November 01, 2014

Decluttering - Do it now!

The past 7 months have sidelined me as a housewife.  I spent from March to late August directing the Summer lunch program in our community.  During that time I did minimal housework – only what was absolutely necessary.  When the program was over, I was faced with a house that needed my attention ASAP.  It was, and still is, overwhelming.  I got sick a couple of weeks ago just when I was starting to make a little head way on the housework.  So after 1 week of a sinus infection that went into a second week of being sick with bronchitis, the house was really in bad shape. 

How many of you have houses that are disaster sites right now?  Yeah, I was very busy this spring and summer but the fact remains that I wasn’t doing a very good job at keeping my house in order to begin with.  If I had, it would have been much easier to maintain when I was busy or better yet, easier to delegate the cleaning. 

My husband is a dream in that he not only loves me and supports the different volunteer roles I take on, he doesn’t criticize when things get out of control at home.  He usually throws in some laundry, empties the dishwasher, vacuums and picks up without saying anything.  He just sees what needs to be done, and does it.  My problem is that I don’t like it when he does that because he works a full time plus job and he deserves his down time in the evening and the weekends. 

So to sum up:  not doing a very good job of maintaining a house leads to a disaster when you get busy which leads to guilt when someone tries to help you out.  Yep that’s me - sidetracked, guilt ridden with a case of attention deficit thrown in. 

When I was sick I spent a lot of time resting on the couch.  When you don’t have small children at home you get the luxury of resting when you are sick.  During that time I made a mental plan for changes.  I am not perfect and my home will never be perfect, but there are definitely some new habits I needed to work on.

The first thing I tackled when I felt better was to work on the main floor of our house.  If I were to keep certain rooms always picked up and relatively clean, I would feel a lot better.  These rooms are the ones that you can see from the front door:  living room, dining room and kitchen.  The downstairs bathroom is my bathroom so since I use it all the time, it is neat and clean.   I decided the minimum standard in my house is that these rooms are kept picked up (even if they aren’t clean).   As to the two downstairs bedrooms (one is now my sewing room), those have doors I can close, so they are not included in the minimum standard.

Next up, decluttering my house.  Yep, I’m not deep cleaning from top to bottom, until I get rid of the stuff that I need to get out of my house.  Why would I dust and clean stuff that I am going to give away anyway?  I have determined that in my home there are the following categories of clutter:  clothes, shoes, books, c.d.’s, outerwear, kitchen gadgets, lamps, furnishings, decorating items, holiday décor, and exercise equipment. 

I have been spending 45 minutes in the morning and 45 minutes in the afternoon 3 days a week going through the clutter and making a pile of stuff to give away.  That is all I can devote to this project and still keep me from being side tracked.  On the days that I declutter I take the items and pack them up, put them in my car and immediately take them to a thrift store to donate.  I don’t keep them until I have one huge room full of donation items.  I have found that if you get rid of the stuff each day, then you don’t struggle with second thoughts of keeping the items and you don’t have a big pile of stuff that you have to walk around. 

The more I declutter, the more I am coming closer to a goal of a neater house.  Once the decluttering is done, the seasonal deep cleaning will begin.  What is my motivation?  I have a mental picture of my home after the clutter is gone.  I see a home that is neat, orderly and simple.  My basement won’t be filled with boxes upon boxes of holiday décor and exercise equipment we don’t need.

Now is the time to go through your home and declutter.  Goodwill and other thrift stores get more and more customers over the holidays.  Go through your decorations and if you haven’t put up certain items in a few years, then quit storing them and get rid of them.  Get rid of the winter clothes in your closet that you know you won’t wear this season.  Many organizations are looking for donations of winter coats at this time of year. 

I have been feeling such freedom in giving away items I no longer use or need.  I know that each day that I spend decluttering brings me closer to my dream of an easier home to maintain.  


Paula said...

It sounds like you have an excellent plan and are really making progress. I understand your dream of an orderly home, but don't be hard on yourself, either. The other things you do are important.

One problem I have is that a good deal of clutter I'd like to get rid of isn't MINE. It's my husband's. Of course, he might feel the same way about my library and craft room!

Martha said...

@Paula: Well, my husband is very happy about the decluttering BUT I did tell him I had one problem. I plan on moving craft items into bins and put them on book shelves in an upstairs small bedroom. The problem? The majority of the books on those shelves are his. He is an avid book reader but now that he has a Kindle, he doesn't purchase hard books anymore. He has to go through those books so that I can keep the momentum going. I have told him that this week he must go through those books or the decluttering will come to a halt. Well, he is so happy about all the decluttering so he is eager to get rid of his books too.