Friday, May 7, 2010

Decluttering, One Thing at a Time.

It seems like a never ending task at my house- trying to get the clutter under control.

I'm not sure why really. I have an aversion to things hanging around. Really, I do. And I usually storm through my house every few months and collect the things that are making me crazy and toss them into a pile for the Goodwill or a box for a yard sale. And yet, it never fails that once I get things to where they are tolerable, the clutter comes back. How rude!

I have to be ruthless. It isn't my nature to be so cold, but, when it comes to getting things set back to rights, a ruthless nature is what is called for. I sort my clutter (yes, I will take ownership of it) into 5 different categories:

1. Things I have had since I was a child.

2. Things that have come from family.

3. Things I have bought in yard sales.

4. Things people have given to me.

5. Paper, paper, paper.

If something has been with me since I was, say, five, it has a place in my heart and cannot be donated or sold. What to do, what to do? Well, keeping out a few things and then boxing up the rest seems to be the best option. One item set in a place of honor makes it seem that much more special. Each one can have a turn and then go back into seclusion for a while. Opening that box is a bit like Christmas. It's a thrill. I hope my children feel the same way when I pass these things on to them.

Things that have come from family (I"m talking heirlooms here) pose a different problem. You don't want to have things packed away when your mother-in-law comes for a visit and scans your home for the oh-so-treasured-gilt candelabra with the monkeys swinging from the arms that came from Great-great-grandmother Chi-chi Boo-boo and discovering that it is no where to be seen. That's never a good thing. Where do they go? In the closet. And when the mother-in-law comes over, they are taken out from their hiding place and put out for display. It solves all sorts of problems. Trust me.

Not all family heirlooms are ugly, or deserve to be closeted away, mind you. It's just that how many can you really have out at one time? The Christmas morning principle applies here as well. Maybe if you haven't seen it in a very long time that candelabra might look good. Then again, maybe not.

I have no attachment to things that have come from yard sales. Oh, I thought they were wonderful when I bought them, but, really? They are another person's clutter that I took off their hands and I don't mind passing those things along. Ever. Truth be told, I can tell you what has come from a yard sale or estate sale in my home, and not much of it has been here for very long. I prefer to share the joy!

Things people have given me pose a problem similar to things-that-have-come-from-family. You don't want to hurt the feelings of the giver. So, those things go into the closet to mingle with the heirlooms and come out to the light of day on occasion. Or, I'll wait until that person moves away and put some of the things in a yard sale. Ruthless, I tell you.

Paper is my biggest enemy. Junk mail, coupons, booklets, lists, downloads of patterns or recipes, they all find their way into a mound of enormous proportions in no time. Paper clutter makes me feel tense and annoyed. And it usually comes from someone else. Why can't the gum wrappers be tossed in the trash instead of piled on the table? Hmm? Why does the WalMart circular deserve a place of honor on the kitchen island? Just throw them away. Okay? And yet, those things collect and collect and collect until I reach the boiling point and the top of my head pops off. It's not pretty. Solution? File, trash, shred or burn all the while uttering, "Bwahahahahaha!" at the top of my lungs. It is cathartic.

Lest I sound heartless and cruel, allow me to say that there are things in my home that have been given to me, come from family, have been with me since childhood, even a few yard sale items and yes, some papers, that will never go away. Period. They are dear to me and when I look at them and hold them in my hands they bring back sweet memories of times or people past. Those are the things that have surpassed the status of clutter and have become a part of this life of mine. It's just that I have to keep things manageable in order to keep my sanity.

So, if you ever come over and don't see that one thing you gave me, it's in the closet. Just don't ask which one.


Whimsey Creations said...

And here I thought I was the only one who hid 'things' in the closet until their givers came over LOLOLOL Nice to know I'm not alone!

Colleen - the AmAzINg Mrs. B said...

Oh, I am soooo with you on this - and it's very hard for me to get rid of these things..especially in my art room! But, I must be RUTHLESS..I have so much in there that I'm paralyzed to do any art..not a good thing..Sigh...

Thimbleanna said...

You're so funny! Those are PERFECT tips! Paper makes me insane -- it's actually made me hate having a kitchen island -- no matter what I do, I just can't keep that island clutter free. I've tried all kinds of schemes and they don't seem to work. Arrrgggghhhh! I need you to come and rap our knuckles and whip us into shape!