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Week 2 down, and I’m still going strong. I have cleared out a ton of stuff…stuff I didn’t even realize we had! And in the meantime, I’ve found lots of things we’ve been looking for. I have to admit that I’m starting to get into areas that I’ve been avoiding. These are rooms and storage areas that are totally overrun. I’m having to remind myself that I only need to tackle one box at a time. I don’t need to finish the whole room in one day. Otherwise, the whole thing just seems so daunting!

The kids have been taking a big interest in this challenge…sometimes just out of curiosity, and occasionally out of concern! I’m also taking this opportunity to introduce a few skills to the kids. Right now, since we all (my husband and I included) have such a problem with putting things away, I’m working on taking one thing back to its rightful place every time we go from one room to another. Just think about the cleaning power we’d have if all of us did that one little thing!

But, back to the challenge…

Last Friday was Day 9 (yes, I know I’m a few days late with this post!), and I decided to tackle the dresser next to my bed. It has long been a piling place for stuff that I didn’t know what to do with. So, there was a ton of junk piled up on it. There was a bag of broken toys and toy pieces that needed to be returned to their sets. That was easy. Throw out the broken things (mostly treasures from meals that supposedly make you happy), and get the good things back to their rightful places. Check! I also had a big stack of old magazines sitting on the shelf above the dresser. They joined the broken toys. I had an entire drawer full of old, um, undergarments (for the top region) that haven’t been worn since I became a mother…my size and shape has changed so much that I’m never going to be able to wear those again. Why were they taking up valuable storage real estate? It turns out that there are charities that request those…I had no idea! I also found a drawer full of clothes waiting on me to repair them. Now, I didn’t get rid of these, but, I set up a station for them next to my sewing machine’s storage spot. It makes more sense. Now I can see them, and take care of them sooner, before the stack gets so daunting!

Day 10 was Saturday, and I was hoping to get to something that I needed my husband’s help for, since he was home…but he had other things outside that needed attention, so that will have to wait. So, instead, I tackled my room again. I had piled my desk high with all sorts of things. This is a common theme in my room. It’s the place everything that doesn’t have a place gets stacked when we go on “somebody’s about to come over panic clean mode”. Then, since there’s a crib in the middle of the room, and a baby sleeping there whenever I get a free minute (you know, because the baby’s asleep), I never clean it up or find places for those things that don’t have a home. So, on the desk, I found another stack of clothes waiting for repair…I added them to their new station. I found a huge box of expired cosmetics. I don’t even wear makeup on a day to day basis. I occasionally use it on special occasions or if I’m having a picture taken, but that’s about it. I now have a much tidier small bag of what I will actually use! I had a box collection of paper that were misprints from the printer. That went away. I also found several bags with a couple craft-type items each. I can now see the desk. It was WONDERFUL! I was able to print out our school-work without climbing over anything.

Day 11 was a brand new fresh Monday. I was back in my room again, working this time on the closet. The closet was what originally inspired this whole challenge. I had already cleaned out the hanging portion before this challenge started. So, I decided to work on the floor. At least, I was pretty sure there was a floor under there somewhere! I found a bunch of old shoes that I had collected. Now, there’s a little known fact that no one tells you about having kids. Every time I get pregnant, my feet grow a little more. When I got married, I wore a size 7.5 shoe. Now, I’m up to a size 9.5! Amazingly, I still had all of my shoes from before the kids. That was an easy box. I organized the purses and belts that I still wanted to keep, and put the others in the box with the shoes. I did save a few pairs of nice shoes that I put in the shed, in case the girls are interested one day…and wind up wearing the right size. If not, I guess it will make for a nice donation a few years down the road.

Day 12 was Tuesday. Tuesdays around here are tricky. We have to do all of our school work first thing in the morning, and then we generally load up for town right after lunch. Bear has allergy shots and Rhino has speech therapy in town on Tuesday afternoons. So, I don’t have a whole lot of time on Tuesdays. So, I did a quick run down on the book case in my room. It was storing a bunch of used preschool workbooks. I saved one from each kid for sentimental reasons, and threw the rest out. Another pretty easy box.

On Day 13, I started to tackle the loft above our room. This is one of those really scary areas. It’s a storage area, but it’s supposed to be functional, too. It’s not really functional right now! As I ascended the stairs, I kept chanting to myself…just one box, just one box. I found a box with mostly used craft supplies and school supplies. I went through it, and saved the useful things, and put the rest in the trash, or in a box if I thought someone else could use them. I didn’t really figure we needed 8 different sets of addition and subtraction flash cards, or 11 (yes, you read that right) sets of multiplication flash cards. Yikes! There’s still a ton to be done up there (and on the stair leading there), but that was all I had time for that day.

Thursday (day 14) was another busy day with an extra appointment in town. So I decided to clean out the kids’ art supply cabinet. I found a bag full of empty paint bottles, lots of crumpled up paper, and a bunch of dried out markers. My oldest daughter does clean it out from time to time, so it definitely wasn’t as bad as I feared it would be. It was another trash day, though.

Now, we’re back to Friday again…Day 15. My husband took the day off to deal with some chickens, so our routine was a little off from usual. Even so, I plowed on through. I tackled our DVD and VHS (yes, we still have a VCR!) collection. There were a couple of broken VHS tapes that I’ve been meaning to throw out for a while, but every time I tried, I couldn’t find them. I finally managed to get those out! We have DVDs under the TV, and those are all watched fairly consistently. I also had a huge collection of movies that I’d bought in college that were in a table (one of those types that also doubles as a storage compartment) next to the couch. They were largely inappropriate for my children. I’m not entirely sure why I’d been saving them. If they aren’t appropriate for my children, why are they appropriate for me? So, out went a box of inappropriate movies.

I am consistently amazed about the things I’ve been holding on to. It is scary, but also quite freeing to let so much of this stuff go. I’m finding that I have some sentimental attachments to a few things, and that’s fine. Those are things that can stay. I don’t really have any family heirlooms yet (with a few exceptions, and I would never part with those, Mom). My mom still has most of the family china, and quilts, and that sort of thing. I hope she keeps them for many more years to come! So, most of the stuff that’s leaving really isn’t useful. It’s just sitting there, taking up space. Some of it would be useful to others…so why not give it a chance to be used? It’s getting easier!

Here are a few of the boxes…in the back of my husband’s car already!


So, 15 days into the challenge, here’s how I’m doing…at a glance (this includes the count from last week):

  • 12 boxes to donate
  • 1 box to sell (probably for about $5 at Half Price Books)
  • 4 boxes into storage
  • 17 bags/boxes of trash

Whew!  What a week!  Bear turned nine, everyone got sick, we had an unplanned trip to urgent care with Baby, and, even with all of that going on,  Momma was a decluttering machine!  Unfortunately, my husband was so anxious to get the boxes out of the house before I changed my mind, I didn’t manage to get any pictures of all the stuff that left this week!  The second he found them, he scooped them up, and out to the back of his car.

I’m rather proud of how things are going so far with this 40 bags in 40 days challenge.  On Day 1 (Ash Wednesday), I decided to start off fairly easy with our bathroom linen cabinet.  I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get a whole box, so I was a little worried.  But, oh my!  Let me tell you, my worries were TOTALLY unfounded.  There was so much stuff up there.  The first day, I only got through the top shelf!  I found all kinds of nice things (like a never-used table cloth meant for a circular table…ours has been a rectangle since I moved out of my first apartment).  There were 5 different place mat and napkin sets with 4 settings each, along with 2 four piece napkin ring sets…that won’t go very far in this house!  Along with the nice things, I found 3 (THREE!) tattered old mattress pads.  Why would I keep those???  Day one, and off to a good start.

As Day 2 of 40 bags in 40 days dawned, I was excited.  I was going to tackle the rest of the bathroom cabinet.  We had sheets, sheets, sheets, and more sheets.  I didn’t make a huge box like I did the first day (and there wasn’t anything there that was worth donating…but hey, at least I’m getting it out of the house), but I had no problem filling up a jumbo-pack size 4 diaper box (mom’s-you know what that looks like!).  I had several full-sized sheet sets that were full of holes…so those went away…along with 4 mattress pads (also full of holes) for a crib-sized mattress.

It is sooooo nice to be able to see what I have in that bathroom cabinet now!

Day 3 is where things started getting tricky.  I had originally planned to tackle the boys’ room, and do the girls’ room on day 4.  But Day 4 was also Bear’s birthday…and she didn’t want to do her room on her birthday.  So, since birthday wishes do come true, and I really didn’t care which room we started in, Day 3 was spent in the girls’ room.  I plan to do several rounds in both kids’ rooms.  They have so much stuff!  So, we did the first round of a toy purge.  Not quite as painless as days 1 and 2!  Bear was ready.  I think she was almost as happy about it as I was.  Lizard was having a lot of trouble with the ordeal…understandably.  But, she perked up when she realized that someone else would be able to have fun with the things she was giving up.  It was really sweet.  We managed to find a small box of toys that both (older) girls were willing to part with.  We also cleaned out 1 kitchen-sized trash bag worth of trash.  It seems that packrat-itis runs in families.

Day 4 of the 40 bags in 40 days challenge was Saturday.  My husband was home, and he had a different project in mind than I did.  He had just finished up our second bookshelf for the living room.  Homeschoolers need a lot of bookshelves.  So, the new plan: move the new bookshelf into the living room, move the girls’ old bookshelf out of their room (it was falling apart), move the old living room bookshelf into the girls’ room.  Did you follow all of that?  Of course, with all of that bookshelf moving, came a lot of bookshelf unloading.  What better time to do a little decluttering?  So, the boys’ room would wait for Day 5.  Most of the removal came from the bookshelf in the girls’ room.  There were 2 bags full of loose paper projects wondering around, along with 2 boxes full of used up coloring books.

On Sunday, we rested.  

Day 5 was Monday, and we went back to resume the plan…so on to the boys’ room we went!  We removed a bag of trash, and several toys with a large footprint that no one played with anymore.  At that point, I moved the toys we had taken out of the girls room into a bigger box, and put all the things that we took from the boys’ room with them.  I don’t think it’s cheating really.  It was a huge box!

On Day 6, we moved back to the girls’ room to tackle the closet.  I am truly astonished at how much stuff they had crammed into the closet floor!  We didn’t even make it to the rest of the closet.  We just worked on the floor.  There was a whole bag of paper trash that they had stuffed in the closet, and we boxed up a bunch of dress up clothes to save for Baby when she gets big enough to enjoy them.  

The next day, we had to make an unscheduled visit to urgent care with Baby.  She had an ear infection that even made the doctor say, “Oh Wow!”  That’s never a good sign.  So, we lost pretty much the entire day.  But I wasn’t going to let that derail my efforts on the 40 bags in 40 days challenge.  I pledged to make up our lost day on Day 8.

Yesterday was Day 8 of the 40 bags in 40 days challenge.  We went through all of the kids’ dresser drawers to get rid of all the things they don’t wear, or are worn out, or too small.  Again, I was amazed.  My girls had both been stashing “treasures” in their dresser drawers.  Some of them were more treasure-like than others.  I cleaned out half a bag worth of trash from each set of drawers, making one bag of trash (paper, and broken toys mostly) total.  I let them keep the things that were truly worth keeping.  We pared down their clothes collection so that they each got a drawer they can use just for their “treasures”.  Of course, I made them promise not to stuff it full of crumpled up typing paper again!  Bear kept nearly all of her clothes, because, as the oldest, she just doesn’t have very many.  Lizard had been keeping a lot of clothes hidden from me that she wanted to keep even though she had outgrown them.  I found a few 4T sized clothes in there…y’all she wears size 7!  There was a box of clothes to donate and a box to keep in the shed for Baby.

To make up for Day 7, I also cleaned out the boys’ dresser drawers on Day 8.  There was a full box worth of clothes to donate, along with a box of clothes that were too small for anyone.


So, at 8 days into our 40 bags in 40 days challenge, here’s the count:

  • 5 boxes to donate
  • 3 boxes into storage
  • 10 boxes/bags of trash (unless I miscounted)