Wednesday, June 23, 2010

How the Heck do I STILL Have Clutter?

It's confession time. When I look around my house, I still see too much clutter. I've got it hidden away in bedrooms, closets and the garage, but it's there and it's starting to spill out into the living room and kitchen again. I shudder to think how much worse it would be if I never started this blog and my almost daily, 15-minute decluttering sessions.

As I take a cold, hard look at myself and my actions over the past year, the reasons I still have too much clutter aren't because of my husband, the kids or what I haven't gotten rid of. The truth is that I still bring TOO much stuff into the house. Here are my confessions:

I have too much clutter because I accept free stuff.

It's hard to say no to free samples. Whether they are food, hand lotion or books, it can be difficult to turn them down. A part of me thinks that accepting the free things is what a gracious person is supposed to do. You know, don't look a gift horse in the mouth, whatever that means. It's why I have a whole box of puzzles and children's books sitting in the back of my van right now. My mother-in-law was cleaning things out and thought we would like them. I could have been choosier and it wouldn't have hurt her feelings. It's also why I've got a stack of books that I haven't read and may never read from various sources that were giving away used books. And, it's why I have this Mary Kay hand lotion, though I probably won't use it.

I have too much clutter because I go overboard at garage sales and consignment sales.

I love to shop at garage sales and consignment sales. It's fun and it's cheap. I don't feel guilty when I buy something that only cost a fraction of what it did when it was new. And, if I hit the kind of garage sale where everything costs a quarter, watch out! I'm going to have a hard time saying no to my irrational self. That's why I came home with this a few months ago:

I haven't used it yet. I really need to hang it up because it would probably be handy.

I have too much clutter because I feel guilty if I don't treat the boys equally.

Two days ago I was at Target and I gravitated to their 'everything is a dollar' display. They had sand shovels and buckets. The toddler really needed one, so I let him pick out his favorite. That wasn't the problem. The problem was that I also thought I better get one for the six-year-old. He probably could have lived without it. And, because I have this misplaced need to treat all three boys equally, I felt I needed to get the 11-year-old something, too. That's how I came home with this:

He's disinterested. On the bright side, I can probably use it to organize something. But, he didn't need it and neither do I.

I have too much clutter because I'm in DENIAL about how much my behavior contributes to the clutter in our house.

I've got no picture for denial. I guess if you want to see what it looks like, you can look at my profile picture. Someone once told me the picture looked too cluttered because of the throw pillow behind my head. They suggested that I change it as it might not reflect the message I'm trying to send with this blog. At the time, I thought that was ridiculous. Now, I'm thinking she might have been on to something.

So, what am I going to do about it? I could try to change the above behaviors. They do need changing. When I'm in the moment of decision at a store or garage sale, I don't really think about clutter, though. Maybe I need to attach a post-it to my debit card or my wallet reminding me to think of clutter before I buy something. I'll have to think on this a bit. Hmm...


  1. You have already taken the first step. You admitted you still have a problem. My recommend (and what is it that Alice says I give really good advice, its a shame I never take it) that you institute a policy of 1 in 1 out. If you bring 1 new thing into the house (new to you) then you have to get rid of something old.
    I once read a blog where before she bought or accepted anything she said:
    1. Do I really need this?
    2. Do I already have something else that will work?
    3. Where am I going to put it?
    4. What is going to go to make room for this?
    Next time your MIL is cleaning out her house consider responding: "I would love to take a look through these items and the ones I don't want I will drop off at a local childcare, school, library, etc."

  2. I like to think that when I go to sleep at night, the clutter fairies come out and throw stuff all over my house. It takes the pressure off of me ... (Yes, I think denial is one of the signs of a clutterholic, don't you?) ;)

    My goal this year has been to simplify. I'm not there yet, but I'm trying. I agree w/Tree Huggin' Momma and I'm actually doing that now - although I'm following 1 in 2 out... it's helping a lot! Good Luck!

  3. Thanks, both of you! I feel a bit better about things now. I have made a lot of progress, but I still have a ways to go. I'm going to make that into a list that I carry in my wallet, Tree Huggin Mamma. Heck, I'll probably repost it as a blog post, if you don't mind! It's great advice.

    Leanns - I like the 1 in, 2 out rule! If only the clutter fairies would get rid of stuff for me! I'm going to have to chat with the tooth fairy the next time she's here to see if she'll talk to them for me. Maybe she can pull some strings. :-)

  4. I like the 1 in 2 out rule as well, but I didn't figure anyone else would so I made it easier at 1 in 1 out. I think once you have truly simplified you can asess this rule as needed.