Monday, March 8, 2010

Before the Storm: Plotting and Planning

Today I will do two things: First, I will show you Burgundy's current bedroom state. Warning: This is not pretty. For starters, remarkable though she is, Burgundy is a teenager, and the state of her room reflects that. There is a crap-ton of stuff in her room, most of it where it should not be. Second, I will lay out our plan to reset her room to something usable.

First, the view from the doorway. I'm not going to give you individual commentary on every photo. Instead, just note the general lack of organization, the liquor-box-based storage system, the haphazard attempts at creating a cohesive look universally marred by half-finished projects and too much hobby paraphernalia. The pictures begin at the doorway and proceed from that view moving to the right all the way around the room.

I honestly have no idea why I expect her to be able to function well in this room. I get  a little panicky and out of control feeling just taking the pictures. And she has to live in this to manage her schoolwork, band plans, Girl Scout projects, and drama/choir endeavors at the church. Poor kid.

We're only going to work on this for 30 minutes to 1 hour per day. We're doing it slowly for a variety of reasons. First, I don't want either one of us to burn out. Second, she has a heavy school workload, and I want her to have breathing time in the evenings between or after the school and bedroom work. Third,  I've identified inadequate sleep as a major part of Burgundy's attention and organization issues. I want her in bed by 9:00 with lights out by 9:30. That means we have to wrap up our day - dinner, dishes, housework, homework, and self-care - by 8:30. That's a lot of work to pack into afternoon and evening.

So this is how the plan will shake out day by day:

Perform a bare-necessities assessment of what she needs to function day to day. Things like makeup, pajamas, her few favorite bottoms and tops will be moved into the guest room for the next couple of weeks. That room also has been gutted of distractions and extras to make way for Burgundy to simply function while we work on her room. It currently has a bed, a desk, a bookshelf (mostly empty), a dresser with mirror, and an antique chest of drawers. I will rehang the curtains that Julia took down, and I might spend a few minutes with Burgundy rearranging the room to meet her needs.

Bring in and set up multiple small U-Haul boxes. Very carefully begin sorting her stuff into these. Wall hangings in one box, books in another box, stuff she needs to give back to other people in another box, clothes she wears in another, and clothes she doesn't wear in another, etc. Each box will be clearly labeled and stored in the hall linen closet with the label facing out. I don't know how long this step will take, but I am committed to removing everything from the room in an organized, controlled way. I don't want precious photos to get thrown out with unwanted scrapbooking supplies, so the real goal of this is to organize the clutter in a way that will allow us to carefully sort through it later. Because this step could take two days and could take ten, I'm calling it Tuesday - Thursday, but it could be over sooner or take longer.

Friday (or whenever the room is reduced to furniture only):
Perform an assessment of existing room setup, including furniture. Make any reasonable repairs (e.g., the gap between drawers in Burgundy's long dresser seen in photo above), assess what furniture needs to be replaced including the expected cost and practicality of replacement. For example, Burgundy wants a Murphy bed and has for some time. I have plans for one and think I could make it without too much trouble; however, I expect it to cost a couple hundred dollars. While $200 isn't much, I'm not sure we want to spend that money right now.  The assessment also should evaluate what works and does not work for Burgundy. We'll do this using the guidelines laid out in Julie Morgenstern's Organizing from the Inside Out. I think I'll write a full review of the book later. It's a very good book.

At this point, we'll implement the findings from OftIO where it's practical in Burgundy's guest room. Does she need better lighting? More bookshelf space? A file drawer at hand?

With assessment in hand, I will sit with Mark and look at whether and how we can replace or upgrade any of Burgundy's furniture. The assessment also should include a map of Burgundy's room, to scale, with to-scale furniture cut-outs. She and I will work together to decide how best to place the furniture in the room to optimize space and promote organization. This might involve buying smaller furniture, though I doubt it.

Saturday (or after completion of furniture assessment):
Do whatever shopping needs done. Likely a trip to Ikea at minimum. This almost always takes two hours, so if I only go shopping and call it a day, I'll consider this task a success. If it does fall on a Saturday and I'm not too pooped at the end of the trip, I'll come home and engage the furniture assembly/disassembly process.

This is my goal for the first week of work, and this is where I see potential for it all to go to hell in a hand basket. At the end of next week, we leave for a spring break Hill Country trip, so I will simply describe the rest of this in steps.

Step 5: Complete furniture assembly. Place in room using the completed room map as a guide. Ensure Burgundy is pleased with the final layout. Make any necessary adjustments.

Step 6: Move Burgundy and her bare essentials back into her room. Have her live in the room with only these essentials for two - four weeks. Take note of any needed adjustments in the written assessment we completed earlier. Of course, we'll make the adjustments in real life, too, but I suspect the plan will be very useful to Burgundy later in life. I intend for her to keep it.

Step 7: Once we've gone at least a week, maybe longer, without making any adjustments, we'll begin going through the boxes. We'll evaluate each item that comes out of each box. Love it? Hate it? Hate it but need it? How to deal with these items will be driven by the plan. When we open the wall decorations box and put them back on the wall, we'll take a week to evaluate. Are they distracting her from school work? Do they soothe her at night? Did she decide to keep something that, once on the wall, makes her cringe?

Each thing will be an intentional decision. The whole process will happen slowly and step 7 could take months. But I think it's a very important step to teaching Burgundy to honor herself exactly as God has created her by taking care of her mind and body through her environment.


  1. Good luck...can't wait to see how it turns out!

  2. I can't wait to see how this turns out. How fun!!

  3. my daughter is a preteen so are you telling me this is what I have to look forward to, aren't periods and bras enough. :) Good Luck with your project

    Erica @But Mommy...

  4. thanks guys! Erica, the good news is that Miss B is really excited about this. I can't imagine trying to do this with a recalcitrant child.