Monday, July 9, 2012

Learning from my housekeeping mistakes ... again

I'm trying to declutter in our home, but it is SO hard to get the family on board.  No one can agree on WHAT is clutter -- what should stay and what should go.  If I try to please everyone, then nothing goes.  If I try to please the majority, then not enough goes.

In a large family of packrats, I need to think VERY hard about what I allow to come into the house in the first place.  Sometimes I am very good at this.  Sometimes I start to let things slide by and the house begins to fall into chaos again.

This Spring, I made two mistakes.  They seemed like good useful items at the time.  The first one was a train table to replace our coffee table so that our younger kids could use their Thomas the Tank Engine train pieces regularly.  The second one was a pile of bean bags to free up couch space for older family members while younger ones sat on the floor. Good ideas, right?

Well, maybe not such bad ideas if I didn't already have an extra piece of furniture in my living room ... a futon couch that we all know needs to go, but we haven't taken the time to find it a new home.  (And moving it out will mean moving a very large bookshelf in the hallway ... again.  That was another bad idea of mine.)

But, besides the space issue, my one year old quickly dismantled the trainset glued to the top of the train table.  Literally -- within two days.  So it was perpetually in a state of disarray with pieces scattered all over it.  When other toys were set on it, they just blended in with the train pieces and were ignored by "picker-uppers".  It was always cluttered! 

The bean bags were continually either piled on one end of the futon, making it non-usable, or scattered all over the living room floor, making it un-walkable.  Part of the problem there was that there were just too many of them.  Several of them needed to be combined because they were too thin, but the zippers had been disabled by the previous owner so I hadn't yet taken the time to try to overcome that. Instead of a few useful beanbags, we had a floor full of flat beanbags.

Today I had enough.  I re-glued the train table track in place.  I'm trying to decide if it needs to find a new home so I can have my regular coffee table back.  I think it needs to go, but some of the children disagree, and people-pleaser Mom struggles with being the bad guy. 

While the train table glue was drying, I cut open two bean bags, wrangled two other zippers open, and combined four bean bags into two.  My advice ... if you ever decide to do this ... turn off the fans.  Or follow your husband's advice and take it outside.  (I was going to combine another two, leaving us with only 3 bean bags, but have been temporarily stalled by a child's plea. We'll try four bean bags for awhile. Besides, I've already vacuumed the living room 3 times today.)

I'm now firmly committed (again) to thinking very CAREFULLY about everything that enters our home.  
  • How will it be used?  
  • How often will it be used?  
  • Do I have a place for it?  
  • Will something else have to go to make room for it? 
  • Is it worth the effort to make that switch?
  • Do I really need it?
  • Do I have something else that will work instead?
  • Will we get tired of it quickly?
Just because it's a good bargain, or something really awesome, doesn't mean it belongs in my home.  Like the lovely large dollhouse I bought at a yard sale two years ago to replace our older beat-up dollhouse.  You know, the dollhouse that now lives in my basement waiting for us to have a yard sale of our own. It turned out that the nicer dollhouse was just too large and not as sturdy as our old beat-up dollhouse.  I should have walked away from that deal.

In the meantime, I just joined FlyLady again today to try to get a handle on the clutter in our home.  It's been years since I was a FlyBaby ... but I've gotten over my aversion to wearing shoes, so maybe I'll do better this time.

April E.

1 comment:

  1. It's so hard having clutter around the house! I know my sister has really encouraged me to go to a lot of garage sales over the years, but in our area, the prices are too high (almost retail WalMart prices) for used items, and I didn't want the girls wanting to buy something that caught their eye at each garage sale. So, we've not been big garage sale shoppers, mainly in our family to help keep the clutter down, and because the deals haven't been so good here.

    I know other families who have done exceedingly well at going to garage sales and getting great deals, and being extremely disciplined so that no one brings anything home except the 1-2 items that were really, truly needed. But it's not that easy to be that disciplined!

    My sister has 7 children, and they all buy things at garage sales all the time. Yes, they get great deals regularly, where they live, but they also live in a house that is now so full of "stuff" that she can't clean it hardly at all. It's too overwhelming to her.

    Our house isn't spartan by any means...I usually have a short stack of stuff on my computer desk that needs to be sorted and put away. And I'm definitely not a neat freak. But we have really tried to keep the family away from garage sales and second hand stores in our area, just because the deals aren't so great, and I was afraid it would begin to clutter our 2-bedroom house too much.

    Sounds like you're doing a great job of analyzing the items in your home, April! Good for you!

    I know that even if every child in the home selects and keeps 10 toys, in large families that can add up to as many as 100 toys around the house - which is a lot! :)

    I'll be praying for you, that you'll be able to notice that the family is working together in one concerted effort to help clear the house of all unnecessary items so that your stress level will remain lower and it will be easier for everyone to help keep the house cleaner.

    Hugs!

    Julieanne

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