Clutter, part 2

My good intention to make 2009 the year of ‘no clutter’ got off to a slow start. I vowed to be ruthless, but it took about a week for the ruthlessness to kick in. It’s in full effect now. Or, at least pseudo effect.

Rummaging through the detritus that covered our dining room, the other day, I found the main culprits of my clutter problem. It was as I previously suspected: receipts, child art, bills and account statements and then the miscellaneous junk pile. Which consists of random screws, and ‘parts’ to things, broken toys or toys that no one should play with, business cards/ticket stubs, paper clips and other office minutiae. And of course, tools and bits of tools….everywhere.

For some reason I’ve got it in my head that I have to save every single receipt of every single purchase I make. For an infinite period of time. When I told someone this over coffee, she looked at me like I was crazy. ‘You must have a lot of receipts,’ she commented. Yeah. Bowls and bags and boxes full, actually.

I thought the IRS wanted you to keep this stuff?

Strategy 1: research IRS receipt requirements, locate our shredder…and use it.

But aside from the receipts, the main culprit is my husband. Who likes to leave little CD Roms lying all around the house – and flash drives, and notes scribbled on scraps of paper – usually with important phone numbers or contact details that he will inevitably request the day after I threw it away.

I dumped out the contents of a bowl yesterday and handed him a few ‘choice’ items…which he promptly placed in his jeans pockets. The jeans he would be sure to leave on the floor at the end of the night. Which I will wash…finding the aforementioned items in the washing machine or the dryer. It’s a bad cycle that must be broken.

Strategy 2: remove all vessels (i.e decorative bowls) for stuff from eye level…so that there is no place to dump whatever is in one’s pocket at the end of the day.

After tackling the dining room, I moved on to the kitchen where we have two thin wires suspended above the art tables. The wires are so laden with art, they’ve started to sag. What started out as a creative way to display art, has turned into a poor storage solution. I pulled all the papers down and started sifting through them. And the pile of art I found in the office. I’m not exaggerating – I easily flipped through a couple of hundred pieces paper containing scribbles and paints and pastels.

I threw away about half….nondescript scribbles whose artist I couldn’t accurately name….was it big brother or little brother? Or was it me? I’d just finished sifting through the pile and hung up the remaining artwork when G asked: ‘can we paint?’ (You’ve got to be kidding me!) Which he did. No fewer than 4 paintings. Which I kept, of course.

Strategy 3: Unless particularly special or awesome, throw art away. Right away. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Go straight to the trash can – don’t even bother recycling. [Alternate strategy….ban art making at home…tell boys it’s something only girls do.]

The other big clutter culprit is recycling. This is partly my fault – I could purchase recycling bins but I’m too cheap to do so. Also, I’m not sure where I’d store said recycling bins. So the tables in the kitchen (the outdoor tables in my indoor kitchen) are laden with cardboard, and plastic bottles, and aluminum food cans etc. And it seems wasteful to go all the way to the recycling center more than once every two weeks.

Strategy 4: Stop recycling and throw everything away. Forget the environment and clogged up landfills. Or, spend the money and buy some bins….(and maybe a laundry basket, too).

Then there are the toys and books that cover the house from top to bottom…but unless Supernanny herself has some bright ideas, I think that will just be my cross to bear for the next seventeen years.

Or I could hide everything and allow each kid to pick one book and toy per week. And be the kind of mom my children will remember fondly in years to come.

3 thoughts on “Clutter, part 2

  1. Yup, it does feel a little ruthless, but I throw almost all art away. Only if it shows something about who she is at this time in her life, do I keep it. I keep it all on the counter by the trash until she goes to bed, slip it in the trash and cover it up with something else. She’s never asked once where a particular painting is. She’s seen stuff in the trash and asked, but I just told her we can’t keep every single painting. Then she got distracted and moved on to something else. Good luck!

  2. That made me laugh…I’ve thrown toys away before and then ‘someone’ saw them and retrieved them! Preparing for a lifetime of dumpster diving, I guess.


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