The Starter Mom: Cleaning up my act

by Nicole Loughan Utter

Have you ever tried to nail Jello to a tree? If you have you know that’s about how difficult it is to keep a house clean with young children. While you are cleaning the dishes a pile of Lego’s is crashing down in another room and while you are picking up the Lego’s you hear the water running over the sink in the bathroom. I have had to own to the fact that I will not have a pristine home, and I am okay with that. But there are a few messes in my house that I have to own to and that I plan to change this year. These messes persist mostly because I am too sentimental to part with them, though I have taken the steps to big changes. Read on to find out how I tackled, a few, of the cleaning demons in my closets.

crayonsShe said each year at the holidays she buys a picture book from Shutterstock or Vistaprint and stuffs it with pictures of her daughter throughout the year. On the last two pages it is always her daughter’s art projects from that year.My children’s art – I think my mother saved every piece of art I ever made as a child, but that was the 80s and things were a little different back then. I think I only did about five art projects a year so keeping all of them wasn’t a big deal. Today my kids do about 10 art projects a week. My daughter brings home almost three a day from pre-school. Let’s do some quick math that leaves me with about 520 pieces of art per year! I kept it all for a long time. I put it on my fridge until I ran out of room, then I moved it to a wall, then a giant cork board, then the overflow drawer in my kitchen. Enough is enough already I got a great tip from my friend Jamie. She said she keeps anything with a hand print or picture. Then she sorts through all of the art and chooses only the good stuff, meaning art she is sure her kid really did without any hand over hand assistance, and art that is funny or pleasant looking. She assembles the best hits and spreads them out on her basement floor and takes pictures of it. She uses that picture in her daughter’s annual picture book.

The art box – I have a Hefty plastic tote with a lockable lid which holds my children’s art supplies. However, it has been taken over by broken crayons, glitter and bits of shredded paper. I found that loose markers and crayons were a huge part of my art box cleanliness issues. I went to Ikea and got the PRUTA Food container set of 17 food container boxes, for $4.79. The containers were the perfect size for art tools. I used one box for regular sized crayons, one for giant sized crayons for my youngest child, another for marker and one for paints and scissors. Also, while you are sorting out the art box throw away crayons you know you got at a restaurant. You know you aren’t going to use them; they are too waxy to be functional. You have that Crayola 48 set and you know it. Now throw out the restaurant crayons and move on. While you are at it fix the problem by grabbing your new tiny crayon sized container you got in your IKEA set, put a few of the best colors in it put it in the diaper bag so you can stop taking those restaurant crayons.

The attic – This one is tough. Some part of me sees baby clothes and decides I should fill them with more babies. This leads to me inevitably keeping them well past their useful life for me or anybody else. Of course I will be saving a few things, like first shoes and dresses, but I have decided it’s time to let go of my collection of stained onesies. I also have an assortment of car seats and strollers that I have been clinging too, but I recently learned those have expiration dates. This year I have an appointment to drop off my old swing, bouncer, car seat and many other items I have no use for to a mom to mom sale.

There are also consignment shops that will take care of the details and give great store credit towards other items. I am going for the closet swap sale this year because the whole shebang is over in a week. I like my unpleasantness done quickly, which is why I rip off Band-Aids. 


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