Clutter

I tried for like five minutes to write a catchy title for this post but I got nothing.

I wanted to write quite a bit about this tonight but Monito is really sick and it took three hours to get him to sleep. Who knows how long he’ll be out, and I’m starting to feel the twinges of sick myself, so I promised myself I’d go to bed when I am done pumping. All this to say, I might not get it all out tonight, but I’m going to try.

I’ve been wanting to tackle the clutter in my house since the beginning of my maternity leave but it wasn’t until January that I felt I could manage it, or at least attempt to. There are a few big problem areas in our house, areas that cause me an incredible amount of stress. Of course, these are the areas we need to navigate on a daily basis. I have been wanting not only to clean and organize those areas, but to feel like I really KNEW where everything went. I want a spot for each and every thing in my house, and I want to know where each spots is.

The problem is I so easily get overwhelmed. I literally don’t know how to start these gargantuan tasks, my ADD makes it almost impossible for me to be productive. Basically, I need back up.

Today my mom TOOK THE DAY OFF to help me clean my house. Yeah, she wrote sub plans and burned a personal day so she could help me tackle the disaster area that is my house. She is truly amazing. Also my in-laws took Monito for me. They are also amazing. I am truly blessed.

I knew we weren’t going to have enough time to do everything we wanted to do, but we managed to get a lot of it done. The biggest areas were the entry way (where we dump EVERYTHING on our way in and out), the big cutting board/table in our kitchen (always covered in dirty dishes, mail, knick knacks, this and that), the shelving unit in our bathroom (a graveyard of personal care products), our entire bedroom (I can’t even describe how dire this situation is), and the storage nook in the garage (where the big shit goes to die). We got all of them done except the master bedroom, which we started but didn’t really finish. I felt the most successful area was the storage nook in the garage, and every time I walk past it when I’m doing laundry I feel warm and squishy inside.

I’m disappointed that we didn’t get more done in our room, but really, Mi.Vida needs to be a part of that effort, as half the stuff in there is his. Maybe we can have his parents watch the kids one day and just go in and get it done.

As far as my ultimate goal, I do feel like I figured out where more things went, but I didn’t find a home for EVERYTHING. I was a bit disappointed about that. I did get closer, though, and I suppose that is something.

Recently SRB asked some questions about clutter and the emotions it inspires as part of her Who Needs It? Challenge. Ever since reading that post, I have been thinking about how clutter makes me feel; I paid careful attention today, as I worked through the biggest problem areas in our house.

Clutter makes me feel a lot of things, all of them negative, some of them down right awful. Among the array of unpleasant feelings are: incompetent, hopeless, helpless, unable, stupid, embarrassed and frustrated. Mostly clutter makes me feel guilty. I feel guilty for having so many things when so many others are wanting. I feel guilty for buying so those things in the first place. I feel guilty for not using them anymore. I feel guilty for allowing my home to get so bad. I feel guilty for throwing away the stuff that I can’t keep and no one else would want. I just feel… guilty.

My clutter represents deep personal failings. It’s the manifestation of all my worst qualities: my laziness, my greed, my irresponsibility, my lack of self-control. The clutter in my house embarrasses me. I’m ashamed that I allow things to get so bad and I’m ashamed that I’m not bothered enough about it to make it better. I’m ashamed that I bought all that shit in the first place and I’m ashamed that I’ll have to throw most of it away. I’m just…ashamed.

The clutter in my house is constant evidence of my failings, how I’ve failed as a housekeeper and mother. How I’ve failed as a woman. I can’t do the ONE THING we’ve always been tasked to manage. (Come to think of it, I can’t do the other one either, as I’m a crappy, incompetent cook).

So yeah, the clutter in my house makes me feel pretty shitty about myself. I tried to work through some of that today, but the negative feelings are still there. I suspect they always will be.

How does your clutter make you feel?

8 responses

  1. Maybe you could donate your clutter (at least the useful/not broken stuff) as opposed to throwing it out? Then it wouldn’t just sit in a landfill; someone else may be able to use it and you may not feel as guilty as you do for buying it.

    • I absolutely donate everything that someone else would want or be able to use. But a lot of it is stuff that no one wants, like half used lotions and vitamin bottles and things like that.

  2. That is SO AWESOME that your mom took off work to help you. My mom is the same way- I hope to be that kind of mother to my adult children some day.

    I’m still working out the thoughts in my head to be able to write my clutter/emotions post, but I have a lot of the same themes as you…guilt, embarrassment, failure. But just know you are not a failure, but you are also not alone in the emotions that your stuff brings up.

  3. I hate clutter. It leaves me feeling VERY overwhelmed and almost anxious. I feel like my life is falling apart if I don’t pick up messes or have my house clean and organized. That being said, now that I’m a mom of two boys, I’m SLOWLY learning to “let it go.” When it was just Aiden and I, it was much easier to keep our house tidy and clean. I could stick him in his highchair with toys or snack, and quickly clean. Now, it’s nearly impossible. I’ve given up picking up toys all day, instead just pick them up (with Aiden’s help) before bedtime and vaccum then. My husband has had to really pick up the slack at home now too, he’s been doing all the laundry (washing, folding, putting away) on the weekends. I keep seeing these weekly house cleaning charts floating around online. Those are fine and dandy, except who wants to clean their house during nap time (my internet time!) or bedtime? NOT ME!!! 🙂 I figure someday us mom’s will finally get clean houses, but then we will miss the kids and their messes! Great job getting your house organized though! It’s amazing the amount of stuff we accumulate that we never use and need to through away.

  4. Oh the guilt. So much guilt in the clutter. It’s really hard for me to handle my mother visiting because although my house looks just like ours did growing up, my mother is hyper critical of it because now that she has 3/4 of her belongings in storage and zero children, her house is immaculate (so she says, she lives far away so I haven’t seen it). I get trapped in the guilt and it immobilizes me. The next time we move, we are only boxing up a few things so we start fresh instead of all this mess that’s been trailing us around for years. Hopefully the emotions can leave with the mess and once the worst is gone, it will be easier to manage and let the guilt go and stay gone.

  5. A few weeks ago, my friend Fiona left me this little gem in a comment:

    “I totally get your point about everyone’s clutter being just that… their clutter… which can be so different from someone elses… And I wonder if some people are thinking of mess more than clutter?? Which to me feels quite different. Mess can be cleaned up without thought or EMOTIONS… a cleaner could come in and clean up mess for us for example….And clutter is the tough thing. Clutter does take thought. Clutter does take EMOTIONS.”

    The two things are intertwined, and there *might* be less mess with less clutter, but there is also daily life, so… I don’t know! It can be really hard to differentiate between the two though, and I am trying to be very intentional and considerate when I look at a space, and then when I think about what to do, and then when I do it. I really believe I need to work on habits (including being hard on myself) in order to truly simplify and de-clutter. For me, the hardest part of this will be acceptance. Slowly. Slowly.

  6. I get overwhelmed by too much stuff, too…and I feel like I should be more on top of it…but I’m actually trying to let go of that instinct. Its stuff. We are not hoarders, we are BUSY people with other priorities. One day our house will contain only the things we love, but it takes a lot of time and energy to sort through things, donate/sell/dispose of properly. You did a LOT, and now you have a baby to snuggle…you’ll get to it when you get to it. (sorry to be the rain on the Decluttering parade, but there is a time for everything and this is NOT the time for me…and I really want to stop feeling guilty or lazy about that!)

  7. I feel overwhelmed by the clutter, too. It is hard to know where to start, and I feel wasteful throwing it away, and I hate the idea that after I put things away there will be a big mess again soon after. But every once in awhile I get some energy to get rid of things, and it looks so great and it’s so exciting!

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