My house is a disaster. There, I’ve said it. As I was reading this month’s Good Housekeeping about clearing clutter, I glance around my kitchen and it was like the author was pointing a finger right at me. It’s not as if this is a brand new revelation. Of course it’s something I’ve always known, something that I’ve even spouted to some of my friends at times. But for some reason, this one article made me take a look around. A good look around.
Let’s face it, I was a messy child. I find sentiment in almost everything or assumed value (“I could use this for…”). My mother was always trying to get me to clean my room and then threw things away behind my back. And sadly, this is the same thing I’ve done for my daughter. Blaming her for not keeping her room clean, but not giving her a good example to follow (Note: My mother actually kept a clean house, not sure what happened to me). She even questioned me once, “Why should I clean my room when yours is a mess?”. And I believe I gave a song and dance about “do as I say and not as I do”. In my profession, I know that doesn’t work, but it didn’t stop me from trying to cover up my own personal flaws.
So as I sit here looking around, I see the shelf that was purchased to keep junk off of the kitchen table. The shelf that is covered in mail that hasn’t been opened and a ridiculous collection of reusable grocery bags. Those bags are sitting next to a crate of plastic grocery bags, because I never quite remember to take the reusable ones to the store. Then there’s the pile of cardboard boxes meant for recycling, however I probably only make it to the recycling bin once per month. You can imagine how that pile can grow. My attempts at being good for the earth are making a muck in my house. And then there is the collection of Easter candy on top of the refrigerator. Whose idea was it to collect candy for holidays? Seriously, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and sometimes Christmas always produce 2 piles of candy in my home, which I never let the kids eat. And since the economy is tight, the candy is usually the cheap kind that I don’t even want to eat. And so it sits.
I’ve made valiant attempts to try to free myself from the clutter. I donate clothes to Goodwill or whichever organization is willing to pick it up at least once a quarter. It’s a great tax deduction and the kids outgrow their clothes so quickly. Sadly the last time I had a scheduled pickup, they left some of the stuff on the porch…and it’s still sitting there. I know, trifling. Well something has got to give.
In recent years, I think I’ve excused away some of my clutter by knowing that I’m not completely alone. From visiting other people’s homes for work, I can say that almost all of the homes I’ve been to over the years have been corrupted by clutter. The few that weren’t the moms admitted to either having a maid or cleaning for our visit. And those that were immaculate, only a few, I kind of got scared that the kids weren’t getting a proper developmental experience. Go figure. I’ve been to the homes of well to do folks and homes in the projects where roaches weren’t given a second thought. The one thing these homes had in common was the kids that lived there. I went from having a cluttered apartment with only my stuff to a house with 4 people’s belongings.
I don’t have an active system for eliminating clutter, just an effort to continuously buy a shelf or a basket or new hangers to move around the clutter. So instead of doing the same thing and buying more fancy hangers, I’m going to do as the article says and determine if we “love it or use it” and make a plan to purge. They say “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” and right now I would probably ask for a rain check if God showed up at my door. Let’s see how much I can get accomplished in the next 3 months. Everything in my house needs to stand before the jury to determined if it is worthy of being saved or purged. Everything, except my lipgloss.