Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sneaky, Sneaky Clutter

How does clutter happen? Is it abrupt and rude, barging into our homes and taking over our space all at once, like an overbearing relative? Or, do we welcome it in, piece by piece and let it slowly creep around our house like a blanket of fog until it covers every surface?

In my house, it's the slow creep of clutter that's the most dangerous. It's easy to make excuses for it. We find ourselves saying, "It's just one piece of paper." Or, "I'll just keep a small pile of books here, but no where else." Or, "I'll sort that stuff later."

Unfortunately, one piece of paper turns into a stack. A small pile of books becomes large and turns into two piles of books. Later never comes.

I've been telling myself that I needed to clean out the craft cupboard for months. It's overflowing with art supplies and schoolwork. We dig things out of it, cram them back in and shut the door quickly so nothing falls out. Because it's full, I've been keeping the boys' current projects on the kitchen counter. It's just a small stack of things, right? A few days ago, I bravely reached into the cupboard for crayons and a stack of paper fell out onto the floor. I was in a hurry. We had soccer practice and needed to eat before we headed out the door. The toddler needed me to entertain him. The phone was ringing. It was one of those moments that people sometimes describe as "all hell breaking loose." I didn't have time to deal with the paper. So, I tidied the stack and left it on the floor.
I've been sweeping around it for the last few days. The kids have been grabbing paper from it when they want to draw. It's starting to collect dog fur around the edges.

Today was the day of reckoning. I had to do something about it before it turned into two stacks or paper. I was brutal, unforgiving even, with the things in the craft cupboard. I filled a kitchen garbage bag with recyclable paper. I threw several things away. I weeded out the used or uninteresting coloring books. I got rid of a stack of pink paper that my boys are sure has cooties.
Today, I won. I beat the clutter, tidied the cupboard and fit everything worth keeping back into its small confines. I'm hoping that clutter, much like the fog in Carl Sandburg's poem, will always move on.


  1. You are an inspiration and a great clutter buster! Are you children helping with clutter, or is that a whole other topic?

    When my husband sorted mail and paid bills, he did a great job of not having piles. Now I pay bills and have clutter hot spots.

    Back to 15 minutes of decluttering--or maybe more.


  2. Thanks! The children do help with the cleaning some AND it's a whole other topic - lol. I really try to teach them how to deal with it. They have to be learning something. Right? I just hope they become adults who don't have clutter issues. I hear you on the hotspots with bills & paperwork. I'm guilty of that! Though, I try to go through the small pile everyday to make sure there's nothing urgent and take care of things that are.

  3. I've been inspired by your blog! I cleaned up two corners of my house today, completely clean, things properly put away, and I didn't get distracted by other messy areas while I did it.
    Thanks for your honesty, it's helped me at least!