Like most families, we have lots of stuff in our house. Staying on top of clutter takes some thought and time but it can be done!
I am a collector. Not a pat rack, but a collector of useful items. Anything from papers I need to file through, to clothes and toys the kids have outgrown and could go to another child, and clothes the kids have not grown into yet.
On the contrary, Mr. Mama is a minimalist. Which means he is often dismayed to find things lying around the house when they have overstayed their welcome. It’s easy to see who Mister and Missy take after. From a young age we trained them to put everything in its place. Like most toddlers, they don’t like to get their hands messy when eating and notice when something is wrong. When they see a ripped page in a book, they say “We gotta fic it with tape.” (fix it with tape). Other times when a scrap of paper is lying around, they say “That is garbage” and they will put it in the recycling!
One day I heard them say “Too much stuff!”. Looking around us, I realized what they meant. The main level of our home is open concept, which means you can see anything from anywhere. Their “play area” is actually our dining room without any furniture which merges with our family room. When Mister and Missy are playing, their toys often make their way into the family room, kitchen and eating area. It is a constant battle to put their toys back into the colourful bins we have for them and keep them there until the next playtime.
So back in November, Mr. Mama and I started on a new house project: clearing the basement and making it into a kids play area for the wintertime. First, we removed everything and put it into the garage. (the garage, not the garbage!) The idea behind that is, we will think twice before lugging all that stuff back into the house and down the stairs!
Now what is all this stuff, you ask? There’s items like the aforementioned clothes (too big and too small), larger toys we don’t have room for upstairs, unopened toys which we plan to rotate into their collection throughout the year, seasonal decorations, out-of-season clothes and shoes (me), patio furniture, baby furniture, other furniture from when we lived in a condo, construction materials that came with the house, and sentimental things that I can’t bear to part with yet. And I probably missed a few things!
Going with the idea that one man’s junk is another man’s treasure, we proceeded to sort out all the items into different categories. They were: donate, keep, give to friends, or resell at the semi-annual Twice As Nice Sale (coming up this April) or on Kijiji. Most of the kids clothes we gave away. A lot of the household and furniture items were sold. And everything else got organized.
While I sorted through the items bit by bit, Mr. Mama prepared the basement floor for painting by washing and sweeping the dust. Then my father-in-law was kind enough to paint the floor. It was back-breaking work but the result was fantastic. The basement was again open for business!
With a lot of the stuff gone from our garage, and the weather getting colder, we brought the remaining items back into the basement. Then we bought extra Rubbermaid containers and large shelving units from Canadian Tire to help with the re-organization. The containers were for storing all those miscellaneous kid-related items we accumulated over the years like Birthday Party supplies or kids shoes, etc. Each container was labelled and placed either on the shelving units or against the walls to keep the middle of the basement open.
Next was using our large pieces of carpet leftover from the construction of our house. The carpet had been rolled up for a few years and needed a good vacuum before the children could play on it. Once that was ready, it was rolled out in the center of the “playroom” and the large toys like their play kitchen was brought downstairs. We also brought in their Flintstone-style cars from the backyard. Now they could ‘drive’ around all winter long! Before long much of their toys were downstairs and we found a lot of space opened up on our main floor because of it. Mister and Missy still play there, but on the floor/carpet now that they have this extra space. Now that they are three years old, we realized they are ready for a more preschooler-friendly play space.
Which brings us to our next project: develop a kid-friendly play area in the now empty space in the living/dining room upstairs. Stay tuned for an update on that!