Last week I sat on the couch while Mark and Smitty finished putting dinner on the table. And then I stood at the counter while Smitty loaded my dishwasher and made the no-bake cookies I was craving. I felt guilty . . . a little. But at nine months pregnant I’ve reached my limit of pretty much everything, and just have to face the fact that I can’t do it all. And I certainly can’t do it alone.
We all have times like that, right? When life is hard or complicated or overwhelming. For me, decluttering anything of substance is also a time like that. Probably because various parts of my house look like this way too often:
Or, SIGH, this:
And every year after Christmas (or, really, any kind of break or vacation or long weekend or sickness or busy season or, FINE, regular week with no excuse), it’s even worse. The clutter builds up – sometimes on my dining room table, sometimes on a piano bench or desktop, sometimes in the kitchen, sometimes ALL OF THE ABOVE! – and I simply cannot DEAL WITH IT by myself.
Even this week, as I’ve been trying to cram a nursery into a tiny little office slash storage space slash cat room (I KNOW. A CAT ROOM. It’s not really. Whatever. Just go ahead and mock.), I haven’t been able to make a lick of progress without Mark or Annalyn holding my hand.
Yes. I’ve been reduced to decluttering and organizing with my six-year-old.
It’s not as bad as it sounds, though she mostly spends her time asking if she wore a certain outfit and squealing over how cute Everything Baby is. Her “help” has made me laugh, really, and think about a few other people who aren’t exactly IDEAL for assisting in the decluttering process.
A Few People to Avoid When Decluttering:
1. The Vicarious Hoarder: You’ll recognize this person by her ability to think of a use for every little ribbon, button or paper scrap in your craft closet. “Oh, but what if you need that later?” is his mantra. STAY AWAY FROM THIS PERSON.
2. The Callous Tosser: On the other hand, this friend or family member has no connection to your stuff whatsoever and doesn’t have patience or interest in your desire to control the chaos with a system. “Just throw it away!” she’ll say, rolling her eyes at your insistence on organization. It’s true; if you haven’t missed it in all the time it’s been in that pile, you might not need it. But this is YOUR stuff, so proceed with caution.
3. The Over Organizer: “I’ve got a bin for that. Oh, and let me bring you the filing cabinet I’ve been saving. Yes, and I’ll just bring that stack of crates I found on sale in case any of them work for you.” Heard any of that before? I have. And it’s just enough to slow down any decluttering momentum I might have accumulated, as I put every single thing from one messy pile into a neat one, waiting for my friend’s miraculous organizing systems.
There’s nothing wrong with accepting help or adopting others’ ideas for organizing your things, but if you’re just swapping one mess (or system that doesn’t work for YOU) for another…well, you’re better off just lugging all that junk to the trash bin or Goodwill!
Of course, your decluttering partner needs will vary from mine. Because STUFF overwhelms me, pregnant or not, I mostly just need someone to listen to me think out loud while answering the occasional not-so-hypothetical question. My husband, my mom, my best friend – who those categories may or may not be loosely based on – are helpful despite their own organizational or decluttering challenges when they simply lend a listening ear and extra arms to carry things from one end of the house to another.
And that silly six-year-old, giggling over THE TINY BABY SOCKS, MOM! THEY’RE SO TINY!? Well, she’s actually been the perfect helper the past few days as I’ve turned our little catch-all room into a passable nursery.
Just in time, too!
I’m scheduled for a C-section this coming Monday, although I’m feeling more and more nervous that this baby won’t wait that long. Over the next few weeks, look for a few guest posts, a few written-before-the-baby-arrived posts, and – fingers crossed – baby pictures! My hope (though nothing resembling a hard and fast plan) is to be back to normal blogging in February, but we’ll just play that by ear.
Until then, I have something to help you with your own decluttering. (Because, seriously, after the Winter Break That Never Ends, you can’t tell me your house is all Everything Has a Place. Even if it is. Don’t tell me that!)
We all need a little help getting rid of clutter and then keeping it away. And UGH, let’s not even talk about actual cleaning. (No, really. Even if I could see my feet these days, I wouldn’t look down there. My beautiful hardwoods are basically covered in a snow and salt layer of grime and topped with a liberal sprinkling of crumbs. I think. I’m not looking.)
So my friend Dana – also known as Nony at A Slob Comes Clean, a blog with realistic cleaning and organizing tips for real people (like us!) – is offering you and me a special deal on her incredibly helpful and fun-to-read ebooks. (Yep. I said cleaning ebooks are fun to read. THEY ARE. Because Dana is hilarious, smart and a super fun person who manages to make even the worst chores – AHEM, cleaning – enjoyable. For real.)
I have both these books and have read them more than once. They truly are hugely helpful when it comes to getting your STUFF under control and finding a few simple cleaning routines that aren’t too annoying and really do make a difference.
Who helps you with overwhelming decluttering projects? And, really, what’s the state of your house after the holidays?