(If you missed the first part, head to Part 1, first.)
Are you ready to move on? Is your kitchen cleaned-up? Have you been continuing to put in that load of laundry? (Yes, I know the clean laundry is starting to pile up.) How are you feeling about your relationship with your children? Have you been smiling at them more? If you can feel pretty good about your answers to those questions, then it's time to move on.
Step 1: Let's tackle all that laundry next. A few notes on logistics, for at least how laundry works around here. My older people do their own laundry, so I just do H.'s on down. For those who can fold and put away their own clothes, I pile the clean laundry into baskets and let them deal with it. I fold everything else, though I only put away my own clothes and sheets and towels and things. Even those who have a bit of trouble with folding can put away their own laundry. Think about how your laundry system is or isn't working and delegate where needed. My main goal in finding a laundry system that works is one where I am not constantly confronted by piles of laundry and I have clean underwear. It's best to have manageable expectations.
But you do have piles of laundry at the moment, I imagine. So, get all the clean stuff together in one place, where you usually fold. Put on some music or something to listen to (sometimes I listen to radio shows or foreign language CD's while I do this) and get started. I find it easiest to fold where I have enough room to make piles of the various clean laundry. Just assume this is going to take you an hour or so and get it done... then put it right away. When I'm at the top of my game, I will do one load of laundry a day, and get it folded and put away before bedtime. Folding one load of laundry takes all of ten minutes. It's really not that much time, and far better than an hour plus when it gets behind. Remember that the next time you're tempted to push that laundry basket to the side for tomorrow. For the future, figure out when that ten minutes fits best in your day and plan your actual doing of the laundry around that. If it's right after lunch, then plan to have a load ready to fold by then. Plan for the folding and putting away first and the whole thing becomes that much easier.
Step 2: The two worst areas for getting behind in are usually the kitchen and laundry. They are daily chores which are easy to put off. It takes a little bit of self-control to tackle them each day, but if you feel as though you have them under control, then it is that much easier to remind yourself how good it feels to keep them under control. How you feel about your home has a lot to do with your willingness to keep it under control. How we feel often is directly related to how rested we are. I don't know about you, but sometimes when life gets too chaotic my bedroom ceases to become a restful room. It gets piled with stuff.... laundry, out-grown clothes, things that don't seem to have any other home, children's possessions which got left there, and just general junk. I don't know why this is, but it is. To see those piles right before you go to sleep and to see them the first thing upon waking is not soothing or restful or enjoyable. For me at least, it fills me with immediate stress. So instead of doing any other public room in your house, I would suggest you work on your bedroom next. You are doing this for you, so you have some where to retreat to that is peaceful and not a reminder of all that you have to do. Everyone needs a place where they can breath.
Depending on the state of your bedroom, this could be a big task. It might take you several days or more. The first step is to take everything out that is not essential. Leave bed, dressers, seating... those things you need in a bedroom. Everything else? Take it out. Pile it in your living room if you need to, just get it out of your bedroom. In order to really do this, you need to start with a blank slate. Trust me. Once you have emptied the room, it's time to clean (which is going to be much easier and faster than it would be otherwise.) Dust, vacuum, wash the windows, change the sheets. If you have curtains and they seem too dusty, do something about them as well.
Now you should have a clean room with just the big essentials. Leave it for a day. See what if feels like to go to sleep in that room. What do you enjoy about it? What do you miss? This will help you figure out what needs to go back in. Clean each item before you put it back in, and really think about what the item adds. Some things we just need whether we love them or not, some things we have in our bedrooms because we genuinely love them, and some things we have just because they ended up there and we never made a conscious decision about them. Be choosy about what goes back in; make it an actual decision that you thought about. And please, don't put something back because not putting it back makes you feel guilty. That's just your stuff robbing you of a little bit of piece. Stuff has no feelings. It's a misuse of imagination to think that any THING has any sort of power over you. Guilt is usually sign you don't like it, but only keep it because of it's connection to some person or event. Take a picture of it if you have to, but give yourself the gift of not being beholden to a thing.
Some of the things you have, you may find make more sense in another room. Some things you may realize that you just don't need. And often we just have too much. Remember how good that empty room felt? Think about that before deciding that more is better. If you just can't let something go, or don't know what to do with something, put it in a box. Put the box somewhere out of the way. Put a date on the box. Later, when we do the room you stashed the box in, you'll have a chance to revisit those items. Sometimes when we are doing a major cleaning the emotional fatigue that goes along with making decisions about what we own becomes overwhelming and we just can't think about it anymore. By putting some things away when you reach that wall, you give yourself a break. You haven't gotten rid of it, you've just moved it out of your line of sight for a while. That's OK. I do this often and I find it clarifying when I come back to that item.
This is where I'll stop for this section. I want to give you time to do this next step. Give yourself the gift of a peaceful place to rest. Just be sure to keep up on the areas where you've already gained control. That foothold amidst the chaos combined with a place to really rest will empower you to move on to the next stage of the digging out process.
(To continue reading, head to Part 3)