Of all the places that this challenge had to begin, this wasn't where I had hoped it would begin. It had become the least-presentable area of the home since it could be a dumping ground - a hiding place, in essence - so other parts of the home would be more presentable.
My closet use to be clean and organized. Slowly...over time...it became messy. Between homeschooling, raising two daughters (both of whom have special needs or dietary restrictions due to allergies), and taking an ever-increasing caregiving role with my parents (my Dad has Alzheimer's Disease and mom has mobility issues/diabetes/heart issues/low vision), my wardrobe and closet became neglected.
Here's what I'm talking about:
Metal bins stuffed with unfolded clothes.
Pile of blankets, wool (for projects), fan,
mending/sewing pile, and
light covers that I can't get back on two ceiling lights
on the closet floor.
I'd like to mention at this point how truly embarrassed I am by the mess in this small area of my home. When I saw the images on the camera - versus just looking at it like I do each day - I was horrified. Clearly, this was a much-needed area to address.
So, using the guidelines that are on the Project Simplify website, I looked at every single item of clothing in my wardrobe, and made a decision whether it stays or goes (either as a donation to the thrift shop or trash). At some point, it is suggested to do an inventory of what is needed in the future.
It was interesting to read on Project Simplify why one's wardrobe should be addressed first - before any other hot spots that are more visible. Here are the reasons that were given:
To take care of oneself. As the website said, "Let’s face it — moms are notorious for taking care of everyone else but ourselves. I’m generalizing, sure, but more often than not, we’d organize our kids’ clothes before we do our own."
For me, that is true. I go through the girls' closets with them with each season - taking out clothes they've outgrown or no longer wear, and adding items they need while my closet remains untouched.
To set an example. The thought here is that by doing this project first — where help from others isn't needed — will motivate family members to help me tackle other areas in upcoming weeks.
To motivate oneself for the rest of the hot spots. The Project Simplify website says, "Finding clothes that fit and work well on you makes it easier to put yourself together. I visit my closet daily, even if no one else does. Reaping the fruits of our organizing labor each morning means a jump in spirits for tackling the rest of the house."
As I went through my closet, I tackled the side area first since that was so small and the majority of the clothes there I hadn't even worn or worn just a few times. There were several dresses that I hadn't even worn because they were shapeless - just a lot of fabric to hide behind. I picked them up at a clothing giveaway thinking it would be good to have a dress on hand if I needed to dress up.
As the Project Simplify website says, "If it doesn’t fit well...then put it in your donate box. There’s no reason to give your valuable closet real estate to things you won’t love wearing." So, I donated an entire bag of dresses and outfits. This is what this area looks like now:
Before (above) and after (below) of one section of the closet.
The next area to tackle was the floor and wall. I folded up and put in a protective holder all the handmade blankets (the crocheted one from my grandma, the sashiko quilt and pillow that I made last year, and the crocheted one that I made from wool from sheep I use to have). You can see the sashiko items in the picture above (under the jacket from China and handmade woven scarf and shawl).
The cookie sheet has siberian iris seeds on it that I never finished working on from the fall. Now that it is almost spring, the seeds can be planted indoors and transplanted outside in the later-spring. Hopefully, quite a few of the seeds will germinate because the irises are amazingly beautiful.
Crafting projects and wool went to my home office where I keep my crafting supplies. The Chinese silk dresses came out of the dry cleaning bags and went to the girls' closet where they should belong. (Eventually the dresses will be folded and put in the girls' memory boxes that hold a variety of items from China - where they were born.)
Now the floor and wall are clean:
Before (above - as well as the picture of the floor at the top of this post)
After (below) - more floor space!
Working my way around the closet, the next area were the metal bins. I use to fold everything and make sure all socks were matched and then grouped by color. During the past few years, I was happy if the laundry was washed and put away. Folding became a low priority. Until now. After I went through each bin, I threw away any clothes that were ripped or stained (1 trash bag and one small bag full).
Then, I took out all t-shirts, sweatshirts, and pajama pants that I no longer wanted or had not worn in more than six months. These were bagged up for donation to the thrift shop (1 trash bag).
With the remaining clothes, I folded everything and grouped them (e.g., all t-shirts are in one bin).
This is what it looks like:
One of bins before organizing (above).
Three of the bins after organizing (below).
The last area to work on were the clothes that are on hangers - sweaters, shirts, sweatshirts, pants, and shorts. I took out anything that I hadn't worn in more than six months, or that didn't fit (too small or big). There's not a lot of clothes left. However, these are the ones that I do wear the most. I put all the clothes on matching hangers and kept them in ROYGBIV order (the colors of the rainbow...with the neutral colors at each end). I had another bag of clothes to donate.
This is the result:
Before (above) - clothes on hangers.
After (below) - clothes on matching hangers.
The End Result
The thrift shop received four bags of clothes that it can sell and use the proceeds for its programming that benefits people in need in the community - individuals, families, and seniors. Also threw away two bags of clothing that were beyond simple mending and cleaning.
I now have a clean closet with lots of open space. It is a pleasure to walk into and pick out what I need since everything is folded and in order.
It's also a visual reminder about how important it is to take care of my needs while caregiving. I read a timely article about the importance of self-care when caregiving HERE. Taking some time each week to organize and simplify my home will reduce my stress. There's less visual distraction and less that needs cleaning and maintaining. I'm looking forward to the next challenge of Project Simiplify.