Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom – Backsliding

Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom


Backsliding. What a dreadful word! Are you a decluttering backslider? Recently I have been.

I discovered that if I’m not activitely moving forward in my decluttering, I can go into a holding pattern – for a while – but then I start sliding backwards. Dreadful! I came too far to go back now!

I’ve been decluttering for three years now. It’s a habit and a lifstyle, but just like with any other long-term habit or hobby, sometimes my interested wanes. I don’t go and buy out the store and start recluttering, thank goodness. My backsliding starts a bit more sneakily: the house slowly gets messier and less picked up, until it starts to look…well not all the way cluttered but a lot less lovely than it should.

Here are some examples (my own personal walk of shame)

  • A gift bag from Audra’s birthday in August stayed on the coffee table until the end of September.
  • I bought a shelving unit in August. I loaded it with books, then took some away to make it look a bit more decorative. The books that I removed from the shelves are still sitting on the coffee table.
  • Also in August, we used a big decal from Home Depot to cover a clear window to make it look etched, thereby creating privacy. Half the roll wasn’t use and is still sitting right where I put it when we finished the job.
  • I forgot to write my blog two weeks ago – decluttering isn’t on my mind.

What did I do to get myself out of my slide? I started by putting away the gift bag and picking up the tissue paper that the cats had spread around the living room. Then I decluttered the pantry. I know that wasn’t on my list above, but it was messy in there, and it had been bothering me. I only got rid of four things: one trashed, two given to a friend, and one intentionally used up that night. A couple days later I straightened the linen closet, which mostly involved refolding and tidying, but also involved taking four flat pillows, cutting them open, and making them into two. Wow! That felt good! By tackling some large but very easy projets, I was successful, felt energized, and it helped me to get back on track. No more backsliding for me!

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter a domestic tool ~ Perhaps an item for working in the kitchen or the garage.

Today’s Declutter Item

Playing Cards

Eco Tip for the Day

Own less things. This way when something breaks you will be more inclined to fix it immediately because you need it rather than just utilising an alternative. Repairing things rather than just throwing them away is obviously better for the environment. (Thank you Sanna for the inspiration for this Eco Tip)

“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

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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  1. The good thing about having a home that isn’t cluttered, is that it doesn’t take long at all to get it back up to par if you take a few days or weeks off. It is kind of like climbing stairs. You progress step by step, but if you fall back, you don’t fall all the way down the steps. You just fall one step at a time. Great post! I will find something I have ignored and take care of it right away! I have a few things that need to be donated in the garage that have sat there for a couple of weeks waiting for more to join them. Maybe now is the time to drop them off!

    • I can relate to your garage Spendwisemom. I have had a few things out there that have been there for months awaiting relisting on ebay and or making decision on how I am going to get rid of some of them ~ that is sell, donate or offer to friends. Well this week I am simply over their existence out there and I am acting on it. Two items have sold on ebay. A couple are going to the thrift store, one I offered to an acquaintance, one went in with my daughters stuff and that about does it. That freed up a few photos that have been languishing in my ‘decluttered pics’ file on the computer. They will be appearing here soon. Yay, relief, I love to see empty space on the garage shelves.

  2. Uh,uh, this post is a wake up call for me! I haven’t been decluttering for the last two weeks, and unfortunately a lot of new stuff has entered our home in that time. Our baby girl was born on the first of october and I just havent felt on topof things. I did start baging up the clothes she has ALREADY (!) outgrown for a baby clothes sale in november, so I guess it is a start. But I am gratefull that I did a lot of decluttering beforehand as keeping the place livable had been so much easier than it would have been before.
    We even got a few compliments from the caretakers (our system is that after giving birth a certified caretakers from a organisation comes to your home to take care of mom and baby for the first 8 days, it may sound weird for people from other countries but it was great!) and from the visiting nurse that it was so easy to maintain a healthy clean home, not something they usually see in small apartments with a newborn.
    Starting tomorrow I will start doing the one thing a day routine again to stay on top of things!

    • Hunter_xs – congratulations! How lovely a little girl! And I do like the idea of the certified caretakers. I think you have the biggest excuse of all to be on a break from decluttering!

    • Congratulation Hunter_xs, a new baby girl, how wonderful. My baby girl has just past her fitness test and is joining the Air Force next month. Time flies so make the most of it.

      I think you are allowed a little backslide when a new baby comes into the house. Good for you for not allowing it to go on for too long. I am glad the caretaker complimented your organised home, it is always nice to hear to receive positive feedback for your efforts. This always spurs one on the greater things.

    • Congratulations!

    • great news – congratulations from here too!

    • Congratulations, Hunter_xs. Girls are so much fun to dress. I like that idea of caretakers coming in. How wonderful.

  3. The own less things I agree with – though I hit a semi snag the other day. My brother has keys to my house (as we share a car, so sometimes the key has to be picked up). Anyway, he texts to say ‘I’m cold, can I borrow a jumper’ (which I read as ‘hoodie’ as they are cross gender). So I offer him one I know is right at the entry – my water polo hoodie.

    It continued to be cold, and I realised, I only had one other hoodie – which is usually ‘enough’, but with my polo hoodie still at his house… well I felt anxious. I always wear the polo hoodie to training or a game when it’s cold – so I had to go ‘out of uniform’. Hardly a huge issue for anyone but me, but it realised I have ‘just enough’ hoodies – though in that instance another one more might have made me more relaxed at the loan…

  4. Colleen, I’m happy to have inspired your eco tip.

    Cindy, I can relate to your post – I’m backsliding all the time, not so much with decluttering (as in “getting rid of stuff”), but for cleaning/picking up it’s a constant up and down for me. The good thing is that it really doesn’t get as bad as it was with all the clutter around. These days I CAN pick up and clean quite fast, WHEN I do it after all. I will do a quick 10-minutes pick up before bedtime now – it’s necessary for sure.

    • good idea. I had visitors over, we had dinner and some beers and the living room needs 5 minutes too. I will do that right now, and then go to bed decluttered and with a nice cup of tea. winter is arriving, brrrr….

  5. great post, Cindy!
    I have experienced something similar during the summer, when I spent a lot of time outside, been out of town or abroad, and had visitors over, and then just been busy learning and reading a lot. Decluttering wasnt on my mind either, because I didnt spend much time online, so I didnt follow the blog as deliberatly as usual.
    I somehow found my way back, I declutter on a daily basis now, and I know now, that even when I have my mind somewhere else, I can come back into the game again.

  6. Cindy, I actually really admire this post. Sometimes we just lose our momentum or need a break or circumstances have gotten in the way. Sometimes we might even just not be in the mood to do our 10 mins a day. But think back to your pre-decluttering days and admire the progress you have made since then.

  7. I think that sometimes you just need a break. When I take a break from the decluttering process and refocus on it after a little time passes, I feel that I look at things with a different and newly energized perspective. With all of the hard work that has been done, I know most importantly that going back to the way it was before is not an option, so no matter how much I let it go for a little while, I will never let it be as cluttered as before. Also, as you mentioned, if over time it bothers you that things are not how you want them to be, it shows that the new uncluttered home is what is preferred over the old way in the home. Great post, Cindy!

  8. I think everyone backslides. I like to think of it as a two steps forward, one step backward process. It makes me feel less guilty about the backsliding.

  9. I can confidently say that I have never done any backsliding but I would admit to being stagnant occasionally. Even though I post an item a day some days I declutter several items because it makes sense to do so. After a while these excess items can start to back up for posting so I am able to take a short break from decluttering. Usually this comes in handy if I am going to be away on vacation but occasionally I take a mini break just because I can. That doesn’t mean I am not constantly on the lookout for clutter though, it just means if clutter isn’t obvious I don’t go looking for it or maybe it isn’t convenient to deal with certain things immediately so I don’t bother. After a few days of this I am usually keen to get back to it.
    I do however have the advantage of not working outside the home or having growing children in the home.

    • And Colleen, you have the BIG advantage of being a very tidy person :-). Putting things away seems to be just so natural to you. Clutter as in out of place things is a problem though for many. I struggle with it often enough. Always have.
      The less clutter (as in superfluous things), the more things just seem to fall into place – but they still don’t do it all by themselves 😉
      Well, I’m with Willow. As long as there is progress overall I put up with being messy from time to time as long as I get back on track soon enough. It’s very good though to have people like you to look up to who think places really don’t need to be chaotic ever. It’s a good perspective. It’s something to look up to and be encouraged by. And maybe it is even a position to be in myself. One day.

  10. Thank you for all the warm wishes! I’ve got a little catching up to do here and in the decluttering department, but I’m strting to feel like a real person again instead of a sleepy milkmachine, so I think I’ll be fine. At the moment I’m just really happy that I have been decluttering for a while now, as it is always awkward to have a stranger come into your home, but atleast I only got a few where can I find this and this item questions and she thought the cleaning was really simple. I must say that I felt a bit of pride in my sleepy state of new mom for the compliments we got for our home, not just for you babe. 😉

    If I remember correctly another reader is also expecting a baby ( I’m sorry I don’t recall who) And I would just like to say: keep at the decluttering as long as you can and the reward will be a blissfully unstressed first few weeks. As maintaining a nice home is easy and you don’t have to worry about anything but you little one as partner, nurse, visitors can keep things in order.

  11. I’ll do my very best – and suck up your advice over the next few months as I still have some (desperately needed) time, until …
    However, I’ve already come to the the conclusion that I just won’t get everything done and that I won’t stress out about it too much as long as I make progress. The goal is to have the areas we access/use frequently (kitchen, wardrobes, our rooms in general) as decluttered as possible and to put things that are already decluttered but need to be sold and things that we are not sure about but don’t use frequently away in an orderly fashion to deal with it when there is time/energy.
    Once the apartment is “set” I hope to get the boyfriend on board to take over more household responsibilities. So far he has somewhat refused or at least been reluctant to “really move in” as he still sees things very much in mine and his categories. (how convenient for him that apparently the whole kitchen, the washing machine and the dishwasher all fall into my category …) I know, he is a bit special (or even very special)… I had hoped things would happen more naturally but well, apparently not with him. However, as soon as all things will be put in the places where they will definitely stay for a while I’ll make him learn where things are and how things are done in our household as I will definitely need his help more and more and need him to do things without me asking for them or explaing every detail over and over again. After half a year of living together and with a baby on the way his “puppy protection” is over 😉
    Though I am only somewhere midway on my way to being decluttered I am so happy I have already started decluttering some time ago and have gotten so much better and more ruthless at it by now. Life changes seem so much less scary and more like opportunities with this new state of mind.