This weekend began the major challenge to revamp the boys' rooms and get our organization situation in check. There is no doubt, we have WAY too much stuff in our house. There are a few reasons why this is the case:
1) We are sentimental - Both Craig and I cherish memories, and many of those memories are held in material possessions. Be it a stuffed animal or a stack of newspaper clippings or on a VHS tape, we have a lot of random stuff that we'd hate to get rid of.
2) I don't like to waste things - One of my weird fears is that we'll get rid of something and then suddenly find a use for it and have to go buy it new. That's why we moved a bunch of extra stuff to our house almost seven years ago, and why most of it still sits in our crawl space to this day. And, you know, once in a while something does make a return appearance. For example, my old microwave cart from my second apartment reappeared in Jacob's closet a few years ago as an extra set of storage shelves and cabinets, and I think Craig's old desk will make an appearance for the first time since our old house very soon. I come from a long line of folks like this--I think many of us with WWII generation grandparents do--though one was organized about it and the other had a few rooms that were borderline hoarder-ish (but oh, the treasures buried there!). I try to be organized about it, but in the end it's still just a lot of stuff!
3) We take pretty good care of things - Related to #2, when things are in good shape, I hate to get rid of them for nothing as they probably have some value. Yes, I could take the contents of a dozen bins of baby clothes to Goodwill, or even give them to someone having a baby, but that is a LOT of clothing and I feel like I should be getting more than a tax write-off back. Same with all of the toys that are still in really good shape.
4) The baby thing - I always said I would keep the baby stuff around until I was past childbearing age, just in case something went awry, because I would freak out if I had to spend money on all new baby stuff after having kept it this long already. Of course, I haven't thrown out the infant seat yet and that would definitely need to be replaced no matter what...so clearly there's still some sentimentality there.
5) We have two kids of the same gender - We had plenty of stuff when Jacob was little, and again, because I don't like to waste, Carter has gotten the hand-me-downs of everything. On top of that, he has a birthday and Christmas to go through every year, so in essence he ends up with double the stuff that Jacob had. It doesn't really seem to go to his head, thankfully, but it is a lot of stuff. I thought by having two boys we'd have less than if we had one of each, but now I'm really not sure that is the case.
6) I'm lazy - Not in a terrible way, I guess, but just the way where it seems like a lot of work to take stuff to consignment or to put on a garage sale. I'm not sure I have the bandwidth for either of those things. I don't want to drag a bunch of stuff to the consignment place only to have them reject it because it's too old. At least we have a van for that now, but still. And for the longest time I couldn't picture us having enough stuff to even do a garage sale, but now I'm convinced we have plenty to have a decent one. But the thought of figuring out how to load it all up into the garage, price it out, and sit there for a couple days does not thrill me. I wouldn't even know where to begin with the baby clothes. As it is I still need to go through bins and pick out favorites to set aside for each kid (tiny newborn clothes for Carter, favorite sports shirts for Jacob, the Christening outfit both boys wore). For this I'd have to go through and group outfits and figure out what to charge for the rest of the single pieces. There are SO many clothes across all of the sizes--no joke, probably a dozen bins at this point--so I can't even imagine. And the baby stuff probably has yellow stains again, so I'd have to soak and wash those, too. No matter which way I go about it, it all takes a lot of time and energy, and I don't really have that right now.
So, our house is super full of stuff. We are not at hoarder level, to be fair, but I've definitely started getting creative with storage and trying to find better places for things. Christmas really put the toy situation over the edge. Most of it is good stuff and Carter uses a lot of it, but the storage situation is just not working. We only have so much space in our living room and so much space in Carter's room. So, I decided a long time ago that my best bet was to move Jacob's furniture into Carter's room, since that furniture was exactly what I would have wanted anyway--medium wood, six drawer dresser, and a bed with storage. At the same time, Jacob is getting older and I figured he might appreciate the opportunity to pick out his own furniture. So I pinpointed a dresser he would approve of after asking what color wood he wanted, and I narrowed down the bed options. The dresser I settled on was actually very similar to his current one, but a slightly different medium brown (more chocolate than orange), a more mature style, and a different brand. As for the bed, he wanted a metal one. We had originally picked one out, but when I read some reviews, it appeared that the bed had some major structural issues so I made him pick another one. The bed was supposed to arrive late last week, but apparently the storms down south slowed things down because it didn't arrive until today. The dresser, however, arrived last Wednesday (thank you free Amazon Prime Trial), and the big box was taking up space in our dining room for days.
The tricky part is that there isn't a lot of spare area in the boys' rooms, so we had to be strategic about moving out Carter's old stuff, moving in Jacob's old stuff, then bringing in the new stuff. However, on Saturday I was more focused on taking down the Christmas decorations. For some reason they were really bothering me this year, so it was time. Strangely, though, the tree is still up and I don't mind it at the moment. But its time is coming. Anyway, once I got over that mental hurdle on Saturday (amidst making one exchange from Christmas, doing a quick Walmart run, going to Jacob's lacrosse game, and going to a Knighthawks game at night), Sunday was the big day. We moved Carter's old dresser, the original changing table/dresser when Jacob was born (sob!), down to our office. I moved the TV stand from my first apartment out of the office, and it will now be crawl space storage. The old particle board dresser that's been holding a ton of Craig's memorabilia (it's a hand-me-down from a college friend of mine that did double duty in my studio apartment) is on its way out. Craig spent a couple hours sorting through his stuff and moving it into the new drawers. In the meantime, I took drawers out of Jacob's dresser, moved the frame into Carter's room, and made space to assemble the new dresser.
The new dresser went together pretty smoothly, even if it did take three hours. The end result is nice, but unfortunately three drawer fronts had some damage. Well, four actually, but one was a pretty quick and easy fix. The other three have been reordered and while I'm a bit concerned about disassembling and reassembling, I'm pleased with the final look. There are also some issues with how the drawers line up, but at a glance it looks nice. The drawers also move easier than the other dresser, so that's helpful. And yes, Jacob likes it. Once that was together, I moved Jacob's clothes into the drawers, moved the empty drawers into Carter's room, and started filling them. Now, I forgot to mention that at every step of this process there were numerous sub-steps. Cleaning up clutter, vacuuming, and sorting through clothes made everything take so much longer. Jacob had a pile of too-short pants sitting near his closet for a couple weeks, so I finally had to pull out his bin of outgrown clothes, add those, bring up a new bin, go through his closet and add more, and finally put the bins in the crawl space. Then in Carter's room I needed to put away his too-small clothes, shift clothes and blankets around, and find a spot for a couple baskets of baby toiletry items that used to live in his dresser. My goal was to clear one shelf in his closet for bigger stand-alone toys, like his trucks and buses. It took a while, but I eventually succeeded.
Last night I wanted to start switching up the beds so that all I'd have to do tonight is assemble Jacob's bed. I moved Carter's basic bedframe (mine from when I first lived on my own) down to the crawl space. I had his mattress and box spring propped up against the wall so we had enough space to bring in the new bed. Then I had to move Jacob's mattress, shift his bed base just enough to move the headboard out from behind it, move that into Carter's room, and then start disassembling the bed base. Given the slightly flimsy materials and the awkward structure, it became apparent that it was necessary. The good news is that it only involved those round things you have to twist to lock, and not any screws. So I carefully took it apart, moved each piece into the room, and started putting things back in place. I was a bit concerned about how the bed might fit because of the additional length from the headboard and because there's a cold air return at the base of the wall, but in the end, it all fit really nice and it looks great. And Carter was pretty excited about his new space, putting toys in the drawers and eagerly getting ready for bed! Also of note is that we took off the bedrail since it doesn't work too well with the bedframe (we did it with Jacob, but the frame is four years older, so I don't want to stress it), but I stuffed a pool noodle under the fitted sheet. He didn't fall out, so hopefully we're good there.
The box spring moved into Jacob's room, at least for the night, and Jacob's bed was on the floor, which he found entertaining. We had thought about using the boxspring with it to make the bed higher, but in the end just the mattress was better. Tonight I scrambled to iron the bedskirt and assemble the new bed. It went pretty smoothly and it looks nice. It's a bit of an adjustment since it's a totally different look, but I think it suits him. I'll do pictures when the room isn't such a disaster, though!
So now it's just a matter of tweaking everything to make good use of what we've got. We need to figure out what goes in Carter's underbed storage and his closet vs. what stays in the living room or gets packed away. We have a boatload of stuff in Jacob's room that needs a new home after all of these changes, and I need to decide on some sort of underbed storage for him. I have two stuffed animal hammocks that can hold a bunch of his beloved animals, and those need to be set up. I still need to take down the tree and get the living room back in order. And then maybe I can relax a bit and try to enjoy all this newfound organization. Or perhaps start planning Carter's birthday party...*sigh*...it never ends.