Friday, January 4, 2008

Out with the Old

So I’ll let you in on one of my Dreams. To have a home where, get this…

There’s A Place for Everything and Everything is in its place.

Sound familiar? I grew up hearing that phase over and over again. Somehow the reality seeing that statement as fact has eluded me. I’ve been a clutter-holic since birth. Messy to the Max. And let me tell you, the clutter isn’t just in dealing with my home; its physical (weight wise, although I’ve almost tackled this clutter beast), it’s financial, mental, nutritional, and so on and so forth. Fawndear has way too much clutter.

I could probably win an award for having too much clutter. You know those evening news stories where police would describe horrible filthy living conditions in someone’s home, well I’ve had days where I could have probably been turned in and made National news. My garage is so full of stuff, forget the tiny pathway to walk through because it’s not there. It’s more like an obstacle/mountain climbing course. And more often than not, I opt not to climb over but to go around to the other side to see if it gets me any closer to my item of interest. Usually, I decide it’s not worth the effort, which sadly enough, tells you how valuable the stuff I keep out there is.

And to think this guy in CA intentionally saved his trash for a year. I’ve unintentionally saved that much and I bet if I tried really hard I could find that much and more in less than a week. I used to be(no time for TV anymore) one of those emotional viewers of daytime talk-shows who would cry buckets of tears when I saw people on Oprah win home-makeovers to remove their clutter. ‘Could someone please nominate me?’ I would always think. My husband has heard on, too many to count, occasion’s that for once I would love to have a perfectly clean home where everything was organized and in it’s place.

How many of you have husbands who beg you to hire someone to help you clean your house? Mine does. Forget the expense. Notice the desperation. ‘Is she coming today,’ he asks excitedly, like a kid waiting for Santa. ‘Well if she did it’s such a mess within two hours of her leaving you would never know that she had come.’ Needless to say he loves a clean home.

Reality is… no one can remove the clutter except for me. No amount of money, cleaning ladies, organizational systems. If I ever did win a makeover, my space would look good for a couple of days. But then the clutter, like a slime monster from an old B movie, would creep back in leaving a trail of paper, broken toys, and old food wrappers strewn about. I think it’s the same principle that applies to money. How many stories have you heard about lottery winners winning major bucks and then filing for bankruptcy? If you don’t know how to handle money – you won’t be able to even when it’s given to you. If I can’t learn how to tackle the clutter monster in my life, then no matter how much stuff I get rid of, I‘ll still have clutter.

So, being that I refuse to set a New Year’s Resolution to tame my clutter beast, how on earth am I going to get this dream? I’ll tell you how. The same way I lost all that weight. I have that clutter free dream going on and I’m going to make a plan, make myself accountable to someone, educate the heck out of my brain about clutter and why is it I hang on to everything, and step-by-little-step I’ll make this dream come true.

Since Christmas my family has made some big changes. My husband and I had cashed in, on one of our Visa’s perks. It wasn’t cash back but we did get some gift cards to Home Depot. We took advantage of some New Year Organizational Sales and bought some Closetmaid systems to redo our kid’s closets. We saved almost 50% of the total cost. Whippie! Now with eight people in a three bedroom home, you do the math, but aside from my room, it comes down to three kids per bedroom, the boys room and the girls room... Having efficient closets should have been on our to-do lists a long time ago. Fast forward to last weekend and with a couple of days of work, Whala. The closets are done. Not only did we get rid of the standard one shelf/one rod monstrosity that is the norm for closets today, but we also eliminated about half of the kid’s clothes. Ones that I was too embaresed to send them out in public in, didn't fit anymore, and even ones that were really nice but they never wore.

But Fawndear, didn’t you just say ‘no organizational product will solve your problems’? Of course not, not by itself, but I’m educating myself, learning efficiency, and I’m on a de-junking, simplifying mission. And when I get something in my head, watch out, because little else can fit in. One track mind here, multi-tasking but still one track. Just ask any of my kids trying to get my attention when I’m involved in something.

What was I talking about? Oh yeah, the kid’s rooms. They are not done yet, but as for the closets, so far so good. I can now tidy my girl’s room in less than 2 minutes, something that used to take hours. It helps that our littlest sleeps on a trundle bed that I can put away each morning. One less surface to attract clutter.
Since Christmas I’ve also sent one huge, full-size pick-up load to the dump and collected this here beautiful pile to take to the Thrift store.

So here’s part of my simple plan.

1. Everyday, take out more trash than I bring in. Revolutionary, if I say so myself. Notice how this one step can have far reaching, greater overall implications in my anti-clutter crusade. Be it financial, physical, mental etc.

2. Everyday organize one new little space, drawer, closet shelf, or on bad days just two-foot section of floor, etc.

3. Be accountable.

I’m making you, my blog family, my clutter 911 accountability team. I know, I know, just what you’ve always wanted. Let me know if you spot any red flags in my thinking. Feel me in on your organizing expertise. I’ll start by showing you my next cluttered space that I’m going to work on. Sensitive viewers may want to switch to a more pleasant website now! Oh horror of horror’s…

What, your still here. It must be my lucky day. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! Consider commenting on my anti-clutter dream an act of charity, a good deed for your day. If you don’t see an organized picture follow within a week – take me to task. Remind me of my dream and how good I’ll feel to have it come true. I’m much better at following through with stuff when I know I’ve got to be accountable to someone besides myself.

My next challenge is the Princess Academy Homeroom. It’s our library or bonus room and it’s also where I started homeschooling my girls. Now, it’s the last room I go into (other than the garage) because it’s so none-functional. The sad thing is, my dear Mother-In-Law helped me clean, and de-junk this room a year ago. I got rid of and gave away a ton of stuff, but then I brought in the school stuff and didn’t really have a set place for anything again. Because I didn’t do it right the first time, it didn’t last long as our school room. So now, I usually teach the girls in whatever room I happen to be in. Today it was the kitchen, but I would love to get back to having it function as our schoolroom. And clean isn’t the answer, it will be organized, immaculate, everything will have a place, and if I’m really lucky not an eyesore either.
I'm realistic about the fact that with six children the chances of everything being in place, even if it has a home, isn't good. They have to be on board my dream as well. And I think they are. They don't know where to put stuff because right now there isn't a set place. But that is all changing. Don't you just love good changes?

From now on Friday’s will be, as my sister Trenadoll says, my ‘Dream On’ Day. You’ll have to tune in to see which dream or nightmare is coming true. Be grateful it’s my dreams, if my husband blogged about his dreams you would be regaled with tales of him as Eddie Murphy in a flying doughnut or how he had a herd of constipated walrus’s in the backyard that needed watering. On, second thought, that might be a more interesting read. Oh, I digress way too often for my own good, never mind about his dreams. It’s all about me. And just think how happy he will be when my dream of an organized home comes true. Sorry about the insufferably long blog today.


rkimedes said...

When I was living by myself and my clutter got out of control, I'd look at the clutter and get overwhelmed trying to figure out where to start, so I would just leave it, so I made a rule. Each night before I went to bed, I had to pick up at least 10 items and not put them down again unless it was in the spot where it *belonged*. If it didn't have a place to belong, I had to decide to either get rid of it, or I had to make a place for it to belong. 10 items sounds really innocuous, so it was easy to commit to, and usually I'd get on a roll and do way more than 10, epsecially after stuff started having a Place. It's also innocuous enough that you might be able to get other people on board :-) Good luck!

trenadoll said...

I think the clutter thing is genetic. In the last six months I've moved piles and piles of clutter from one apartment to another, to another! It's to the point that I find myself longing for one of those super-modern minimalist existences where I have one or two things that are functional and beautiful but that's it!
I'm taking steps to minimize paper clutter (my nemesis)and I like your rule about carrying out more than you bring in. I've found that since I stopped paying so much attention to maintstream media (tv, magazines, commercial radio, etc.) I'm a lot less inclined to think that acquiring some 'thing' will solve any problems. Seriously, we're bombarded on every side with messages urging us to shop away our problems. I've tried it. It SO doesn't work.
So, if you want my advice, I'd say limit your (and your family's) exposure to advertising as much as possible. Be vigilant, a lot of it is very subtle and sneaky (all of those "unbiased reviews" you read on your friends' mommy-blogs = Advertising)...and keep up the good work! You're wonderful!

fawndear said...