Friday, December 12, 2008

just don't bring it in...

I have a fourteen month old todler. He is the most active, curious little boy I have ever met. My house is not spotless. In fact, my house is so far from spotless I am slightly embarassed. My biggest challenge is the floor. Joseph manages to get things on there that do not wipe off easily if they are not removed immediatly. And of course there are toys scattered here and there, and my desk, despite me tidying it once a week dares to collect papers and crackers and even a bottle of apple cider that belongs in the kitchen cabinet.
There. That is a disclaimer out of the way.

My house may be untidy it is, however, not cluttered. Maybe it is because I grew up in Europe where there simply IS less house to clutter. Maybe it is because I lived in a one room efficiency for two and a half year, where I only had a few kitchencupboards, two under the bed boxes and an armoir. But I do not have a cluttered house.

Just like there are only two secrets to losing weight (diet and exercise) there are only two secrets to having an uncluttered house: not bringing it in, and getting it out. The famous flylady program is right about that. You can not organise clutter. You can only eliminate it. The way to do that is simple. If you do not absolutely love it AND need it, do not buy it. Do not accept it if it is given. Do not let it cross the treshhold of your house. If it is already IN your house, and you do not love it and need it, get it out.

Old papers need to be tossed. Old clothes need to be tossed or given away. My husband and I share one (admittedly big) closet, and even with both of our clothes in it, it is not full. I own about six pairs of shoes in total. One pair of boots, one pair of black work out shoes. Two pairs of heeled shoes, and one pair of heeled sandals, and one pair of flats. I do not need any more, so I do not store anymore.
We were blessed with a lot of clothes after my son was born. At 14 months, of course he has outgrown many of them. I tossed a very limited amount of clothing that was just not usable anymore, selected some outfits that I had really, really loved, and donated the rest. Yes, we do plan more children but we trust that we will be able to provide new (or second hand) clothes for our new baby then. And in the mean time an other mom will be blessed with these.

My biggest problem in tossing is keeping things out of a guilty conscience. Remember that lipstick that you bought, that you have worn two times and simply do not like? You can not throw away a brand new lipstick can you? You spend money on it! Maybe you will change your mind? Maybe you will grow to like it. Maybe you will grow a tail? Keeping this lipstick will not make you like it more. So the only consequence of keeping it, will be that it takes up room in your house while it still will not be used and you will still not get your money's worth out of it. If you are not using it, and you can not see something changing that will make you use it, toss it NOW.

Living in an uncluttered house makes it easier to clean when you DO have the time. If I manage to spend three hours cleaning, I can have my entire house done, plus toss in a few loads of laundry at the same time. While I rarely have this time, it IS wonderful to know that while my house isn't tidy, it never is more than three hours away from tidy.

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

Great post.

I am a keeper of things out of sentiment and guilt, as well. I've found that if I toss it early on, less emotional stuff collects around it and I forget about it. But, if I keep it long enough, then I do have to work through the emotional stuff surrounding it. Like keeping things just because someone gave them to me.

It always amazed me when my kids were in the crawling stage how I could mop my floors, and as soon as they were dry, the babies would crawl across them and still get dirty knees!