Tag Archives: cleaning

A Foolproof Method for De-Cluttering Your Home


It may surprise you to learn that my house is often filled with clutter.

Yes, yes, hard to believe, but it’s true. With two kids, a dog, an indeterminate amount of cats (who seem to wink in and out of existence like quantum particles) and then, y’know, me, things don’t always end up where they belong. A place for everything, they say, and everything in its place.

Not in this house. In this house it’s more like A place for everything, but sometimes just for today I’m really tired so that thing will just go over there with those things, and I know that isn’t where it really goes but bollocksed if I can drag myself down the stairs and back up the stairs again after to put it in its real place.

Things, in other words, pile up.

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Clutter. Pictured: Nine books, two notebooks, a couple pairs of headphones, a pack of highlighters, a pair of socks for some reason, my keys, a tape measure from a fix-it project I worked on last week I think, a single glove leftover from winter (it’s July), a speaker I’ll be taking to school at the end of the month (so why would I move it until then), other sundries. Bonus: next to all of this, on the floor, my daughter’s shoe. You are dealing with a clutter expert.

But never fear. I have for you today a simple, step-by-step process for dealing with the clutter in your own home; a process which has worked for me more times than I can count and is guaranteed to produce results. (Just maybe not the results you expected or wanted.)

  1. Notice clutter.
  2. Summon the will to care and then to do something about it. (Don’t be discouraged if this step takes a day or four.)
  3. Consider the proper place for the clutter, and measure the convenience of that place against your willpower from step #2.
    1. If you don’t know the proper place, ask your wife.
    2. If she’s not there, or if she sasses you for not knowing, take a nap and start over.
  4. Okay, let’s be serious. If you start putting things away now, you’re going to feel silly if you don’t clean the entire room, and since nobody has time for that, let’s just tidy up the clutter a bit. Push it to an unobtrusive corner of the table. Tuck it into a corner. Hide it under your sleeping dog’s backside. Be creative!
    1. Or, for bonus points, make the clutter more intrusive to encourage your future self to clean up the clutter sooner. Moving a stack of junk into the hallway so that it must be looked at / stepped around several times an hour is effective. As is putting whatever’s in the way on the kitchen counter so that you can’t cook until it’s dealt with also works.
  5. Focus all your mental energy into ignoring the clutter. Breathe deeply. Feel the energy of the universe flowing through you. Meditate on what it would be like to be a feather tossed on the breeze. Feathers can’t clean up clutter, and neither should you have to.
  6. Become overwhelmed and slowly panic inside, but continue not to do anything about it. You really need that “spiders crawling inside your skin” feeling for the next step.
  7. Wait for the weekend (which is what you were always going to do anyway) and clean the entire room.
    1. As you’re cleaning the first room, you may find yourself cluttering up a second room. Be careful not to start the cycle over again. Leaving the lights off as you clean can be particularly helpful for this.
  8. Relax in your newly uncluttered room.
  9. If you live alone — congrats, you’re done! You might not enter the cycle again for months. If you are married, you might get a week or so. Pets, a few days. If you have kids, expect to begin the cycle again within an hour.

This post brought to you by me stubbing my toe three times on a crate I put in the hallway so that future me would put it away properly at some undetermined time in the future.

It has since been properly put away and replaced with a fake potted plant.

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A Fresh Coat of Paint


This post is part of SoCS. This week’s topic: Attachment.

We’ve spent the past 48 hours fixing up this old house, the wife and I.

That’s 48 hours of parent time, which is measuredly and markedly less efficient than regular human time, because parent time is punctuated regularly by appointments with a baby who is hungry, a baby who is sad, a baby who is upset, a baby who is angry, a baby who wants attention, a baby who is attempting to pull all the sharp things off the table and into her mouth, a baby who has somehow figured out a way to deepthroat the remote control that’s twice as big as her head. We even got her big brother out of the house and off to the grandparents’ for a couple of nights to buy us extra time, and we still spent the day scrambling. As a result, in 48 hours we got three bathrooms painted.

It’s a chore which, we realized after just a few hours, was about four and a half years overdue. (We’ve been in the house for five years.) For all that time, the walls have remained the same bland, inoffensive taupe, plus or minus the scribblings of our two-year-old and a few decorative pictures and photos. They say taupe is soothing, but what it is, really, is invisible and characteristic of nothing. Which I guess makes it the perfect color for a house you’re trying to sell: it’s a blank slate for prospective owners to color with their own hopes and expectations. Somehow, we never got around to filling it with those things for ourselves. We can blame it on the kids a little bit, but ultimately, we just hadn’t taken the time to do it.

And therein lies another realization. Why were we able to let this little thing go so long without being done? Why have we stared for five years at the same bland, inoffensive walls, without being overcome by the surge of frustration at the vacuous sameness of it all? Because we’ve never been particularly attached to it.

Don’t get me wrong: I love our house. It’s a weird kind of wonky style with lots of open space and plenty of room for us and all of our stuff. It’s been the empty husk in which germinated the pale little seedlings of our tiny family. It’s in a nice enough neighborhood, away from traffic, and with pretty decent neighbors. But I also hate our house. That wonky style is born of the 70’s, which is when the house was built, and you can tell, because parts of the house are starting to fall apart as you might expect things built in the 70’s to do. Underneath the taupe paint we’ve discovered layers upon layers of horrible — and I mean really quite atrocious — wallpaper with nausea-inducing patterns and colors. I’m talking about gold-and-green flowers on chocolate brown background. It’s buried behind the light fixtures and air vents, and any time I undertake a home improvement project, I’m always discovering the stuff, like little breadcrumbs leading me back to the house’s horrifying past.

At any rate, my wife and I are both feeling that it’s about time to move on. Our family has grown, and like a snake growing too big for its skin, we need to leave our old trappings behind. We need a basement. I’d like a study that doesn’t double as a guest room. It’d be nice if we could find a place that comes with insulation in the walls. It’d be peachy if the pipes in the new place don’t explode at the slightest glance from the gods of winter.

Our little project this weekend has shone a sharp light on just how ready we are to move. All of a sudden our heads are full of all the little things we need to do to get this place ready to sell: fixing up the porch, replacing carpets, painting rooms and walls and doors… the list is growing by the minute. That said, we handled three rooms this weekend, which is not bad for a sleep-deprived couple with a nine-month-old who still isn’t sleeping through the night.

Not that I’m complaining. That little girl, unlike the house, I am actually quite attached to.


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