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Ottobre 4/2013 No 14 and The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

It's Spring Break here and being the wild and crazy people we are, we're in the middle of a massive declutter a la The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (inspired by Sanae here).  First, a confession: I didn't actually read the whole book - I only read the first 50 pages.  But Dan took one for the team and read it for me on his Kindle while laying by Iris waiting for her to fall asleep.  Sometimes that takes a long time and the book's a fast read.

ottobre 4/2013 

The general gist of the book is that everything we've been taught about cleaning and organizing is wrong.  You shouldn't organize or declutter corner by corner, one place at a time, chipping away at it.  Nope, you need to do the entire house at once.  That way you know exactly how much of everything you have and you can find a home for everything.  But the key to being tidy, according to the author, is to first do a pretty ruthless declutter, keeping only what brings you joy.  She claims that organizational experts are hoarders (ha!) and that you should only organize after you first declutter.  She says you need to actually lay hands on every single item in your house to decided whether or not it brings you enough joy to justify keeping it.

ottobre 4/2013 no 14 

I thought we were pretty tidy, especially considering we have 5 kids.  I'm way better than I used to be.  Yeah, our house can go from looking tidy to looking like a tornado passed through very, very quickly.  But we make the kids pick up after themselves and it all comes back together pretty quickly, too.  So, this said, I am very surprised at how long it is taking us to do this declutter.

Dan is home for the week and starting on Saturday, Dan and I have been spending at least 3 hours every day working together decluttering.  You're supposed to declutter by category (clothes, books etc) but being the rebels we are, we're doing it room by room.  Day 1 was our closets, bathrooom and bedroom, Day 2 was Iris' room which also houses my fabric, our hall closet, and our laundry room.  Day 3 was our kitchen and today is our pantry.  It's a much bigger undertaking than I was expecting and we are donating so much more than I expected.  But it feels good, really good.

ottobre 4/2013 no 14 

 For the first three days we hired a neighbor girl who's 14 to come over to play with the kids for a couple of hours.  We were able to get a lot of work done and the kids had so much fun playing with her!  Today she wasn't available, so we decided to give Jude and Indigo the chance to earn some money and paid them $2/hour to 'babysit' Tia and Iris while we decluttered our pantry.  They came up with the most imaginative games, had a lot of fun themselves and also learned some life skills - like that babysitting also includes cleaning up the mess you make!

ottobre 4/2013 no 14 

But we definitely aren't a family of all work and no play.  We save the afternoons and evenings for making special food, doing fun things together, and watching a family show together each night.  On Friday when we (hopefully) finish the house-wide declutter, we are doing a 'Make Our House a Hotel' night.  I'm not exactly sure what that will entail, but so far they're hatching plans for a fire in the fire pit, staying up late, and pretending we have room service.

ottobre 4/2013 no 14 

 I've also been spending about an hour per day doing something I love (um, sewing).  This dress is another Ottobre pattern, from 4/2013, No 14.  It's meant to be worn with a tshirt underneath, but Indigo didn't like that look, so I sewed a faux tshirt triangle instead.

ottobre 4/2013, no 14

This dress reminds me of the dresses Tea Collection used to make (still makes?  not sure).  The main fabric is an Anna Maria Horner knit - Mary Thistle in Plum.  It's an interlock knit so it's stable and easy to work with.

Indigo is becoming such a little lady.  She is so mature for her age and seems so grown up.  Yet when we were walking together she literally stopped to smell the roses.  She was enchanted with them.   It's an example of her sweet innocence, how she's still very much a little girl, even when she seems so big in comparison to her younger sisters.

stopping to smell the roses - literally :) 

I'm so thankful for these moments.  As my children grow, I am acutely aware of what a gift these moments are.  Yeah, there's mess and there's fighting, too but it's these moments that really sparkle. They far outshine everything else.

stopping to smell the roses - literally :)


  1. I love that she stops to smell the roses! and I hope she won't stop doing it even when she grows older! we all need to stop and smell the roses!
    I am reading this book to and I think you can be very proud of you for actually putting it into practice!
    this dress is really sweet and it feels like spring!it is the same color as the roses! I am so glad you have some time daily to sew!
    also , can I join your "hotel night"?? I could be the foreign guest!! the traveler! it sounds like to much fun!

  2. As I walked through our disaster zone of a house this evening, I felt the need to do a major purge and reorg. It's just that I'm really not good at this type of thing (too distractable and distracted by kids who like to interrupt anything I've been doing for more than 2 minutes) so I always set out with great intentions and then get derailed. I don't like looking at clutter and messiness though. I just really honestly don't know where to start. Homeschooling makes it a little more complicated because I feel like I should keep things around for the kids to work with, or for the future. Plus they're with me all day making messes and chaos and there's never much of a window to really do something about it. All I know is that I'm inspired by what you guys are doing. It's nice your husband is on the same wavelength. Mine is a collector, which means organized packrat. I'm much quicker to just get rid of something that serves less of a purpose than the space it takes up. I'm ready to get rid of lots of stuff and paint everything white!

  3. Good on you guys! It's amazing what you collect in such a short space of time isn't it? We lived in a one bedroom place when Ollie was young so I learned to be pretty ruthless as we just didn't have the space. I've tried to keep that mentality even though we now have 3 rooms, I regularly sort through things to donate, dump or sell. I get overwhelmed quite quickly by stuff everywhere so this works well for us. I hope you achieve your goal! X

  4. Tea Collection! Yes! It definitely looks like that, and those were some of my favorite dresses for Em before I learned to sew. ;) Also, way to go you and Dan! Amazing how many bags of donations you can fill even when you don't feel like you even buy much, right? Especially that baby stuff. Ohhhhh the baby stuff.

  5. Thanks for improving my English : I had to search the meaning of "declutter" which was a key word in your post ! Anyway we are definitively a messy family, my kids keep every single thing it's terrible. Can't wait summer holidays to declutter (yesss) their rooms.

  6. Yet again a beautiful and thoughtful post! I so would need to declutter. We are quite good with clothes, but books or toys are totally different thing. Well, at the moment there's too much going on, but rather sooner than later I want to get rid of quite some stuff.
    Also: Can I please be your kid? You are like supermom! I really want to be part of your hotel night. I will share a room with Sophie ;)

  7. Hotel night sounds fun. (is there a minibar?)
    Travelling for two years, living out of a backpack, and coming home to find everything I'd stored in my parents basement had gone mouldy and had to be turfed cured me of being a hoarder. It's very true that we use 10% of our things 90% of the time. The rest we can rent or hire for the days when we need them.
    That dress is lovely. The colours are gorgeous together and the faux t-shirt insert is genius.
    Did Dan read aloud to Iris? Perhaps she will have been subliminally conditioned to live a life free of clutter.

  8. The memories of your beautiful children that you capture on your camera are going to bring you such joy as you watch them grow up. Love her dress--and her name! My hubby just cleaned out 1drawer. It took all year for him to get to. Small beginnings ; )

  9. Rachel, you do such a great job of noticing (and recording!) the unique and beautiful qualities of each one of your children. You clearly truly take the time each day to see them as they truly are and to not let the busyness of the day prevent you from "seeing" them. I love that about your mothering style!
    Great job on the Declutter '15 project! This is the third time now that someone has mentioned that book, so clearly it's a good one:) I was out for drinks 2 weeks ago with Liesl Gibson (yes, THE Liesl!) and she mentioned that she was in the middle of reading that book as well. The mentality behind it really resonates with me. A few years ago a group of friends and I read through and engaged with the book "7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess" and one of the months was about getting rid of 7 household items every day for the entire month. My house has never felt so clean and light! If you get the chance someday, you would probably enjoy reading this book as well.
    And Indigo looks so lovely in your latest Ottobre creation . . very Tea indeed! And that's a good thing in my book:)

  10. We so need to de-clutter too! My house is tiny, my kids share a room, our living room (which is also dining room, sewing room, hallway, playroom) is a constant battle against 'stuff'.
    It would be the deciding 'what brings me joy' that I would find hard...I forget what I have, rediscover an old postcard, or an ancient dress and that fleeting memory rediscovered is a moment of joy. But whether it is enough 'joy' to justify a space in my cupboards! That's the big question.
    But what I really need to 'de-clutter' is how I use 'my time'.!

  11. She's so lovely! What a pretty dress. Decluttering always feels so painful while you're doing it, and so fantastic afterwards! I have several international moves to thank for me not becoming a pack rat :) I love that your bigs babysat the littles so well so you and Dan could get on with it!


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