Clutter; it’s one of the things that bug so many of us. It must be, because I often see it as a headliner on magazines for homemakers. “Ten Tips for Decluttering” or “How to Get Rid of Clutter” are just some examples. Flory even brought one such magazine over to me one day in the waiting room of the play therapist. I thought she was trying to be funny, but it turned out she just figured I could use it! I guess it’s obvious when you need to declutter.
Clutter in the living room: stray toys, yesterday’s newspaper, folded or unfolded laundry on the couch, someone’s shoes in the middle of the floor, and so the list goes on.
Clutter in the kitchen: a sink full of dirty dishes, containers or boxes of dry goods (like cereals) and peanut butter jars left on the counter, unopened or opened mail on the counter, stray backpacks near the door to the garage, and dog toys in the middle of the floor.
Clutter in the bedrooms: unmade beds, dirty and/or clean clothes on the floor or on any surface, toys that haven’t been put away, trash that didn’t make it into a nearby trashcan, odds and ends that we “just aren’t sure where to put,” stray hair ties, books (those that someone is reading and those that have not been placed back on a shelf), Nerf ‘bullets’ and stray Lego pieces, and whatever else you can imagine.
Are you getting the picture? Sound anything like your house? It definitely sounds like mine! One of the biggest ironies in my life is to hate clutter, but to be unable to avoid it. The more cluttered my home is, the harder it is for me to even think straight. I take a look at Flory’s room and start to scold her for such a mess…and then I find that I can’t. I would be a hypocrite. My room is next door and my side of the room mocks me with piles of “stuff.”
One problem is having too much “stuff.” In a land of plenty, we have become overwhelmed with “stuff.” We find ways to organize and store it; then go to yard sales or shopping and end up with more “stuff.” Some of it is sentimental, some of it is in a pile to “deal with later,” some of it is “going to come in handy someday” and some of it, we say, is an “ongoing project.” Are we too attached to “stuff?”
This was the problem of the “Rich Young Ruler” in the Bible (Matthew 19:16-22). When he assured Jesus that he had kept all the commandments from his youth, Jesus told him he was lacking one thing in his search for eternal life; “… go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.” The Bible says that “… he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.”
Whenever I’ve come across tips for organizing and decluttering, I have found a few that always seem to be the basics. Here are the main ones that I usually see as great guidelines:
- Tip 1: Take one “room” at a time. Trying to tackle everything at once can be overwhelming to even the best homemaker. If you break it down into smaller tasks, it can be less intimidating.
- Tip 2: Sort through your “piles of clutter.” Try this. For each category, use a large box/garbage bag. The categories are: “Keep,” “Donate,” “Throw Out.” As you sort, each item HAS to go into one of these three categories. Not sure which one? A common phrase I’ve heard is: “When in doubt, throw it out!”
- Tip 3: Organize and Maintain. Have a “place for everything and everything in its place.” This is the most difficult part for me. However, there are many resources for the “organizationally challenged.”
-Local library – easy to find books on the subject
-Internet search – plenty of posts and blogs by experts on the subject
-Magazines targeted for homemakers (as in the one my daughter showed me)
-That friend you know who “always seems to have her home organized so well”
-My newest favorite source: Pinterest (Although it can be addictive, I’ve found some great resources there.)
Hopefully, you found something helpful here today. In my next post, I’ll use this theme to tackle the idea of “Clutter” in our spiritual lives.