Session 1

Last week, driving home from baseball practice, I was overtaken by a giant wave of freak-out-ness.  It was something about the warm weather, the intense colors of the evening sky, and I don’t quite know what else, but I panicked.  I felt very strongly that I didn’t want it to be warm.  I didn’t want spring to be here.  I wanted it to be nice, cold, and relaxed.  Thinking to myself, “But Ginny, you’ve been dying for spring to arrive”  did not help.  I was going to have my crazy moment, evening, whatever it led to, and I just had to go with it.

The following day I felt okay.  But, I started moving furniture around.  In fact, some furniture got moved OUT.  I rearranged our living room again and again, and finally settled on an arrangement that was identical to the original one, with only a change in couches.  I moved the big, leather, free Craigslist find out, and the small loveseat from the kitchen in.  Next up, I knew I needed to start going through the kids’ clothing.  All of it.  It’s high time for a proper system of bins with labels that are actually accurate and helpful.  Seven kids plus tons of clothes in bins with labels such as “Girls winter 2013” that actually contain boys’ clothing in sizes 10-12… well obviously that system isn’t working for me.  The trickiest part really, was finding a time to go through all the little girl clothes while they weren’t around.  They can’t stay out of it.  “Oh, Mommy!  Remember this one?  Oh, Mommy!  This one’s sooo pretty!  I think I can still fit it!  Why don’t I just try it on?”  And on, and on and on.

It is now apparent to me that what I am doing is commonly known as Spring Cleaning.  Kind of crazy how it just hit me and left me pretty much defenseless.  I was originally thinking of the major clothing storage overhaul as session 1.  But then the pantry got cleaned out and more furniture was moved.  I think this is  just going to be one looooong, session.  I have no idea if I’ll keep this up.  But, boy do I need to.  And as I just worked three days straight and still have a ways to go, I am realizing that somehow things have gotten really out of hand here.  Well…somehow?  I know how.  It’s seven kids!  Actually, it’s the other grown-up too.  I think I am really the only person in this house that puts things away without being reminded.  I’m outnumbered.  At any rate, I hope this spring cleaning thing lasts me through all the projects I have swimming around in my head!

Must. Keep. Cleaning.

p.s.  So unrelated, but Beatrix has her first loose tooth and she is so excited!


  1. Spring Cleaning Madness: it’s so worth it in the end!

  2. Hang in there! Spring cleaning can be stressful for sure. I know I am trying to navigate spring cleaning + baby could be coming anytime projects/cleaning. We have been so busy and stressed with other things that it has really weighed heavy on me. I want everything to be perfect when our little girl arrives. It is hard to ask for help and we are so far away from friends and family. But what gets done gets done, and what doesn’t won’t kill us! ( In this post I share a tip from the 19 Kids and Counting on bin organization and labeling that is a bit of work, but it really helps!

  3. Oh Ginny, I just love reading here, you are so funny it makes me laugh out loud 🙂
    ‘… without beeing reminded’ – that is put hilariously polite 🙂
    And that system of yours – I know it so well. I tend to label boxes just to have a good feeling of being organized and only to realize later how useless my labels really are, haha…

  4. I’ve been spring cleaning since January! We just went through and tried on summer clothes, it took more time with my 6 year old daughter than my 2 year old son. The clothes are the worst, give me a bathroom to clean any day:)

  5. Hi Ginny!
    I have never commented before, but I found your blog after I saw a link from Ann Voskamp’s site. I have been a faithful reader ever since! I really respect your authenticity and your heart. I love reading about your everyday life… that’s where the good stuff happens (and hard stuff sometimes! ha)!
    Anyway… I just wanted to say amen and amen to this post. I, for a long time just wanted my husband to recognize when I (finally 😉 ) cleaned the bathroom or picked up clothes, etc. And to be fair, he totally does; but not as much as I *want* to hear. 🙂 One day my MIL said to me, “Cyndy, you have to get to the point you recognize you are doing it for yourself. And its ok to appreciate clean bathrooms and a tidy bedroom.” Isn’t funny how moms have to be told sometimes it’s ok to do something for ourselves. I clean for my own sanity! ha I hope your productivity continues, and then get to enjoy the rest of Spring with a feeling of accomplishment!!

  6. Christine says:

    I had this exact same experience two weeks ago. Then I came down with the flu! Finally feeling good enough to start pulling things out again. Do we REALLY need 30 boxes of clothes in storage for eight people? Think not. Happy Spring to your family!!

  7. My goodness, there are times I do believe we are long lost sisters!

    • Ha ha! Your site doesn’t seem to like my phone….its cutting off my message again :-). May try again later on the computer!

  8. Oh boy how I know the feeling! And I have only three kids… When the third one was born I found the most stressful thing to keep up with the clothes – washing, buying bigger ones, getting rid of the too small ones…

  9. I frequently say to myself, “I must be the only one in this house who ever puts a new roll of TP on the holder!” Some things are important only to mothers, I guess.

    We’ve been having some warm days and my 12yo asked if I could get out a few of his short sleeved shirts from storage. Inside my head, I shouted “NO! I’m not ready to sort out clothing yet!” (because it always requires major bedroom cleaning), but outwardly I gave a non-committal response. I’ve been doing this for switch for many years, but it’s always a pain, even though I think I have a good system. I have bins labeled “Boy” or “Girl” and then I put an “X” on it every time the clothes inside have outgrown a kid and is ready for the next same-sex child. For instance, two Xs mean that the clothes no longer fit the first two boys, but are ready for #3, three Xs means that my last son is the only one who hasn’t worn them. I don’t do seasonal labeling anymore, because I usually can fit all one size for the whole year in one bin (if I can’t , I know I have too much of that size) and there is always one current season out of the bins (if that makes any sense). I keep coats and shoes in separate bins, because sometimes those can be unisex. I’m fortunate that I have room to store many bins. My only girls at home now are teenagers and they take care of their own clothing. The boys are completely inept. The author of the “Tightwad Gazette” books described her clothing storage system and I remember being pretty awed with it.

  10. I SO know this feeling right now! I’m due with my 6th baby in a few weeks and I have this immense desire to purge 90% of the stuff and clothes in our house. I feel like it’s taking over my life, mentally and physically. Then I need to go through all the clothes and switch things out and see what I have for the new baby…if only I could clear my family out of the house for a week so I can purge and deep clean. Sigh.

    • It’s really true that the only way to accomplish it all is to have everyone leave for a few days! And how often does that happen?

  11. I’ve been married 30 years and he STILL leaves his clothes on the floor in a pile but he picks up all the dog poop in the yard so it’s a trade-off! Congrats Missy Bea?…so exciting!

    • After 16 years, I have finally learned that there isn’t any point in saying anything about it. You’re right–it’s a trade off. He does so much in other areas and I’m really grateful for that!

  12. Ginny,
    I’m cheering you on! I gotta roll with it (the major extra cleaning urge) when it comes or I don’t end up doing it. I had to smile when you wrote that you’re the only one in your house that puts things away because I feel the same way.
    Also, when my life feels out of control, I find cleaning especially therapeutic. If my house feels like an overwhelming mess and I don’t feel like I’m making a dent, I’ve been known to vacuum out our car so I can have one aspect of our life clean, even if for a short while.
    Maybe your kids will get inspired and want to mop the floors? Bracken thinks it’s super fun and has been begging me to do it again because it’s overdue.


  13. Oh, dear.

    I feel not the slightest urge to clean and purge. (NB: this does not mean I don’t NEED to clean and purge.)

    And now . . . back to my book.

  14. Bonnie Schulzetenberg says:

    Hey so that’s it? I have 4 December babies — I always blamed it on husband’s spring fever! :-/ thanks Katie

  15. Hmm I used to get this big urge every time I was pregnant — it was often a clue even before I knew it:) Could be a Spring thing (I have two December babies) but who knows — good luck!

  16. I recently read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and it actually changed my life. The author is occasionally a bit extreme, but it was immensely helpful to my family and I. And her tips about what order in which to tidy things and sort things were actually incredibly helpful. Huge disclaimer: it seems clear to me that she does not have children. None the less, this book has made tidying, sorting, and organizing a completely newer and more do-able task for me. I highly recommend it! And though it sounds like a dry and boring read, it read like a novel to me! I loved it! It is a best seller, so probably available form the library if you are so inclined.

    • People keep mentioning it–I requested from the library and I am number 101 in line. 🙂

      • It had some good ideas, but I agree with Becky–there is no way that author understands what life with children is like! 🙂

    • I went to put it on hold but there are 207 already on the waitlist! I wonder what is so great about that book? Hmm…guess I will have to be 208.

  17. I just got hit by spring cleaning, too! The grandparents were taking my two oldest away for the weekend, and – boom! I had to do it. It’s exhausting, but so nice when it’s all done.

  18. Congrats on the lost tooth, Miss B!! I have been scouring our home too. I am influenced a bit by Marie Kondo and a need to a better system (always!)

    • I’ve been feeling Ms. Kondo’s influence lately as well. 🙂 I thought a lot of her ideas were a bit crazy (sorry, I’m not emptying my purse every night), but her rule to ask if an item brings you joy, and if not out it goes–that has helped, for some reason, in a way that other rules for decluttering have not. And with the decluttering comes the cleaning, and little the house is starting to come together somewhat, after living here two years with a lot of “temporary” situations surrounding us. 🙂

  19. I feel you! I am on a major wall-scrubbing binge, because I suddenly just couldn’t stand the child-level smudges anymore. Oh, and the “other grown up” comment made me laugh. I love my husband sooo much, but I do have a certain level of frustration over his lack of ability to just put things away. How can you forget to put the milk back in the refrigerator? Sigh….. =)

    • It is frustrating, but since realizing that I’m never going to change this aspect of him I have an easier time of it. The mess drives me crazy and I live with a lot of it, but I accept the fact that I am the only one that is going to do anything about it without being asked!

  20. I’m finally able to do some of the same – so much needs to go, go, GO! I’m also the only one that picks up, and we are empty nesters. So hard to stay cheerful when it’s always put down, and never picked up!

  21. Bonnie Schulzetenberg says:

    feels great doesn’t it? problem is no one else is getting excited with you. Then the excitement wanes and for lack of support we give in to clutter … again…
    That’s me though!
    I love your post, everyone sure can relate. Kinda like a great homily 🙂

  22. My sisters and I – each with a gaggle of children – call this time of year The Great Clothes Exchange. Diving into bins, resurfacing in closets and getting “distracted” by cleaning out things/areas unrelated to clothes. I wonder if homeschoolers get bitten by this bug more severely. During the spring I start to see is nearing the end of curriculum and wanting to finish our year (although the we do math year round). Keep going, Ginny. We will all cheer you on!

  23. yay on the loose tooth!!
    and i am also feeling the spring cleaning bug, but the first three days of the week are so busy that i need to wait until thursday. lol then it will be 4 full days of me freaking out.

  24. Hit my house next! Our house is so out of control ~ it’s just overwhelming to attempt to get it reigned back in : /
    Clothes – oh girl, I hear you! I have never done a good job with storing and using saved clothes from bigger siblings. Or swapping clothes seasonally…. I’ve really about given up on that one. After almost 28 years of clothing children, I think admitting defeat might be my best bet 😉
    My Lex’ (who is very much like your Bea, and very close in age, if I remember correctly) has her first loose tooth, and she is over the moon about it! (She is also driving me nuts with updates on it every 20 minutes)
    I hope you get all the things cleaned and sorted

  25. I have the same intense urge to purge! Waiting for a nice day to open all the windows (66 degrees today?!)…and for Grandma to kindly watch the littles while I weed through their clothes (my girl has the same need to try everything on). For now I’m purging the “stuff” and piles around the house! All those papers that seems so important…

  26. I am totally in the same mood! Cleaned out my kids rooms last week, and man, I think I had three bags full of clothes. TIme to clean!

  27. It hit me too. I tackled my bedroom last week. It took me two full days. I went through everything in my closet and then the drawers and did a bit or rearranging in the room to add a single big boy bed for Sorrel. I also have the bin storage issue to deal with at some point…and the large number of family members who do not put every thing away right away in the place it is supposed to go! I can let things go, but I am also a super organized person who likes to get my arms deep into getting everything in order…as best I can for the time my wind lasts me! Happy spring cleaning.


  28. We started Spring cleaning/repairs as well. I had the same feeling as you – I wanted to hold on to the winter a little longer despite the fact that I have been complaining non stop about it!

  29. Oh, I feel what you are going through. I only have two children so wasn’t so bad. Once they got older I gave them cardboard boxes ‘Don’t Like’ ‘Don’t Fit’ ‘Love’ or similar titles (it was a long time ago). I found it gave the girls some responsibility for sorting their own stuff and a break for me. I just had to sort what was good for donating.
    Hope Beatrix looses her tooth soon.

  30. that time of year! God bless you!

  31. I can’t wait to load up the van and drop it all off at goodwill!!!

  32. Chris Williams says:

    Had that same crazy urge to clean and re-organize this weekend–with absolutely no time to do it. I have told husband and kids that Saturday is my day to concentrate on this. I’m hoping to finally go through piles of stuff we want to give away and get it ready to move out of the house.

  33. YES! I started to radically cut down on what I kept when our house just couldn’t take any more storing of clothes of various sizes. I wanted to be a good steward but also felt slightly afraid of getting rid of it! I got rid of half of all the clothes in the end. The more clothes my kids have in the drawers the bigger mess erupts! They only wear the favourites 🙂 and as I do laundry every single day the clothes return to their drawers pretty quickly 😉 It was liberating to ditch the fear of not being provided for. What have I discovered? We can live without the fear, the clothes and the mess! AND people keep giving us more clothes 🙂

    • Amen! I have put this into practice in one child’s closet, but it is time to let go of all the extras in the other closets. My youngest has more hand-me-downs than he can wear in a lifetime!

  34. Oh Ginny… I have that same feeling. I am so tired from our weekend away, but itching to get organizing in time for spring and Easter. 🙂 Godspeed to you!

  35. This year we really got serious about simplifying. It’s been a journey for sure (things look worse before the look better when you are cleaning out closets and cupboards!) but each closet and room that gets done…wow… I think the hardest part for me is the kids clothes (we have 5) and going through each season, what fits, what can be handed down, what needs given away, who needs new shoes…it’s never ending!

  36. I always have to get rid of things on the sly–with my boys it’s books or an argued over junky toy instead of clothes. Without fail I will forget to move the bag out to the trunk of my car and they will rediscover items before I can get them out of the house.

    I just put the book Sidney mentioned on hold at the library and I’m waiting for it with a little trepidation.

    Congrats to Beatrix; my 6 year old is eagerly awaiting his first loose tooth!

  37. Yup, I’m getting hit with this viral cleaning obsession as well this week. I’ve mapped out my whole week–in my head–I decided to try to tackle one place in the house per day…today is the back porch. Temps are forecast to hit mid-80s here in Iowa & want to hang out on the porch ASAP. Perhaps with a cold one…while my house waits behind me to be emptied of winter chaos tomorrow. 😉

    Looks like you’re making great progress, Ginny! And congrats on the first loose tooth! xx

  38. The little book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, has been making its way through my circle of friends. Oh my. While she can be a bit overwhelming, I just have to say it is pretty transformative to discard things that don’t bring you joy. My closets bring me great happiness these days.

  39. Ooh, I did much of this last weekend and discovered, to my dismay, that ALL 3 of my older kids have outgrown every pair of shorts in the house. (It doesn’t help that my 12 year old and 15 year old boys are the SAME size.) So…my lone consolation is that Finn will have plenty of clothes when he hits that size, but for now, shopping. Good luck with your clothes organization system. 🙂

  40. Oh my, I feel you with the spring cleaning sneaking up on you! I’ve been bagging things up for donation without even realizing it the last few days, and scrubbing at spots on carpets that have been there for EVER, and clearing through kids’ clothes and even … purging in my yarn stash! Keep it up, you’ll feel so much better for it when it’s done!

  41. My family is the same way. We have a place for everything, but unless I put it there…

    My third son walks in the door from school and belt and tie go where he drops them, shoes in the dining room, and everyone leaves their shoes all over the house (and we have lovely racks in the garage for them to hang!). No matter how many times they can’t find what they’re looking for, and I say “if you’d put it away, you’d know where it is” they still leave things all over. I am often tempted to walk through the house and just put everything in a garbage bag and be done with it. If I thought they’d learn, I would. I don’t think they will until they have their own homes.

    Anyway– you are not alone!

  42. Charlotte S says:

    Doesnt the warmth and sun give you so much more energy? I think I’m ready for this but like you too I had a mini panic! I think this Winter went quite fast.

  43. I so understand this feeling. Even as I am recouping from this illness I am beside myself crazy about how my house is so discombobulated! I need to get spring cleaning. I started deep cleaning a few months ago but things have gotten in my way and now I just. can’t. stand. it. anymore! 🙂

  44. I feel the same way! I have been wanting to spring clean so bad but it’s so hard with these little kids making messes as fast as I can clean! I still have boxes that are unpacked from moving here last August…I’m going crazy! Gwendolyn, my daughter has her first loose tooth as well!

  45.! 7 kids, plus 3 month old twins= clothing chaos! I am going in this week over hauling bins, tossing the worn out & stained, culling a pile to go to charity… You know the drill. I find that the bins need to be really reorganized every 3-4 years. By that I mean you have to go through every one cull, toss, donate, relabeled. I sometimes do this outside.
    I get all the bins out plus whatever is lurking in the house that isn’t being worn due to size/ fashion/ or temp. I put a large tarp we use for shelter when camping (thus it is clean) & pull out beach chair.
    Then I proceed to sort by gender & age; culling as I go. At this point you can really see what you have & make notes for what you will need, and thin those that you have too much of. Whew!
    Doing it this way is pleasant, because you are outside & not trashing your house, & the kids are generally happy to play around you ;). Another added benefit is that you are really pushed to complete the project in a day because you can’t leave it out.
    When I find myself loosing steam at the end, not knowing what to do with what’s left I automaticly donate- remember you can ALWAYS replace store bought clothes! This way I don’t stress or over think it.
    Bins get relabeled & clothing placed in & everything gets put away.
    I am sure that was more than you ever wanted to know, lol

  46. There is nothing like a good spring cleaning session to make you feel good. I am in the process of doing just that at the moment, it chases all the cobwebs away in your mind.

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