Saturday, February 28, 2015

40 Bags in 40 Days: Progress Update

It turns out, I am a hoarder. A literal closet hoarder. I take pride in keeping downstairs clean and the playroom organized. Everything in the kids' rooms are labeled with pictures and words. I want them to be organized. 

But take a peek in any closet in my house and you'll see the chaos that I've created. I could be featured on a Hoarders episode on A&E. Since beginning the 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge ten days ago, we have tackled the bedroom closet, master bathroom closet, and office closet. 

The bedroom closet was no small task. I'm guilty of letting the kids play in there, which means half of my wardrobe ends up off the hangers and on the floor. Jesse's greatest pet peeve about me is that I never hang the clothes back up. I end up sifting through clothes all over the floor to find something to wear. The floor of our closet was littered with clothes (not just mine!), toys, broken vacuum cleaner hoses, and more. It was pretty ridiculous. Trying on clothes was just a rude reminder of how much weight I've gained and how few clothes actually fit. Since becoming a stay at home mom nearly two years ago, I've lived in long skirts/dresses, and yoga pants. I probably shouldn't admit this, but my favorite shirts and yoga pants all have growing holes in them. I finally threw them away. I kept some work clothes, but still managed to drop off two black trash bags full of clothes and shoes at Goodwill.

When creating the list, I anticipated the two most difficult tasks to do be the office closet and the attic. I allotted two days to complete the office closet, but it took me a full week! Here's what it looked like ten days ago.

The first step was to take every single item out of the closet. I made three signs (keep, trash, donate) on different corners of the room. As I took each item out, I tried to make an impulse decision and put each thing in a pile.

The closet originally only had two very high shelves. Jesse purchased and installed shelving for me.

The process was very tedious and emotionally draining. Some of the closet's contents were easy to sort, such as scrapbook supplies, paint, games, and office supplies. I quickly organized those items and placed most of them in clear storage drawers.

Other items were more difficult. There were binders full of old classwork (kindergarten-grad school), my baby books, my mother's journal to me, hundreds of postcards, etc. I tried to trim down as much as possible, which meant I had to go through everything to determine what had enough sentimental value to hold onto.

As I pulled items out from the mountainous pile, I kept finding loose photographs. There were easily a thousand pictures. My mother was both a hoarder and a lover of pictures, so I had hundreds of random pictures from my childhood. I sorted the photos by years (early childhood, middle school, high school, college, wedding, etc) and put them in labeled ziploc bags. I threw away duplicates and blurry photos. I placed the bags in chronological order inside the bin. I already have photo albums from each of these time periods, so I don't know what I'll do with these photographs in the future. For now, they're at least organized and I know where they are.

We donated the filing cabinet, dresser, and dozens of other smaller items, including my VHS copy of Drop Dead Fred and my favorite cassettes and CDs. I was also able to fill two black garbage bags with recycling and trash. We now have several empty shelves, though I doubt they will remain empty after we go through the attic. 

I am surprised at how taxing the past ten days have been. I feel like I'm letting go of a lot of baggage that I didn't know I still carried. Progress is slow, and there were several days where I felt discouraged. After finishing my first large project, I'm beginning to feel a bit lighter.

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