Decluttering kids school mess

When most people hear the question, “Paper or plastic?” it usually doesn’t make their skin crawl; unless of course, you are like me and you left your cloth bags in the back of your car for the millionth time. That does get a tad old.

What I am referring to has nothing to do with shopping, bagboys, or keeping your meat separated by plastic. I’m talking about the inordinate amount of paper and toys which collect in my house during one calendar year.decluttering

I have two young grade school-aged children, and apparently their teachers like them to keep busy drawing, and writing all the live long day.

Every day.

I think perhaps their teachers are sneaking into my home in the middle of the night and having my kids do art projects in their sleep because of the towering stacks of paper we collect at school year’s end.

Of course I’m not asking for the teachers to prop my girls up with a juice box and a bag of chips in front of the precariously sitting TV upon the portable audiovisual cart. No, I’m happy they are teaching my children motor skills, handwriting, math and spelling words.

Schoolboy being stressed by his homework, isolated on white back

But oh, for the days of those slate boards with the minimalist wooden frame! Laura Ingalls Wilder’s ma had it right. No recycling bin vs. scrapbook decisions for her. Just making a cellar full of apple butter and staying clear of the locusts. Good times!

Summer is my time for getting our house organized. Twelve months of an angry woman hoarding my children’s crap is my cut-off. I have to get rid of it or else I will end up on one of those reality shows, and if I’m going to have some quality airtime, it sure as heck isn’t going to have the word CRAZY or HOARDING in the title. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

Make a List

1) Sort school paperwork into three boxes labeled
a) sweet mementos for mom
b) touching items kids will treasure
c) tormenting evidence for future public events

I thinned down this pile already throughout the year! OY!  ~

I thinned down this pile already throughout the year! OY! ~

2) Find the bottom of my desk and remove any food particles or spores which may have appeared during the year. This also includes a good sucking of lint and hangnails from my computer keyboard.

3) Pitch any clothing that has holes or stains that have been attempted to be removed more than 2.4 times. Remaining clothing and shoes that no longer fit, must be shoved into paper sacks in back of van immediately. Put keys in ignition, place gear into reverse and back out of drive to the donation center so you will not leave those suckers in the back of your closet or car for the next 6 months.

4) Sadly, there is always a natural disaster around the corner and the only positive thing that ever comes from those is I can tell my children truthfully there are other kids who have no toys. This brings out the empathy in my girls and they start cleaning out their bins of plastic junk they aren’t playing with, which makes me one happy and philanthropic mama.

5) Then there’s the project of burning our music CD’s which I started when I married my husband. We were married in our thirties, merging two full houses; however, neither of us had children. We assumed we had all the time in the world, but were stupidly unaware our lives would change dramatically after we spawned. Which we did right away. Why not, right?!

Needed panoramic lens to capture full collection. ~

Needed panoramic lens to capture full collection. ~

Unfortunately, with summer camps, going to the pool, ball games, vacations, sleeping in, running around like crazy-free kids and just playing in the sun, it will take the entire summer to get through all five of these projects.

(previously posted in July of 2013)

Do you have any projects that you can’t get done over the summer? Or do you just say forget about it? I need some tips to get through all this junk!


6 Superior Cleaning Tips for a Mother-in-Law’s Approval

Welcome carpetNow if any of you have been in my home, you may be thinking why is this clutter-pile gal giving ME tips on how to clean my abode? That is a valid question, which I will ignore. But this is not about me, but YOU!

Just because I don’t have an OCD (obsessive/compulsive), 1950s looking home, doesn’t mean I don’t have the skills to do it. I choose to live this way and that is something between me and my cleaning lady.

However, when I have family over for a seasonal function, I do give it a solid try to make the house beautiful, despite the fact that my children and husband (God love them all) will destroy it by the end of the evening.

So here are some of my favorite tricks to getting your home lovely for planned guest visits:


  1. Pick up all crap off the floor and hide it in a closet. Don’t forget to warn kids not to play in the closets in mommy’s room during a rousing game of hide and seek. You’d hate to be discovered from a head injury caused by objects smashing your nieces or nephews.
  1. The laundry room is a wonderful place to toss extra clutter. In fact take an empty laundry basket to each room and dump all the junk you don’t want to be seen into the basket. If your family doesn’t miss it for 2 weeks, it should go in the “to-be-donated-basket.
  1. Cleaning the screens on the TV and computer are things I don’t think of often. Basically, when there is a smudge so crusty that it impedes my vision at night, I will remember to do all the screens in the house. The problem with visits from family is that the men will want notoriously want to turn on a game and every family meal has some argument which ends with someone having to Google something. Hence, the need for clean screens.
  1. This may be news to you, but I am vertically challenged. Unfortunately, I don’t see the top of the mantle, or the light bulbs in lamps and I have to get a cherry picker or ceiling tethers to look at my ceiling fans. Also, since I am way below them, when I clean them with my extended handled Swifter, I typically get a face full of dust mites and skin particles that I’m fairly certain I don’t want to aspirate. Here is a fabulous trick, for cleaning your ceiling fans with a pillow case.
  1. I am a spot cleaner when it comes to my floors. The cleaning gal will come and get on it every 2 weeks, so the majority of the time, I’m just keeping it presentable until that glorious doorbell rings on those Tuesdays. However, there are times when my scheduled date doesn’t coincide with entertaining and I have to deep clean my kitchen floor. This is a great way to get your floors looking like brand new!
  1. And if the guests are springing this on you and you have barely enough time, the incomparable Anna Luther from one of the best family blogs, My Life and Kids has the funniest post on how to get your house ready in 20 minutes. Hilarious!!!

Brown welcome carpet, welcome doormat carpet isolated on white.

What else do you have to get done before guests come? Any more tips would be welcomed!!! Please!