Getting organized is one of my goals this year. To do this I am working my way through “One Year to an Organized Life,” by Regina Leeds. This book is helping to guide me in my efforts. So in January, Month 1, I tackled the kitchen, see that post here. Month 2 would have been the bedroom. However, I changed things up and decided to take on the garage/laundry area. This area was not slated to be done until May but being in South Florida I envisioned myself passing out from heat exhaustion in a sweltering Florida garage with no A/C. So to avoid a trip to the hospital, I moved it up on the schedule and completed the area in the much cooler month of February. The adaptability of the process is one of the things I really like about this book. It gives you guidelines, but you can adapt it to fit your schedule and your needs.
Once I made the decision to take on the garage, I stood in the doorway of the space and realized what a huge job I had taken on. When we moved into this house almost 7 years ago we could park a car in there. Now it is stuffed to the brim with stuff! Baby stuff, work stuff, cake stuff, kid’s stuff. Stuff everywhere.
I looked to the ook for guidance and it did not disappoint. The first section is titled “Plan of Attack,” which is exactly what I needed for this area. Otherwise it was just overwhelming. I broke down the space into areas of focus based on what we actually use in here. What I found was mounds and piles of unnecessary garbage we just hung on to. Dividing the garage into 2 main spaces I got down to business. The laundry area and remaining garage where each tackled separately, as if they were separate rooms. (They might be in your house.) Then, I draw up a plan on I would arrange the remaining space.
Once I got a handle on what areas and items would remain, I mapped out where I would store these items. As I progressed towards the back of the garage I scanned the “stuff” for items to donate and throw out. We had a large refrigerator that was intended for use in my cake decorating but had never been moved close enough to an outlet to plug in. We also had a spare dryer that we purchased when we thought out other one was broken. It turned out we only needed the hose cleaned out. (And know the hubby will not let me get rid of the 2nd… just in case.) I also found a ton of miscellaneous items like picture frames, toys, and household items that had been thrown in the garage and left for dead.
In the far back of the garage, leaning against the far wall was a honey-colored piece of furniture I had not seen in almost 3 years. My eyes began to tear up at the site of it. There, behind the tools and sports equipment was my son’s crib. When we first moved into this house my daughter was still in it. We then put in in the garage to save for the 2nd child we planned to have. We dragged it out of this very garage to put my sweet baby boy asleep in. It still showed the teeth marks from both children. As I stood there my mind recalled all of the mornings I would be greeted by the smiling happy baby faces that awoke in this crib. I remembered the long nights getting up to check on them and rubbing their forehead until they fell asleep.
My son is no longer an infant or a toddler, but a 5-year-old and this crib was no longer needed in our house. I realized that I had let this area get totally out of control because I did not want to see the crib, hidden in the back of the garage under other items. I didn’t want to face the idea that I would not be having another baby in the house. That my children were growing up.
After shedding some tears about this revelation I came to terms with why I needed to let it go Life is meant to move forward and our house must change with my kids. In order to make space for the new items my they were using like their bicycles, scooters and beach toys, I needed to say goodbye to old items that outlived their usefulness. If I don’t get rid of these things from the past there will be no room for the items they use now. I had to let go of the past to make room for the today.
So I made the call to donate the crib. After that I took on the rest of the garage piece by piece. Moving out all the tools and paint, clearing of shelves, vacuuming and removing broken items. By the end of my first full cleaning day, I had five large black garbage bags of trash. I moved the refrigerator into a useable space near a plug and set-up a new shelf for my cake supplies and seasonal items.
The next day, I continued the clean up with another two bags of trash. Discovering two old bicycles that could also be donated. My back was killing me but it was worth the sense of accomplishment I felt.
The next week, while I was at work the donation pick-up took place and by the end of the day the crib and other items we’re gone. Even though I still felt sentimental for the crib for first time in years I could see the floor of my garage. I mean I actually could walk from one end of the garage to the other in a clear path, without tripping over stuff, and knocking over piles.
The final part of the job was reorganizing what was left. I repurposed containers I already had to place tools, and other items in. I also set up a separate area for my cake supplies that made things go much smoother when I needed to find pans or tools. During the reorganized of the laundry area I discovered four unused bottles of detergent I didn’t even know were there.
It was a long process and I was really tired by the last week of February, but clearing out the garage was a lot more cathartic and intense than I ever expected it to be. In letting of items from the past, I made lots of room for future mental clarity. Having a nice organized space instead of a chaotic mess has made doing laundry almost enjoyable… almost. Who knew cleaning out the garage could be so emotional?