How Do You Eat An Elephant? (An Elephant-Sized Tackle)

One bite at a time. How do you overcome bad habits? One little baby step at a time. Sometimes two or three. Sometimes we take a step back before we go forward again. Sometimes we skip along with enthusiasm and sometimes we drag ourselves along by our very fingernails. But if you don’t keep eating away at the elephant, or taking each step, your certain to never reach the end.

This time last year, I made a commitment that 2007 was going to be “The Year of Clean.” Not that my house was going to be perfectly clean everyday, but that this would finally be the year that I would kick the habit, learn new habits, and eat this dirty little elephant. All year long I have been tackling piles of clutter, ROOMS of clutter, and hotspots all over my house. Sometimes those rooms have been overcome again, like my kids’ rooms. Sometimes they have stayed clean, like mine and Big Daddy’s. Some small habits have stuck and some proved unrealistic or ineffective. But one bite at a time, I have been eating, eating, eating away at this not-so-little, sometimes overwhelming, and often bad-tasting elephant.

Last weekend I was blessed by some friends, who came over and helped me not only dust and mop and vacuum and clean around the house, but also, regain control in the kids’ rooms by PURGING, lots of purging, ORGANIZING, lots of organizing, and setting up a system that the kids can maintain on their own that will be easy for me to reinforce. Boy did we ever get a lot done! It was the King Kong of tackles. I still have a few hotspots and piles to tackle on my own, and I have been working every day since they left. But here’s a look at part of what we tackled Saturday.

The girls’ room (click on the thumbnails for bigger images):

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There aren’t any before pictures, but honestly, it didn’t look much better than it did the first time we did a big cleanup, for the first organizational challenge. At that point, we purged some and organized a lot, but there has been Christmas and three birthdays since then! The system that was in place, was probably not quite manageable enough anyway, and then we added more to it, and at some point, the system.. well it just died. But with the help of my friends and a few ADORABLE organizing containers they brought with them, we have resurrected it like the Phoenix, even better than it was before. We purged down to five main groups of toys and purged each of those down to a manageable amount: dolls & accessories, My Little Ponies, Barbie dolls & accessories, play food (and fridge, shopping cart & cash register), and dress-up. Now every group of toys is individually contained. When they play with one thing, they don’t pull out a container or open a toybox that has three or four groups of toys in it. When they are done, they are supposed to put them away before pulling out another box or basket. I’ve been reminding them and they’ve been obeying and together we’ll stay on top of this.

You know, I keep telling them if they put everything back in the box and put it away when they are done, every single time, then they’ll never have to clean their room. Ever. You’d think they’d find that appealing. 🙂

And then there’s the School Area and Little Prince’s room:

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Before we started, his room looked a lot like it did at the beginning of the school year. Now I only have to find homes for the stuff in the pink basket on the wooden table. Everything else has a happy little home for it to live in. Even at two, Little Prince can help put his toys away before pulling out something else. He’s got the idea and his doing pretty well with it. Oh, how I would love to raise a CLEAN child! One who knows no other way. Not that girls can’t learn new habits, but let’s be honest…We haven’t been setting the best example for them and we’ve allowed bad habits for far too long. It might take them a little longer. Little Prince has always been a good helper, and I’d be just tickled pink if he stays that way. Anywho… so we purged down from two toyboxes to just one in his room, isn’t that incredible? I also moved the chalkboard so that he can reach it instead of climbing on the table to get to it. I figured it was well, you know, safer.

As I mentioned, we also dusted, vacuumed, swept, mopped, washed the couch cushion covers, washed the bed linens, cleaned out the refrigerator and cleaned the stove/oven as well as clearing up several piles of clutter and folding a couple of loads of laundry. It’s amazing what you can do when you have a whole team!! Since Saturday I’ve also scrubbed both bathroom, shampooed the carpet in the kids’ rooms, washed more laundry and cleared away some more clutter. I have several hotspots left on my list, so I’ve got a few more tackles left under my belt (as in, future Tackle It Tuesday posts on the way) but this weekend was incredible. It really gave me such a boost. I feel now like I’m gnawing at the elephant bones trying to get the last of the meat off. Sometimes I doubted I’d ever get here. Most of the time I knew I would if I just kept going. I would have, but it would have been much farther down the road. If not for God, and the many blessings He has provided over the last few weeks, especially last Saturday, I wouldn’t be smelling the sweet smell of victory wafting in the wind. This elephant is almost gone. I can feel it. I can taste it. And it tastes Oh-So-Good.


Tackle It Tuesday is brought to us by 5 Minutes for Mom.


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December 19, 2007 3:12 pm

Congratulations!! That is awesome news! I love the cute little way you worded your post with the elephant thing! You are so clever. …Now I am just wondering who it was who came over to help…That was very nice of them!!

December 19, 2007 4:26 pm

This is a very inspiring post! I have been gathering books, clothes, kitchen stuff, and toys to donate today! My daughter has been in her room (she has super bad habits, thanks to Mom!) ‘cleaning’. It seems like no matter how many times I tell her to get her room together, not much of anything gets done.

Your post inspired me to get off the computer and do a bit more!



mrs darling
mrs darling
December 19, 2007 4:15 am

What a great idea to get ladies together to d a thorough cleaning.

The rooms look lovely!

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