One year ago, in a moment of utter frustration with the cluttered state of my house, I started this blog in an effort to clean things up a bit. It was a busy year. I started with a baby who quickly became a very active toddler, two older kids who don't care if their bedrooms are messy and a husband who has serious pack rat tendencies. I had a lot of energy for the project in the beginning, but as the months wore on, lost some of it. Overall, I feel like I made decent progress. My house is less cluttered and I learned a lot along the way. Here's a summary of what I learned about cleaning, parenting, husbands and writing a blog.
1. Decluttering is not a one-time event. Decluttering needs to become a life-long habit. I think this is a stumbling block for a lot of would-be declutterers. I know it was for me. I used to think that if I just spent a weekend or a month cleaning out the crap and organizing, then all would be tidy and neat forever. This is not so. It takes repeated effort to maintain a decluttered home. To be honest, I had already grasped this knowledge long before I started this blog, but it really was a light-bulb moment for me once I got it.
2. When you make a commitment to declutter, you can't assume your spouse is going to go along for the ride. My husband is a true pack rat. While he is definitely on board with my decluttering in theory, he's not quite there in practice. It's really hard for him to throw things away. He agonizes over each and every piece of clutter that he picks up. I'm not sure how to teach him to declutter. I'm not even sure it's possible. I do know that we still need to declutter more in our utility room and garage. He needs to help with that since it's mostly his stuff that's filling up the spaces. I know I can't change him, but I do want to clear out a bit more clutter in these areas.
3. Children can be taught to declutter, but it takes repetition. My kids respond best to changes in cleaning strategy. They get bored with the same old cleaning routines. I understand completely. I get bored with the same cleaning routines, too. To get them to take a bit of responsibility for their own messes, I've had to be creative. I've set the timer for 15 minutes for them, done a 5 at 5 quick declutter and made cleaning check lists. I think I'm going to explore this area a bit more in the next year and keep working on teaching them to clean and declutter. It's an important skill for children to learn.
4. If I take a day or two off from cleaning, the house is shot to hell. Excuse my language, but this is one of the major cleaning frustrations that I think most parents deal with. Anytime I'm sick or have a busy day that doesn't leave time for cleaning, things seem to fall apart. Dishes still get dirty, the bathroom still gets used, toys still get played with and the dog still sheds. None of it goes away until I deal with it. Trying to do at least basic cleaning everyday helps keep the damage to a minimum.
5. It's always helpful to have positive support. This is where I get all mushy. I wouldn't have gotten half as much decluttering done if it wasn't for you! My readers are awesome! Thank you all for the positive comments, the supportive e-mails and for continuing to read my blog! I am sincerely grateful for every one of you.
So, where do I go from here? The house isn't quite as decluttered as I hoped it would be after a year, but it's better than it was. I want to focus on cleaning up the garage and utility room a bit more this year. I also need to repeat the decluttering in some areas. I think all the bedroom closets, the toys and some of the kitchen cabinets need attention again. I want to work more with the boys and teaching them to clean and declutter. I also want to dive more into researching and writing some informational articles about organizing and decluttering.
I'll do what I can to declutter and write and hope that you will continue to stick with me to give me inspiration and support as I go! Thank you and may 2010 be a wonderful, happy and clutter-free new year for you and your family!