How to Dejunk and the Treasures I Found for You!

The crazy “before” picture. See why I was so overwhelmed! At least Elmo looks peaceful. He is now gone, no longer surveying the mess.

Woo-hoo!!!!  Let’s celebrate: I conquered my junky family room and got it organized. What I overly ambitiously thought would take only a day, namely Labor Day, ended up as a two week project. For the past I-don’t-know-how-many years, I have dreaded fall time and the new homesschool year. With what used to be seven, and is now six kids (child #1 is on a mission), at home all day because we homeschool, I have wanted a bigger than my present 1700 square foot home.

The thought of squeezing all of us into the family room, which is our school room, every morning has made me want to scream. Some people may like to let their kids all over the home during their homeschool time, but I like us to all be in the same room so I can monitor what’s going on without climbing up and down stairs. The problem has been that I don’t have an empty basement, or much of a storage room to accommodate a growing family’s needs. I don’t have an office, or a craft room or an exercise room. i don’t have an art studio. so I have things that would go into such rooms, and things overflowing from the two puny storage rooms I have into the family room/homeschooling room. Things like Christmas decorations, Easter decorations, La Leche League Leader stuff, sewing materials, a pile of clothes to mend, picture frames that need repairing, homeschooling catalogs, books, old computers, computer parts, computer cables, old Mothering magazines, every single Mathusee book in stock (classic plus Greek letter editions), old Ensign, Friend, and New Era magazines, Linux books and books on computer security and software for my oldest son, paperwork, school books, bank statements, notebooks, memorabilia, toys, Legos, puzzle pieces, game pieces, and did I mention books? I am so blessed to have so many material items!

This picture shows I am getting closer to being done!

i don’t know what took me so long to clean it all up…just plain old procrastination, mixed with feelings of dread because I would have to make decisions about where to put things that I didn’t have proper containers for, feelings that “I don’t have enough time,” and feelings of regret that I don’t have pretty shelves or cabinets from Pottery Barn or Ikea to store what I want to store. I also kept hoping that we could just move to a bigger home with a much larger family room and a huge storage room with tons of shelves. But alas, that hasn’t happened yet. So we just suffered through the mess, homeschooling around it. I would clear off the table and desk regularly, but all that other stuff I just mentioned was everywhere else in the room, shoved into boxes and onto the built-in shelf that goes around three of the four walls.

After hearing my friend Becky Edwards give a super inspiring presentation on organizing at a moms’ overnighter retreat last spring, I came home determined to use my summer to get organized.  Here is the handout from Becky on how to organize your homeschool and family life. Go to item #6 about dejunking for a super guide on how to get started and keep going! I started easy and did some kitchen cupboards, then my kitchen junk drawer, some more kitchen drawers, and then my whole pantry. I also did my bedroom closet and the front closet.  After I got those areas under my belt, I wanted to get the school room/family room done, but with my 6 road trips in the summer I was traveling at least every other week. It is hard to accomlish dejunking projects when I am gone so much, shopping for the trips, packing, and then unpacking, on top of teaching my Mothers Who Know classes.

Done! At least with the top of the table and the walls around the table!

After our Shakepseare Festival Trip I had less than two weeks left until Labor Day. I always like to start our new school year the day after Labor Day. This year I was determined to do it in a clean, organized homeschool room that had more than just the table cleared off. I wanted the boxes on the floor around the table gone. I wanted the piles of stuff on the broken down dresser cleared away. I wanted the broken down dresser turned into firewood, (Dh and I are still discussing the fate of the dresser as it sits in the living room.) Well, I didn’t quite make it this year. I resisted the adversary’s attacks in my head to feel bad because it was taking too long. I just kept pushing through, and set aside what chunks of time I could each day. I remembered it’s OK for the school day’s lessons to be about organizing. Still, the days went by after Labor Day and I wasn’t done, because of my teaching commitments on Tuesday and Wednesday and being gone all day on Thursday for our new Junior’s School at the Commonwealth. OK, I will get it done on Saturday. Well, The Saturday after Labor Day I was hoping to finish and I ended up spending half the day at the Knighs of Freedom summit. I wanted to sit down and cry! This was supposed to be my day when I finished! Instead I just thought, “Ok, I will finish on Monday and let the kids do online work instead of gathering around the table in the homeschool room, exploring our closet full of educational ideas.” But then Monday came and I realized I had another commitment that would take half the day. Aargh! I resisted feelings of discouragement and pushed through, deciding it was OK that the whole project took much longer than planned.

We haven’t seen this wall in years because it was blocked by the junky dresser and piles of stuff on top of it.

To celebrate my getting organized, here are some gifts I found. Some of these are realizations that came, others These are resources I knew I had and wanted to share what they say, but they were lost in the chaos. Here you go:

1. I found my Mothering Magazine from July/August 2009. It has an article on bento lunchboxes, which i fruitlessly attempted to locate when I blogged about bento boxes a few weeks ago. I learned that it’s acutally, “obento” boxes. O is an honorific. Apparently, the Japanese have a rule, the 4-3-2-1 rule about how to pack an obento box. It’s four parts rice, 3 parts protein, two parts veggie, and one part treat (not a sugary treat, but a fruit). Since I can’t scan the article and post it, here is a similar article written by the same author, a woman who married a Japanese man and who has lived in Japan. Here are some of the resources she mentions in the Mothering article:

2. I found an old Ensign magazine that has probably my absolute favorite story about the power that comes from mothering, even when it’s done long distance through prayer. It is called the Robbery, and here it is.

3. I found out that many of the pictures from the inside of the front and back covers of the old Ensigns I have been saving were painted by the same artist who illustrated the American Girl Kit books that my 7-year-old little girl is reading for her Liberty Girls class for our Family School. His name is Walter Rane and I love his work. I want to draw like him when I grow up! I can’t bear to throw away all the lovely pictures on the inside and back covers of church magazines, so I tear those off, put them in a box, hoping to frame them or put them in a “Church Art” binder sometime in plastic pocket pages. I am also rotating some of the pictures and posters from the New Era and Friend on walls through my house, without frames, giving up on perfectionism, which would mean waiting until I can find frames. I did throw away most of my magazines, knowing that I can access them on

But I won’t throw away my Friends, because they have too many things I would want to print off from the Internet, like the Bright Idea posters. I got these magazines finally all organized in magazine filing boxes, right next to my shelf of books for the core and love of learning kids.

4. I found the article about my friend, Shauna Dunn, who is also my sister-in-law’s second cousin, that appeared in the Ensign years ago. She tells her story about the surrender of her corporate job to being a mom. Here is the story. I applaud her courage to quit her job and come home to be a full-time, homeschooling, SAHM. You can read her book loving blog right here, I go to it for book recommendations for my kids all the time.

So I gave up on looking like the pretty shelving units in Pottery Barn and just used what I have. I am so pleased with myself! I am a being of order and I create order! Oh yeah!!! No on to UNDER the homeschool table ( I didn’t show that part in my pictures), the garage, the other two storage rooms, and the shed.

I am excited to share these books with my younger kids. I finally realized they couldn’t access them because they were hard to reach, as they were on the built-in shelf, behind the scholars’ desks. So I switched them to the white shelf that is in easy reach, right by the homeschool table, and put the scholars’ books on the built-in shelf by the scholars’ desks. Why didn’t I think of this before? Dejunking not only clears your space, it clears your mind so you can think!

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