If you have not yet read “Laundry Room Overhaul Part I” be sure to read that first. This is the conclusion of a laundry room makeover. We pick up this overhaul where we left off, step 4.
Step 4: Assess what is left into three piles: KEEP, THROW AWAY, DONATE/SELL
This is where the bulk of the time went on Saturday. It was exhausting for everyone, not just my mom. We positioned my mom at one table with a chair and she had a garbage bag and two boxes near her so she could sort items. My sister and I kept bringing more things to the table as she worked through it. We helped her, but ultimately it was her decision on what was kept, thrown away or given away.
This sorting and decision making took hours to complete. It really is the bulk of any organizing/decluttering project. It can be and was physically and emotionally taxing.
At one point as I was organizing piles to bring to my mom she shouts from the kitchen,
“Don’t mind me, I’m just throwing away your childhood in here.”
Ouch, except it didn’t sting, it just made me laugh.
Apparently, my entire childhood was tied to the plastic popsicle molds she had stored in her laundry room cupboard for over 30 years.
There was so much laughter that day.
Here is our conversation about one of the TWO fondue sets we found.
Meg: “Mom, you’re keeping this fondue pot??” (as I found it in the keep pile to go back in the laundry room for storage)
Mom: “Oh, yes we have to keep that. We use it.”
Meg: “Mom, when was the last time you used this?”
Mom: “Oh recently”
Meg: “Define recently?”
Mom: “Just a few years ago.”
Meg: “Can you clarify how many is a few years.”
Mom: (sheepishly) “maybe 10”
**We later found out it was over 30 years ago.
There is a fine line between questioning in a judging way and questioning so that the person can challenge themselves. In this case I knew she needed to be challenged just a bit. There were definitely several things she kept that I still question, but it’s not my house or my stuff and if she feels they are important to keep then they are.
We found enough ace bandages for the entire neighborhood to be injured simultaneously.
We found keys for everything my parents have every owned in their entire lives They were all jumbled together. Sure glad there was never an emergency that necessitated just “grabbing the keys.”
We found some old palms from Palm Sunday. My mom insisted on ensuring they were disposed of properly. She took a short break to pray and burn the palms while my sister and I continued on.
My absolute favorite find was this.
Yes, those are Michael Jordan valentines with several layers of dust. We found them on top of the cupboards. I imagine they were tossed up there one day to hide them from my brother and then forgotten about. My sister and I texted my brother and let him know that we found his valentines from 3rd grade. It may have led to much laughter from the five of us children. (Mom, we’re laughing with you). We may have gotten a call from my dad who was visiting our other sister to tell us we had to stop making fun of Mom. All in good fun Dad, all in good fun.
Sometimes it takes time to make the decisions, so my mom did an initial sort through and then when it came time to think about where things were going to go in the laundry room we reassessed what she had decided to keep. Without even being challenged she started to move items from her “keep” pile into her “donate/sell” pile. I was so proud of her!
We eliminated over half of the stuff in the laundry room. That simple act alone makes organizing the space so much easier.
Step 3: Relocate items that don’t belong in the laundry room to where they do belong
Remember in the Laundry Room Overhaul Part I – I explained that we were purposely doing step 3 and 4 out of order for this project.
We did relocate some items from the laundry room that didn’t belong in there, but most of the items that weren’t purged did belong in the laundry room.
Step 5: Look at your empty space and decide what will be functional for your family
Every family operates differently so we had to talk over what items we had that needed to go back in the laundry room and what the function of the laundry room was. For my mom this meant talking about her process for doing laundry. Some people sort, wash, dry, hang dry, fold and iron in their laundry room and some people don’t. It was important to identify how the space would be used to make sure it was functional for them.
Even just the simple conversation about hanging up clothes and where to put hangers helped her simplify her storage needs and laundry process. For my parents it was important that their dog’s food and treats be stored and easily accessible in the laundry room. We found a temporary solution for the dog’s items, while my parents try to decide how and where they want to permanently store them.
Step 6: Put the space back together
Once we knew how it needed to function we were able to put everything back in. We purchased a couple of storage items from Dollar Tree, printed out some labels from my handy Dymo label maker and we were good to go. Now my mom and dad can easily locate items. Everything has a designated space so it’s easy to find things and their laundry room is more functional.
One last time the before
A key thing to remember when organizing a space is that nothing is set in stone. If you find that something isn’t working for you, you can move things around, get rid of things or buy something you may need. I err on the side of going simple, spending as little as possible and then using the space for a few weeks. This helps identify what you still may need or what needs to change.
The entire cost of this project was under $15 and that included a new ironing board. I completed the project 6 months ago I am happy to report that my “clients” are still happy with the outcome. They are also able to keep it looking neat and tidy. Proof that even pack rats actually crave organization. My parents have even asked me to come back and help more. Watch for more projects at my parents’ home in the future. My mom said the more I make fun of her in blog posts the more hours of organizing I have to give them. I don’t think she understands how much fun I have organizing and decluttering, because that is certainly not a punishment to me.