Some people do it in the spring.
Some people do it in the autumn.
I would like to do it every day.

I have an innate dislike of clutter. And candles that sit wonkily in the candlesticks. And counters covered with piles and projects and papers. So, because all of these things happen, decluttering is a past-time of mine. Don’t look at me like that; I know I’m not alone.

Proof positive comes in the form of Erin Doland’s site ‘Unclutterer’. I found it – and her book ‘Unclutter Your Life in One Week’ – about five years ago when I was looking for more inspiration to fuel my past-time. Her ideas are usually simple, but insightful; and her daily email of encouragement always has at least one nugget from a previous post I’d forgotten – or thought at the time didn’t apply.

Unsurprisingly, I grew up believing that everything had a place – and should be in it. As the youngest child, this belief was strongly encouraged by my older siblings who liked to play the ‘can-you-remember-where-that-goes’ game. I thrived on their excitement for a job well done when I not only remembered, but then put whatever-it-was away. A stealth move, to be sure. And one I later thought they must have stolen from Bill Cosby :: exhibit A – the ‘chocolate cake’ incident. Regardless, I was undeterred and vowed to keep an orderly house of my own one day.

Then you have roommates. Then a spouse. And then children. And it’s amazing how all of these people who have such an easy and natural affinity for one-another can have such wildly different ideas of what ‘orderly’ means. And when you have an innate dislike of clutter, it’s up to you to pick your battles.

Deciding where everything belongs is usually the easy part: kitchen utensils in the kitchen, clothes in the closets, etc. Deciding where in the kitchen the utensils should go is tougher: should they be close to the dishwasher or sink or nearer the cooktop?

Then you come to ‘personal items’. My rule of thumb: if you let someone decide how to organize the space, they’ll keep it organized. NB: obviously children need more guidance on the whole ‘organizing’ concept and will eventually find what works for them. Additionally, less really is more when providing that guidance, so keep the ‘items to be responsible for’ to a minimum at first, e.g. in the bathroom, just their toothbrush, toothpaste, and rinse. Knowing your children and their readiness, gradually include the bubble bath, toilet paper, and towels.

When it comes to decluttering, however, divvying up what should stay and what should go can open a vat of worms as emotions usually come into play at some point. The old adage ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ is the best caveat I can provide here. Case in point: our children’s crib. The first time The Husband asked if we should get rid of it, I think my mouth fell open. The second time he asked, I squeezed my lips together, closed my eyes, and shook my head. But now? Now is the time to get rid of the crib. My babies’ first bed. The one we thoughtfully chose with the ‘silent-slide rail’. Where they grew and giggled and gazed up in wonder at the Manhattan Toy mobile. See… emotion. But it’s time. And hopefully someone else will enjoy it. If it still meets code.

I’m off now. To do a bit of decluttering, of course. Hope your week has begun well.


Inspired to declutter? Want some more tips? Click-through here for some clever quick links to unclutterer:

What to do with your donations:


Frank Cotham :: the New Yorker

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