Sunday, June 1, 2014

The clutter and my mental health

Clutter. It follows my child as a trail of crayons, stuffed animals, papers, and play foods. It seems to know no boundaries. We have a new home with a huge playroom, but the clutter seems to ooze out of every space. It is on my kitchen table, in my office, on the floor, on the stairs. I think, perhaps, it is plotting some kind of evil revenge on me.

I cannot stand clutter. I have an almost abnormal aversion to it. I want to see the floor and the countertops. I want everything in bins or on the shelves. Obviously, this isn't always a reality with children in the home. But how much is too much?

Amelia is extremely precocious and creative. Usually, she plays with toys and games in a completely unique way. All the board games and puzzles? Were used to build walls for her "museum" last week. This museum, of course, needed exhibits. So out came every item in the playroom. She was so proud of her creation, but one step into that room nearly gave me a panic attack. Because, come clean up time?  She gets a deer-in-the-headlights look and has no clue where to begin. It really is overwhelming when every little thing you own is out of place and on the floor!

I am trying to decide what the balance should be here. I admit that I am a clutter-phobe to the extreme, and sometimes I need to just look the other way and let her be a kid. But we chose a home with a playroom space - and closeable double doors - for a reason. When I look around and see almost every other room cluttered with her stuff, I get angry. Did I do this as a kid? Do all kids do this? Should I be nurturing her creativity and out-of-the box (literally!) playtime ideas? Or is she old enough to put stuff away as she goes, and not cry for help when the mess grows too big?

I am trying to decide if I will survive the summer.


  1. This is the story of my life. Conner earns points for picking up his toys and then can earn prizes with his point. BUT, my house is still always cluttered unless we clean. But, then, fifteen minutes later it's cluttered again after Jackson pulls the toys back out. We got a house with a bonus room for the same reason, so toys could stay upstairs and I could just shut that door and let it be. But, over time, the toys have moved their way downstairs into an overfilled toy box and the living room floor. We just had a garage sale and then donated a ton of toys, but I can't seem to get rid of enough of them! My kitchen is always cluttered but it's the same story there too. Just gets messed up again. My husband is a clutter bug, never returning things where he found them. I'm worn out by two attention demanding kids. I want my house to be clutter free too but I've finally just given up and decided I would rather not stress myself out so much and just accept that this is a stage of life thing and spend my energy on other things. It won't be this way forever. The kids will get older, the toys will eventually be gone and then I can have my house back. I tell myself that when the kids are older, they aren't going to remember a cluttered house. They are going to remember the experiences we had together. So, we just clean if we know we are having company and other than that, I let it go. I have friends whose houses are immaculate and I always wonder how they manage to do it. But, no matter what I try it just doesn't seem to work for our family. Then, I have other friends whose houses are like mine or worse. I felt like I had a better handle on it when it was just Conner and us. But, with two, I've just let it go.

  2. I always tell my organizing clients that it seems the smaller the kid, the bigger their stuff! As they get older, the toys change into tech tools (Raspberry Pi, tablets, Kindles) and gaming stuff - which can be its own challenge!
    Even as a professional organizer, I had to do a major 'reset' of expectations with my stepdaughter. My home isn't 'Pinterest perfect' either! But we have worked in simple rules that help.


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