My husband said something so romantic to me last week. It seriously put butterflies in my stomach. He asked me a question, most couples would love to hear from their significant others. It was: Do you want me to organize the garage for more shoe space? While this was definitely no Fifty Shades of Grey conversation, it was something I enjoyed hearing because I had been ignoring the fact that a good spring cleaning was overdue.
Our garage holds so much more than our vehicles. We have a deep freeze, a refrigerator, bikes, coolers, tools, scooters, roller blades, lawn chairs, propane tanks, and more throughout every available space. Coats, footwear, hats, and mittens also find hiding spots in our attached parking space.
The shoe clutter was driving my husband insane. Honestly though, I wasn’t too concerned about his mental state. He doesn’t really get it, because he usually does not come home with a train of traffic in tow. Upon his return from work, my husband can worry about himself and take his time putting his shoes away properly. While the kids and I often leave them scattered all around the floor because someone urgently needs the potty or we are all ready for lunch and hangry (Hungry+Angry for those on the planet who have not yet seen an ad for Snickers).
Our shoe basket sits by the door leading into the house, and is more of a target zone then an actual destination site. The youngsters and I can be blamed equally for the shoe clutter mess because when I get home from running errands, I tend to just fling my footwear off in any general direction, and then cattle prod my kids to get inside the house. For some reason it is critical that I get inside in one trip. I must prove to the world (or at the very least my dog) that I can balance grocery sacks on each finger while also escorting a toddler to the door. The expectations of my Jack Russell Terrier are very high, and I cannot muster the energy to re-align stray shoes.
To solve the shoe clutter problem, my husband purchased and put together a huge shelving unit that now sits on the back wall of our garage. It is a boring thing to spend money on, but I like that crossing the threshold from the garage to the kitchen is no longer a sea of sandals, boots, and slip-ons. Shoes have found a new home on the bottom shelf, while coolers, car-seats, and tools take over the top shelving spots. I converted our shoe basket area into an organized line of color coded totes with name labels. Now each family member can fling, throw, or place their sneakers in the proper space. My kids actually enjoyed sorting out our old and unused loafers from the footwear pile we had accumulated. I think between me and the kids there were at least a dozen pairs that no longer fit anyone. Plus making the labels turned into an unplanned craft activity.
Since so much progress was made with the shoe de-cluttering, we also tackled the bike issue in the garage. Our kids are all at varying stages of the bicycle game, so we have scooters, ten-speeds, tricycles, training wheels, etc. My husband used coat hooks and S-hooks to hang all of the cycles on two walls. They are no longer taking up floor space and our garage looks cleaner.
My kitchen is another place that tends to get cluttered. Especially in big cabinet spaces and on the tables or counters. Why I am unable to keep our eating space designated only for food consumption? It is a mystery. The kitchen often doubles as an office, homework station, and first-aid center.
I used to have cleaning supplies scattered all over the cabinet under my kitchen sink. It was untidy and made things difficult to locate. It was specifically annoying because all I really wanted under there was the dish soap and dishwasher tablets. After doing some research on-line, I saw a de-cluttering idea that suggested moving all cleaning supplies to the garage and storing them in an over-the-door shoe organizer. The idea of moving cleaning chemicals out of my house was appealing, and I already had a folded up shoe organizer collecting dust at the bottom of my closet. The organizer now hangs on the side wall in our garage, and holds all of my Lysol wipes, bleaches, and dusting sprays. I keep a tote bag near it, that can be loaded with my cleaners and carried inside by me when I am tidying up the house.
Once I conquered under the sink, it became even more obvious that I needed to do something about the never-ending paper trail that was covering my kitchen counters. There was a sea of chaos between the craft projects, homework, teacher’s notes, mail, bills, receipts, permission slips, and coupons. I also did not have a strategy for what should be kept versus what should be thrown.
I was able to address this clutter problem by re-organizing a kitchen cupboard by way of six magazine/folder holders. I put them in a two-shelf cupboard facing backwards. Then I added labels to the backsides, so I could see what should be placed in each organizer. This puts off the persona of a mess contained. Now when my husband and I come across pages or scraps, that may or may not be important, they have a home-base. It is great to have a hidden spot for all the paper we accumulate. It is even nicer to put them in a permanent location and address them later. How anyone tries to look at fine print before kids are in bed is beyond me?
Clutter will always be a part of my life, at least for the foreseeable future. It is the way of the busy mom world, but I did find it refreshing to hide some of it and hang the rest to put off a neater appearance. However, in the end I understand that the people that truly know me probably like me for my clutter and chaos. It would be unfair to them if I were to completely get my act together and be 100% clutter-free, right?