Drowning in household clutter

I enjoy a serene living space.  But sometimes I’ve found myself in a cluttered living space not knowing how I got there, or how to get out.    Several years ago when I was a young mom I discovered a website called Flylady.  It was a ‘how to clean out your clutter’ site, and was based on the simple premise of starting out by keeping your kitchen sink clean.  Which sounds simple enough, but when you’re self-employed at home and you’ve got small children, there didn’t seem to be time to eat, clean up, do voice work, enjoy your kids AND keep the sink clean. Ours was the house that looked like it had blown up inside, with couch cushions on the floor as forts, snacks (on little plates if I was lucky) on the floor between Lego projects and Thomas train tracks in various configurations.

The kids had a GREAT childhood.  Good food was eaten by all (eventually).  Clients were overjoyed with our fast turn-around and professional voice work.  But clutter?  Yeah, that’s where things got backed up.

Back to Flylady.  It said that if you start with keeping your kitchen sink cleared out and cleaned up before you go to bed at night, at least when you woke up in the morning you could smile about that.  And be able to use the sink to start your day (instead of having it be full of last night’s dirty dishes).  I tried it.  It really did work.  Instead of feeling guilty about what I didn’t get done that day, I could be grateful the sink was clean.  Baby steps.

The next step was to work on one area of your home per week.  Each day of that week you would be instructed to clean just ONE tiny area.  Maybe during the kitchen week, on Monday it would be to clean out your silverware drawer. Most of these de-clutterings took from 5-15 minutes.  Done for the day.  What I personally found was, once I had a small success, if I had the time, I’d tackle another kitchen drawer just for fun.  When you’re a parent of small children and run a business from home, you don’t have a lot of long stretches to do things, so 5-15 minute projects were just perfect. Plus, the way the instructions were written was humorous and fun.

After a few  years I realized my house looked pretty good!  It wasn’t cluttered anymore!  My kids were getting older, too, and I think that helped (they were at school during the day making messes THERE instead of at home 24/7).  I was in the habit of de-cluttering as I went along, a little at a time.  So I stopped going to the Flylady website.

With the Better Ideas Now site, I figured I’d talk about this better idea, so checked out the site again.  Looks like it has expanded to include diet, exercise, and a lot more than de-cluttering.  The goal now is helping people get better, one step at a time, in myriad ways.  Feel free to explore the Flylady website to get the tips that fit you and your needs.  Or check out the big tent list, which is probably closer to what was available when I was doing Flylady years ago – simpler with a little bit more hand holding, and focused on just the de-cluttering aspect.

4 responses to “Drowning in household clutter

  1. I need to get back on that Flywagon! I’ve really benefited from FlyLady in the past, but I’ve become a little slack of late and I’ve noticed the clutter creeping back in (understatement of the week!). Thanks for the tip!

  2. I’m not a professional de-clutter person, but now that Kristen is married, could she take her childhood stuff to her new home? I wonder what would happen if you turned her old bedroom into a shrine of some of your kids’ artwork/memories? I know you’ve got an artistic hand and an eye for decorating. It might make you smile to walk into that room and see all the love you’ve invested in your kids/their art/their growth over the years. Just a thought. As for your mom, yeah, I’m at a loss for what to say. Since she collected professionally for years, she’s got her own house stuffed with things. And since you love her, you may feel that you need to keep her close by keeping her things close, just like she did. Maybe I could ask on a post for people to give their ideas on how they’ve dealt with this?

  3. Unfortuatly Barb I am realizing I am more like my Mom than I thought. I really struggle getting rid of things. Especially if it has anything to do with my Mom or my kids. If there is any chance I might need it someday I can’t force myself to do it. It is like a pull that usually wins so there I sit paralyzed in my clutter.

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