Friday, April 8, 2011

On Clutter

Every other Wednesday the lovely Immelda and her assistant descend upon our house and do all the deep cleaning that's needed.  I usually try to tidy up a bit before she comes to make it easier for her to clean (and not to embarrass myself too much).  I go to the office that day, so it's always nice to come home after school and have cleared counters, made beds and sparkling bathrooms.  Inevitably, the floors get dirty again, school papers and mail pile up on the counters and random pairs of shoes scatter the house, but for those first few hours it's heaven.

I've been thinking a lot today about clutter both internal and external.  Around the house, I know we'd all feel better if the house was more organized.  My office/family computer room is a mess.  Snow boots, pants and gloves are still piled up on the floor in there.  Boxes from my office at work are still on the floor awaiting my eventual lugging in.  My desk itself is cluttered with a giant paper cutter, art work from the boys, random pieces of paper and sadly the huge pile of sympathy cards we received from friends and family.  Don't even get me started on the dining room and living room.  Each have corners piled with papers, random bins (crayons, legos, tech decks, mini football helmets) and totally useless junk that I just can't get organized to dump (seriously, there are 4 giant cans of pineapple juice from E's science fair project in my dining room).

All of our bedrooms are in a similar situation.  D and L's room isn't too bad but it's a constant battle to keep clothes in drawers, toys in bins and those cursed pokemon cards from overtaking the floor.  The girls room really needs more organization.  E has taken over most of the room and is very neat but with limited space and a messy inclination, M's section of the room is a mess.  Their situation is difficult too because they have a small closet that is again dominated by E.  Our room is huge and an absolute nightmare.  We actually have a lovely sitting room off our room with built-in bookshelves and it is currently piled with dusty books, the litter box, an old couch, my scrap booking stuff and wrapping paper everywhere.  I can't write about my's too depressing.  The basement, both play areas and the storage are messy.  The garage is a disaster.

I had these grand plans about how organized  I was going to be before the girls moved in.  Now granted, we did have to organize enough to move bedrooms, make enough space in the storage area, and room in the garage for their bikes, etc., but the vision in my well-intentioned head, definitely does not reflect reality. I make excuses as to why it is this way....  1.  I'm too busy (true but the hour I spend watching Top Chef could be used to clean up my office).  2.  We just have too much junk (true, but we also kinda like our junk and I can't imagine myself tossing any of the books or toys--materialistic maybe, but honest).  3.  The kids should do more around the house to keep their own spaces clean, etc. (again, true but it would take effort to organize them all).

The thing is, I think this physical clutter is also effecting my mental and emotional clutter.  I really think that if our living space had more organization it would trickle down in other areas.  I'd be a little calmer and maybe not always be panicked about what I'm not doing when I'm laying on the couch watching The Real Housewives on Bravo (did I really just admit that?!?).  Maybe I wouldn't always be worried about what E thinks about our messy house and constantly feel compared to her mom who was known to vacuum at 6am while vacationing at the beach.  Maybe it would have a calming effect on all the kids and reduce some of the tension..  From what I've been reading, organization would definitely help M.

So here's the catch.  There is just so much to do, I feel paralyzed.  I practically don't have that much time or energy.  It would probably also mean a little financial investment on bins, shelving, etc. which is not going to go over too well with the hubby given the expense of the girls and the fact that he works for the federal government and may not get paid.  We also as a larger family have to clean out my sister's house before the renters move in at the end of June (another long post of that later...ugh, to say the least).

So, any suggestions are welcome.  How can I jump start some spring cleaning around here?  Do you think your physical space affects your mental state?  Do you have any organizational tips that might inspire to get my rear out of gear?


  1. My friend has been doing one project a week and posting on her blog: She is definitely a high achiever but I found it motivating.

  2. You certainly know how the clutter around my house affects me. :oP

    I would say to just take it one room, one space at a time. And, you need to be ruthless. That will help. If you haven't used it, played with it, touched it in the past month (three months, six months, you decide), get rid of it. Donate it. Lent is a time of alms giving, right? In our house, we take that to mean unused, but nice items as well as monetary donations. We like our things. Heck, we LOVE our things, but sometimes, there are SO many things we can't see to play with them.

    When I was doing to big reorganize for the carpet install, I got rid of SO much stuff. And, the thing is, we don't miss it--any of it. We still have SO much.

    I donated a TON to thrift and charity, some was freecycled, and some was simply put, taken to the dump. But, getting rid of all that extra stuff was SO freeing. I felt as if this HUGE weight was lifted.

    Once you've lighted your load, so to speak, take a trip to the Container Store or IKEA and get things that can get you organized. IKEA is great because they're so stinkin' cheap. :o) Or, if you can't do that, repurpose those items you have around your house that you can use.

    When my external is in shape, my internal feels loads loads loads better. :o)

  3. I was inspired yesterday afternoon to finally take all the snow stuff back down to the basement and start on my office!

    We did clear out a lot of toys and stuff before the girls moved in, but it was all just replaced with the girls stuff :) It's more about having the time and right space for everything. Sometimes it's just easier to dump it on the dining room table. Since sports were all cancelled today I think I'll grab a trash bag and go from room to room and grab stuff that I know we don't need, nobody else will need and that just needs to go. It's a start! :)

  4. I feel much calmer when the house is organized. I like clear surfaces and I like to know what is in every drawer. I hate wasting time looking for things. It's hard to do, but I feel better when I make the effort.

    I do what I call a barium sweep (geeky Star Trek reference). I start with a room at one end of the house and get everything out of it that shouldn't be there. I get it cleaned up the way I like and then move into the next room and do the same thing. I combine that with something a friend of mine calls the OHIO method, which stands for 'Only Hold It Once.' If I have to make up my mind about an object (pitch it, give it away, or find it a permanent spot) before I can put it down that helps.

    Good luck!