Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Cleaned, Sorted & Still Smiling

The day started out harmless enough. DH and the boys were away on an overnight fishing trip, DD was stuck to my knee where she usually is, making it impossible to get anything done unless it was in arms reach.

After taking out the bins, I came back and subconsciously assessed the grubbiness of out kitchen bin. It's big, it's wooden and it's lovely. But geez, it stank. So I got out a scrubbing brush and cleaned the bee-jeezes out of it. It wasn't this clean when we bought it new! I finished off with a nice fragrant spray of Glen 20 disinfectant.

One job done, in less than 30 minutes. Hmmm, it got me thinking. And it felt good to have one totally clean spot in our house - even if it was the rubbish bin!

As I put away the cleaners, I noticed the cupboard under the sink was busting out of the doors. Totally disorganised to the point of only being able to use those things along the front 5cm edge of the cupboard. And I hadn't been able to put the dish drainer away in there for about a month.

Well, why not clean it out while I'm at it?

So I did. I found a few storage containers perfect to fit this kind of stuff in. Neatly. One bin for essential kitchen cleaners (don't want too many here, as my 2yo would love to get into them). One bin for rags / dishcloths / rubber gloves. One bin for my vases, which are looking pretty darn old and neglected, but anyhoo.

I gathered all the bubble-blowing paraphernalia into a bigger bin, as the little make-shift bundle I'd had going was overflowing and therefore, rendered useless.

I put the shoe cleaner and scrubbers into another little container.

I will hang the washing up brushes and dusters on the inside of the doors when I buy myself some hooks. It was also a good place to store my little homemaker tools, like a small hammer, a few screwdrivers (for changing toy batteries, which I get asked to do a lot!) and tape measures. My tools, so I would stop raiding my husband's massive collection out in the garage.

The rest was junk to be thrown away, like wrappers (what the? I mean, seriously, is it so hard to put the wrapper in the bin 1 metre away when you open a new cleaning product?) bits and pieces off broken toys that we probably didn't even own anymore, empty cleaner bottles (again - ?!?) and broken parts of the plumbing system I never knew what to do about after DH had finished fixing the tap washer. There was also an awful lot of small oddments and coinage that had been swiped off the kitchen sink windowsill.

Binned. In my nice new shiny-clean rubbish bin.

Ahhh. Feels good. So, I go to make myself a cuppa after that. Hmmm. It really is a bother to have the cups all the way over the other side of the room, isn't it? And the tea / coffee cupboard was looking pretty grotty too - my seven-year-old son had spilt caramel sauce on the top shelf, and somehow made it messier by attempting to wipe it up himself. There was still a lot of sticky residue on both shelves. And of course, the Milo crumbs were all over the place, because they like to climb up on the bench and sneak spoonfuls when they think I'm not looking. (But I am, it's just that I used to do the same thing when I was there age, and it hasn't done me much harm ...) There were a lot of opened and abandoned leaf tea packets leftover from several years ago when I hosted Christmas here for all my family. DH and I only drink Dilmah tea bags, so not only was this leaf tea stale, it was pointless in our house.

So I got to work, humming as I went, two-year-old child attached to my knee. Scrubbed it out, sorted it all out. Got my favourite tea cups (there are only 4 that I like to use. If I end up using anything else, it's only because I haven't unpacked the dishwasher yet ...)

Labelled all the shelves: Tea & Coffee Station; Tea & Coffee Pots (DH likes to brew his own coffee now and then, and that's where I also store the insulated mugs and thermoses).

Another job done. Well, I was getting the hang of this now.

So, the phone rings and when I go to answer it, of course the phone battery dies on me. What? But it's been sitting here on the charger all along! Well, wouldn't you know it? DH had unplugged the landline phone charger to put his own mobile charger in. Again. Argh! His mobile wasn't even there charging anymore! Well, that's it!

Time to organise a permanent "charging station". A place where I could charge the camera, camcorder, my mobile, his mobile, the boys' DSi's. Trouble was, we were really short on powerpoints. What was so frustrating was that something, like the kettle, or the toaster, or the landline phone charger, always had to be unplugged at dinner-making time to make way for the slow cooker, rice cooker, or whatever.

While I pondered this problem, I saw another storage bin that I might be able to use for another job. They always came in handy. It was holding an assortment of baby bottles, teats, dummy protectors (when we no longer had any actual dummies!). Well, it's only been a year since Miss 2.5 stopped using bottles. Geez. Don't rush me.

So I decided it was time to use that very convenient space above the microwave for something other than hosting a lot of useless, un-used junk and lollies. And out-of-date baby formula tins (!?!). And wouldn't you know it, as I pulled the container out, what did I spy? Another power point that I'd forgotten existed, because it was inside a cupboard behind the baby bottle container!

Woo hoo! This shelf would work perfectly as the home of my Charging Station. I grabbed a spruced-up scrappy OTP tray I'd made for my late grandma (returned to me after her death) and cleaned it up. It had been holding the breakfast condiments in the pantry, but I'd taken to keeping the Vegemite, Promite, Jam and Nutella in the fridge lately. So this tray was sticky, and was about to be retired from use. It was the perfect size to hold several charging cords and phones.

Superb. I wound up all the leads so it was less messy and less likely to get tangled up together. I re-purposed a powerpack that we'd been using for the Christmas lights (yup, there's another job I've still yet to do - pull down the Christmas lights which are stapled into the wooden verandah cornice. Ho hum, anyhoo...). Attached it to the shelf, so it wasn't moving anywhere. It was here to stay. Not allowed to be used for any other purpose - ok DH?? Even better, it had individual on/off buttons for each lead, so the charging cords could just stay attached permanently too. Terrific. Hope DH uses it.

Well, while I was in that cupboard, I threw out all the junk that was up on the high, rarely-used shelf and decided it was a good place to store my rarely-used cookbooks. They were in several places throughout the kitchen, as our collection of recipe books had outgrown the little shelf I currently had them on.

A job for later would be to actually sort through those books and toss anything completely useless. I also needed to buy a folder to put all the torn-out magazine recipes into. But for now, I just homed them all into a verticle magazine holder.

I chucked out several lolly bags left over from kids' parties, where the lollies were rock hard. I condensed all the remaining lollies (we've just had a 6-year-old party and overdid the lolly factor in a major way) into the one lolly tin. The tin itself was already in the cupboard, but had only a handful of jellybeans left in it anyway. Any lollies that didn't fit in that tin, were chucked. Bad for your teeth anyway!

I labelled every shelf in this cupboard and couldn't stop myself from constantly peeking in at my charging station. It makes me so very happy to have a permanent and convenient home for all those cords. I labelled them all too - the cords and the chargers. Bliss.

Now that the little cookbook shelf was empty, I had a new permanent home for my oil cooker, away from anything else because it gets so very greasy. Great.

Moving right along the width of the kitchen, the next cupboard was extraordinarily hard to get into, so a lot of things had been thrown in there, never to return again. Things like shopping bags that we use to line our bathroom bins. Un-used crockery. Torches. All loose and all over the place.

By now, I'd run out of proper storage bins, so I had to resort to using cardboard boxes in the intrim. (Can't wait to get into an Ikea store! I'll have a specific storage bin list - I'll be able to buy according to the shape and purpose of each job! Yay!). Anyhoo, I condensed all the shopping bags into a sock which will hang in the broom space beside the fridge. I put all the torches I found into the one ice cream container. We'd obviously just kept buying the kids little torches when they couldn't find them. I put all our candles and a lighter for using them, into another box. We get a lot of power black outs here, so this box needs to be accessible in the complete dark!

While there was still heaps of room in there, I might as well condense all the fly sprays, cochroach baits and mouse traps into the one container. Labelled Pest Control, Mwhahahahah! Die, pests, die!

So by now, I recognised I was actually in a cleaning frenzy. But it wasn't the "big job", "must do" overwhelming and depressing kind. It was just me mozying along, cleaning cupboards out as I went. No rhyme or reason to it, I was just getting more and more motivated as I went along, seeing the spoils of my efforts.

My fishermen arrived home and were eager to tell me about their camping trip. So I broke for a little while and enjoyed my family. And a beer or two. We had dinner and put on a movie. Hmmm, that entertainment cabinet is looking a bit trashy, isn't it ...

Yup, you guessed it. I rarely ever just sit and watch a movie without multi-tasking something else into it. Like sock sorting. Bills sorting. That sort of thing. So now it was time to tackle the DVD drawers. All five of them, stocked to the hilt with empty cases and scratched beyond repair DVDs.

I decided the system of asking my kiddos to return the DVD disks to their right cases was a lost battle. Finally, after nearly 8 years. I give up on them ever keeping them tidy and organised like that. So much for that rule "one disk at a time". And I'm guilty of it too.

So I did away with the DVD cases altogether. Pulled out any disks still in their cases (just mainly the parent's movies) and put all the disks into large 100-disk folders, just like the ones I have for my photo disks and software disks. Five drawers of DVDs all fitted into one folder for kids movies, and one folder for parent's movies.

 I pulled out all the paper covers to file into a clearview folder for browsing. I wrote down each title to make up a cheat-sheet browsing list for later. Not that the kids ever need to browse, they are happy to just take what they can get! But I like to know what a movie is about before I actually decide to watch it, because time is too precious to get ten minutes into a movie and decide it's not for me. I'll never get that 10 minutes back again, just sayin'. It's even worse if I am thinking that as the rolling end credits come up ...

So it was now midnight, the movie had finished, and only me and my knee-hugger were still up. Time to call it a night. But what a perfect day! I'd accomplished so many "to-do" jobs without even needing to psych myself up for a big clean up. And without having spent a single cent! I think the key was that it was an impromptu endeavour that just gained momentum as I went along. Seeing the results as you go along is the best kind of motivator! 

There was no pressure of tackling such an intimidating task of spring-cleaning the whole kitchen in one day. No, rather, it was just me taking it one cupboard at a time. No deadlines. No set results to achieve. I'd re-purposed a heap of storage containers and cupboards that were not being used effectively. I'd "taken out the trash".

And I'd spent the whole day with the computer turned off. Hooray!

I've been reading a lot of tips from this site here, and I think it's actually starting to sink in. I think I'm starting to change my way of thinking and it's been a very fulfilling and rewarding journey. Check it out.


Alanna said...

Wow!! Well done! You deserve a huge congratulations! Wish I could do the same :)

Scrapping Mum of 3 said...

Wow .. you did an amazing job! Interested in doing mine next? LOL!

Jody said...

You really have impressed me. What a ton of work you accomplished in what seems like a relaxing time. Good job!

Anonymous said...

You are inspiring! I just discovered you in a newsletter from 'two little pisels'...you are a fabulous designer! I'm looking forward to seeing all your creations.

Anonymous said...

Of course, I meant...'two little PIXELS'! Sorry about that...

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