Sweet Sharer: Heidi from Frantically Simple

Heidi is a stay-at-homeschooling mama to her daughter “Newt” and partner, best friend and wife to Walt. Nothing else she does will ever be quite as important.

She blogs at FranticallySimple.com. Be sure to check out her summer series about kids and chores.

Heidi can also be found on facebook and twitter.


How we cleaned a messy room (and got ready for back to homeschool).

It’s August.

The stores are full of school supplies.

And Christmas stuff? Already? What’s up with that? Seriously.

The amusement parks and pools are packed full of people (alteration alert) trying to squeeze in one last bit of summer fun. Change is in the air…

For me, this time of year whispers: Time to get organized…

And my goodness, do I need it. Try as I might, the lazy days of summer always tend to wreak havoc on my home. August is the time when I feel the pull to get it together. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks organizing school supplies, sprucing up bookshelves and even forcing helping my husband to clean out the garage.

Yesterday, my ten year old daughter, Newt, heard the bell toll for her. Her bedroom. It was not looking good.

Not good at all.

Now, my daughter is a kid. She’s still learning. What looks okay to her is usually messier than I prefer, but that’s not a hill I’m willing to die on, if you know what I mean. However, the last couple of weeks have seen a furious amount of away from home activity. “Keeping my room from being declared a public nuisance” had fallen clean off her priority scale.

We were at Code Orange, bordering on Red.

Messy Room

I did not think to document the mess that had formed in my daughter’s room, but the above image (found on flickr) comes pretty close.

My daughter asked for my help in getting it put right again. Here’s how we did it.

Step 1

Newt used a broom to clear everything out from under her bed and dresser. We also pulled everything off the top of the dresser, then pushed it all to the center of the room. The pile was impressive. I suggested a bonfire – We could make s’mores! Newt was not amused. In fact, just seeing that huge pile of stuff got her feeling pretty overwhelmed. I assured her that she could handle it. We just had to eat that elephant one bite at a time.

She noticed that I couldn’t stop talking about food and asked if I needed a snack.

Step 2

After our snack break, I brought in a garbage bag and a plastic bin. I explained that everything in the pile had a home, we just needed to figure out where. We’d figure it out by asking questions.

  • Is it trash? If so, it goes in the trash bag.
  • If it’s not trash:
    • Do you love it?
    • Is it useful?
    • Does it make you happy?
  • If not, it goes in the bin to be donated.
  • If so, it needs a home. Now. If no home can be found, it has to go in the donate bin.

Step 3

We went through every. single. item. in the pile. I could not take anything for granted. A gum wrapper may have been a treasure while a once-loved stuffed animal could be sent to the donate pile.

Everything that was deemed a keeper had to be put away. By her. Not me.

It took awhile, but not nearly as long as I thought it might. And certainly shorter than her predicted “This is going to take foreeeeever.”

We ended up with a full bin for charity, a full garbage bag and… a clean room. There were no little piles of things to find homes for anywhere.

Step 4 – Maintenance

We have a system. A pretty good one, in fact. It just got lost in the flotsam carried in on a tidal wave of summer activities. It’s time to dust it off and make it a part of our routine again.

Every morning before breakfast, Newt is responsible for cleaning up a portion of her room. We keep a list (along with her other responsibilities) on a clipboard in our schoolroom.

More about our clipboards here.

  • Monday: Pick up and put away things on the floor.
  • Tuesday: Pick up and put away things from under the bed.
  • Wednesday: Pick up and put away things from the dresser top.
  • Thursday: Tidy your closet.
  • Friday: Pick up and put away extra items cluttering your bed.

So far, she hasn’t found the move-it-from-my-floor-to-under-the-bed-to-the-dresser-top loophole. Shhh… don’t tell her.

It’s only been a couple of days, but her room is still looking bright and shiny. I no longer need to fear permanent injury if I go in and check on her in the night.

I know she is almost 11. And that she is the same height as me. I still check to make sure she is covered up and doing okay. I’ll quit when she goes to college. Unless her dorm is pretty close to our house…

With her room clean, the garage clean, the bookshelves and school supplies organized, I think it may be time to start school. Bring on the messy projects. I’m ready for them.

Every homeschool needs a volcano

Please disregard the condition of my bookshelves in that photo. They look much nicer now.

What do you do to get ready for back to homeschool?