Decluttering From the Inside Out

A new year, a new home … kind of. At least that’s what I had in mind after we visited my sister-in-law’s home during Christmas. Let’s just say that her lack of clutter had inspired me to go home and declutter our house. I even spent a few late nights of our trip (blame it on jet lag!) bookmarking organizational ideas and making a list of what to buy/do when we returned home. (Don’t worry, it was a fairly relaxing trip otherwise, haha).

I had tried to makeover our home two summers ago and succeeded in painting two bathrooms (with the munchkins’ help, which had seemed like a brilliant idea at the time) and also cleaning out some drawers (see here). But there was one closet that I hadn’t touched and hadn’t considered touching since we moved in a dozen years ago. And that was our hallway linen closet.

Yikes! Don't "before" pictures make you cringe?

Yikes! Don’t “before” pictures make you cringe?

I decided that the jam-packed, “towels crammed in with the sheets” look had to go. Even if I was the only person to ever see the inside of this closet, it was time to do myself a favor and make it more manageable and safe to open (believe me, it’s all fun and games until someone gets hit on the head with a duvet cover!). So, I took everything out, placed them in two piles (keep or donate), then arranged the keepers according to type (sheets vs. pillowcases vs. blankets). I also gave the towels a new home in a cabinet outside our master bathroom, so we no longer have to run down the hall in our birthday suit should we need a clean towel (and found a nifty way to organize them: rolling instead of folding). And then the hallway closet turned into this beauty!

Voila! "After" pics always make me smile. :D

Voila! “After” pics always make me smile. 😀

I learned an important lesson from this closet makeover. That any kind of makeover requires you to clean up the messiness from the inside out.

I could spend the rest of my life trying to declutter everything but the hidden things, but it wouldn’t negate the fact that until I clean out that last closet, cabinet or drawer in the house, clutter will still exist. (I think there’s a good analogy here related to emotional baggage, but I’ll save that for another day).

So, it’s time to take a deep breath and be honest with myself about the clutter I’ve been ignoring in the downstairs closet (which is conveniently hiding behind a closed door). When (if) I ever get around to that, I’ll let you know. But for now, let me go bask again in the beauty of the hallway closet.

There’s no good song about decluttering your home that I could think of, so I’m sharing a completely off topic (but beautiful) one here by Jason Mraz called “Be Honest”. I guess you could say the title is somewhat related to me being honest with myself about the clutter in the house. 😉

What tips do you have about decluttering from the inside out?

Not Giving Up

I used to think it was funny whenever people would compliment our kids and hubby would proudly say, “Thank you!”  That’s because I feel like complimenting someone’s child is indirectly giving the parent(s) a compliment as well.  That’s because kids are the “creation” of their parents; they did get all their genetic make up from them.  So, if someone wants to hear endless compliments about themselves, the best thing to do is to have a child.  (I’m so kidding.)

Sure, I enjoy hearing people say positive things about my kids.  But on the flip side, there are times when I cringe when my kids do/say things that are not so great and I have to pause and ask myself, where did they get that from?  Cause we as parents can’t just take credit for the good and not the bad.  For example, it’s a good reminder to myself to work on the tone of my voice when I hear C yelling at her big brother, “Say sorry NOW!”  Sigh…

But there are some things that kids don’t learn by observing their parents; you could say these are the traits that were inherited and are ingrained in their DNA.  When I see E being cautious and wary of speaking in public, I unfortunately know where he got that from….and it wasn’t from hubby (both he and C love attention, haha).


It broke my heart when I saw E on stage at his preschool graduation, turned halfway around in his seat so he wouldn’t have to face the audience.  He sat and stood like that for about 45 minutes even when the teacher asked him to turn around and face forward.  I knew exactly how he was feeling – overwhelmed and uncomfortable, like every single eye in the audience was fixed on him.  But he did make it through and even happily skipped off the stage when it was all over!

Just last week, we faced another hurdle with him about public speaking, but this time the public part only involved us.  He needed to practice a memory verse for school and he refused to say it out loud to us.  It was the day before this assignment was due and we were at our wits end trying to figure out how to get him to cooperate.  (Yes, I can be a perfectionist when it comes to homework.)  Finally, we decided to reward him with a $5 toy if he would say the verse out loud.  He eventually agreed and mumbled his way through it, but he did it!  We were thrilled!  And he told us the next day that he was the only kid in his class to get the verse right on the first try!  Cue the happy and proud parent dance!

I am so happy to say that this week he has been so much more cooperative about the memory verse and practiced it with me 3 days ahead of schedule.  And he even said he did it this time without having to get a prize.  LOL.  Good thing, cause I didn’t know if I wanted to fork over $5 every week to get him to do it.

Sigh… It’s a strange thing seeing yourself in your child.  It’s both a blessing and a curse in some ways because there’s no denying what you see in the “mirror” in front of you.  But it’s also a lesson for me that our kids are worth our patience and encouragement, especially when they face the same challenges that we find ourselves facing.  It’s a reminder that yes, I have plenty of weaknesses and struggles, but I can get through them, just like E gets through his.  And I should be patient with myself, just as we try to be patient with him.

I really like the message of this song, “I Won’t Give Up”, by Jason Mraz, especially the part that says, “We got a lot to learn and God knows we’re worth it.”  Cause we all are worth it.  So don’t give up whatever you’re going through!

In what area(s) are you trying not to give up in?

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