Mess begets mess, so try the vice versa

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Ivy says:

Yesterday, my mom came over because she had a little time to kill before going to work. There wasn’t any time to clean up because she called me as she turned onto my street. Thanks, mom. “Ah, Ivy,” she said, “Your home is a bastion of cleanliness.” We both laughed because, to be honest, my house has been quite a disaster lately. I would undoubtedly receive the Home Ec 101 Seal of Disapproval if we were handing out seals.

When my grandmother died, my uncle started giving me her stuff.  I have a small garage that was nearly full of our own things.  Grandma’s stuff has spilled into my living room and now in the space of less than 6 months, my house has reached full on disaster status. Let this be a lesson, the minute you let the mess creep in, the mess multiplies like Tribbles and the next thing you know, you have a messy house. The irritating part is, I already knew this, but depression over losing my grandma and the sheer amount of stuff I got went a long way to helping me ignore my own advice.

I’m telling you this not because I think it’s fun to tell y’all about my house being a disaster, but because I suspect at least some of you are in the same boat. Your house is cluttered. If it’s anything like mine, it’s fairly sanitary (pay no attention to those cat boxes behind the curtain!), but clutter has set in, it’s overwhelming, and you’re not even really sure how to get started.

Never fear! Mess and chaos spread, but so does clean. The key is to leverage the momentum. Normally, when cleaning, I like to set a timer. But with remedial cleaning, I like to do this “by the job.” For example, this morning I cleaned off the top of the kids’ toy cabinet. I had to be ruthless- did I really want to keep all 8,447 pictures my daughter had drawn? I picked my 2 favorites and hung them up.

Make a plan for your remedial cleaning. Now that the top of the kids’ toy cabinet is cleaned off, the next job is to clean the inside of it. Someone hold me, I’m scared. Make a list and enjoy crossing off each task!  A sense of accomplishment helps move things along.  Eventually, your house will be the “bastion of cleanliness” it once was. And so will mine.

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11 thoughts on “Mess begets mess, so try the vice versa”

  1. Sometimes I break this sort of cleaning into “5 minute jobs.” I’m very strict about what the scope of the job is because it can easily expand and take over the morning. Or seem insurmountable and never get done. So I stick to the job as defined, get it done and make a note for any other ideas I come up with.

    For example, I decided to move all my baking supplies into a lower cabinet that my daughter used to play in. The project could have expanded to cleaning and reorganizing the whole pantry, but I stuck to the original job: move items from A to B. It got done lickety split and the kitchen is a little more organized.

  2. Awww the clutter. I know and hate it. Unless I stay absolutely on top of it its get out of control. Had a relative that dropped of a box of dishes from my wife’s deceased Nana. Now she passed over 3 years ago and the stuff is dated, but of course we couldn’t NOT accept the stuff. Ugg

  3. Oh, Oh… this reminded me of something we did some time back.

    My wife had “had it” with the amount of drawing and pictures that we had accumulated from our daughter.

    We didn’t go quite as dramatic as you did, but she was set to dispose of quite a few as well, but I wasn’t quite ready to dispose of “memories” quite yet.

    The solution?

    I took my Digital Camera and set it up on a tripod in an area with good light (so I didn’t have to use the flash), and photographed them. (For some, I probably could have used a scanner, but since some were too big for that, I decided to just do them all the same way).

    So, now what was several storage boxes full of (now recycled) paper, has been reduced to a single CD-ROM (with room to spare).

  4. Oh, the clutter. THE CLUTTER! My dear hubby can’t part with anything, and I found a portfolio with all of our children’s drawings while I was packing to move a few weeks ago. I kept a lot of them (he was out of town), but I did exactly what JayMonster did…snapped digipix of them so I could rid of some of the clutter! Now, the children can get on the computer and scroll through the past three years of their improving artwork, and I found out WHY that darn drawer never closed properly.

    Additionally, once hubby found out how much money I can make on craigslist, he’s become a bit more lenient about my ridding the house of things. I’ve gotten rid of over 12 LEAF BAGS of stuff, plus furniture, etc. That’s kind of sad.

  5. This is just the kick in the butt I needed this morning.

    I’ve been meaning to tell you how much I love this site and the work you guys do here…this seems like a perfect time to do so.

  6. Growing up in a cluttered house with a list of daily chores as long as I was tall gave me a huge appreciation for minimalism. Today I live in a mostly empty house. Table and chairs in the dining, bed and dresser in the bedroom. Our only clutter lies in the attic… and it’s not even ours. Since we have “all that space”, family sees it fit to crowd their storage in our attic. Bummer.

  7. “Someone hold me, I’m scared.” Lol! Yer funny… 🙂

    I’m about ready to give up on the mess in my house and get a cleaning service or something. I’m just lazy… 😛

  8. I think the best motivation to really thoroughly clean your your house is if you have a visitor staying over. Ideally though, one should clean the house thoroughly at least once a week.

  9. The kids box reminded me of the trauma of helping my daughter with her room yesterday. I took your advice you posted about putting everything on the bed and doing the perimeter of the room..(it worked!).. but then for putting everything back it was horrible… all those little annoying things that kids collect.. rocks, paper scraps, lego, doll pieces, stickers.. a marker lid.. bits to games, unidentifiable tiny little cluttery things, all ended up on her nice clean dresser. Of course she displays them proudly, but honestly it looks like a junk pile on her dresser. I guess it's her dresser though right? Maybe I should just close her door and not look at it. And if I try to throw it out? look out! ( I do what I can when she's not home though). My question is, what can we do with all this little stuff?

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