Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Clutter-Colored Glasses

It's amazing how your vision clears when you go away for a few days.

I went to a writers' conference, and though I came home at night, I was basically home just to sleep and have some breakfast until my eyes fully opened. Then out the door I went, into the world of the written word.

When I returned, I'd noticed changes in my family- and my house.

Have you ever noticed something odd or off or just plain not right in your home after coming home from a trip? It's like I'd taken off clutter-colored glasses.

My family was in a funk- and that funk was absorbed by the contagion of their funky surroundings.

There was clutter everywhere. Stuff I either didn't notice before, or was placed there while I was gone. It didn't help that the basement had partially flooded earlier that week and they brought a lot of the funky stuff upstairs to dehumidify.

Yet the basement had dried out days ago, and still the stuff sat in our living room and dining room. Instead of putting it all back (and then some), all of us just stepped around it like it was a natural growth forest of clutter.

At least until I came home.

Okay, so that's not entirely true. I had a lot of writing stuff to go through, so I walked around the junk and made my way to my writing sanctuary upstairs.

I slighted the sloppiness.
Passed over the papers.
Disregarded the dishes.
Usurped the upstairs and hid like a hermit.

Apparently the clutter-colored glasses were also worn in my sanctuary, for it was strewn with papers tossed (as I looked for the good stuff to submit for the conference), craft supplies left out and partially toppled, all in a chaotic, glittery pile. 

Maybe I can sell this mess as art on Etsy. So much for escaping the clutter!

I said to myself 'if they don't care, neither do I' and went back downstairs to watch funny cat videos with the family. But the depressive air continued to stifle. We constantly tripped over stuff, squabbles over who stuff was whose to move out of the way, and I was embarrassed to have people over. 

And what the heck was that smell?

The more the clutter grew, the less anyone wanted to do anything about it. And I was part of the problem because I'd never noticed.

God kept nagging me to do something. We needed to declutter and clean this house top to bottom. But how was I going to do that with a wonky forearm and people not motivated to move? I'm talking everyone, including my normally hyperactive husband!

God gave me the answer.

I talked to my husband about it, and the next day we implemented my clean-up plan.

One room. 

Just work on one room per day (or two if we needed it) for just an hour or two per day. Declutter and deep clean everything. Husband and daughter deep clean and move furniture, son clears and sorts into boxes and bags, and I go through the bags and shred, sort, file and put away things. No taking entire weekends and huge chunks of time out to do the entire house. Eat the cluttered whale one bite at a time.

And on Monday, we went into action. It worked!

First we put on a mix of music everyone liked and could sing as they worked. All surfaces were cleared and anything that we knew would stay got wiped down and put back after cleaning. There wasn't much that belonged on most of the flat surfaces that needed to stay. By the time we were done, half the room shone like a star. Already the house seemed to be more cheerful.

And I shredded enough paper to fill en entire trash bag.

The living room took two days to complete, and I have all kinds of bags to sort through before putting anything back. Right now the living room is sparse and clean-looking, but it lacks that homeyness. Those items are in the bags, ready to be cleaned and sorted. If it doesn't belong, out it goes- either to the room it does belong or to the donations box.

Today and tomorrow we're working on the dining room. I figure if we take two days in each room on the first floor and take Fridays off to play games (now that we have access to them!), that leaves the weekends free. 

We'll keep doing this until both kids are in school or working. 

Years ago I told you I was a borderline hoarder. This was how I beat it. I'm still amazed at how bad things got before I saw it happening again- this time with my family. But I am so thankful that God motivated me to see what was going on and do something about it. 

And guess what? The bickering has almost completely stopped. Tempers have cooled and we even played around a little while we were working and the music was playing. When the work was done we had lunch together, talked, and enjoyed that precious time together as a family. And when my husband went to work, the kids and I watched a clutter-free movie- and didn't even have to look for the remote!