Friday, August 24, 2007

Contemplating Clutter

When I was a kid, I saw a poster that said "A creative clutter is better than idle neatness." It pretty much summed up my attitude toward cleaning, and I quoted it to my mother from time to time when she'd comment on the state of my bedroom.

So it should come as no surprise that my home isn't immaculate. It's basically clean, over all, but housework isn't on the top of my list of priorities. The problem isn't really basic cleanliness. The problem is clutter.

Our regular clutter starts to drive me crazy when I've spent time in an uncluttered home. It's so peaceful to sit in a room where there isn't STUFF everywhere. I love going to visit my friends Pat and Janet, not just because they are wonderful women, but also because their homes are so ... inspiring. It makes me want to rush home and get stuff off of surfaces so I can sit and bask in the tidy calmness of it all.

So, now I'm back from a week in my aunt's very uncluttered home. She (like my mom -- her sister) were and are full-time housewives of the Donna Reed school. Keeping house WAS their job, and despite the retirement of their husbands, it still is. I remind myself that they no longer have kids living at home, with the resulting kid paraphanalia. They don't have dogs, and hence their kitchen floors aren't embellished with dog hair. They don't have other professional work, so they don't have to choose between tidying up the family room and seizing an hour to do a bit more legal research. They have hobbies but not (ahem) fabric-laden obsessions.

So I look around our house, feeling cranky and overwhelmed by all the papers and books and magazines and stuff everywhere. Somewhere, there has got to be a happy medium, yes? I feel a purge coming on...but I know myself well enough to know that it's so easy to waffle. That pile of Caroline's horse magazines? Perfect for Caroline's creative horse collages. Those books on the nightstand? I'll get rid of them as soon as I read them.... that pile over there? Warranty booklets for recent appliance purchases that have to be put away, notes with addresses that I need to add to my address book... photos to be added to the photo album drawer, Caroline's drawings for the "save forever" drawer...

Much of the stuff is there because it needs something done to it. So I'd best get DOing.

It makes me want to take a nap.


  1. I'm hearing you. I just spent a fruitless half hour searching for a magazine. I know it's here somewhere, just no idea where. It does drive me nuts!

  2. Been there, done that, have several of the t-shirts! And need to do it again! ARGGHHH. Does it never END? I have fabric I want to play with!

  3. So good to know that others have this same frustration and dithering. This week I have been feeling so overwhelmed by 'things' too...and yet they seem to be useful things .. what to do ..what to do????!!!

  4. I hear you! I have no children and no dog so I don't really know where all my clutter comes from... (my inability to resist craft magazines might have something to do with it...)
    A friend of mine has started following the directions of Flylady ( and I have had a look into that. It seems a bit too obsessive for me, but there are some pieces of advice that make sense to me. For instance, you are only supposed to do housework in 15 minute "bursts". Any more than that and you get bored (so true!). So what I do (or try to) is to quilt for 45 minutes and then clean or tidy for 15 minutes before I return to my sewing machine. That way I get to spend quite a bit of time "playing" without feeling guilty about all the "should'avs" all the time.

  5. I feel you. I too like the feeling of a clutter free home but have trouble getting there. I have joined too and have been doing the parts that sound like they would work for me. It has made a big difference.
    The biggest thing that worked for me is that I stopped trying to be perfect. There are levels of cleanliness or clutteriness and I decided to up my cleanliness notch a bit without going overboard. The house is cleaner overall since I do clean something for at least 15 minutes everyday, but not so much that it is a big change that everybody goes "my you've cleaned the house" if they stop by and visit.