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Katy England Katy England
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Achievement unlocked: room reclaimed

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We don't have a basement. This is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, we have radiant floor heating which is really nice during this unending winter. On the other hand, storage space is at a premium.

When the kids started changing their high water marks which is to say, standing up, walking and accessing shelves of ever-higher levels - we started moving things out of their reach. When they showed a penchant for wanting to destroy bound books, all of our important bookshelves were moved into our room. When a bouncy car, swing or toy was outgrown (or simply became too annoying to last downstairs), it found its way into our room.

And then there was stuff that I hadn't gotten around to yet. Years' worth of old utility bills, pay stubs and insurance premiums, piled in boxes that were set on, in and around the roll-top desk, which was also relocated in our room after we converted the old office into the girls' room.

Small paths wended their way through the clutter. The room was not a place of rest and relaxation. It was heaped with stress, so much so that I didn't want to look at it.

Last year I'd had enough. I made it my Lenten duty to de-clutter the room. The process was slow, and almost invisible to the untrained eye. First I needed to research. I'm a pack rat by nature, and I needed to know what I had to keep and what were items I could chuck with impunity. To the internet! Obviously taxes and other really important documents needed to be saved but apparently I'm a bit of a closet hoarder and had saved mountains of useless documents I could have shredded years ago.

So, I did what any sane person would do I started binge-watching 'Hoarders' on Netflix and shredded documents while it was on. It was done during naptimes and after bedtime, and it took forever. But there is no motivation like watching that show and muttering to yourself (not unlike a crazy person), 'I willnotdie buried in old phone bills.'

Once the decade worth of old paperwork was sorted, it became a bunch of little projects. Sort a pile here, shunt bags of kids' clothes to Goodwill, cull my own clothes, and start getting things that don't belong in our room out. A shelving unit we bought sometime last year was assembled downstairs (there was some question as to where we could put it so the kids would be least likely to kill themselves). Totes of children's books were delivered to various kids' bookshelves.

Then one day, other than several pillars of shelf-less books, there were large swathes of actual floor to be seen. We dedicated the weekend to doing shift work. We would swap: one adult would be with the kids while the other sorted, junked and organized until we could vacuum the entire room and put everything away.

We had so much room we became giddy and started day dreaming about other uses for the room: a breakfast nook, or even a chair for the roll-top desk. But probably not until the kids were in grade school.

In the meantime, we'll just roll around on the floor like normal adults who have a nice clean room.


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