You know those “nose blind” commercials?  “Sadly, Angela has gotten used to the odor her cat leaves in the couch.  She no longer smells it.  Yup, she’s gone nose blind.”  True confession: I am “mess blind.”  I don’t consider myself messy – in my mind, I’m organized.  But for some reason, clutter doesn’t register in my brain until it reaches a certain level.  Like I’ll finish up cleaning a room of my house then I come back later to realize that there’s all kinds of other stuff to be put away.  It’s really weird.  Clearly, having a child has not helped the situation.

This winter, the mess in my house exploded.  Typically the level of clutter ebbs and flows, but this time it was more of a violent swing.  I went from hosting a holiday party for work in December to getting heart palpitations when my doorbell rang in February.  I had last week off, so I recruited my mom to help me get my life house in order.  I am thrilled with our result!  I am certainly not one to give out cleaning advice, but here are some things that worked for me:

I made a game plan.  I didn’t just say, “I want my house organized!”  Well ok, I did.  But then I broke it down.  The two things that were plaguing us the most were clothes and papers.  So we made sure to create a system for each, and we pretty much went room-by-room implementing it.  This included a giant purge of clothing we no longer needed and papers/mail that needed shredding, and then organizing and putting away what remained.  By far the biggest job was organizing and storing all our old baby gear!  Something else that helped was that, instead of putting away individual items as we went, we put everything into dedicated small boxes –  one for toiletries, one for electronics/cords, books, office supplies, etc.  Once the boxes filled up, we put away ALL the office supplies, ALL the toiletries, and so on.  This made the process of actually putting things in their places much more systematic.

Our pre-putting-away organizational boxes.

Our pre-putting-away organizational boxes.

I had a buddy.  Without my mom, I never would have accomplished just the things I did in those two days.  We not only put our heads together to problem solve, but she also kept me accountable.  No hour-long break to watch The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, no getting lost in a bowl of pasta or my Facebook newsfeed.  I always say I can’t be in two places at once – but with my cleaning buddy, I managed to get more than twice as much done!

I sent my kid to daycare.  Yup, I had two whole days to concentrate on nothing but cleaning and organizing.  I really think this was key.  I love my daughter, but when she’s around, my mind can’t ever be totally dedicated to anything except her.  Yes, it felt lousy sending her to be in someone else’s care while I was home all day, but it was such a great use of time that I don’t regret one bit!

Organizing baby clothes - aaaaaah!!!

Organizing baby clothes – aaaaaah!!!

Now a few cleaning/organizing tips.  Please skip this part if you’re a clean person because these will be like “DUH” for you, but I’m really behind in this area of my life so this is like earth-shattering information.

Repurpose topless tupperware containers to be drawer organizers.  It’s a kill-two-birds win-win!  This works particularly well for smaller items – change, jewelry, lip balms.  Ever since I had my daughter and acquired all of her teeny tiny belongings, I have been a huge fan of drawer organizers in general.  They make drawers seem so much bigger.

Want a reminder to stop piling things on your dining room table?  Set it!  This might only apply to me since our dining room, the least-used room in our house, ends up being the junk room.  But a nicely set table makes is pretty hard to pile mounds of crap on.  Like, “Oh yeah, I probably shouldn’t throw my jacket on top of that wine glass.”

Yeah, a pile of old mail would look reeeeally out of place here.

Yeah, a pile of old mail would look reeeeally out of place here.

Make sure everything has a place.  This is probably the most obvious and yet life-changing cleaning tip I have ever heard.  Yes, I have bookshelves for books and dresser drawers for clothes.  But do I have A PLACE in my house where change goes?  Pens?  Umbrellas?  Binkies?  Where do I put my purse when I get home?  Where should we keep baby girl’s shoes when she comes in from outside?  All that stupid little stuff that is taking up space and making clutter needs a dedicated home.

We found homes for all baby girl's toys.  Not pictures: the toys whose new home is a trash bag.

We found homes for all baby girl’s toys. Not pictured: the toys whose new home is a trash bag.

So it wasn’t a jetting-to-Miami or binge-watching-Netflix type of spring vacation (though I did get to Target by myself – THAT was glorious).  But getting my house into some order has gone a long way to put my mind at ease, and I would do it all again in a heartbeat.