Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Great Clutter War of 2011

I have so many things. I do not know where they came from. Many of them serve no apparent purpose, and I want them gone.

Occasionally I will get in a mood to deep clean and have a brief window of time where I want to throw stuff out. Not now. Now the window is wide open, and I want to simplify absolutely everything. It's just so damn hard--and time consuming.

I started in the kitchen. And it's still not done. I threw out all of the expired dry goods. We are not canned soup people. Lesson learned. I threw out the spices that had hardened to the point they would no longer come out of the jar. Then I organized the spice drawer. I have four opened jars of chili powder. Four.  But the spice drawer was so cluttered I never knew what I had, so I bought chili powder every third time I made chili. This is no way to live.

Also in the kitchen were not one but two "junk drawers." The complicated no-man's-land where batteries, power cords, and unidentifiable plastic pieces went to die. And die they did. I threw them all out. We don't even have a Blackberry device in the house, but we had three power cords.

I gave up on the kitchen after a while, leaving the utensil drawer untackled and the small appliance cupboard in disarray.

In the living room I attacked the basket full of magazines with a vengeance. Gone are the Glamour magazines of 2009. The recycle bin over flows with the Better Homes and Gardens issues that went unread (the subscription was free with the purchase of my living room curtains--who can resist?) Then the mail pile. I have lived in my house for a year and a half. Before we purchased it, it was on the market for months. Before that, it was being renovated for months. Tell me, then, why after three years (and my countless "Return to Sender" pleas) do I still get stacks of mail for people who do not live here each week. I feel guilty throwing them out. So I keep them, write "RTS" on them, and try to remember to stop by the post office. Sigh.

It's not just the physical things I want to simplify. We dumped Direct TV last week. After analyzing our viewing habits, we realized TV time went something like this:
"See anything on?" We'd scroll through the guide three, four, five times.
"Want to see what's on Netflix?"

We paid $70 a month for this privilege, and so we cut it out. I removed the box. One less remote. Fabulous.

I have now run out of easy projects. I have not, however, run out of clutter. There are the clothes I rarely wear in the closet. The clothes I'd probably wear if I ever brought them up from the basement. The "important files" folders sitting in heaps in the "office" that has seen narry a desk chair nor any productivity since we moved in, though it has no shortage of books packed in boxes.

And then there's the new stuff. The baby stuff.

She only weighs 11 pounds. She can't even propel herself forward. How in the world can she possibly have so much stuff?

I dedicated one of the previous junk drawers to her bottles, but they don't stay put. Each morning, I fill some up for daycare, then I bring them home, and put them on the counter. They are quickly joined by the bottles that I use to pump. Then the pump parts. Then I wash them all, so they can sit on the other side of the counter to dry. Then I use them again. And wash again. And dry them again. They go in the drawer while I'm asleep. I'm never even awake to enjoy the empty counters.

And her clothes. She already doesn't fit into newborn clothes, so I need to pack them up or give them away or something.

Plus she has to have places to sit, right? So there's a Pack n' Play in the bedroom, a car seat that floats between the nursery, the living room, and wherever else it happens to land. A swing in the living room. A bouncy chair in the bedroom or (when I need to shower) the bathroom.

I can't win.

So tell me, how do you fight the clutter?


  1. I only fight some of the clutter, some of the time. That seems to work.

    Right now, my bedroom is mostly clutter free. This is an acheivement, because I share my bedroom with my partner, two wardrobes full of clothing, bedding, towels, and (until recently) a sewing machine and hand-sewing equipment, a massive stash of cloth, knitting needles, crochet hooks, and six bags of yarn. Plus all the weird oddments of life, like letters my Mum wrote to me when I was 9 and went to stay on a farm for a week as part of a school trip.

    Anyway, but because the bedroom is clutter-free, the living room (which is also our kitchen and dining room) is definitely NOT clutter-free.

    It's like what they taught me in science: every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Every act of de-cluttering results in clutter appearing elsewhere. But that's OK, because now I have my bedroom as a clutter-free haven!


    PS. If the bottles don't want to be anywhere other than the counter, how about you find them a litte box so that they can sit on the counter? That's what I did with all my cooking utensils, and it seems to have worked - I think some things just like being able to see the world go by, rather than sit in a drawer :)

  2. A clutter-free zone! That's exactly what I need. Now to decide which part of my house it will be . . . it would probably make me happiest if it was the bedroom, but the living room is what guests see more than anything. Hmm . . .

    Also, I think you're right. I may just have bottles that are very curious about the world. Who am I to deny them?