Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom
I’ve been short of both time and inspiration this week, so I dug up a post from the archives. This one was written in early 2011, eight months after I began daily decluttering.
Perhaps if you’re like my mother – always organized, always together, the focused Energizer Bunny – you won’t understand this post, this post about why my house fell into complete disarray and stayed there for about 8 years. Well, perhaps not why it fell into disarray, but why it stayed that way, year after hateful year.
Our house was almost literally always under construction, with my husband and I as the main worker bees. I had two young children. I find housework boring. All those reasons are true. But plenty of people offered to dig me out of my hole, and I had a housekeeper every other week for several years. It would take me hours to “clean” before Ellie came to clean – mostly I was stacking things and tucking them away before her arrival so she could find the floor and the counters.
My reason, in part, why nothing stayed clean was anxiety, unease, discomfort. When I cleaned, I knew without a doubt, that the mess would come right back, right away. I felt uncomfortable and almost unhappy when the house surfaces were clean and the junk was piled up tidily. It was like I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. I knew, as sure as I know that water rolls downhill, that all that stuff was going to re-emerge, and sooner rather than later. It felt useless and hopeless to bother to tidy up – so why bother at all? I wasn’t working then, and once both of the kids were in school, I carried a secret fear that my husband might “fire” me as a homemaker and send me back to work because I was doing such a lousy job. Truth be told, I would have fired myself!
Besides my defeatist attitude, another thing that kept the house from being clean and staying clean was that I never organized or decluttered all the way. I would load the dishwasher but not wipe the counter. I would pay the bills but leave the stamps and envelopes out. We joked that no one in our house understood the word “away” as in “I’ll put that away.” 90% of the job done was 100% good enough for me. Why did I only go part of the way – laziness, habit, the feeling of wasted time I got from completing the job?
How did I overcome my cleaning anxiety? The kids getting older and the remodelling finally being finished both helped, that’s for sure. I became determined to know where everything was supposed to go. I decided that I wanted to be extremely familiar with the word “away.” And if I didn’t know where something’s “away” was, I would figure it out.
Although I was already on my way toward cleanliness and organization, I really started my decluttering on June 1, which is when I found 365lessthings. Since then, I have decluttered over 1,600 things. I could really see a difference after a couple of months, and so could the rest of the family. My husband, who had been secretly and not-so-secretly longing for a lovely home was praising. When one child’s room would look great, the other girl would ask for help with her room too. The ease of decluttering – and the reward – became exponential. Now when I look at the island (my black hole) and think, “That looks awful,” I know that it will take me 10 minutes to completely tidy it, and I remember that every surface in the house, plus half the furniture, used to look that way.
So remember there is hope for all of us no matter how deep in the quagmire of clutter we have sunk. You can claw your way out one item at a time, one day at a time one area at a time no matter how you got there. If I can do it so can you, you just have to get started. Good luck and happy decluttering.
Today’s Mini Mission
Choose and begin to use up an item that you have more than enough varieties of. This could be something in your pantry, your bathroom cabinet, your store of cleaning products…
Today’s Declutter Item
Here are some items that I discovered while doing a mini mission of clearing out items in my laundry cupboard. These leather care product were too dry to be useful and in the case of the shoe nugget already replaced by new product. How have I managed to miss this over the last 2+ years of decluttering.
Eco Tip of The Day,
Investigate product reviews before making purchases in an attempt to get it right the first time and not find yourself back at the store buying a similar but hopefully better alternative soon after. This isn’t foolproof of course but the more armed with information you are the better choice you are likely to make.
“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” Brother David Steindl-Rast