Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Clutter: My Nemesis

I hate clutter.  I really do.  I love to purge and organize--when I have time.  And that's next to never, it seems, because homeschooling takes time--time which perhaps I'd spend purging and organizing if the kids were in school.  I think many other homeschool moms accomplish these tasks during the summer.  Living at summer camp for ten weeks every year makes it difficult for me to do it that way.

I grew up in a cluttery house.  And that's okay.  Some people find comfort in clutter.  That's fine.  I'm not here to judge.  I simply don't happen to be one of those people.  Instead of finding comfort in clutter, clutter finds the crazy in me.  And it ain't pretty.

However, on more than one occassion, I've found myself thinking, "Wow...this is a really nice box/container/egg crate.  I bet I could use it for something...."  SCREECH.  Grinding halt.  Okay, so I may not like clutter, but I definitely carry a recessive gene for clutter-comfort.  So, I need some help sometimes.

I came across an e-book the other day and downloaded it today: 31 Days to Clean: Having a Martha House the Mary Way.  It's more about the why of having a clean house than striving for perfection.  We clean our homes as a way to show love to our families.  When I get all crazy from the clutter or start cleaning in an angry frenzy, then I am definitely NOT showing love to my family.  And it's not the clutter that's the real problem.  It's my attitude.  See, as a first-born child, perfectionism runs in my veins.  Sometimes I feel like I need to wait for the perfect time to accomplish a task (which is almost never), or it has to be done perfectly, so the job only ever gets half done.  I also have trouble delegating, because I usually think I can do the job better.  This slight obsession leads to procrastination, discouragement, and/or exhaustion.  Does this mean I give up on de-cluttering and cleaning?  Oh, I wish.  ; )  No.  It's more about letting go of the perfectionism, and keeping an actual mission statement of why I want my home to be clean and organized to be at the forefront of my mind.  In fact, that's the first assignment--making the mission statement, printing it out, and posting it where I'll see it often.  So, after I get the kiddos to bed tonight, I'll be working on that. 

I'll keep you posted.  I think it'll be an interesting journey.  And when I'm done, I'll be all ready for company, so come on over!  = )


  1. enjoyed this post. You're (still) a good writer.
    When two people get married it can happen that they come from different places on the clutter spectrum. Thirty nine years later we're still working on equilibrium.

  2. Thanks. = )

    I'm not sure whether to be ENcouraged or DIScouraged by "thirty-nine years later we're still working on equilibrium." ; )

    Honestly, it's not so much Dave's clutter. Sure, he's got a couple of areas which I never dust because I can't get to a flat surface, but I just figure, "Hey, less dusting to do." Having four children is not the best way to run a clutter-free campaign. However, I'd much rather have the kids with all of their stuff, than no children without stuff.

    Besides, I have to point a finger at yours truly as well.

  3. I know what you mean Jenny. I'm a first born too so I have the perfectionism issue but it only seems to be in certain areas. My house is not one of them. I feel like I'm decluttering and cleaning all the time but it never gets done and I know that takes time away from my girls. I've been working on getting my priorities straight but never seem to get it just right. Plus, this issue stops me from being hospitable. I'd love to have people over but I just can't right now. I always say, don't ever call me and say you'll be over in 5 minutes because then I will be running around the house like a chicken with my head cut off and my family will suffer from my frenzy. One thing I learned recently is that this is a pride issue for me. I never thought about it like that but it is. Being scared of what people think of me stops me from doing a lot of stuff. That is one thing I'm sure God will be working with me on. :-)

  4. Great point, Surina, about the pride issue. Maybe I should've written, "Drop by anytime this month to see how I'm doing!" at the end there. = )

    When I call you, I'll make sure to give you *ten* minutes then--at least. ; )

  5. For what it's worth, your house has looked wonderful to me everytime I have been there.

    Ten hours is more like it. :-)

    I just need to get better at being myself and if people don't like me because of my faults, that's ok. But that's very hard for me.

  6. My house is pretty clean, except when it isn't. LOL One thing I'm getting better about (but it's still an ongoing process) is being okay with people dropping in at an unclean moment. I mean, I always acted like it's fine, but in reality I was secretly cringing. Now...I'm still cringing a little, but I'm also feeling more peaceful about it. Like, "Okay fine. Yes, there is a woman behind the curtain, pulling the levers and pushing the knobs, and now you've seen her. Let's move on and have coffee together."

  7. Oh, Surina, I wanted to clarify something. Perfectionism is something which can actually *lead* to a messy house. That's what I meant above by waiting for the perfect time that never seems to happen. It's called being a "defeated perfectionist".

    Ditching my perfectionistic attitude will, in reality, *help* how my home looks. I'll be able to do-what-I-can-for-the-present. I usually have 15 minutes lying around. I can clean out a drawer or dust the media shelves (or do some other small job) instead of waiting for a good solid hour to deep-clean the entire living room. KWIM? I was inpired by a quote lately, which has to do with writing, but it can apply to many things:

    "There is no perfect time to write. There is only now." ~ Barbara Kingsolver

    Doing a few 15 minute jobs well (read, "not to perfection"), will add up to a clean corner...clean room...clean home.

    It'll also be easier for me to delegate. When I don't expect perfect results, then I'm more ready to have the kiddos chip in. I can appreciate their efforts, even though they don't have as much cleaning experience as I do. And really, how will they *get* that experience, unless I provide it? It's a catch-22, you see.

  8. OK, I see what you're saying. I do ok with the 15 minute jobs but never seem to make time for the deep cleaning. Another issue is that my family doesn't do a very good job picking up after ourselves because we are in too much of a hurry or shall I say laziness.

    I have no problem delegating. My girls help with laundry, dishes and sweeping, among other things. Maybe I delegate too much.