Why CLUTTER makes you angry, and what to do about it.

Earlier in the week, I wrote about the heaviness I was feeling from all the clutter in our house, and making room for less. It’s so easy to feel like all you do is work to buy things for the house, and things you think everyone might need.  Only to turn around and realize that you can’t even keep up with what you have because, even though your home isn’t messy, it feels cluttered, like you have ‘too much stuff’.

I will admit that our children have more toys then any child should have. And it doesn’t just stop at toys. It’s videos, games, puzzles, clothes and shoes too. The kids things are in every single room of our home, including the garage, 3 porches and the car. They are only 2 and 4 and I fear what it will be like as the coming years approach if we don’t come up with a plan to eliminate. Last week, I found myself very angry and stressed as I stumbled through the living room. Toys were everywhere, and I remember thinking that I had just spent an entire Saturday the weekend before cleaning up the two busiest rooms of our house: the living room and kitchen. How could there be so much stuff out in just a few short days? In anger, I grabbed a trash bag and started gathering everything I could see on the floor and shoving it into the bag. I kept stuffing the bag full until nothing else would fit, then I tied it off and asked my husband to take it out to the trash can. He knows I can be impulsive in these moments, so he didn’t take the bag of toys to the trash, but instead took them to the back room to be “out of sight, out of mind”….for now. I will admit, that worked for a few days, but it wasn’t long before the living room and kitchen was once again full of toys and games, and puzzle pieces. Where does it all come from, I was thinking. Now let me pause here to say it’s not their fault. Again, they are 2 and 4 and don’t have jobs and money to go out and buy their own things. So, facing the facts and being honest with myself, I know its on me, and up to me to change it and make it better. I am completely guilty of buying them the things I think they need, in excess.
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When clutter is weighing you down in every room of the house, it can make you feel mentally cluttered, and in turn emotionally cluttered. The end result is stress, anger, a feeling of being overwhelmed and our surroundings being out of control. There is a definite connection between stress and clutter, it affects our mood and how we feel about ourselves and our home. Are you ready for company right now? If a couple from church stopped by to say hello and have a quick cup of coffee, would you be able to invite them in with no embarrassment?
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I know how I would answer that question right now, how about you? In our minds, a clean home is a happy home. An organized and well maintained home means you have it all together. You got this thing called motherhood, wife-hood, home-maker. It makes you feel accomplished and successful to be able to have clean and organized spaces. And as an interior designer for nearly 20 years, nothing makes me feel more like a failure than when I can’t get a hold of the house or the realization that the house definitely has a hold of me.

Having too much stuff, makes me feel frazzled, stressed, overwhelmed and like I have a “to do” list that is never ending. It absolutely robs me of joy, peace, happiness and contentment. It makes my temper high and my patience low. And guess who gets to see that the most? My children.  I find myself reprimanding my children for not cleaning up, and for things that are way beyond their level of control. I have to stop myself and say “it’s not their fault.”
toddler and tree
If you’re like me, then it’s time to free yourself of the burden of stuff, so that you can start living your life, and enjoying your life instead of always trying to clean up your house. Our homes are where we should go to relax, unwind, a safe place from the world outside where we can be ourselves and be comfortable. A place to be hospitable and enjoy our families, a place where you can find joy in the day and in yourself. So how do we get there?

Woman standing in front of a doormat reading “It’s so good to be home”.

Admittedly, this is extremely difficult for me. I make a side income from selling things online, so I see value in everything from a collection of rubber duckies all they way up to designer shoes. I guess at some point you have to evaluate what you have, decide what is valuable enough to be worth the time and cut your losses on the rest. If you don’t, before you know it you will have piles of good intentions laying everywhere that you will probably never take the time to prepare to be sold. Trust me on this one!

This really goes beyond buying organizing bins and “finding” more space in your home to store things. You think, “if I just had an extra room, or a bigger house, I could get everything put away.” But really the answer lies in less stuff.  Less stuff equals more time, more happiness, more space, more peace, more tranquility and more time for the things you really want to do.

Less toys, less clothes, less shoes, less DVD’s, less organizing bins, less shelving. You know its been at least a week since I bagged up all of those toys, and my children still don’t know they are gone. They play with what is left, and it’s really still too much. I’ll dive deeper in the coming weeks when my daughter goes back to school to really get our home ready for the changing seasons. I don’t want to spend anymore Saturdays cleaning the house. I’m not talking about everyday maintenance, but full on cleaning days. Enough is enough, I don’t want to miss out on times like these
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We all have lots of reasons why we don’t get rid of things. Some of the most popular ones are:

  1. I may be able to sell that and make some money (guilty)
  2. That was a gift, I cant get rid of it (guilty)
  3. I might need that someday, and if I get rid of it then I’ll just have to buy it again (guilty)
  4. That was my great grandmothers, its an heirloom, I cant just get rid of it (guilty)
  5. I’m going to lose weight and then I’ll fit into those jeans ..or whatever (totally guilty)
  6. I’m saving that to give to my kids someday (guilty)

I’m sure you could read through that list and decide for yourself what category, if not all categories speak to you. I am guilty of all six. It’s not easy to get rid of our stuff, its much easier to go through someone else’s things and start pitching, but it becomes really personal when it it’s our own.

So what is the plan of action?
writingIt’s time to get serious once and for all if you are going to take back your life and take back your house. How fast do you want to get this done? For me it’s a necessity and I would like to have things really on their way by fall. But since I have so many other things going on, I can’t make it my full time job right now. So I am approaching it like this:

Each week, I will prepare 3 garbage bags. One bag will be for donate, one bag will be for trash and (for me) one bag will be for items I think are worth the time to sell online. I will spend the week filling those three bags. And no cheating, the “trash” bag is only for items that you feel are unwanted, unusable trash items from the house, not empty milk containers and cereal boxes. Now depending on the level and quickness at which you need this to happen, you can do this everyday until it tapers a bit, down to once or twice a week. There is no right or wrong or concrete formula for this. You need to tailor it to fit your life and your desires to purge and cleanse.
donate trash sell

Put this into action, or create your own plan. But either way, making a commitment and getting started is essentially half the battle. Keep in mind, its an ongoing process, it didn’t get bad overnight and unless you have magical powers like Samantha on Bewitched, it’s not going to get fixed overnight. Give yourself time and patience and grace to get it done. Good luck!

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