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Attack of the clutter beast

Submitted by on Sunday, 1 June 2008 No Comment

Originally published June 8, 2007, thehive.modbee.com 

 It says something about my life that it’s taken more than a week for me to get to a recent parenting.com newsletter offering “our best clutter-control tips”.

My email box, you see, is in as bad a shape as the rest of my world. In neatly organized subfolders, I have 955 unread emails from the National Institute for Computer Assisted Reporting, 62 from the governor’s PR machine and 39 in a catch-all folder labeled “parenting.”

In my laundry area, I have two baskets of washed and neatly folded clothes, sorted by owner. It drives me nuts every morning, rifling through piles to find something for the kids to wear. 

My dining room table is a crapalanche. I haven’t seen its surface since December, when it was briefly and gloriously cleared for a Christmas luncheon. It’s now populated with bag after bag of mail – items that will never be read, but need shredded before they’re tossed.

See? I know how to organize. I’m just lost as to what to do with all that organization. OK, I’m lying. I know exactly what to do with it. But I lack the will to finish the job. 

That’s also a pattern in my life. In Little Guy’s room is the Closet of Good Intentions – chock full of fabric paint, dried flowers, grapevine wreaths and enough ribbon to decorate a platoon. Unfinished projects, all.

On another side of the house, there’s the Garage of My Past Life, jammed with cake pans and other decorating supplies. I’m sure I’ll have time for my favorite hobby eventually. Like, in 20 years or so.

I didn’t used to be this way. All right, I’m lying again. I’ve always had a Closet of Good Intentions. But the rest of the house was under control. So clearly, this mess must be the kids’ fault. Bad, bad children!

I stumbled across the FlyLady a few years back – when I had only one kid and roughly a third of the current mess – because her homepage sounded promising.

“Are YOU living in CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome) … ? Do you feel overwhelmed, overextended, and overdrawn? Hopeless and you don’t know where to start? Don’t worry friend, we’ve been there, too.”

That was enough to hook me, so I clicked on the “beginner baby steps” link. Good to ease into things, I thought. 

Except she eases a little too much.

  • Day One: shine your sink.
  • Day Two: get dressed to lace-up shoes and shine your sink.
  • Day Three: get dressed down to lace-up shoes, shine your sink and read your daily reminders.

I couldn’t care less if my sink is shiny, my life is not so chaotic that I can’t find my clothes (it just takes a while), and the last thing I need is more email reminders. I’m outta here! 

I did go back a little later, and, to tell the truth, there is some good advice. Such as her 27 Fling Boogie – walk through your house with a garbage bag and don’t stop until you’ve put 27 items in. Then carry the bag straight to the garbage. The outside garbage. Do not peek, do not remove anything.

So I tried that this weekend in Big Guy’s room, amid much freaking out on his part. “NOOOOOO!!!!!!!!! Not my toys!” I quickly moved on to Little Guy’s room, where Big Guy was only too happy to help put toys in the bag. 

We  were finished about 10 minutes later. One overstuffed bag, ready to go, not to the garbage, but to the kids’ day care. I could not bring myself to throw away perfectly good playthings.

Except five days later, the bag remains beside the front door. I guess I’m waiting on it to walk to the car under its on steam. 

There is no hope for me.

Copyright 2007 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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