Simple on Purpose | Intentional Living and Parenting

Simple on Purpose | Intentional Living and Parenting

157. How I tackled decluttering my office and kids craft drawers + how I handle the resistance to decluttering

February 24, 2022

This past week I decluttered a few spaces in the home, the kitchen craft drawers and the office closet. 

These are areas that had become unruly with stuff and clutter. They have been on my list to declutter as we need to start clearing out our kitchen and dining area to prepare for an upcoming kitchen reno. 

In this episode I share:
  • How decluttering one space can require decluttering of another space where storage is interrelated
  • How I have been slowly reducing the storage in my kitchen over the years
  • The craft drawers in the kitchen and the maintenance they have required of me
  • What junk I am finding in my office and my craft drawers
  • How I declutter these areas (steps I take to tackle it)
  • What I have learned over years of decluttering my spaces
  • How I have resistance to decluttering and how I pep talk myself into getting the decluttering done


Photos of the spaces and decluttering process
Before we moved in, this was the wall between the kitchen area and the living area


The kitchen, before decluttering (2014/2015)


The wall of pantry storage in the kitchen, before decluttering


Our current kitchen (2021/2022)


Decluttering the craft drawers (and sorting into piles as I go)


Emptied the craft dresser in the kitchen! Only the top supplies made the cut, to be stored in the office closet


The required humble brag memes to let my husband know I will be buying myself a tiny trophy* for my efforts (*probably in the form of aged white cheddar)


How the office closet was holding up…. (and if you spy that White Jesus art there, it is a completed puzzle that someone framed- I know, I have questions too. But I brought it home so I could use the frame)


Totally emptied out the closet so my husband could build the shelves. It is amazing how much was crammed into that space!


Real-life organization that doesn’t look cute, but works for us


Related links on decluttering and managing ‘stuff’ in your family

Episode 11. Are we TOO comfortable? + Do we need so much pantry space?

Episode 2. Decluttering the kitchen, meal planning book, capsule wardrobes and the currently list.

Decluttering our home (on instagram stories)

Setting a vision for our kitchen helped me to declutter it over the years

Episode 65. When your kids don’t play with their toys anymore

5 common mistakes moms make when organizing their homes, and what to do about it (+ cheatsheet of 5 more)

Hygge vs Minimalism



Full transcript (unedited)


I am recording this on my Friday, Friday, it is finally a free day for me a free day where I didn’t have any work scheduled any school that I had to do. It didn’t have to be recovering from COVID, all of that kind of stuff. And the reason why it’s a free day is I had finished my coursework a couple days early for this session that I’m in, I do a course every three weeks. And so every three weeks, I turned in that package of assignments for the course. And I tell you every three weeks it feels like I’m delivering a child like I’m birthing something, it’s like a labor and delivery every three weeks and then start again on Monday.


So I had a day to day where I knew I was going to have time to tackle a big decluttering project in my house. And it was one of those projects, that involves a couple areas of the house. And I know you guys have shared this with me about your own hurdles, and decluttering. It’s like, well, if I do the bathroom, and then I have to do the whole cloth. And if I do the hall closet, then I need to do the linen closet. Like it just all starts connecting room to room space to space, right.


I call it the decluttering series. And so I had a decluttering series in my life, so to speak, because here’s what’s happening in the spring, hopefully this spring, we are planning to do a kitchen renovation. And part of this kitchen renovation involves us needing to clear out a lot of space, a lot of cupboards currently in our dining room area.


If you’ve ever seen pics of my home, on Instagram, or whatever in the emails, you know, it’s one of those typical, they call them BC boxes here in British Columbia. But it’s those houses that were built in the 70s and 80s with the split entry, split level entry, like open the front door, and you can go down the stairs or even go up the stairs. And when you go up the stairs, you’re in the kitchen. And to the right of the kitchen is the dining area. And then to the right of the dining area is a living room. So it’s kind of like this big L shape of space.


And when we moved in here, around 11 years ago, we took out that wall that closed off the kitchen from the living room and the dining area. And we took this huge table we had made, we made a table that’s like nine by five, it’s massive. And it wasn’t really fitting in that dining area. So we moved it to the center of the whole area.


So it’s in the center of this whole space, our kitchen mostly is around it. And along the years, we’ve had variations of cupboards and desk storage along this wall where the dining table would normally go. And you know, when we first were doing all these rentals before I had heard about decluttering and minimalism, I thought I needed all the storage cap locks on the storage mostly because that’s what people told me on HGTV, was like that, you just needed all of the storage.


And we started with all of the storage we had four pantry units and a hutch in the middle. It was an entire wall of storage. And as I learned about decluttering and started challenging myself with this, I was able to get it down to two pantry units. So now that’s where we’re at. We’ve got one side for cleaning one side for food. But there’s also now that’s infiltrated our spaces this long IKEA dresser, the hemmnes dresser. I think probably most of you guys know what it looks like. It’s a shorter one with six drawers across it. That dresser has been full of crap supplies for years because I have crafting children who love to craft and paint and hot glue and glue and pipe cleaner all the stuff.


So that dresser became this landing zone for all the crafts stuff for our own papers for masks for keys for digital cameras, and they remember digital cameras. So this wall, this pantry in unit and this dresser, they have needed to be liquidated so that we can make this kitchen rental happen. This has been my challenge can it be done.


Which brings us to the second part of the series, which is the office. So my office was moved a couple of years ago up into one of the kids bedrooms and we moved two kids down to the basement. So my office is essentially like a smaller bedroom. And in it I have two desks because I have two jobs. One in public health and one here with you coaching podcasting. I’ve got some filing cabinets, some bookshelves in in the closet that it’s just like your typical six foot closet that a kid would have. I’ve had a big dresser in there as well.


And what lives in this dresser probably what lives in your dresser in a spare room. Everything you know, party decorations cards, wrapping paper, mostly gift bags that I save for the underground kid birthday gift big Trading Ring. electrical cords, chargers batteries, candles, art I want to hang frames I bought from thrift stores. When I find more art I want to hang sewing supplies for the sewing project I do once a year craft supplies, you get it. The stuff of being a middle aged mom in Canada, you know 100 tea lights, old lettering pins from when you took up the hobby five years ago. And along with that stuff, also just falling out of the closet at this point, piles of school stuff that the kids brought home last June, that I quote unquote, will look through and pick out what to keep. So that’s the situation the office the office needs to be addressed. Why because we’re going to move crafts stuff into the office now. decluttering those craft drawers in the kitchen.


My husband said it could not be done. He actually said just junk it all like throw it all away. Don’t try and keep anything. And he’s not wrong. Because these drawers are a headache. They are a mess of random papers and googly eyes and dried out glue sticks in school bucks. And if you followed me on Instagram or the simple Saturdays email, you’ve seen me declutter these like way too often I’m talking quarterly, at least, the mess just multiplies in these drawers and then the drawers don’t even close properly. It is such a mess. My kids as much as they love crafts, they have not mastered the art of cleaning up after their crafts. So I said to my husband, I’m going to declutter these drawers, I will choose the very best things to keep and dispose of the rest while the kids are at school. And they won’t be here asking me to keep the collection of broken crayons that they feel all the wrappers off of. Oh, there were memes exchanged between me and my husband today. And yes, not all heroes wear capes, somewhere sweatpants and sports bras and red lipstick and do the duty of sending 16 sets of crinkly cut scissors to the thrift store. Little trophy for me.


I also wanted to take an approach with the craft stuff that I had taken with toys in that it is a rotation. So when just like Toy rotation, I’m going to link an episode on that where I talked about toy rotations. When I pack stuff up into sets, like all the paint, all the spider graph all the glue and googly eyes, whatever. And just bring that out, well then it gets played with versus it being this drawer of everything looked like it was actually turned over and dumped upside down and shaken into the cupboard into the drawer. That’s what it looks like. And it’s overwhelming right to play with that it’s overwhelming to know what the options are. And it’s also a novelty, when you can bring something out, bring a set of something out so that the kids actually enjoy it more.


So this was my Friday morning friends. I know I’m super exciting. I even had two copies today, look at me, we’ll see regret it, we’ll find out. So I’m going to tell you my approach if you’re decluttering, too if you want some ideas on how I tackle my own decluttering when a run through those steps.


And the first step for me was visualizing what I was going to be doing. So like I said, I slotted away this time this week, I actually said to my family, I think I can get school done early. Like I know where I’m on track with this. I feel like I can get it done before Friday when it’s due. And as my reward to myself, I’m going to declutter, like clean up that mess in my office that has been made. And my daughter was like, she’s nine, she’s like, Mom, that is sad that you were cleaning as a reward. But I knew that I could easily spend my time just getting decluttering done instead of actual schoolwork. So I wanted to flip them around, do the essential thing first meant tackle the decluttering.


So last night, I went to bed and I knew I was going to be doing this and I spent some time visualizing it. And I was just like lay there in the quiet. And I thought about where I was going to start kind of the decisions that I knew I was going to have to make, how I would prep for it. I was going through the motions in my mind, I was going through the motions of you know, get sending the kids off to school, having that morning coffee, and then coming into the office, like right away, not just like waiting around for something but actually coming into the office.


And I just want to like give you a little encouragement that visualization is a really powerful tool. There’s a lot of science behind it. It’s a dress rehearsal for your brain. So your brain isn’t like resisting you in the moment. When you’re trying to convince it to do something. It doesn’t feel like doing. You’ve already worked through the dry run in your mind. So that’s what I did this morning. I grabbed my coffee I had a bit of it came into the office with it put on some good music.


And then I grabbed the bins I knew I would need. I grabbed a band for recycling for garbage. A bin of stuff I was going to take to the basement in a bin of stuff I was going to take to the thrift store. And the first thing I tackled was kind of the overflow. And I’ll be sharing pictures of what everything looked like in the show notes if you want to go check that out.


So I address All of the overflow, there was huge picture frames and canvases and just like all this stuff, and then I just went drawer by drawer in the dresser, and then I moved on to the crafters. But as I was doing the office, I was getting rid of a lot of things I was really trying to challenge myself on. Okay, if this is a broken picture frames that I told myself, I would fix and I haven’t fixed it yet. And I still have these other picture frames that I’ve collected at thrift store, I can let go of the broken one, I can let go of old battery chargers, I can let go of duplicates, I can let go of DVDs and CDs that I bought to burn. And now I don’t even have the technology that allows me to do that. I can let go of papers that I’m not going to keep up with the kids.


So I did do some paper filing, I made a couple piles for myself of papers, ones I needed to file away and then art that I needed to take a photo of and I use an app to upload all of my kids art to. And I just keep the favorites. So that’s something I do try to do like a couple times a year. In the meantime, I just kind of keep a pile of art going on the back, I write their name and date and then I take photos of it and recycle. I also threw out a lot of junk because these drawers have just collected junk old batteries old burnt out candles, empty bags, old wall decades old ink cartridges, I also found a stash of half eat Christmas chocolates that I had kept hidden in this office for me and then forgot about.


So I completed my office, I think it took me about an hour. And then I went on to the craft drawers in the kitchen and I went drawer by drawer, keep it really simple. I had kind of the same setup, recycling garbage Thrift, I had a box of stuff that I was going to be bringing back into the office and be putting away. And I also had some piles of kids stuff that I wanted to ask them about.


As I was putting the stuff together that was going back into the office, I sorted it in like big Ziploc giant Ziploc or containers just to kind of give myself a rough sort. And that took me about an hour as well. So that was my approach to decluttering getting set up to remove these units from our kitchen, making better use of the space in the office.


I don’t know if drawers work for us. I think it’s really important to pay attention to your organizing system. And if you like it, if you like how accessible it is. And really ask yourself Does this work? Well, for me, am I the type of person who likes to open canisters or drawers or cupboards, I really liked the idea of the dresser because it felt like everything could be put out of sight. And you can kind of have these big categories. But it just wasn’t working very well for us. Things weren’t ever getting put away properly. Things were being piled in front of the dresser and it was getting blocked. And then it was just, it was just a real mess for me, you know the dresser in my office and in the kitchen. And those dressers they’re not meant for putting like piles of batteries in collections of 1000 tea lights in because the bottom start to pop out. And then you have this drawer, that’s all janky and won’t close properly. And it’s just not working.


So Connor last week when I was homesick with COVID, he was trying to avoid me in the house, he put in a set of just open shelves in this closet just out of plywood. They’re just huge, deep shelves. And I have things sorted so that the things we use most often are on the right hand side in easy to grab containers and the things we use less often, you know, party supplies, the embroidery supplies that we do like once a year together, the frames that I’ve collected over the years that I can use when I find art that I like those are all to the other side a little bit deeper and harder to reach. And that’s been my new strategy.


If you stop by the show notes, I’m going to share as many pictures as I have taken of what the area was like when everything was falling out of the drawers kind of the process of decluttering. Inside note, these photos are underwhelming, there’s no cute baskets, there’s no cute labels. This is like things are organized in some Ziploc bags, things are organized by accessibility. This is not Pinterest worthy organization. But I feel like this is going to be organization that actually works for us in our life. And then you know what I can just close the curtain overtop of everything.


So why am I telling you all this? I’m telling you all of this, all of my piles of junk and what’s in the junk and how I’m handling the junk. Because one I think you can relate. I think we all have these areas in our home, where stuff just gets accumulated, it just gets dumped. It’s like the holding pen for all of the things and also to encourage you that decluttering things isn’t a one and done thing. It is a routine. So if you are looking at a space in your home that you felt was once nice and organized. You did some work on it. And now you can barely shut that closet door or you start avoiding the area because it’s hard to relax and that Hey, I just want to let you know your normal, you are not broken flaws, weak, ineffective. If your stuff piles up, you just need to organize it again. decluttering is a routine, just like doing dishes, you will always need to be doing it.


And you will get better at it, you will get better at making these decisions, you’ll get better at making the time for it, you’ll get better at knowing what you need, setting yourself up for it. And you’ll get better at ignoring all that mental and emotional resistance you have to it. I always have resistance to getting these big projects done. Like the basement storage room I tried to do once a year or the mudroom I tried to do twice a year or the craft doors that were like every three months in my life, I get a lot of mental chatter about how long it’s going to take how much work it’s going to be, I have to dedicate all this time to it.


But since I have gone through this so many times, I feel like I can reassure myself the same way that you might reassure your child who’s constantly afraid of the dark, you know what you need to say to them to reassure them. And I remind myself, I remind myself that I’m going to be so glad I did it. Like I knew this was going to be a reward for me in some way that I was using to get me through schoolwork. I remind myself, I’m allowed to have fun with it, I make sure that I make a really nice coffee, put on some good music. I remind myself I’m fully capable of it. I remind myself, I want the results. I want my house to feel like a place that I want to be and that I like to be in that function as well. I don’t want to keep coming into my office and getting stressed out that everything’s falling out of the closet and it’s making me feel claustrophobic, like the space is closing in on itself. Or walking past those crap drawers and they don’t even close properly anymore. And things just look like they’re falling apart everywhere. I remind myself of how I want my space to feel to me.


And I remind myself that as much as I tell myself how long it’s gonna take, it’s gonna take all day. I know it really doesn’t take that long to do my office and the craft dresser. It took me two hours. And then you know, I spent some time putting away all the piles I built up I think that’s really important as well. So I I ended up hanging some art around the house that was really fun. I’m going to share a really cute note that my daughter had written that I framed and put it in our front entrance. It’s so cute. I put the Thrift bag stuff together, I took out the garbage. I obviously send photos to Connor bragging about me getting that dresser done, because he’s a doubter, you know, that kind of thing. So all in all, maybe it took me two and a half hours. But now it is done, we can move to giant dressers out of our house, pass them on to someone who’s going to use them. And that feels pretty darn good.


Alright, if this episode was helpful for you, if you want more of declutter with me, this is what I’m going to call it about the areas in my house. I’m decluttering. And my approach to it and kind of the decisions I’m making, let me know somewhere, let me know in the Facebook group or on Instagram, or email me through some Saturdays.


And let’s wrap up with a simple pleasure of the week. Today, I shared on Instagram that I am dangerously close to turning my Instagram account into an account of completed puzzles, and baskets of laundry artfully placed throughout my living room. Because the puzzles are still running hot in my house. And maybe you’re like us. And Christmas is a time for puzzles. Well, we never put ours away this year. In fact, we just started amassing puzzles and borrowing them and getting them through the thrift store. We kept this puzzle dream running. And like I said, we’ve got this big table in our kitchen. So we have the space for it, we can have this puzzle board, which is half a sheet of plywood with some trim around it, that the kids have totally graffitied with Sharpie. I share pictures of that too. And on the puzzle board, there’s always a puzzle. It’s at the end of our table in the kitchen. And there’s always a puzzle going on it at some stage of puzzling. And I just like having it there. Every time we finish a puzzle I kind of asked myself Is today the day that I put away the puzzle board and reclaim our table and this like big space in our living area. But I just keep putting another one out because I love it. And here is why I love it. It’s so Hygge. It’s so who I’m going to link some episodes about Huva in the show notes. But it’s just such an easy way to hang out together. I really like to try and keep the TV off when the kids get home from school. So they’re snacking. And if the puzzles on the table, they end up sitting there they end up sitting at the puzzle eating their snacks. And what I love about it, it’s a side by side activity. So a side by side activity, like doing chores together like raking the lawn or going for car rides, going for walks or sitting and doing a puzzle together. These are such critical activities for connection because you are engaged in an activity, but you don’t need to be face to face. You’re just alongside one another and the pressure for conversation isn’t there. But the invitation is and so it just naturally happens in it feels easy. So sitting at that puzzle board with the kids or with Connor, sometimes at the end of the night, or just seeing the kids, they’re sitting beside each other well, I’m making dinner or doing dishes. And the conversation just happens. It doesn’t feel forced, it doesn’t feel necessary, doesn’t feel pressured. It just feels easy. And if you know me, I’m all about connection, the type nine right here, just looking for simple ways to connect with my people. Plus, puzzles are super rewarding every time you get that piece. It’s like a little hit of dopamine. Really appreciate that too. So that’s my simple pleasure puzzles. And yes, I’ve already been contemplating and stirring in my mind about what’s going to happen to the puzzle board when we change our kitchen and get a smaller table. This is a real life concern for me. If you have input, let me know on the Facebook group or an Instagram. Alright friends, have a great week.

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