Clutter and You

You come in the door after a long day, arms full with baby, groceries, purse, diaper bag, keys, only to find that there is no counter space available to set all the bags on. Additionally your five year old is hanging on your leg announcing “I am hungry now, very hungry”, “can I have a treat?”, “what can I eat”, “what can we do now?” Bags, baby, keys get tossed where ever there is space. You trip on scattered tupperware on the kitchen floor. The idea of trying to cook dinner is overwhelming, even clearing space and putting away groceries is overwhelming. You notice that this mornings breakfast is still on the counter, last nights art project is glued to the table, and junk mail is spilling onto the floor. The dog jumps up and knocks over the baby. You are so hungry you can’t think clearly, remember several tasks you did not get to at the office, and wonder if you will ever get ahead of the mess/clutter. Begin looking for left over coffee to guzzle…
Sound familiar

It seems the longer we live, the more clutter we accumulate. Life gets busy, our family grows, and so does the clutter. Some of us are good at stuffing it inside drawers, baskets, bins, closets, basements and garages, making our homes look aesthetically organized. To our visitors, we have it all together, but the clutter still looms in the recesses of our minds. We know it’s there. Some of us don’t even try to contain our clutter because it’s way more than we can handle. And so it sits on our countertops, tables, floors and desks. The clutter acts as a constant reminder of what is left undone in our lives.

When I talk to moms about the significance of getting rid of clutter, very few would disagree that it’s important and desirable. Not too many moms enjoy clutter, but many will give good reasons for why they still have it.

Obstacles:There isn’t enough time to declutter. The process is too overwhelming. The clutter doesn’t belong to me. What should I do with the clutter? What’s the point of getting rid of clutter when it’s just going to accumulate again?
These are all valid concerns we face when we explore the decision of whether or not we should declutter. Motivation is half the battle when getting rid of clutter, so I want to share some good reasons for paring down, throwing away and learning to live with only the necessities.

1. Getting rid of clutter boosts your energy and keeps life energy flowing in the home.
Everything around us, including ourselves, is made of energy. Energy needs to flow freely, but when objects are in the way, the energy gets blocked. After spending a couple hours sorting stuff in my office that had no place, or just did not need to be there, I felt clear headed. With a Goodwill store two blocks away, that makes it convenient to complete my task of streamlining. No longer was it a drag to come into my office. When I looked around, I saw clarity, neatness and space. Getting rid of clutter gave me a new energy to work creatively.

2. Getting rid of clutter saves time.
How many times do you frantically run around looking for things? How many times do you hear, “Mom, where’s my shoes (my baseball glove, my library book)?” The more stuff we have, the more time it takes to manage it all. Less clutter and greater organization enables us to make decisions quicker, find things when we need them, avoid lateness, and have more time for what is most important to us, like spending time with loved ones.

3. Getting rid of clutter enhances our mood.
It doesn’t matter how small the space we organize and declutter, it always brings about a happier mood. Not too long ago, I decided to declutter the cabinet that held all my plastic storage containers. With my seven year old in charge, proudly seated on the kitchen island, we pulled everything out, matched lids to bottoms, and threw most of it in the trash can. If you think about it, how many plastic storage containers do we really need? When all was accomplished, we were both quite proud of our new cabinet. I was no longer stressed out from opening the cabinet and being assaulted by falling plastic containers. Decluttering is a great antidepressant because it increases your self esteem and lowers your stress.

4. Getting rid of clutter enables us to help the less fortunate.
I’ll never forget a time I decided to get rid of toys. While my husband and son were having fun at a baseball game, I decluttered the playroom. I packed up four big boxes of toys that were in great condition. Knowing that my son didn’t play with them anymore, I knew other children would be in heaven with these toys. So I loaded up the car, and drove it to a teen mom support program. It made my heart happy to know that many children would enjoy these toys.

5. Getting rid of clutter teaches our children to be happy with less.
There is nothing wrong with providing our children with nice things, if we have the financial means to do so. However, there is a fine line between enough and too much. Having too much stuff can teach our children to be hoarders. If we’re not careful, we can spoil our children. A new toy is expected, rather than appreciated. Too much clutter can also overwhelm our children. When my younger son messes up his playroom, he doesn’t want to play in there. He seeks out a perfectly clean room that he can play in. Organization and decluttering is a valuable skill you can teach your children from a very young age.

6. Getting rid of clutter forces us to deal with emotional issues that may be causing the clutter.
Just like physical clutter can create emotional issues, clutter can also be the result of unaddressed emotional clutter. Whether it’s an unfulfilling job, a dissatisfying marriage, or a lack of self discipline that’s blocking us from reaching our desired goals, clutter can mask this unhappiness. When we begin to get rid of clutter, these emotional issues have room to surface and a space is opened for the unhappiness to be addressed. Clearing physical clutter starts the process of decluttering all areas of our lives.

7. Getting rid of clutter opens your life to new opportunities.
Imagine what your life would be like if it were clutter free. What would you have more time for? How might the way you approach your life change? How would an increase in self esteem improve your relationships? How would greater organization save you money or advance your career? How might an increase in energy enhance your health or spark greater creativity? Getting rid of the old, unwanted and unnecessary opens the door for new and exciting opportunities – physically, emotionally, relationally and spiritually.
I think I’ll go declutter my closet.

So you are fully convinced, but how to make it happen?
How? First why is it there? What purpose does it serve? What are your own obstacles? Emotional attachments, symbols? Indecision? Might need it later? Afraid of regret?

Break it down into small steps, one room, one closet, one drawer at a time. Set reasonable attainable goals; set the timer for 15 mintues and get done what you can in that time. Create three categories, three boxes- garbage, donate, keep. Evaluate, why are you holding onto it? Is it nostalgia-what does it represent to you? Take a picture of and then let the item go. Begin using it, or gift it to someone who will use it.

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