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Do you end up with a houseful of stuff? And how do you organise it?

(29 Posts)
AngelDog Fri 21-Sep-12 08:58:38

I have hoarding tendencies, and our plans to HE DS (2.8 y.o.) are making it worse. I've been collecting children's books from library booksales for years (I used to be a primary teacher) and all sorts of interesting junk resources from charity shops and NCT sales.

We have loads of jam jars of arty/crafty bits on top of the kichen cupboards and a big Trofast unit upstairs. DH does a job which requires a study at home and currently 4 wall-to-ceiling bookcases, which takes out a whole room. We have a big Trofast unit upstairs for DS's stuff (and toys in various other locations) but we could already do with more space. DC2 is due in 6 weeks, which will only add to the chaos.

We also have low standards in terms of housework and I'm both a natural mess-maker and bad at tidying. For example, on my kitchen floor are:

child's easel
tray for playdough
box of playdough stuff
box of magnetic letters
box of magnetic numbers
basket of drawing stuff
small whiteboard
tube map
bag of pine cones
bag of nuts & seeds waiting to be put into bird feeder
2 cardboard boxes with wrapping paper tubes stuck in them (the bases for models of railway signals)

That's in addition to 2 laundry baskets, recycling box, child's steps, child's table, box of nappy stuff, potty, birth ball, box of apples, bag of clothes to return to Sainsbury's, a pile of soft toys waiting to be washed. <sigh>

Is this inevitable with HE? Any tips for keeping all this clutter to a sensible level, or vaguely organised? Am I destined to have wall-to-wall Ikea Trofast units in every room? wink

AngelDog Fri 21-Sep-12 09:03:38

And ironically we spend at least half of every day out - it's not as if we do stuff at home all the time.

maggi Fri 21-Sep-12 17:57:08

Hello. As a childminder I also tend to think that there is always room for one more item. It would have to be something unique and not a duplicate of what we have but that still leads me to purchase a ton of stuff. I mostly get things from car boot sales as I resent paying full price. I have got 4 big stackaboxes of "animal hospital" stuff which must have cost the original owners hundreds and hundreds of pounds and I have payed £15 in total. Who could resist such worthwhile bargains. Trouble is, my house looks like a nursery and every cupboard is stuffed with stuff. Be warned that resource collecting can be addictive (says she with a groaning attic and a bulging shed).

Tinuviel Fri 21-Sep-12 19:11:48

We have just bought 2 shelving units from IKEA as one of our bookcases collapsed under the weight of books. DH kept trying to persuade me to get the next size down but I refused and got the biggest I could plus a reasonable size one to go on castors. Good job really because I still can't get everything on them!

We already have 4 other large bookcases and 2 smaller ones. We also have 5 Trofast units, mostly containing Lego. This is all for 3 DCs and me. DH rarely reads. People have suggested getting a Kindle but DS1 and I just prefer real books.

Startailoforangeandgold Fri 21-Sep-12 19:17:18

The brownies took over my under stairs cupboard before I had any DCs.

My HE friend has big lift top window seats and fitted cupboards in her living room.
Built by her very handy DH.

My DH is good at utilitarian wood work, but hers are proper joineryenvy

flussymummy Fri 21-Sep-12 20:47:33

Um... Can't help - you've just described our kitchen! But if it's any consolation I think the most interesting houses are the ones that are full of books! smile

morethanpotatoprints Fri 21-Sep-12 23:11:05


Your house sounds just like ours and since starting H.ed its worse. I can manage to live in a tip but dh is alot tidier. I have no answers as anybody who knows me jokes about how much effort I put into being house proud and tidy, yet to end up with a worse mess than when I started.
I agree with flussymummy, interesting houses are full of books.

Saracen Sat 22-Sep-12 04:57:46

Well, I am trying to be more minimalist. We have a small house. There is a lot of stuff here. I keep motivating myself to get rid of things and not acquire things which we might someday need. These are some of the arguments I keep using on myself:

If I can't find my treasures because they are buried under too much clutter, what good is any of it? If there is no clear space to actually sit and do things, our stuff is stealing our house from us.

My bookcases are for frequently-used reference books and well-loved unusual books which can't be found at the library. The library is where popular books should live. In a house the size of mine, with a library up the road, there's no excuse for owning Harry Potter books. The internet is a great source of reference material. It's selfish to hoard books in my bookcase if they don't see the light of day for years on end. I should give them to people who will actually read them.

What goes around comes around. If we aren't using something right now, I should give it to someone who will enjoy it. Chances are good that if someday I want it after all, I can find another one cheaply at the car boot sale, or someone will give me one.

If we have relatively few toys and craft supplies, it makes visiting other people's houses, home ed groups etc more of a treat. Craft is something which ideally is done somewhere other than my house!

With the kids' masterpieces, my mantra is "it's the process, not the product." If we want to remember what they've made, we should photograph it and then recycle it.

That's the theory. It's still a very cluttered house but I am working to clear it.

<<Desperately trying to refrain from googling "Trofast". What is it, and do I need one?>>

AngelDog Sat 22-Sep-12 14:52:27

Ooh, window seats - I've always, always wanted some of them.

I agree, I don't think you can have too many books (apart from when badly-stacked ones at the top fall on my head wink).

I think I need another Trofast unit in the kitchen to clear some of DS's stuff off the floor. The table and surfaces usually look equally bad!

Saracen, Trofast is dull - just units with pull-out plastic drawers/trays of various sizes. They're functional rather than pretty - think primary-school classroom.

We're likely to move house in the next year or so, and have already agreed that we could do with a spare room dedicated to storing HE / children's things in. Non-toys and books are my downfall. I'm not too bad at decluttering other things.

Actually, it'll be better once we're past the baby/toddler stage. When we stop co-sleeping we'll have some bed frames to put the under-bed storage boxes beneath (they're currently in a pile against the bedroom wall as we have our mattresses on the floor). And when we eventually get out of the nappy phase, there'll be a pile of big storage boxes freed up. <rubs hands with glee>

AngelDog Sat 22-Sep-12 14:53:07

Actually, Saracen, our house is where other people come to do craft etc - that must be where I'm going wrong! grin

Tinuviel Sat 22-Sep-12 16:54:49


There you go, Saracen, now you don't need to google it. wink

Our new shelves are EXPEDIT and they are fab but a swine to put together! And the boxes are better than Trofast for storing lapbooks and stuff. But Trofast is good for Lego!! I should ask IKEA for commission!

AngelDog Sat 22-Sep-12 21:54:12

Expedit is much nicer than Trofast IMO. But the boxes are just too deep - we have lots of little things which get lost in the big boxes but which I think will do much better in the Trofast shallow trays.

Saracen Sat 22-Sep-12 22:34:19

"Actually, Saracen, our house is where other people come to do craft etc - that must be where I'm going wrong!"

Ooo excellent. Where do you live, and when can we come round? grin

julienoshoes Sat 22-Sep-12 23:09:14

oops! I'm supposed to organise it?

Jamillalliamilli Sun 23-Sep-12 15:50:28

I’ve given up thinking I can just conquer it, and joined and adapted flylady (in good housekeeping section), to try and deal with what successful home ed has done for our home and storage space. blush

Have to proudly say we have home built shelving as part of home ed, (design technology, woodwork and maths) but we’ve also often scrounged bits of dumped Trofast, Billy and Austmarker for materials, and chopped and adapted them for home built versions.
IKEA should be employing me. grin

ThreadWatcher Mon 24-Sep-12 23:21:04

Ikea rules chez moi too!

We have ikea effectiv office bookcases (they are deep front to back and don't groan under the weight of all the books!)
ATM we haven't bothered with the doors etc - instead of doors I have a blanket hiding some of the shelves (weighted down on the top by more stuff!

We have a mass of stuff I'm trying to sort through as like Saracen said what is the point in having stuff is you don't use it, can't see it or even find it.

What really works for us is that we have a kitchen diner, a small lounge and a front room. (all leading into each other)
The front room has isn't as big as I would like (bigger would mean more junk!). Walls lined with storage, big table in the middle with four chairs and natural light. Home ed lives in the front room - its the whole house too, but bedrooms are much more personal and i try to keep the "critical mass" ofmhome ed contained in the the front room.
We haven't any wall space for a white board or posters (annoying but cant moan as i do at least have a dedicated room!) I have strings across the ceiling to peg "creations" onto.

I try to exist by if it isn't useful, beautiful or sentimental we chuck it. But in reality I have a load of stuff that needs chucking/selling.
My shed is full of stuff I havent yet got round to listing for sale......

ThreadWatcher Mon 24-Sep-12 23:31:39

Angeldog - try the pastel coloured boxes about 4inch by 6 by3inches. I think they are 3 for £1? Useful for allsorts

I also have easy for kids to access "mark making facility" (school jargon!) - felt tips, pencils, crayons, etc.
A plastic 3drawer crate with Sellotape, scissors, stapler,stencils, string, pastels, etc for kids to use.
Ikea wooden drawers with a4 paper, coloured etc, a drawer of scrap bits, stickers etc.
and another ikea wooden drawer set with one drawer each to fill as they choose- occasionally I insist they empty and tidy it!
Also I have an ikea metal red filing drawer unit thingy -fab! 6 drawers each with stuff organised and easy to find. (£20 I think)

Ikea should pay me too smile

EauRouge Tue 25-Sep-12 19:10:30

I had a massive long list of books I wanted but since I had a browse through the children's non-fiction section of the local library I've pretty much binned it.

I've been collecting boxfiles and plan to get a couple of scrapbooks but I'm hoping to get the DDs into keeping a blog (backed up obv) so that I don't end up with thousands of worksheets, journals and the like.

crumblequeen Tue 25-Sep-12 20:43:52

We have a lot of 'stuff' - DS1 is 4.5 and DS2 is 1.5 so still have quite a lot of big chunky playthings. We partially boarded the loft so we can rotate the toys by storing some in the loft to leave floorspace. I also started a blog so that I can record work/art/activities on there using photos rather than having to keep everything. When I start doing more with DS2 I might have to come up with some more storage solutions!

AngelDog Tue 25-Sep-12 21:07:02

Thanks everyone. smile

Saracen, you'd be welcome (well, welcome by me, at least - DS would probably tell you to go away and tell me to get rid of you and put you in the bin <social skills need a bit of work>)

happybubblebrain Tue 25-Sep-12 21:21:09

We have lots and lots of in-built shelves so we can see things and cupboards . We also have a very full attic and a very full toy shed and I utilise every bit of space as we have a small house.

I wish I could get rid of things more easily and buy less but I'm addicted to carboot sales and sales in general and stuff seems to just multiply all by itself.

I do manage to organise the crap well by keeping like with like, having a system and tidying as soon as a mess starts to appear.

I'm looking forward to the day when I can just get rid of all the toys.

Saracen Wed 26-Sep-12 06:16:36

Thanks AngleDog, I'll consider myself invited. Don't worry, a proportion of my friends have at least one kid who either asks mum loudly at some point during our visit, "When are they leaving?" or asks me directly "Are you going soon?" so I am used to it.

Mind you, it's possible that the mum has been wondering the same thing. Maybe I should take note. Perhaps it's my social skills which need work!!

I was thinking of this thread yesterday as we spent the afternoon at a friend's house doing a complicated craft project. The family had everything one could possibly want craft-wise, including a pair of lefty little-kid scissors (which was lucky because my younger dd could use them, whereas my hosts don't have either a little kid OR a lefty living in their house!!) and scissors dedicated specifically to cutting double-sided tape. (Apparently cutting double-sided tape gets the scissors gummed up so you mustn't do it with your normal scissors. I don't use double-sided tape at home, thus avoiding the whole problem. I use glue. I know the result isn't as pretty!)

I was agog. It was a visit to Wonderland.

MrsHoarder Wed 26-Sep-12 09:37:07

Not he, but you sound as though you need reminding of the basic principle for a tidy house, store it where you use it.

So if you do most of your craft in the kitchen, keep a storage place for craft there. If toys are generally in the line, have somewhere to easily put them when finished. If tidying always means carrying things up and down stairs tough you'll never get it done.

AngelDog Fri 28-Sep-12 08:50:54

That's a really good point, MrsHoarder. I think part of the problem is that we do almost everything in the kitchen, so it gets filled with junk really quickly! We do have quite a few shelves there, but they're mostly taken up with food stuff.

It's looking good this evening - we've just bought a small Trofast unit for lots of DS's stuff. He is very excited about it, so I'm trying to encourage him to use it for all his clutter.

Saracen, that sounds amazing. We have that problem with parcel tape, actually, but use a dispenser for double sided. Glue is too messy.

Our craft projects are rarely complicated, partly because I have to spend so much time negotiating between two warring toddlers!

SDeuchars Fri 28-Sep-12 12:43:29

I have an old house with high ceilings and I rebuilt the back of it with HE in mind. The kitchen (5.8x5.6m) contains two PAX wardrobes with birch doors to match kitchen cabinets on the other side.

With DC now 20 and 18, it is about time I started to clear out the "useful-for-HE" stuff.

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