5 Intentional Home Projects for Lent

If you know me, you know that I love a good excuse to declutter.  I have been thinking over the past few days about whether I would gear up for the now-traditional 40 bags in 40 days, a major Lenten decluttering project.  As I looked around my closet this morning, I realized that I need to take this in a slightly different direction.  After 4 years of valiant decluttering (and a fun basement flood to help us along), I think that we have moved past the point of needing to pitch the things that we don’t use, and now instead we could do a better job of caring for and making use of the things that we have in our home.  I thought about having a 40 days of clean up and contain, intense organization, giving a day over to one little area of my house at a time, but I actually think that at this point I need to dig a little deeper and be very thoughtful, so I am going to give myself more time and do fewer projects with more consideration and even some prayer.  During Lent I will tackle 5 important areas of my home and life to organize, meditate and improve.  Each project will be given about a week.

1.  My closet:

As I spend about a week organizing my closet, I am going to think hard about what I wear and how it reflects who I am, how it works (or doesn’t) for my life as a mother of seven now that I am out of the house more.  How does it impact my growing children’s idea of a woman? Do I store my clothing in a way that will extend its wear?  Do I have a plan for cleaning/repairing/replacing things, including shoes and jewelry?  Do I buy things that I don’t really need or do I make a list and buy intentionally?

2.  My schoolroom:

Do the bookshelves meet the needs of the family, or are they just filled with things that have been there for 4 years?  Does the furniture arrangement suit the way that the children are learning now?  Is our time in the school room cheerful and productive?  Do the children have the tools they need, and are they accessible?  Do they feel ownership over the space?  Can we finish the year efficiently and joyfully, and work well so that we have lots of time to play when the weather improves?

3.  My pantry and kitchen:

Do we have a plan for how we eat and buy our food?  Do we use most of the food that we buy?  Is it healthy?  Is it convenient?  How can the children help more with menu planning and meal preparation?  How can meals be more joyful for our family and less of a chore?  Do any simple tools need replacement?

4.  The Garage:

With spring approaching, do we have a system for the kids to get toys and bikes out, and then back in to the garage?  Do any bikes need repair?  Are any bikes outgrown, do those children have time to save up for a new bike?  What about helmets?  Why can we never find them when we need them?  What garden chores will need to be done in early spring?  Do we need to repair or maintain the lawnmower, sharpen or clean trimmers, etc?  Are there old chemicals in the garage, and how do we safely dispose of them?

5.  The Laundry Room:

Do we have a laundry system that is working for us?  Why do we lose so many socks?  Do the kids wear the clothes they have, and take care of them?  What do they need for the next season?  What about sheets and towels?  Do we have a system for washing them and getting them put away?  How can the children take more responsibility in this area?

  • Juris Mater

    MaryAlice, how do you balance making clothing purchases for yourself from a list and shopping for the best prices? I think many of my best finds are things I need but wasn’t specifically looking for, but I happened to find them at an excellent price at TJ Maxx or even Old Navy sometimes.

    Secondly, what is with losing socks? Sometimes socks stick to blankets so that we eventually find them, that kind of thing, but most of our lost socks simply disappear and never reappear anywhere in the house. I know this is a universal experience, and how mysterious it is!

    • Helen

      Socks and pens!

    • http://www.buildingcathedrals.com Mary Alice

      I think that I would have a running list of things I need, and then make sure that my “finds” at places like TJ Maxx fit in to that list. So, it wouldn’t be like grocery shopping with a list, although for things like socks and hose it would be — I would wear my skirts more often if I had a good stock of hose, tights and leggings. I also think that a list and some practical thought about how I dress will help me to budget appropriately. For example, in the winter I wear a lot of dark wash jeans. This means that a dark shirt or sweater is not really a good addition to my wardrobe, even if it looks great and is a great price. I need some bright, fun or patterned winter tops. On the other hand, I know that I have worn out my khakis, so I have to keep my eye out for a great pair, or two, before spring.

      Right now, I would love to update my ski pants which, while functional, are a little bit too big and out of style. I stopped by the store yesterday and saw that new pants are $230! I was shocked. I know I didn’t pay that much when I bought these pants four years ago. I am going to keep an eye out for a good online sale, but I am also going to wait, because my pants seem much more workable now that I know how much it would cost to replace them!

  • Saoirse

    I have to respond to the lost sock issue. After years of keeping a lost/lonely sock bin in the laundry room – and occasionally going through it and finding a few matches – I called it quits. I read somewhere – I know not where – about a mom who started requiring her children to place their soiled socks in one of those knit bags meant for delicates. I got each of my kids one. I informed them that if the socks didn’t go in – there would be no socks. I meant it. Socks were washed in the bag with their mate and it was beautiful. It was not only the end of lost socks – but the end of matching drama. (Little boy socks tend to be very similar – and I stupidly purchased similar socks in different sizes. I would be ready to pull my hair out by the time the socks were matched.)

  • Ana

    “A Place Called Here” by Cecelia Ahern tells you where lost socks end up ;)

  • V

    Oh, Socks migrate to another dimension, perform acts we humans weren’t meant to fathom, then one devours the other and it births a cheap wire coat hanger that is miraculously jettisoned to the back of your closet. Here they live out their destiny to get caught on things, stepped on, bent and broken. We aren’t sure how it turns into another sock, to find it’s mate, and continue the cycle… scientists are still working on that.

    • maryalice

      Love it!

  • Wendy Christmas

    Alice, HI!!! I found this site a few years ago in a round-about way from Melinda’s blog and just picked up reading it again as I find myself in a bit of a winter/Lent slump, so this post is some great motivation for me! I think some planning and organizing is just what I need to make it to Spring.
    (Living in western NY, 5 kids now, 4 girls and a boy ages 17mo to 10)
    Wendy from UVA :)


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