Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Our New Year's resolution (Room #1 The Guest Room)

A few year's ago, some of our friends talked about a book they had read which had inspired a process of going room by room through their home, removing everything and only putting a percentage back (another portion was given away and then some was allowed to be stored temporarily to see if it would be missed). I was so envious and ever since then have been craving following in their footsteps. Jason has been willing to join me (and I think even caught the vision/"organizing bug"), but to date it has seemed completely unrealistic - not only because it doesn't feel like we have an overabundance of time to devote to such luxuries but also due to the ages/stages of our brood.

Not sure that has necessarily changed, but I'm working at not saying I "don't have time" for something. If it feels important enough to us, it seems like we make our goals and plans accordingly. And we are going to have little people in our home for awhile yet, so I wasn't sure a deep cleaning and paring down should wait for another decade.

In 2016, Jason read a book a month and wrote a book report to share with us. In 2017, Jason wrote a Tangly Woods website post monthly that will form the basis for a conference workshop he is doing later this month. We have deemed 2018 the year for us to get our paperwork in order and to deep clean our home AND I am excited about that! We are hoping to do a room/month, or front load it in the months that aren't as busy with planting, weeding, harvesting and processing our garden's abundance.

So I figured we might as well start off the year right! So instead of crashing after hosting 14, in addition to our family, for three days, we dove in. After Terah's nap, we got the rest of the house picked up before dark when Jason came in. Then we started clearing out the guest room. Alida kept asking, "Are you taking that out?" to which I answered, "Yes, EVERYTHING is coming out." A minute later the question again. I'm sure the novelty will wear off but there was still a festive feel in the air and we had Christmas music playing.

In all honesty, the novelty wore off even before we were done with the room. I won't say that it was done with no frustration and it got VERY late (or early, more accurately), but I can't complain. We ALL saw in the new day (so for 3 of the 5 of us that meant being up past midnight two nights in a row). But oh the satisfaction at the end of the 6 hours. Here was our process:

We took out everything except a shelf that was firmly affixed to the wall and a full length mirror in the same condition. Then Kali got to work on the bed (it was in desperate need of a wash), while the younger girls jumped on the mattress and looked at National Geographic magazines. We dusted, washed walls and trim and doors, took down light fixtures and washed those, Jason realized he had never caulked some places and so he caulked the closet and baseboards, he tightened down some loose screws, washed the floor, I beat out the mattress out in the brisk night air, washed the window and mirror, and got a load of laundry going to wash the curtains and rug.

By the time that was all done, we were already a bit tired and the hard work was still ahead of us - deciding what goes back in. We had intentionally decided to start with what I considered to be the easiest room. I think, in retrospect, the bathroom might be easier, but it turned out to be a good launching pad for the project. All of us had some stuff in the room so we all had some decisions to make. We didn't set any criteria for how much we could keep or get rid of, but I was shocked at two things: how much stuff was actually in the room and how much we were able to get rid of with little to no angst.
Some of the work spilled into the next day as we ran out of steam to have the girls finish trying on shoes and dresses. And I had a "gift box" in the cedar chest to sort through. So the next morning we finished that up and then today I wrapped up another project that stemmed from the cleaning. As we went through things, I found some keepsakes or other things that have been very meaningful to me over the years but I was ready to part with. It was a surprising twist to this project to find ourselves thinking of various friends as we pulled things off walls or out of boxes. So today the girls and I swung by the post office with some packages to mail. I hope the recipients will enjoy opening them as much as I enjoyed thinking of them as part of our process!

So one room down and it is only January 3rd. What did we learn from the first room? It is not realistic to tackle a room in an evening. Maybe with the exception of the bathroom, we need to give a full day to each room. And for some rooms we may want to split things out - like our closet for one project and the rest of the room for another. This project will stretch us, tire us and be very rewarding! And I do not yet know what mental, emotional, physical and spiritual preparation I will need to do in advance of tackling the girls' bedroom!

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