Decluttering is something very “In” right now. We have a never-ending source of decluttering “teaching tools” in all formats. The internet of course being the ever-popular tool for the information that is at your fingertips. I have been a declutterer since I was a little girl. I was always trying to throw away things that my Nanna and Mom really didn’t want into the trash. I come from a long line of women and men that are of the hoarding curse, and I am not sure how I somehow escaped the curse.
Picture early 1980 and tchotchkes (knick knack) on every available surface and a eight or nine year old you are there with dusting cloth and Pledge. You are seeing a sea of tchotchkes of every size, shape, and style. No real rhythm or reason. As that young kid looking out over the sea of items, I decided right then and there it would not be for me. Except it sort of did become me. I became addicted to having things. I collected so many things in my 20’s that when it came to moving to New York, I moved my things in the medium sized U-haul. I liked clean tables and shelves but I had boxes of things just sitting there never being loved, just boxed.
So, you know the story: when I started moving every few months, I got tired of shuffling all those boxes around and trying to make room for them. I began gifting people things, donating to charities, my church garage sales, and lastly to other organizations that I had things saved for.
I loved all of the hoarding, decluttering, and make over shows. They made me want to be better, cleaner, neater … So as time went on, the term Minimalist came about and suddenly that is all I wanted to be. I did a really good job too until I moved.
I went and moved in with a man that is a collector of so many things. He has lived in this house for 22 years. There I came in with my boxes that were left with my things, which does not take up a terrible amount of space. However, I never unpacked all my boxes because there just is not enough room. Clutter happens for a number of reasons and not enough room for all your things is one of them. It also happens when people get overrun with “stuff” and just do not know what to do anymore. It seems so overwhelming that it is almost suffocating.
There are normally a couple of outcomes that clutter causes for people: They give up. Their mental health is affected. Maybe in fact the current line is that their mental health catches up with them. A lot of people become hoarders because of this very reason. I am unique in the fact that I am/have ADHD tendencies, and yet I have the ability to clean and keep on top of things. A lot of hoarders or minimalists (for each end of the spectrum) are also ADHD because of their way of seeing things. In one way they either ignore the mess or they have a hyper vigilance over keeping things clean and super organized. I am actually somewhere in between. I used to be unable to live in a mess, or even leave the dishes until later. I have more control on my mental state than I did before, so I am able to allow a mess to occur in lieu of fun times, times when I am sick, family commitments, etc. I am able to look the other way when something is bothering me involving dirt or unclean areas. This is called blocking out, which if I have researched correctly, is what hoarders do. They don’t want to see the mess, they want a clean space or order but do not know how to achieve it so they block out their surroundings.
Part of being who I am, involves a few major cleaning periods where the family just knows they are about to go through it with me or have to deal with me losing my mind.
Let’s talk about how I like to clean and what has worked for me in the past and what I still do even though my atmosphere is not nearly what I’d like it to be. I like to do a major clean in spring, end of summer, and mid-winter after the holidays.
These next steps can be taken at any of these major cleanings or it can be done on just a normal cleaning day. What I have always started with is an empty laundry basket and or bag. Start in your most used room in the house and move around to all the (shared spaces) rooms picking up anything that does not belong (meaning anything that does not go in that area). Then you need to go through the basket and deliver the items to the correct rooms. This is a great place to get the family involved. You’re in one location and you send the kids or a spouse on the run to put the things away, or you can break it down to allocating the items to the people they belong to and then they put it away. After this you can move throughout the rooms and shared spaces with a trash bag and pick up all the trash and dispose of it. (Even little kids can help with this as, who is better for picking up the trash as the one that caused the most trash in the first place). Then choose a room to start with: organize the space, replace things that need to be replaced, sweep, mop, fluff pillows, etc. Any of the things you need to do for that room to be clean. Then take a break, relax for a while. Then go on to the next room. This is how I do it. This is how I keep control.
In our house my spouse helps me a great deal and his boys help as well. We all have had to get used to each other and live with each other’s habits that don’t necessarily fit our own agenda. They could care less if they lived in a mess or not. For me, decluttering is everything. For me I can not seem to declutter my brain. My life has always been hectic and unsettled. So, my spaces, my things being in order and not holding me down, is the only way that I have the ability to declutter. This gives me peace of mind, peace of heart, and just over all peace knowing there is something I have control over. Is everything in your life cluttered and it seems impossible to declutter? I suggest starting with your surroundings and move forward with your declutter. It may just give you the peace you have been waiting for.
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