty of room in my closet to hang the linens.
Recently I received some amazing, positive feedback from my husband, who was reading back through my blog posts from the course. He said it seemed to him I had achieved a significant portion of my decluttering goals (he knew better than to tell this perfectionist she had reached her goals). I asked him if he noticed a difference in the level of clutter and mess in our house since I took the course, and he said, “Absolutely.” Because there is no clutter to be a magnet for other clutter, the kids don’t leave their stuff around nearly as much, and it seems so much easier now to do a quick house cleanup in the main rooms.
The next round of Uncluttered begins May 1, and I’m in for another round. This is actually the best time of year for me to declutter as we wind down the school year and head into summer. I’m looking forward to exploring what else to let go of.