Monday, December 14, 2015

Keeping it Real: My Clutter.

Clutter is - unfortunately - a central part of me. I am a scattered person in every aspect of my life, always running in a million different directions at a time, and so are my belongings.
Growing up, I had three drawers in the headboard behind my bed. I spent hours "cleaning out" those drawers as demanded by my uber-neat mother, but despite her constant attempts to reign in my mess, merely weeks later it would be time for another required clean-out as my "stuff" accumulated once again.  These days, to my mother's disappointment, I am messier than ever before.
Lest you imagine my family living in an episode of Hoarders, as addicted as I am to having "stuff," I am equally so to the tools that I believe will help me conquer that addiction - shelves, hooks, baskets, and anything sold at The Container Store. But while each is a solution to a minor part of this major problem, in the end they add to the issue and leave us in worse shape than when we started, because they're more stuff.
My husband has 1/100th of the clutter problem I do, so it has yet to create the real tension that it could in our home - but I can feel that mounting. When we moved in together, I contained my clutter for a little while, but it crept out every now and then. Since we had our two children, and I am now responsible for three people's belongings, it has been put on full blast.
Closets have always been a hazard of mine - a place in which my stuff gets stuffed, with doors that conveniently hide all behind them. Today it is a mess of clothes too small, shoes too out of style, too many sweatshirts that I never wear and way too many pairs of slippers and robes for someone who never puts on either.
Desks and counters are constantly full of papers, mail, and every office supply you could imagine at the ready, some never even used but always available should the need arise. Magazines, books, bills, statements, folders, notebooks and reminders get stacked in piles - one in the kitchen, a few in our bedroom and one in the living room - disasters to anyone looking, but a system that I (mostly) understand.
A common theme in my clutter story is out of sight, out of mind. These days, with Mommy Brain permanently in place, I have even purchased items, put them away, and then re-purchased them. If I can't see it, it truly flees my mind. Many of the items around my home that contribute to my clutter are mementos of friends I've made, trips I've taken, special occasions from my past - things of which I want to be reminded frequently.
I aspire to be neat - I really and truly do. And I gain immense personal satisfaction when I do purge and keep something organized for a week or two (at best). But then, my busy life intercedes. I take out four outfits until I find the one I want to wear, and fling the other three onto the floor of the closet or back of the chair in our bedroom before running out. I find the makeup I bought on sale yesterday in the morning as we run out the door to school, so leave it in the CVS bag on my small vanity instead of finding someplace to put it (which would inevitably mean I'd forget I had even bought it, remember?). I stack clothes to donate, return and put into long-term storage behind our bedroom door, and it becomes a task too big to tackle during whatever little "free time" I find myself having.
Our closets burst open, filled with presents purchased for friends and never delivered, clothes too small for Rebecca but too big for Lila still, and a million items purchased for far-flung "what if?" scenarios. Should we ever be trapped in our apartment for days on end, we could live off of the amount of rainy-day activities I have accumulated throughout the years.
I recently swore on Facebook - so you know it was with the most real of intentions - that I'd KonMari our apartment. It hasn't happened as of yet, but I fantasize about it often. I think the tremendous effort it would take is terrifying and paralyzing me.
Instead, I try to tackle small portions of our clutter daily - I've recently made furniture switches to our home to help, and before Lila was born we installed built-in cabinets to give us more storage options. Many of the toys we owned went into the newly-built shelves, fitting in perfectly and bringing me much satisfaction.
One day, as Rebecca welcomed a new friend over, I overheard her saying, "you can come into my room!  I don't have very many toys, but we can play with my dollhouse " (This is the one toy still out on display) This is the opposite of the truth, I assure you. Astonished, I reminded her that her toys were in the cabinets now, and opened the doors - reuniting her with her long lost belongings and activities. She had 100% ignored them since we closed them in. So it seems I have passed on my "out of sight, out of mind" mentality. Here's hoping the clutter gene ends with me.

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