The Complete(ish) List of 40 Days of Lent: 15 Minute Projects

Mar 15 2014

As you may know, we here at the 5 Kids blog (by which I mean Just Me, but whatever) are hosting 40 Days of Lent: 15 Minute Projects.

Not because any of us need more to do, but because OH MY WORD, we desperately need LESS. Less STUFF. Less to step on. Less frustration. Less drowning.

Yesterday, Sheila, a friend of the 5 Kids blog, contacted me to ask: Is there any really easy way to look back and see what the 15 minute projects were for the first days of Lent? I REALLY want to do these projects and have done a couple, but I want to catch up with the ones that I missed. I LOVE the 15 minute cleaning project idea, because EVERYONE has 15 minutes, (at least most of the time), right?

I wrote her back: Nope! This entire project is scattered and rather chaotic, like me. But that’s an excellent idea, Sheila.

And so, thanks to Sheila, I present to you…

Lent

The Complete(ish) List of 40 Days of Lent: 15 Minute Projects

By which I mean, I’ve compiled our Days of Lent thus far and will update this list for easy reference as we go through each day. I’ll also include links with each day so you know where to find the more complete explanations.

Ready?

Here we go.

Day 0: The EXPLANATION for 15 Minute Projects

This year, I’ve been thinking about the insignificant things that entangle me. The things that are pulling me beneath the water. The things that are depriving me of oxygen. What I’ve discovered is this:the things that are drowning me right now are the things.

ALL of the STUFF. 

And managing the stuff.

It’s killing me dead.

But I am TIRED. And handling All the Stuff feels overwhelming. And I’ve met me, so I know I can’t do Everything, all at once. Or even Everything, eventually.

Which is why I’m going to do little purging projects for Lent and to let that be enough.

Day 1: A Desk or a Table. On top or underneath. Whatever you think needs it the most.

Before:

photo 2 (75)

After:

photo 5 (18)

Day 2: A Bathroom Counter. Or a bathroom drawer. And I also wrote about Abandoning “All or Nothing” in Favor of Something:

I am, at heart, a Go Big or Go Home person. But I’m also, ever-so-slowly, learning the value in Not Going Home Quite Yet and Staying Out in the World to Do Something Small. Something tiny. Something good enough. Something. 

Before:

photo 1 (69)

After:

photo 2 (75)

Day 3: A Corner. One corner of one room. Any room you like. Because, no matter what Patrick Swayze said in Dirty Dancing, sometimes we do put baby in a corner. Baby and EVERYTHING ELSE. All the Things in corners!

Before:

photo 1 (69)

After:

photo 3 (52)

Day 4: Spend 15 Minutes on an Enormous, Overwhelming Pile of Crap and Then Quit even if there’s barely a noticeable difference.

Before:

photo 1 (69)

After:

photo 2 (75)

Sunday: REST

The 40 days of Lent don’t include Sundays. True story. That’s because, on Sunday, we rest. Of course, those of us with Too Much to Do find the concept of “rest” laughable. Which is why we’re spending our Sundays during Lent practicing rest for 15 minutes. 

Rest, however you define it.

For me, it was an entire cup of warm coffee all by myself, the quiet and time alone filling me with as much energy as the caffeine. For you, it might be calling a friend. Or writing a letter. Or reading a chapter of a trashy vampire novel. Or reading your Bible. Whatever it is, this is your excuse. Your reason to take 15 minutes, however you can find it – including locking yourself in the bathroom with noise cancelling headphones – and rest.

Before:

photo 1 (69)

After:

photo 2 (75)

Day 6: A Kitchen Cupboard

I picked the one with all the clunky stuff that frustrates me every time I try to get at it. Lift! Pull! Pry! And inevitably something breaks. Usually me. But I only use some of this stuff regularly, so this 15 minute purge was as much to get rid of ongoing frustration as it was to get rid of STUFF. Which is really what this whole 15 Minute Projects idea is all about, anyway.

Before:

photo 1 (70)

After:

photo 2 (76)

Day 7: A Toy Box

More importantly, this post includes the very best, FASTEST decluttering method I’ve ever found.

Before:

photo 2 (75)

After:

photo 1 (69)

Day 8: Small Area That Could Be Cute But Is Too Jam-Packed With STUFF

Before:

photo (86)

After:

photo 1 (71)

Day 9: A Bag of Clothes to Donate

Before:

photo 2 (79)

After:

 photo (85)

Day 10: A Box of Books to DonateI pulled mine from our main hallway. Where I piled books. MANY, MANY MONTHS ago. Because I was “reorganizing.” While my shelves looked MUCH better for my efforts, my hallway? Not so much.

Before:

photo (85)

After:

 photo (86)

Day 11: Check Your Work! We all know decluttering is but one battle in the War Against the Rising Tide of STUFF. We’re going to use today’s 15 minutes to go back over the past ten days’ worth of progress, straighten up each area, and get rid of the STUFF that’s creeping back in.

Sunday: RESTThe 40 days of Lent don’t include Sundays. True story. That’s because, on Sunday, we rest. Of course, those of us with Too Much to Do find the concept of “rest” laughable. Which is why we’re spending our Sundays during Lent practicing rest for 15 minutes. Rest, wherever you can find it.

photo 1 (69)

Day 12: Cleaning Up Stuff That Is Blocking You From Cleaning Up Other Stuff

You’ll recognize this spot from a previous 15 Minute Project. You needn’t work in the same area as a previous project. Any Stuff that’s blocking you from Other Stuff will do.

Before:

photo 1 (69)

photo 4 (33)

After:

photo 2 (75)

Day 13: A Surface. 15 Minutes decluttering any surface. I’m on a roll with the bedroom dresser, so that’s the one I picked.

Before:

photo 2 (75)

After:

photo 3 (52)

Day 14: A Task – Any Task – That Will Bring You JoyMy project was framing two pictures – one of my daughter as a werewolf and one of my sons as zombies – I’ve been meaning to frame for a LONG time, and hanging them on my newly christened Mommy’s Wall of Terror.

photo 1 (69)

Day 15: 15 Minute Bag Grab. Grab some garbage bags. Set your timer for 15 minutes. Gather unused clothes or linens. See how many bags you can fill in 15 minutes. I managed 3, and I’m going back for more!

photo (85)

Day 16: Fall Down on the Job. Just utterly. Do nothing, but pretend like you planned to do nothing. You know how you do stuff and then add it to the To Do list so you can cross it off? This is that thing. 

Day 17: Make Guacamole. Drink Beer. Sit in the Sun. Feel free to substitute food, beverage and sitting location as desired. 

Sunday: RESTThe 40 days of Lent don’t include Sundays. True story. That’s because, on Sunday, we rest. Of course, those of us with Too Much to Do find the concept of “rest” laughable. Which is why we’re spending our Sundays during Lent practicing rest for 15 minutes. Rest, wherever you can find it.

Day 18: Declutter Dresser Drawers. As many as you can purge in 15 minutes. I used this this decluttering method, dumping EVERYTHING from my dresser drawers into bags for donation, and then rescuing the items I wanted to keep.

Here’s one of the drawers Before:

photo 4 (34)

Honestly, I don’t even know what’s in there because I haven’t opened this drawer for years.

And this is the one I want to show you as the After:

photo 3 (52)

Because, hello!, folded clothes!

But this is what the rest of the drawers really look like After:

photo 2 (75)

Because, hello!, authenticity, and I’ve already confessed I don’t fold clothes. Ever.

Day 19: Give Away Something You’ve Been Hanging Onto That You Don’t Actually NeedLike a running vest. Or a parenting method. Or a rules-based faith. You pick; anything that frees you to let in Light and Love and Life will do. 

Day 20: Let’s say today, your kid has ear surgery. You know what? Give yourself a break and don’t do a 15 minute project. Just let it go. 

photo 1 (70)

Day 21: And let’s say today, your kid had surgery yesterday, and, although you imagined you’d have plenty of time to putter around the house, doing projects while the kid watched an enormous amount of screens in all their forms – phone, TV, Wii, computer, Grandpa’s iPad, GOOD GRIEF – you miscalculated. Your kid needs a little more Lay on Mommy time than you expected, and you’ve been doing this mommy gig long enough to know that’s a far more worthy use of time than decluttering will ever be.

Day 22: All that stuff you’ve collected for donation?? DONATE IT. Friendly tip: as you collect your donations, put them in the back of your car immediately. I used to designate a portion of the garage and the entry way for donations, assuming I’d become tired of tripping over them and would eventually take them to Goodwill, or wherever. NOPE; I can apparently trip over things indefinitely and still do nothing to move them along to new homes. Once I started putting stuff in the back of my car, it became infinitely easier to follow through on donating the donations. 

Before:

photo 4 (33)

After:

photo 5 (18)

P.S. They don’t let you donate children at Goodwill. Not even if you ask nicely.

Day 23: Take Down The Stuff You’ve Left Up For Too Many Months. This can be your kids’ homework on the fridge or the Christmas wreath on your front door (note to self: check front door) or, in my case, the birthday cards from October that should’ve come down in, oh, January or February at the latest, and also the table that’s been up since the Superbowl. Ahem.

Before: 

photo 3 (52)

After:

photo 3 (53)

And psst… if you decorating types have tips for this area, do tell! It’s, well, BORING, but I don’t know how to fix it. I kind of want to put the cards back up. Pfffftttt.

Sunday: RESTThe 40 days of Lent don’t include Sundays. True story. That’s because, on Sunday, we rest. Of course, those of us with Too Much to Do find the concept of “rest” laughable. Which is why we’re spending our Sundays during Lent practicing rest for 15 minutes. Rest, wherever you can find it.

Day 24: A Corner. AgainOne corner of one room. Any room you like. Because, no matter what Patrick Swayze said in Dirty Dancing, sometimes we do put baby in a corner. Baby and EVERYTHING ELSE. All the Things in corners!

I picked the corner of our Family Room, and it’s taking me 3 15 minute sessions to drill down on it, so I’m sticking with this one for Days 25 and 26, also.

Before:

photo 3 (53)

After #1:

photo 4 (33)

Day 25: See Day 24, or call this another Book Purge day, like Day 10, above. I tackled kids’ books. Great tip from Korie, my friend who’s a librarian: donate these to your local library. They’ll resell the books to raise funds for the library and its programs, which, honestly makes me feel SO much better about letting books go.

After #2:

photo 5 (18)

Day 26: See Day 24. 

After #3:

photo (85)

Day 27: Games! Everyone in my family likes games… except me. I play them under duress, usually after telling myself that Good Moms Play Board Games With Their Kids. Unfortunately for my kids, the Mom Guilt game is working less and less these days and I’m pretty happy for board games to be Greg’s thing. That said, our game shelves are woefully out of date, full of games the kids have outgrown, games we’ve never opened, and games that would be happier in new homes. Games we’re keeping? Those that are tried and true for our family. We recommend Ticket to Ride, Settlers, Risk, Sequence, Sorry, Boggle, Disney Scene It, Uno Attack, Scrabble, UpWords, Apples to Apples, Backgammon, Chess, Checkers, puzzles and all the decks of cards.

Before:

photo 2 (76)

After:

photo 1 (70)

Day 28: Check Your Work! This is a repeat of Day 11. We all know decluttering is but one battle in the War Against the Rising Tide of STUFF. We’re going to use today’s 15 minutes to go back over the past ten days’ worth of progress, straighten up each area, and get rid of the STUFF that’s creeping back in.

Day 29: Fall Down on the Job, like Day 16.  Just utterly. Do nothing, but pretend like you planned to do nothing. You know how you do stuff and then add it to the To Do list so you can cross it off? This is that thing. 

Sunday: RESTThe 40 days of Lent don’t include Sundays. True story. That’s because, on Sunday, we rest. Of course, those of us with Too Much to Do find the concept of “rest” laughable. Which is why we’re spending our Sundays during Lent practicing rest for 15 minutes. Rest, wherever you can find it.

Day 30: WE ARE 3/4 DONE! HOORAY! Today’s project is to Move a Chair. Or, if you’re really, really brave, a couch. And then Clean Under It. I’m only Chair Brave today.

Before:

photo 1 (69)

After:

photo (85)

Also, I ate the Tic Tacs. All of them.

Day 31: DON’T BURN DOWN THE HOUSE. Alternatively titled, Intend to Do Something But Then Do Something Else Because EMERGENCY. For example, I intended  to tackle ALL of the toy baskets while my kids were out, because, bless their hearts, they managed to refill to overflowing the one we decluttered on Day 7. Pffttt. But then, after I was halfway into task with crap spread, oh, everywhere, our lawnmower caught on fire. And, well, since it was right next to the house when it happened, and flames were shooting 5 or 6 feet in the air, and it had a full tank of gas, I decided to take a break to yell, “GET THE FIRE EXTINGUISHER,” and to grab my phone to call the fire department. Fortunately, the 3rd fire extinguisher Greg tried actually worked, so I didn’t have to call the fire department, after all, and – BONUS – our house didn’t burn down. HOORAY!

Before:

photo 1 (69)

During:

photo 2 (75)

After:

photo 3 (52)

P.S. Have a fire extinguisher. Make sure it’s regularly serviced. OK? OK.

 Day 32: Do the Thing You Meant to Do Yesterday Before the Lawnmower Caught on Fire. 

Before:

photo 1 (69)

After:

photo (85)

Day 33: Finish Doing the Thing You Started Doing Yesterday After the Day the Lawnmower Caught on Fire. 

 After:

 This is actually done. I’ll get a picture on here eventually.

Day 34: Take a Break. My break included ditching my family for the beach with friends. I meant to do Lenten projects ahead of time to prepare, but I didn’t. I feel OK about that.

photo (86)

Day 35: Fix Something Rather Than Replacing It. Anything. Glue that broken toy back together or the sole back on your kid’s shoe. Fix the hole in that t-shirt you love. Sew a button back on a shirt or the tail that fell off your daughter’s favorite stuffed horse. I took the bunny slippers I stole from my daughter and claimed as my own and replaced the ripped soles with felt. I LOVE these slippers, but they were at the end of their life. New soles and a trip through the washer, though, and they are reborn. Kind of like a mama who gets to spend a little time at a beach house.

photo 4 (33)

photo 5 (18)

Sunday: RESTThe 40 days of Lent don’t include Sundays. True story. That’s because, on Sunday, we rest. Of course, those of us with Too Much to Do find the concept of “rest” laughable. Which is why we’re spending our Sundays during Lent practicing rest for 15 minutes. Rest, wherever you can find it.

 

Stay tuned for more 15 Minute Projects.

I’ll update this space as we add to our list.