chores · clutter · declutter · goals · homemaking · Mommas · organizing · Uncategorized

What Does Decluttering Mean Exactly? (And Why You Should Do it)

It’s January, so naturally, the whole world is talking about decluttering their homes.  The stores have gone from being stocked with Christmas decorations to being filled to the brim with plastic totes, drawers, and bins.

Everyone is decluttering.

What does this mean exactly?

Decluttering if the act of going through one’s home to remove items which are unused and unneeded. It may be sorting out your tightly packed bedroom closet, cleaning out your garage or donating things that you think you will probably never use again.

So why do folks do this? 

There are many different reasons. 

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Many people say their motivation is to bring more peace into their home. 
While others say they feel that they are owned by their belongings – and that they have so many, they cannot manage them all.
Some feel that they are anxious and depressed in their own living spaces.

But…

An ever growing population of declutterers are moms of young children who have been overwhelmed by piles and piles of plastic toys and tiny bits and pieces that cannot be easily maintained.

Whatever the motivation, people are looking for change, and they are starting with their living environments.

It is a proven fact that living in a cluttered home actually causes mental health issues. There are endless articles online that will tell you why being surrounded by clutter increases anxiety and depression, and causes the person involved to lose focus and become unable to make choices.

I have felt all those feelings.

“Things themselves don’t make us happy, it’s the emotions and memories we attach to them that make them hard to part with.”

In my own home, we have too many toys, too many unfinished projects, piles of things older family members have either gifted to us and/or passed down to us, and then the other stuff that we actually really like.

It’s a big mess a lot of the time.

I had an a-ha moment recently when I said to myself, “Why can’t I keep the house clean?” Now, I am not an inspired cleaner, but I clean everyday. And I often find myself stuck putting things away… more than actually cleaning. 

I realized that we have too much stuff

There is just too much to manage.

So we have begun to declutter.

Today we put 12 boxes in the garage to be donated.

It feels great. And it’s just the beginning.

I am learning that:

  • Things themselves don’t make us happy, it’s the emotions and memories we attach to them that make them hard to part with.
  • Being surrounded by things actually decreases my ability to think clearly and causes anxiety and sadness.
  • Being surrounded by things doesn’t make me feel satisfied or filled up.
  • The quantity of things I have in my home actually decrease my general sense of happiness and control over my space.
  • Things don’t have feelings.  They don’t care if they stay or go.  It’s us that have to deal with our feelings of attachment and perceived loss.

Is decluttering one of your goals for 2018?  How is it going?

  • Jenny

 

Photo credit: Eric Didier and Markus Spiske

 

 

 

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chores · cleaning · clutter · homemaking

What if You and Your Spouse Have Different Cleaning Styles?

What if you and your spouse have different cleaning styles?

If you are smirking, then you already know exactly what I mean.  But, just in case you are not sure, let’s talk about cleaning styles.

The wife, let’s call her “Susan” likes quantity over quality.  She wants every room picked up by the time she is done, but, isn’t looking for every single thing to be 100 percent perfect.

Her husband, let’s call him “Bill,” is the opposite. He prefers to hunker down in one room and spend three hours there, getting it clean from top to bottom.

Alright, you guessed it.  My husband and I are Susan and Bill. 

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I tend to treat the house like a three layer cake.

First I go all over the house on the top layer, picking up clutter, putting things away, wiping off counters, etc. Then, and only then, do I go on to the next layer and so forth.

Pros: This type of cleaning gives the cleaner immediate satisfaction.  It’s more bang for the buck.

Cons: Susan NEVER gets to the bottom of the pile.  She will be lucky if she can ever get to the nitty-gritty of a room.

Bill’s style (my husband) is good too, although different.  Instead of starting on the top layer of the cake, he chooses a place to start and dives into all three layers at once, slowly making his way through.

Pros: It is extremely thorough! (And looks so good in the end!)

Cons: It takes a LONG TIME and if he is pressed for time, he cannot finish and it causes frustration.

There are other styles of cleaning too:

The follow-the-list cleaner. This person has a list. She follows her list and then she is done.  No more, no less.  She can wait to do the other things tomorrow.

The anxiety cleaner. This person sees something that needs to be cleaned and starts to clean it, but then sees something else that needs to be cleaned and gets distracted by it.

The let-it-pile-up cleaner.  This person has things organized, sort of.  Piles are everywhere and when, and only when, the pile becomes a problem, they address it.

The cleaning as therapy/exercise person.  This person cleans to keep themselves sane (or fit). They throw the vacuum around like it’s a rag, they haul the soapy water through the house with ease, they move boxes with all their strength…just don’t get in their way, because you will be trampled or conscripted into working.

Which one are you? Which one is your spouse? 

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So, what is the result of different cleaning styles coming together?  After being married for more than twenty years, I can tell you: arguments.

I confess to looking at my husband 45 minutes after we started cleaning one Saturday (or several) and allowing my impatience to come flying out of my mouth.  Quantity-wise, I had accomplished MORE in that 45 minutes. But quality-wise he had accomplished more.

When we plan a cleaning time (or home repair, because it come up then as well), I have to consciously choose to not critique him and not compare.

I didn’t know this when we first got married.  We got into some serious bumps on cleaning  days during the first years (ten?) of our marriage because I would say: “What have you been DOING??” The unhappy result of that was that he felt bossed around and criticized.

And even worse, the cleaning stopped! (kidding..sorta)

As the years have gone, I have learned to seen the value in his style of cleaning.  And most likely if you and your spouse do it differently too, there is some good to his way of doing things. 

But, I have had to CHOOSE to not push my style of cleaning on him. 
I have had to learn to see the value in his style. 
I have had to accept that maybe not all the things will get done in the time I thought they would.

And that’s o.k.

I see now that when he leaves a room, it looks stunning. Shiny, organized and peaceful, just the way I want it to.  So, really, why am I complaining?

I’ll be honest, probably because I am impatient!
I am quick, he is methodical. It comes down to that.

If you and your partner have different cleaning styles, I would encourage you NOT to allow it to come between you and for you to attempt to see the value in the other persons’ style.

Rather, choose to focus on the fact that you are lucky he is willing to help, as not all husbands are.

And always, remember:

“Cleaning with kids in the house,
is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos.”

Jenny

cleaning · clutter · cooking · homemaking · Mommas · Uncategorized

Decision Fatigue and Moms: Management Burnout

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I recently had a long day.  A really long day. I was at the check out counter with all three of my boys and one of them was asking if he could buy candy.

By that point in the trip, I had already had to:

-Decide whether or not the 2 year old would walk or sit in the carriage
-Decide which sneakers to buy for the oldest for camp
-Decide which food to buy which would not bring us over our food budget
-Decide which popsicles didn’t have fake coloring in them
-Decide if I should let the older ones wander off to the toy section
-Decide if the little guy was ready for the next size in pull ups or not
-Decide whether I was going to buy the food for my son’s camping trip today or not

Decide, decide, decide.

CAN YOU RELATE?

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My head was spinning and I was tired of making decisions.

Moms make a lot of decisions don’t we? We are constantly thinking about that present and future and making choices based on what we feel is best.

I recently read a little cartoon about something called “mental load” and I really related to it. It actually made me angry for a little while, and I had to consciously choose to not allow it to brew discontentment in my heart.

In this enlightening article published on Huffpost, the author discusses how once she and her husband had children, the general “workload” of the house increased exponentially.  She talks about how she became the “Knower of All Things.”

Moms tends to carry a lot around in their heads.

Things like how the three year-old likes his toast, to how long the preteen has been on the computer to how many bowel movements the baby has had.

The more children you have, the more of this “stuff” there is to remember too.

So, what are the results of being the brain of the family?

Exhaustion.  You are tired. A lot.

Stress. There’s too much to remember.

Disappointment.  The kids are bound to be disappointed that something wasn’t “remembered.”

Irritation.  That’s a lot of pressure!

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So, what are moms to do?

Here are a few ideas that I have tried to reduce my mental load.

Write things down.  I am 45 years old.  I forget things.  I have taken to writing everything down.  Grocery lists, requests, things to do today, things to do this week…why do you think the “organization” industry is booming??

Delegate. So, there are some things I have to do, which cannot be outsourced.
I have to make sure the three year-old brushes his teeth.
I have to make sure the kids are eating healthy.

But, my thirteen year-old can pick up his own darn clothes off the floor and walk them to the washing machine.  My eleven year-old can clean up his own dishes, get his own drink and other chores. I think too often we think “I HAVE to do this,” when in fact “I CHOOSE to do this,” is more accurate.

Ask for help.  From the kids, but also from your partner. If you don’t have a partner, ask a girlfriend, or a cousin or a neighbor.  You don’t have to do it all by yourself.  This is hard, because it means giving up doing it “our” way and you risk being disappointed.

And most importantly…don’t be bossed around by perfection.  We all have that little voice inside our heads saying “this isn’t good enough,” “that chair is ugly,” “more throw pillows!”  Don’t allow your perceived idea of perfection to kill your joy! That’s what it does – it judges you, it judges others even.  Work on contentment and peace.  Say to yourself “It isn’t perfect, but it’s home.”

Jenny

 

chores · cleaning · clutter · declutter · homemaking · Uncategorized

How to Regain Control of Your Home After Christmas

It’s December 27, and if you are like me, you are looking around your house and saying: “HOW do I get this place under control again??”

The parties are over, the big meals have been prepped and eaten, the gifts are unwrapped and many played with..and now what is left?

Boxes, bags, bows, scotch tape everywhere, packaging of hastily ripped open toys, dishes, dishes and dishes, and no actually edible food in the house, the cat has a bow stuck to its tail, the dog ate something he shouldn’t have and you think one of your relatives was sick and passed it to one of your kids…

I know you know what I mean.

So what is a mom to do?

Let’s talk through some ideas on how to regain control of your living space again…QUICKLY.

Separate everyone’s gifts into piles.
Each of us currently has a pile from which to draw from.  It may be a mixture of stocking stuffers, gifts and other items, but it’s their pile. There are a few advantages to this:
-It’s all in one place
-They know where it all is
-And when it’s time to say clean it up and put it away, they can do it more easily

Get rid of trash – NOW!
JUST by removing the actual trash from the home (we threw out 4 garbage bags in the last 2 days) you can get a better grip on what actually needs to be done. And it feels so, so good….

Require children to pitch in.
TODAY ask them to devote some time to putting away their own messes, picking up trash, and regaining control of their own space.  It will help to “own” their belongings, it will assist them in thinking about where they want something to go, and it will (rightfully so) put some of the ownership on them! (Mine are doing it as I write this post.)

Hack away at the dishes.
Even if you do it in little bursts all day.  Have the dishwasher running all day if need be. No one like to do dishes (or maybe some of you do??), but, someone is going to come looking for a spoon or a bowl before you know it.

Make a clutter box.
As you move through the home you may notice normal, irritating clutter.  Make a box.  Then decide today isn’t the day for you to feel burdened by it. It’s really not.

After you finish cleaning (or even while you are cleaning) you may say to yourself: “Never again!” I am never doing this again.  But…you know you will.  At least you have 12 more months to get ready for it.

Last piece of advice: drink plenty of coffee (or tea) as you prefer.  You’re gonna need it mama!

From your sister in cleaning today, Jenny

 

chores · cleaning · clutter · goals · homemaking · Mommas · stay home or not? · Uncategorized

To All the Mommas Doin’ it All

mommasstressedandtired.jpgThis time of year there is a lot to do. Mommas do it all.  This one is for you.  Remember, what they really want is YOU.

I see you Momma. You’re tired.  You have no makeup on, yesterdays jeans, and you could really use a coffee delivery person.

I know you didn’t sleep well last night. Your little sweety was sick, or teething, or afraid of the dark.  You back hurts from sleeping crooked and fitting your grown-up frame into 6-inches of mattress.

I know you are aching for 20 minutes by yourself to think your own thoughts. To just have ONE THOUGHT from start to finish. Maybe to make a phone call, read a book that is not found in the children’s section or say a prayer and ask your Creator to give you peace and direction.

Laundry? It’s clean, but it’s all piled up on the couch.

Dishes? I think there is one clean spoon.

Dust?  I can’t remember the last time I did that.

I see you Momma. Wrestling that toddler in the grocery store.  The one who is begging for a toy or grabbing all the sugary cereals off the shelf. The one who isn’t thrilled your passing up the potato chips for apples and the ice cream for yogurt.

I know your budget is tight.  I know there is no room for a special nicety like a bottle of nail polish, or a new hairbrush, or a sharp razor for your oh-so hairy legs.

I know you see those Pinterest pictures of freshly baked bread and feel guilty that your kids are eating Goldfish crackers for breakfast….again.

I know you think you should be making “me time,” and that’s just another thing that tells you that you maybe aren’t living your “best” life.

Workout? Maybe.
Veggies? Sometimes.
8 glasses of water? Never.

I know you have a secret desire to write a book, to sing a song, to paint a picture, to go for a run.

I know you had a career before the babies came.

I know you have some regrets, but the babies aren’t them.

Momma.

Do you know how valuable you are?  Not for cleaning and cooking. Not for changing dirty diapers, not for clipping toenails.

But valuable.

Do you know that you provide security, peace and gentleness in a world that is very unpredictable, chaotic and angry.

You answer the questions.
Calm the fears.
Acknowledge the accomplishments.

You laugh at the silliness.
You give affection.
You teach right from wrong.

Don’t worry about the dust, the unbaked bread, the pile of clothes.

They really aren’t looking.  They don’t care.

They just want you to run the car down the ramp, one more time.
To turn on the music loud and dance silly.
To let them play with bubbles in the sink.
Or make a craft, or jump on the bed, or….

Momma.  They love you.  Just the way you are.
And that’s enough for today.

 

chores · cleaning · clutter

Creating Joy in Your Home

Ever have one of those trying days?  When parenting the kids resembles something more like herding cats or trying to hold sand? When silly, annoying things are overblown, when children aren’t listening, when the world seems to be conspiring against your home being a relaxed,happy place?

I have. Like plenty, ladies.

Sometimes I handle them in a righteous, Godly way, and sometimes I just go with what feels good and yell or punish, willy-nilly.

I don’t just want a happy home.  I want a home filled with JOY.

Let me clarify what that means.  That doesn’t mean everyone is walking around with a fake, plastered smile on their faces. But it does mean there are special, cozy places where everyone can get some quite, it means things are organized, it means disagreements can be discussed (calmly if possible!), and there is a sense of family unity; that despite what happens, we are a family and we will love each other and nurture that loving relationship.

But, many of us spend our days putting out fires.  If it’s not one kid with a need, it’s a another.  Or, a fight, or whining, or complaining, or…you get the picture.

Definitely NOT joy!

Why do our homes become this way?  Why do we find ourselves in the middle of the third battle of the day by 9 a.m.?  There are tons and tons of reasons, but I wanted to discuss just a few in this piece.

With my children, and maybe with yours too, the more free time they have on their hands, the more they argue with one another. One or both of them become bored and starts irritating the other one for sheer entertainment. “I was kidding,” he says to his annoyed brother.  But really, he was probably was looking for something from his brother: connection and direction.

My kids have a so-called playroom.  It has been a blessing as far as keeping most of the toys in one place, BUT, it can also become a dungeon of negativity for my boys if they are in there too long.

So

cleaning · clutter · declutter · slob

Clutter is a Joy-Killer

Do you love cleaning?  If you do, then, you don’t have to read this blog post!  

Actually, could you read it and then comment below so we can all learn from you?

I was a slob growing up.  My mom would do this annual super clean of my toy-strewned room and I would be so happy in it for like two weeks.  But, then, it would be right back where I found it…naked Barbies on the floor, markers uncapped in a pile, Strawberry Shortcake and Smurfs mixed in with dirty clothes.  

Honestly I never learned to clean up after myself and be a good steward of my belongings. So, therefore I did not respect them or treat them well. This also was true of myself – my own self esteem and feelings about my body and my outward appearance – but that’s another post for another day.

So…

When I grew up a little I shared a home with three other single women. I had my own bedroom and guess what – it was a mess most of the time.  I would clean it every few months from top to bottom.  

Then, I got married and we had the cutest little apartment.  And the same thing would happen. Mess then major clean then a slow return to mess.

We have been in our 1,900 sq. ft. home for about fourteen years now, and with the addition of three precious, but highly imaginative boys, the mess has quintupled! With each birthday and holiday, more stuff.



And I still haven’t learned to keep things clean, regularly.

Can anyone relate?

Part of the problem has to do with my personality type. Highly visual and creative/artistic. I like for everything to be visible

Also, when I put things away, I forget about them (Is that mommy brain??)

So, for the last two years I have been reading and seeking input on how to maintain my home. I have talked to some amazing people – professional organizers, authors and psychologists.  But, not much has changed in my daily routine.

I like to live in my space – but not maintain my space.

The first thing I have attempted to do is declutter.  I have so much extra stuff in my house, that when I look at a room, it is overwhelming in colors, shapes, sizes, styles, you name it.

Just Google or Pinterest that word and you will find so much information on the topic as well as hints, tips and success stories.  

For the past two years I have made a total of seven trips to Savers to donate bags and bags of toys, clothes, decor, and more. Honestly, it feels SO good to donate.  It also feels SO good to see it leave my house.  I have also bagged and trashed a ton of what I would call “junk,” although my son hates that word because sometimes I apply it to his toys, ha ha.


So, step one: DECLUTTER

Here’s my motivation:

Luke 16:10-13 “Jesus went on to make these comments: If you’re honest in small things,you’ll be honest in big things; If you’re a crook in small things, you’ll be a crook in big things. If you’re not honest in small jobs,who will put you in charge of the store?No worker can serve two bosses: He’ll either hate the first and love the second or adore the first and despise the second.You can’t serve both God and the Bank.” (Message)
 
Now, of course, I don’t think I am a “crook,” per-say, but, by not taking care of the small things God has given me (my house, my belongings, my space) how can I enjoy peace in my home?  I am in a way “stealing” joy and peace from myself and my children by having a confused and cluttered house.
 
So, out go the clothes that don’t fit, the toys which are no longer played with, the extra kitchen gadgets and stained, sentimental baby clothes. Out went my maternity clothes (I am done!) and the broken picture frames.  Out went the shoes that I loved but had a hole, the earrings I never wear and the Jello-molds that we only used once.

It’s a beginning, right?
 
What have you done to declutter your home?

For further reading
1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.
1 Corinthians 14: 40 But all things should be done decently and in order.