When I saw that as part of the name on the Hoarders TV show, I realized that they are exactly right. When you have so much clutter in a home, you really feel like you're being buried alive! I know this firsthand, sadly.
Now, I don't think I'm as bad as some of the hoarders on TV. For instance, my stove is fully functional. I don't have piles on it (near it, yes, but not on it). There isn't any actual filth either. We don't have gross critters (well, except for the mouse Andy found...see an older post entitled "Eek"). I do take out the trash regularly and we only have aquatic frogs so there are no pet odors, stains or hair around. I can relate to most of the clients on Clean House however.
There are many, many reasons for it, but the bottom line is I don't know where to begin and I also do not know how to organize ANYTHING! I am coming up with better and better ideas as my kids get older (and I do too), but inevitably, I just don't have a good eye for the right size container for a purpose nor do I take the time to go through that pile of papers that keeps falling down. I just pick it back up.
My husband is one of those miracle workers who can take 2 hours "cleaning out" the basement, say and it will look incredibly tidy when he's done. True, I do sort things as I try to purge, but even if I force myself to just "reposition and neaten things up" they do NOT look like his work! I have some friends that are good at this too. Thankfully, my husband and friends love me for my other strengths!
I had discovered http://www.flylady.net/ in 2003 on the tip of a friend. I would highly recommend her website! Not only is she compassionate and encouraging, she makes this stuff fun! My family borrowed Pippy Longstocking from the library. If you haven't seen the movie, there's a scene where Pippy, a ten-year-old girl, is mopping the floor with her feet as the mops! My first thought was, "Hey, I read about that on FlyLady.net!"
You can sign up for her daily emails that include reminders to do your morning, afternoon and evening routines; testimonials from other members and other resources from people that work with her (such as help with meal planning, exercise and getting our kids involved in fun ways of cleaning and decluttering to name a few). What's more, it's free!
FlyLady has really helped me feel like I can tackle my house one 15-minute chunk at a time. I am the kind of person that cannot do tedious tasks for longer than that. She is a big proponent of the timer as well. My timer is on right now so I still have time to do the dishes before another child comes home! I love to write, I don't love doing the dishes. So, without my timer, I'd just keep writing and writing!
Back in 2003, I was such a newbie at learning just how bad things could get if you don't keep up, that I would attempt to do the things on my daily list (with FlyLady's reminders coming into my inbox). I was finding that I was getting too bogged down with all of the items on my list. How can I possibly empty the dishwasher, load the dishwasher, do a load of laundry from start to finish, eat breakfast, feed my kids breakfast, sweep the kitchen floor, etc. before lunch? Maybe by dinner...but then we wouldn't have lunch or dinner!
FlyLady's answer is that I was being too much of a perfectionist. Did I really have to mop the floor every morning? No. Did I really have to scrub the table after each meal instead of just wiping it down? No. Was it OK that one of my kids' projects was still out in all of its glory on one end of the table? Yes!
Just knowing that I could do, as FlyLady says, "anything for 15 minutes" and that "doing some today and more the next day" is still better than just sitting here feeling lost and tired by all of the stuff around me and running around in circles not knowing where to begin. She TELLS you WHERE to start! This was HUGE for me and it still is.
Now, I have cut myself some slack. We had 4 children in 4.5 years (2 of them at the same time!), I was very ill for about 2 years with energy issues related to my adrenal glands shutting down and let's face it, it's not my forte! I would rather talk to my friends, play with my kids, read, watch TV or even go to the dentist than do ANYTHING housework related!
However, I have really learned my lesson the hard way here. The clutter has gotten so bad that some days you can't even walk in here. My kids have grown out of a lot of their toys but I just haven't brought myself to get rid of them all. I do very small chunks when the charities CALL me and tell me WHEN to put out my donatables, but it's just a small, small ding, not even a dent in the mess.
I realize that it is a lifestyle change that I need to undergo. I have to build "new habits and string them together into routines" as FlyLady says. They just don't come naturally to me and I get bored way too fast! I used to think it was because I'm an artistic type, you know, too creative for order. You know what? How can I be artistic if my favorite printed scarf is buried under my decorative bed pillows in my bedroom? Now is the time for me to put those decorative pillows ON my bed, dig out the scarf, finish the dishes and then go play! I've earned it! I just can't keep moving stuff out of my way to get to my book, my snack or even my computer!
Now that Lillian is in fourth grade, I am seeing the benefits of having a much more organized home. It shouldn't take me 10 minutes to find a sheet that she brought home on Monday, when it's now Thursday and the assignment is due on Friday! This is also preventing her from looking for it herself because I was the one who stashed it somewhere. No one knows where, including yours truly. She should be learning how to keep track of those things herself. I found her sheets today because I was doing "5 minutes of decluttering" per FlyLady's instructions. There it was! I didn't just move piles around, I actually processed the whole pile that was on top of the homework. Progress!
I hope those of you who are reading and feel just as overwhelmed as I have check her out and take the system seriously if you decide to go for it. I just started her system all over again this week. It really works! You also have a smile on your face as you are no longer putting yourself down for not taking better care of your home and you will be on time more because you've found a place for your car keys once and for all! Check out her website. It's saving me from myself!