Thursday, May 10

Closets, wardrobes and dining room tables

Neal arrived home from South Korea last Sunday--this is an old photo but I assure you he's still this handsome!

Think this message is pertinent to all of us:

Thanks for writing back--it definitely sounds like you have the situation where decluttering would clearly help. Based on your particular situation, I think I'd make the bedroom a priority, that is, a place where you spend 5-15 minutes a day for several days (or even a week) doing some serious streamlining of clothes and other items. If you have a definite separation between warm weather clothes and cool weather clothes, you might spend time this week on removing the cool weather clothes (only your clothes, not your husband's) from either your closet or wardrobe, making sure they're clean, and putting them in gallon size or larger zip-loc bags under your bed. Try real hard to only take out about 3-5 items at a time, so you avoid having too many "loose" clothes sitting around the bedroom should you get called away to another room. If you have lots of stuff already stored under your bed don't get sidetracked by sorting through those things; that's not a priority right now and you can tackle that stuff after your top priorities are addressed.

One hint when decluttering--whether it's clothes or other items, get the bags out of your house quickly. Put them in the back of your car or van and drop them off at Goodwill or another charity when you make your next run to the grocery store. For west enders, there's a charity related to the Massey Cancer Center just west of Patterson and Lauderdale near the newest Food Lion.

An idea for clutter on the dining room table. If you're working on bills, projects or if the kids are working at the table for schoolwork, use a method that many of us used in junior high/middle school if we took sewing or art class. Collect about 5 of the flat cardboard boxes, like the ones that pet food is displayed in at the grocery store or Wal-Mart. You may also use the top of a box that is used to store reams of copy paper. Use the open, shallow boxes like a portable desk surface, one box for each project or task. If you have to stop writing checks or sorting bills in order to clear the dining room table, put the papers in the box and set them on the floor or another surface outside of the dining room. The boxes stack well if you set them at angles to one another. When your meal is finished, you might want to move the boxes to the dining room chairs, tucked out of sight.

The beauty of using a wide, shallow box is that you can spread out your papers in a broad, bordered area and don't have to stack papers, getting confused about where you left off. If you end up benefiting from using this idea, keep an eye out for inexpensive cat litter pans or plastic bins of a similar size and shape. However, make sure the method works for you prior to spending any money. BTW--cat litter pans AND shallow boxes make great dirt trappers for muddy shoes at the back door. In our house, it’s a fight to contain the mud and manure in the laundry room and Phil’s “cowboy” bathroom.