One day, a friend came over, during the second Christmas season
that Philip and I shared together as a married couple.
It makes me so sad to say that I don’t remember her name,
as we have lost track of each other.
I specifically remember which house she lived in at the time,
way out in Turner community where I grew up.
As a matter of fact, I don’t even remember how we met
and that is simply tragic,
because she had profound influence on who I am today.
She didn’t go to Mountainburg school,
the school I grew up in.
And of course, we the students, all knew each other.
Right? Yes, that’s right!
But she showed up that drizzly winter day,
on my doorstep,
with her cute little energetic toddler in tow.
I think she was about 10 years older than I was at the time.
She had other children who were at school that day.
While her little boy ran around and jumped off the furniture
and tore the miniature stuffed teddy bears that I had on our Christmas tree,
she told me that she wasn’t decorating for Christmas.
She was too depressed,
she wasn’t into it that year…
I listened and tried to be a good friend
and encourage her to decorate for her kids…
if for no other reason, just the kids,
just decorate a tree…
but she couldn’t she said…
and so after agreeing to a time,
I went to her house
cleaned the whole thing
decorated for Christmas.
I remember how happy her kids
were when they got off the school bus
and burst through the door,
with quizzical expressions, wondering
who had driven the strange car parked
in the driveway.
I still remember their joy when they saw the clean house
all decorated for Christmas.
And so began my foray into helping others overcome
issues in their home.
Now lest you think I’m trying to promote myself as
you can rest assured that I hold no such title
I’ll just spare you the details
of our own issues
(like illness, and moves and large remodeling projects and helping others and leaving our stuff undone, because we could, and making sure clients were taken care of first, because their jobs matter and moving our office and rearranging my work space to be more efficient and helping others close out their estates and any other little thing that gets in the way of living life and leaves you in a whirl wind of …well clutter)
that have at times wreaked havoc
on peace and tranquility of our oasis at home,
I stand by my opinion that in small ways,
you can create breathing room for yourself
and your family
as it relates to clutter.
On more than one occasion I’ve been asked:
to help couples blend their homes
and family valuables,
clean a house,
decorate for a large dinner
or decorate a client’s home for Christmas
or help close an estate and sell the cast offs
or just clear the clutter and haul it off to donation
or the burn pile…
so, I’ve been around the block a few times with stuff.
My own stuff,
business inventory and paperwork,
the stuff LIFE is made of…
and other peoples stuff.
It can turn into an overwhelming avalanche.
But take heart.
It doesn’t have to be forever…
just a season…
a phase of life.
Because life happens.
So if you are buried in clutter,
I’m going to share a few quick fixes with you
to give you a pocket of breathing room.
10 Ways to Quickly Clear the Clutter
- Determine why you are overwhelmed with clutter. If you are dealing with clutter, you are dealing with more stuff than you have room for, or more stuff than you have time for, or more stuff than you have energy for, OR all of the above.
- Ask someone you can trust to help you. If clutter is eating you alive in your own home, don’t despair. There are ways to deal with it and you can ask a trusted friend to help you or do it for you. I had one client who called me and asked me to help her with her stuff. She said that she needed to confess that she was a “hoarder”. I didn’t know her before I arrived at her home, but just giving her hope in the midst of her situation gave her new perspective. You can find that hope also if you are feeling overwhelmed.
- Realize your home has “prime real estate”. In your home there are areas of “prime real estate”, such as the area right by the door where you or your guests enter your home, the chairs that you sit in, the bed you sleep on, your kitchen counter tops and your bathroom counter tops.
- Work quickly without sorting. Just scoop it and move it! Tackle the areas of “prime real estate” first and quickly, by scooping any clutter you may have into a laundry basket or box, (DON’T, I REPEAT, DON’T sort through it, just put it in the box) and it’s ok to leave it sitting right there by the door, or by your chair, or by your bed, or at the end of your counter top. Now clearly, if it is a cereal bowl of milk and soggy cereal put it in the sink or dishwasher. And obvious trash, yeah, throw that way. But try this…like ‘green eggs and ham”…you just might like this approach! Try it and be amazed!!! Amaze yourself with just how much better you feel with those spaces cleared and everything contained in one place if you need it. Try it! Let me know how good it feels!
- Once a space is cleared, keep it clear. The next time you feel the urge to lay something on the chair, or counter top, just put it in the box instead. Except cereal bowls with milk and soggy cereal…yep, the sink and obvious trash…the trash can, but do your best to keep those areas of “prime real estate” clear, even if the rest of the room is cluttered and messy. Just seeing clear space in a room, has a calming effect.
- Choose an out of the way place for stuff. When I am working on a whole house or a complete room, I choose an out of the way place, or area to put anything that may be causing clutter so the rest of the room has a semblance of order. Once again, resist the urge to sort (that comes later). You are working quickly..”.like Kate Middleton is coming over and your house is a mess quickly”… Some out of the way places could be behind a sofa. In one of our houses, I set the sofa at an angle across the corner of the room, and when it was time to put the toys away, they went into that corner behind the sofa. It just felt better at the end of the day to not be staring at toys all over the living space. You could put boxes behind a sofa or chair that sits in a corner and then drape a table cloth over it so that it has a cohesive look. One of my friends once put her extra stuff in her spare bathtub and pulled the shower curtain closed.
- Don’t feel bad for choosing a quick approach. How many times have you pulled EVERYTHING out of your closet or the kitchen cabinets or dresser drawers to sort and organize and before you knew it you were out of time and stuff was strung everywhere. Remember these are quick fixes leading toward a long term solution. If you follow Dave Ramsey, you know that he says to tackle the debt first, that you can pay off the most quickly. Somehow just paying of that debt quickly energizes you for the long haul of kicking debt to the curb. That concept applies here. Tackle the “prime real estate” areas of your home first and quickly and then come back and deal with each space as you have time or energy.
- Realize this will energize you for the larger task ahead. Once you’ve quickly worked your way through your house collecting stuff into boxes or baskets, you will begin to see your home through new eyes. You will feel new creative energy.
- Don’t get hung up on feeling like you also need to clean as you scoop things into boxes. Keep in mind that you, your family and your guests will notice clutter before they notice whether or not you dusted or cleaned.
- Celebrate your success, no matter how small. Sit down with a hot cup of coffee, or glass of cold lemonade and enjoy the open spaces you have created, even if it’s just your chair and the rest of the room is messy.
When I was a child my mother subscribed to a weekly publication called “Grit”.
I think it arrived in our mailbox on Thursday and I would rush off the school bus and read as much of it as I could before starting chores and homework.
One of my favorite columns was titled,
“Helpful Hints from Heloise”.
She would discuss cleaning issues and getting spots out of fabric and the best way to dye your hair, or other random things of general interest to anyone who might be trying to keep a nice home. Which clearly, as a young school girl, I did not fit into that category, but I’ve always loved the process of problem solving issues related to life and homemaking (NOT Math or Geometry). If you would have a chance to look at the books I’ve collected, you would find titles in the same category of home and family life. And so, the cycle continues…though I’m not helpful Heloise, I do hope you will find ideas to help you if you are feeling overwhelmed with clutter. By taking these quick baby steps you can begin creating an oasis at home.