There is a war going on in my house. It is a never-ending war. Sometimes I’m winning the battles and sometimes I’m losing. The battle is against clutter. I’m not talking only about clutter as in scraps of paper (oh, it’s scary to think how many drawers in my house are filled with scraps of paper), but I’m also talking about the things we don’t need, don’t want, don’t use, but they seem to remain in our house. I think most of you can relate. I have gone through seasons of giving several huge bags of extra stuff away, only to have another round of birthdays or Christmas come around and level off all my efforts.
I knew I needed to take the offensive and had a plan of attack this summer. I broke the project down into little spurts throughout the weeks of summer. I went through old toys in the garage. I organized all my scraps/magazine clippings of recipes. Those were smaller projects that I easily handled. The biggest project facing us was going through my kids’ rooms.
I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Somehow a toy can sit in the closet untouched for YEARS and when I mention giving it away it suddenly becomes their precious toy that they love dearly. I’m not proud to admit, I knew I was going to have to resort to bribery. I told the kids if they filled up one paper grocery bag with trash and another paper grocery bag with toys they don’t play with, then I’d give them $15 at Target to buy something new. It worked! They were motivated and we ended up with several bags of trash and several bags of toys to give away. And when they used their money at Target, they bought books. It was a proud Mama moment!
As we were cleaning out their rooms, I was explaining to them that cleaning out things we don’t want or use allows us to make room for things we want and things we will use. It also allows us to be a blessing to those around us.
Over the past few months, I have been seeing a lot of reviews for The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and have spoken to a few people who’ve read it. I was told that in the book she says to ask yourself: “Does this bring me joy?” I thought that was a brilliant approach to deciding what to keep and what to give away or toss out. When I was organizing my areas, I kept that question in mind. I had been hanging on to some books that I didn’t want to read but felt bad for not reading them. They were books I had picked up years ago when my preferences were different. When I asked myself that question, I was able to easily give the books away. I took them to the local used bookstore and, of course, I came home with an armful of new books. Like I mentioned before, it’s an ongoing battle. But at least it was books that I wanted to read and not books that were collecting dust because of my guilty feelings.
As a side note, I can’t think of cleaning up clutter and not think of Jen Hatmaker’s book, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. Read it a couple of years ago and it was so good. I still think about parts of it and laugh. Then I go look for something in my house to give away.
Are you having the same war at your house? What are your strategies for battling against the clutter?