Simple (and small) Living vol. 15


A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that twice a year we do a big, huge clean out, once around the new year and once again around the time school ends. 

Last week was our first full week out of school so we geared up for the big task of completely cleaning out the kids room, decluttering, and preparing for the summer ahead.


Move Out

I begin by removing everything but large furniture items such as beds and dressers. I leave the clothing in the bedroom as well.

There’s truly no turning back once you’ve decided to move everything out of a room which is why I suggest starting with such a bold move. 

Handling and removing everything forces me to look realistically at our possession and assess what we should keep and remove. I also really enjoy working with the clean slate of an empty bedroom.

We used the garage to house everything we removed but an extra bedroom, living room, or covered outdoor area can work just as well.

Scrub and Paint

After everything is removed I get a bucket of hot soapy water and wipe down the doors, walls, baseboards, exteriors of furniture, and floors if they are hardwood, otherwise vacuum.

Definitely move the beds away from the wall to clean the wall and the floor beneath the bed.  Use microfiber, it will actually remove the dirt rather than simply spreading it around.

Next I clean the windows inside and out with glass cleaner. Lastly, touch up paint the dings and scratches.



Now is a good time to consider rearranging furniture while the room is empty.

When I pulled the triple bunk away from the wall the kids began to beg me to move it to another part of the room but alas it’s so gigantic there’s nowhere else it fits.

I consulted my husband and between the five of us, we decided to cut up our triple bunk. With the help of a skillsaw, my husband was able to simply cut off the top bunk and we used the piece as a twin bed for my youngest who is thrilled to have her own solitary bed. The older two kids took what was left of the structure.

We love how it opened up the room, letting in more natural light and  getting in and out of bed much easier.

The hooks and paper pockets at the head of the triple bunk were sacrificed, something we’ll have to address before school starts in the Fall.


Move In

I set up three tables in the garage and the kids went through their items choosing items to return to their room. A give-away pile and a trash pile were designated. Three folding tables were whittled down to one table and a book box. These are items we plan to keep but don’t need in the bedroom at the moment.


While this entire process can be completed in one day we took several days to move back in and deal with our clutter.

The result was a brighter, cleaner, tidier bedroom and the kids (and mom) are thoroughly pleased.

I’ll wrap of my Simple (and small) Living series next week. If you have questions you would like me to answer, please leave them in the comments. It has been a delight to share my life here at Thankful Moms.

signature Sarah





If you’ve missed any of the posts in Sarah’s series, you can find the very first one here, Simple (and small) Living Vol. 1.

Be sure to enter to win a $100 Visa gift card on the post Oh, My Aching Head.  A winner will be randomly selected from the comments.

I’ll be back on Thursday with a post about our new adventure into foster care – exciting, and a bit crazy too.


Simple (and small) Living vol. 14


Everything is in bloom at my home in Idaho.

I photographed this patch of foxtail lilies that has taken over the edge of a farmer’s field near our house. Decades ago a farmhouse was on this spot and the family likely planted these to adorn a flower bed.

The farmhouse is long gone, but the foxtail lilies have spread and grown and now there is a glorious patch of them scattered all around a time-worn shed.


The days are getting longer and the school year is complete. We are heading into a new season and doing a lot of cleaning and decluttering to prepare for the warm months ahead.

One of the areas we are focusing our attention on is the children’s bedroom.

Living in a small home, and having all three children in one room, requires more organizational discipline than when we lived in 3,000 square feet.

The goal is to keep their room organized so that it’s a fun place to work and play.

It’s important that we have a daily, weekly, monthly, and bi-annual organization times due to limited space.


Every Day

Make the beds. 

I said this before in my post about my own bedroom, but making a bed will tidy a room faster than anything. Even in the thick of play,

A made bed creates a room that feels calm and has order to it. It only takes minutes and yet it sets the tone for a room. 

At the end of the day all toys are put away, coats hung and shoes stored. Everything in my kids’ room has a home. When stray items have no designated home then it becomes impossible to tidy a room.

If there are more items than storage space, begin discarding.

Every Week

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Once a week the room is dusted, swept, mopped, and the sheets are washed.  If  I’m short on time I shake out the duvet, air out the bed, and replace the pillowcase with a fresh one.

Our goal is to clean out each child’s paper pocket above their coat hook. We take the time to look through the papers and save a few special papers to put in a three ringed binder.

Each child may keep one coat and one hoodie, along with their backpack, on their hook. Any extras are taken to the garage where we store extra coats and sweatshirts.


Every Month

Once a month I remove all shoes from the shoe cabinet, dust it, and remove shoes that no longer fit, are damaged, or are not appropriate for the season.

We also remove all of the clothing from their drawers and dispose of stained or torn clothing.  Anything that doesn’t fit or isn’t getting worn is discarded or saved for a younger sibling.


Every Six Months

Twice a year, once at Christmas and once at the start of Summer, we completely move out of the room.

I take all of the kids’ toys and belongings out, with the exception of clothing. We discard books and toys they no longer use or want. We find storage for toys they don’t play with often, but aren’t ready to part with completely, and toss anything that’s broken.

I scrub down the walls and touch up paint scuffs. We wash all of the bedding including pillows and duvets.

In fact, we are due to do our bi-annual deep clean/declutter.

Next week I will explain how we walk through this task and include before and after photos!

If you are just joining me in my journey of simple (and small) living, you might enjoy starting with volume 1.


signature Sarah


Simple (and small) Living vol.13


Moving three children into one bedroom was one of our most challenging tasks when we downsized into our 900 square foot home. Our children simply had more toys and games than would ever fit into their new room.

It was important that they each feel like the room was theirs.

I have one boy and two girls so I was particularly sensitive to making sure my son didn’t feel like he was shoved into a corner of his sisters’ room. I also wanted each child to have their own designated places for their belongings, all the while keeping the space uncluttered and tidy.

I certainly had my work cut out for me.

My Five Tips for organizing three children into one bedroom:

Simple (and small) Living vol.12


Of all of the rooms in the house, my kids’ room is the one that I’ve struggled with the most.

It’s an evolving project and I’m constantly trying new strategies and learning to embrace the organized chaos of this room.I do not have a magic system for organizing a kids’ room but there are a few truths I would defend in the area of kids room organization.


Children enjoy organization

Taking the time to organize and categorize toys and games into tubs and storage is a blessing to children. Doing this is a way of loving them. Children will spend more focused time playing with their toys when they are nicely organized. As they grow and mature they benefit from learning how to organize themselves. Sorting, categorizing, and organizing are skills that must be taught and practiced.

Embrace contrast

Recognize and enjoy the fact that there is an ebb and flow to tidiness. Kids will disorganize the organization. A room that is always pristine or a room that is always a big mess is a room that isn’t enjoyable.


Less is more

Several years ago I conducted an experiment and removed all of the toys from my kids’ rooms. Everything went to the basement with the exception of their books and a few coloring supplies. Without toys, they still kept on playing by using everyday items in new and creative ways. When I did give them a few toys they were content with less.

I’ve often made the mistake of thinking that more toys would help my bored children, but in my experience, they get bored when they have too much.


Children can effectively declutter

For many years, I avoided having my kids around when I decluttered. I thought that involving them would be counter-productive because they’d cling to their possessions. But I’ve learned that they are really good at decluttering. They regularly choose different items than I would choose. I tend to keep toys that were gifts or toys that I know cost more money. They choose the items that truly bring them joy.


Next week I will explore some of the organizational strategies we’ve included in our kids’ room to make it an organized, comfortable and kid-friendly space for my three children.

Be sure to hop over to yesterday’s post about spring sports for a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card!


signature Sarah

Simple (and small) Living vol.11


Keeping your bathrooms clean and tidy is a blessing to your family and your guests. This is how I do it in my small home.

Start by decluttering.

Keep counters and surfaces clear.

Much like your kitchen counters, the more doodads and bottles you have cluttering up your surfaces the more effort it will take to keep it clean.

Have a monthly routine.

Each month declutter the bathroom. Toss empty bottles and expired toiletries, and straighten disheveled linens. If you haven’t used that lotion in a month, you probably aren’t going to.

It takes about 30 minutes to get the bathroom completely tidy and organized. If you do this once a month, you’ll find it takes even less time to de-clutter.

Simple (and small) Living vol. 9


Last week I walked through some of the steps I take when I downsize my wardrobe. After thoroughly purging all of the things I don’t need it feels amazing to open up my drawers and my closet and see all of my favorite things neatly organized.

Maintaining simplicity is a discipline.

It requires me to think differently when I’m out shopping for clothing or anything that I’m planning to bring into my home.


This time of year I start craving fresh clothes and lighter shades. Spring merchandise is put out in lovely displays and I am tempted to start accumulating.


Without a plan of attack, it’s easy for my simple clutter free space to come overrun with too much.

Here are a few tips to encourage intentional shopping.

Before I shop:

  1. I assess what I have before I decide what to buy.
    This step is so important. Before I start buying Spring and Summer clothing for my family or myself, I go through our storage and see what I already have.
  2. Make a list and be specific!
    Instead of writing “cardigan sweater,” write “navy cardigan to wear over church dresses and with striped maxi skirt”. This really helps in the dressing room while considering a purchase or when you are overwhelmed by the racks and racks of options.


While I’m shopping I mostly stick to my list but it isn’t uncommon to  find something that isn’t on my list.

Here’s what I do:

  1. Try to visualize where the item is going to go.
    Picturing in my head exactly where I plan to put the item in question helps me determine if it is a wise purchase or not. I ask myself “what will I wear with this?” or “where will I store this item?”
  2. Am I buying this just because it’s a good deal?
    I have to confess that I love good deals and I’ve been known to buy because of the good price tag, and less because I really liked and needed the item.
  3. Do I absolutely love this item?
    Think it through. My goal is to only bring clothing and items into our home that I really, really love. That means spending a lot of time considering the item before I make a purchase. I also save receipts to return items that aren’t right and will routinely pass up something and return for it later.


Value quality over quantity!

To keep your possessions minimal and useful you must value quality.  Shop for the best quality item that fits your budget. You will buy less and be more satisfied with the items in your closet and around the home. Add in less expensive items sparingly,

Buy less expensive items sparingly. Having quality basics keeps your closet and home simple, useful, and beautiful. 


If there is one thing I would change about my small home it would be my limited storage, but I can’t change that, so these strategies help me keep our home simplified.

Next week I’ll delve into the challenges of sharing a bathroom with four other people. How I keep it fresh, clean, and organized despite its constant use.

[If you’ve missed some of the posts in this series, you can start here with Volume 1.]


signature Sarah