If you'd like to see a list of previous Clutterbugs posts, just click on the link at the bottom of this post for a complete list.
Here's a great tip - label and organize your pantry shelves. This will make cooking and grocery shopping so much easier because you'll be able to see exactly what you have on hand and what you need. Also, this is a great time to wipe down those shelves and make them all sparkly! It doesn't take much time and will give you a nice lift.
This is a task that can easily become overwhelming, so set your timer and start with just ONE shelf. I take everything off of one shelf and either crowd the stuff onto the other shelves, or put it on the counter. Toss anything that is outdated or nearly empty. Then I take a damp cloth (I typed damn cloth!) and give the shelf a quick wipe. Now it's time to decide what item groups I'm going to use for that shelf - usually two or more groups per shelf. Here is how I group my items:
Canned fruit & veggies
Cereals - dry cereal, oatmeal, granola, etc.
Drinks of any kind - Kool aid, hot chocolate, iced tea
Pasta and beans
Boxed staples - pancake mix, au gratin potatoes, Minute rice, etc.
Baking items - flour, sugar, baking powder, etc.
Spices (in a separate cabinet)
Snack items - chips, cookies, Twinkies, crackers
The items we use the most are the ones I want on the most accessible shelves. So I would start with cereals and snack items because we use those pretty much every day. Group similar items together and organize by size as best you can. Don't forget to leave a little extra space for your next shopping trip. Consider using a basket or a small box for oddly shaped items like bags of pasta or taco seasoning packets.
Now label your shelves so when your family is putting away groceries, they will put them in the correct place. You can use one of those fancy label printers, or just some plain Avery labels and a Sharpie. Don't get hung up on having all the labels look a certain way or having all the boxes line up just so - that's perfectionism and it's not helpful!
Once you finish that one shelf, you can call it a day, or if you have time, start on another shelf. You should have some room since you will have moved some items down onto the first shelf. This time you might be able to just shove everything to one side and wipe it down a side at a time rather than take everything out. You'll be surprised at how much extra room you will find when everything is organized properly. It's so nice to have a neat, well-organized pantry.
Then when you are getting ready to shop, you can see at a glance how many cans of soup you have or how many boxes of cereal. Do you have an pre-printed grocery list? I have one and it's fabulous! I have it in an Excel spreadsheet and I have it in 3 columns all organized by meal or by type of item. Then I can go down and just check off what I want to serve that week for each meal.
Example: Breakfast - I check eggs, cereal, waffles, and bagels. Lunch - lunchmeat, chips, Capri suns, and apples. Paper goods - toilet paper, paper towels & garbage bags. I have other categories for toiletries, cleaning supplies, pet goodies, plus a little space to write special items that are a one-time purchase.
It takes me five minutes to throw together my grocery list for the week and with this list, I'm not very likely to forget anything and have to make another trip the next day. I know most of you do your own grocery shopping, but I tend to be a compulsive shopper, so I usually send my oldest son or husband. Hey, you gotta know your weaknesses and find a way to deal with them.
They've gotten pretty good at it and it's turned my teenaged son into a very smart shopper. He finds all the great deals and even uses coupons. I'll bet he's the only boy his age who knows the price of a box of cereal or a loaf of bread! But I reward him by letting him spend most of the money he saves on all the pizza, soda, and other goodies he loves for his lunches. I'd probably buy it anyway, but this way he feels like he's getting a reward - shhhhh!
If you'd like to read past posts, just click on the Clutterbugs link at the bottom of this post for a complete list.
My Stampin' Up! classes are really doing well. After all these years, I've finally gotten to the point where I needed to add a second night of classes. This week, I had my class on both Tuesday and Thursday and had a nice group of ladies at both of them.
This month, we got a little technique-y. We did kissing, rock 'n roll, and spotlighting, so I said it was kind of an Elvis night.
Here is my story about how I came to start with my Clutterbugs posts. It's been a long time in the making. It has taken me more than 20 years to finally feel comfortable with my house and my level of cleaning/organization. I have learned a lot along the way, both about myself and about the basics of housecleaning. After all my experiences, I felt like I wanted to be able to share these tips with other women who are in the same position as I was.
I think for a lot of us the messy house issue is rooted in childhood. Whether your Mom kept a clean house or a messy house, it has an effect on you. My husband and I came from completely opposite backgrounds. His Mom was definitely a perfectionist and kept a very clean house, but because she never allowed him to participate in the cleaning and never required him to do the daily things that are necessary to keep his own space clean, he never learned how to do it himself. I'm sure there was also a habit of rebelling against her because she was always nagging him about keeping things picked up.
On the other hand, I grew up in the messy house. My Mom was a single working Mom. She left the house at 7:00 in the morning, dropped me off at a sitter and picked me up again at 6:00 or so. This was the routine for nearly every day of my entire childhood. We ate TV dinners every night and spent the remainder of the evening watching TV, reading books, and working on our craft projects. Dishes were left in the sink until the weekend, laundry was done once a week and vacuuming and dusting were done once a month, if we thought to get around to it.
That's nothing against my Mom, it's just that she had other responsibilities in her life and other priorities. After working all day and all week, she felt like the rest of her time should be spent relaxing and spending time with me. The TV was on virtually all the time. People almost never came over to our house, so it wasn't a problem if our house was cluttered or messy and it usually was. She was a bit of a compulsive shopper and having grown up in the Depression, she rarely, if ever discarded anything, so we had a lot of "stuff".
So when my husband and I got married 25 years ago, we both had a lot of challenges as far as the house cleaning goes. Neither of us had any concept of daily cleaning routines, or felt that housework was a priority. We've both worked full time during our whole marriage and had a instant family as he came to me with his 3 year old son, plus our two other sons who came along much later.
By the time we had been married for several years, we had a perpetually messy house, were fighting constantly about the housework, and had accumulated a LOT of "stuff" that we were constantly trying to get a handle on.
I think the real eye-opener for me was when we moved from California to Utah. We filled up a 15 foot truck, my parents car, my husband's truck, plus my car AND a 10 foot open U-Haul. And even then we had to leave a bunch of stuff behind! I had no idea that we had that much stuff until I saw it all in one place.
That was the turning point for me. From then on, I started shedding stuff. I started taking a really close look at what we had and how much of it we really didn't need. We had also bought a really gorgeous new house in a very nice neighborhood, so I was really motivated to want to keep it clean. I started doing regular clear-outs of our clothes, books, movies, and toys. By the time we made our next move, a year or so later, we had about 20% less stuff.
We made a couple of more moves over the next decade and each time, I made a big point of decluttering more and more stuff. I also got a better handle on my overshopping problem so I wasn't bringing so much stuff in. Then I started to build some cleaning routines that worked well for myself and my family. About this time, we got a computer and started to get access to that "new" thing called the Internet (yes, I am THAT old!).
I found a website called Flylady.com that really saved my life. She started to teach me that being messy wasn't something I needed to be ashamed of. I wasn't a bad person and I wasn't alone. I was just doing the best I had known how to do and if I would just start building some simple daily routines I could get a better handle on things and be happier with my life and my house.
I didn't have to be perfect and I didn't have to spend all my time cleaning. In fact, one thing I discovered is that as a messy person, I spent much more time cleaning than the clean people did because they don't wait until it gets so far out of control that it takes whole days to clean things up.
Turning 40 was a big life changer. I began to be very interested in changing virtually all aspects of my life, including my housecleaning habits. I began to read self-help books - LOTS of them. I read books, listened to audio tapes, and bought movies of all the major self-help authors of the 20th century, including Zig Ziglar, Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill, Earl Nightingale, Tony Robbins and more others than I can count.
I also got numerous books by all the "cleaning gurus" - Flylady, Sandra Felton, Julie Morgenstern, and many others. And I worked weekly with a personal coach. Very slowly, things in my life started to change, bit by bit. I began to have a more positive attitude. I began to look at the problems in my life in a different light and to see more possibilities to resolve them. I began to have more hope for the future and to take more responsibilities for my actions.
As I began to get my house in order (both literally and figuratively), I wanted to share what I had learned with other women who were facing the same challenges. I love to write (obviously), so I started building some lessons. I did some advertising and started teaching my first classes. I never had a lot of attendees because I am terrible at the marketing side of this, but I was so encouraged when I started seeing what a difference these classes were making in the lives of my students. One lady cleared an entire truckload of clutter out of her house as a result of my words.
I continue to work towards my goal of perfecting my routines and getting my house exactly the way I want it, but as long as I continue to make progress, I'm content. Perfection is never the goal, just progress, and when I look back to where I started and see how far I've come, I can see that I am well on my way.
If you'd like to see the previous posts, just click the Clutterbugs tag at the bottom of this post for a complete list.
I had a thought the other day. If you had a kid who didn't do their chores, didn't eat properly, and just basically wouldn't follow any of the rules you've set down (yeah, I know, who doesn't?), what would you do?
Now how many times do you act like that? We all do, don't we? We all know the things we are supposed to do around the house - dishes, laundry, picking stuff up, you name it. But for some silly reason, we just don't want to do them.