Friday, April 11, 2008

Joys of Decluttering

Wow! I have been decluttering our bedroom for a week or so and after a big push yesterday to get the closet cleared of everything that I didn't want in there* while my kids were at a friend's for our weekly childcare swap, I am really beginning to enjoy the benefits of a less cluttered space.

This morning, I let Annabel look through my closet--one of the first times I've ever allowed her to because prior to this week, it had been so full I didn't dare let any curious child even peek inside for fear of the mess that would get made, the purposely hidden (yet forgotten) items that would get found, and so forth. All day, I have felt a small wave of relaxation every time I saw the warm glow of the wood surface of my dresser, no longer covered with dust or piled high with my children's out-of-season or outgrown clothing, digital camera, tape gun, ugly hair ties, and broken toys, but displaying a small collection of pretty containers and momentos. I found myself putting things away in the closet, because I knew I wouldn't have to see grocery bags of outgrown children and toys, staged for delivery to the consignment store or shelter and the boxes of unsorted items from the all areas of the house, hidden there during some rushed clean-up before a party.

I realized today that opening that closet always reminded me of this seemingly insurmountable task of organizing my whole house. Recently, I decided to break down the job of organizing my whole house into manageable tasks and have managed to complete the first major one on time and under budget. There are only five rooms upstairs and five rooms in the basement: master bedroom, Annabel's (and someday Luc's as well) room, bathroom, kitchen, living/dining room are up and Mike's office, the laundry, utility room, craft/guest room, and second bathroom are down. I decided to attend to some major task in each room, plus the hallway, front entrance, patio, carport, and sheds, every season for the next year. For example, in both the bedrooms, I'll de-clutter the closets in the spring, underbed storage in the summer, prepare outgrown and unwanted warm season clothes for consignment and donation in the fall, and de-clutter the dressers in the winter. As another example, in the kitchen, I'll de-clutter the base cabinets, the island, and the fridge this spring, the upper cabinets, counters, and freezer in the summer, the wine cabinet and built-in this fall. By winter all areas of the kitchen will have been de-cluttered and I'll just have ongoing maintenance de-cluttering and cleaning to do.

This evening, I was tossing a ball down the hallway for the kids in some game Annabel made up for us and realized that I was not worried about them running into my bedroom and knocking over piles of clutter and laundry in baskets or tripping over stray shoes. I think this is where serenity comes from--knowing that I don't have to worry about things getting broken, lost, and strewn about or try to shove aside that nagging sensation of undone work. For me, this is the goal of de-cluttering. It's serenity.

Funny thing is, after all this work in my bedroom, I still cannot find my favorite pair of pants. I don't remember where or when I last wore them, but they've been missing for over a week now and I've done the laundry twice since. My house is more organized than at any time since I moved here--particularly my bedroom, where most of my other garb spends its time when its not on my body and to a lesser extent our laundry room, where it usually spends the rest of its time off. Where in the world are my brown velour pants?

* There is still excess, unwanted, never-t0-be-worn-again clothes in our closet, including one large plastic shoebox of neckties, at least half-a-dozen ill-fitting dress shirts with ring-around-the-collar, and some ugly sweaters, which should not be hanging in the closet, but laying in someone's (already overfull) dresser or underbed storage. Those neckties, shirts, and sweaters are not mine.