Sunday, August 14, 2011


I've been busy sewing up a storm again, but I'll blog about that some other time. Today I'd rather discuss clutter.

I don't remember exactly how we got on to it the other day, but me and my husband were driving to the store (with Michael) and I was telling him about how I'd quit keeping a spreadsheet of my grocery receipts because I was feeling it was more like 'organization for organization's sake' and not doing anything to actually help me. In fact the pile of receipts laying on the table waiting for me to be taken care of was causing me to let the table pile up with other clutter faster than I would like and that was stressing me out.

But this led into a larger conversations about clutter in all parts of our lives. My mother used to always bring up a quote from some pundit (Suze Orman I think) that, "...physical clutter mirrors financial clutter." For me, that statement has always rang true. Not that my financial clutter has ever been so bad that is has caused problems, but it definitely needs tidying up from time to time. Even the kitchen table problem... junk gets on the table, then mail gets on the table, then it gets forgotten about on the table, then you're already late walking out of the house one morning and you have to run back inside and dig through all the crap on the table to find the bill you know is due today.

And just think about hoarders... you know their finances are as terrible as their homes.

But beyond finances, my physical clutter is a barometer for my mood. I think that's true for a lot of other people too (especially women).

In fact I was able to explain to him that he deals with his emotions the same way he deals with his finances and personal clutter. He thought about it for a minute and had to agree with me.

When the house gets really messy (which happens frequently with a toddler) my tension level starts to rise. I start to get frustrated with what I see. I start to worry about a neighbor stopping by and being disgusted by my bra hanging off the back of the couch. I'm not that neat of a person, but I like to pretend that I am.

I was listening to the radio the other day and they were saying that a survey had asked men and women what the ultimate status symbol was. For men it was a prestigious job. For women it was a beautiful home. Whether you completely agree with the results of that survey or not, having a nice home is certainly something that most people value.

And that made me think about the constant bits I hear and read discussing the division of household labor. I wonder if it's such a big deal because having a nice home is so important to so many people and causes stress for them when things get out of order, like me. If your home is how you think other people see you then having it messy and cluttered is a problem. And feeling like you're not getting help at home makes you upset.

When DH and I were engaged I asked him if he could spruce up my apartment a little the day that I was going to be gone for my bachelorette party. When I got home that night my place was sparkling! He had done so much more than I asked him to do. I was so happy and impressed. And it was even better because my maid of honor was with me and saw how wonderful my man and home were. And today it's the same. I'd take coming home and being surprised by a freshly vacuumed floor over roses any day.

And that is one place that I have to give my husband serious props. He is great with house work. He is very willing to do the dishes or vacuum or laundry. He may not notice that the base boards or fan blades are covered with dust, but I appreciate what he does. And when I am tired and really need the rest but it's clearly my turn to do a chore he'll step up and do it without asking and that is love, imo. I try to reciprocate as well. It's just nice to get a break from something every once in a while.

Which goes back to the cleanliness of our homes causing stress. Having someone else treat you and remove the physical clutter also helps with the mental clutter for most people.

Now that I'm a SAHM I feel a lot of self-inflicted pressure to be Sally Homemaker but I can't handle the stress that I put on myself to be that person totally. So I have let it go. I feel bad that my husband doesn't spend more time with his feet kicked up in the recliner after a day's work but he doesn't need that to be happy but I do need him to do the dishes for me to be happy.

What do you think? Does clutter in one part of your life relate to clutter in another part?


Rachel said...

I love this post. We struggle with clutter non-stop, and also of course the "division of labor" in the house given his long hours/my need to work at night to just keep up/our new recent furry inhabitants. Definitely haven't reached a balance yet and we find it so hard to get rid of items which were gifts to the babies, even though we are living in about 500 square feet and could really use a few less toys lying around.

White Picket Fences said...

I definitely struggle with clutter in 2 areas - I have a hard time keeping up with paper. Bills, notices from schools, whatever. I need to make a decision and take care of it the second it enters the house but never do. And toys. Ohmygod the baby toys. Drives me batty. We've been cleaning out the basement so we can finish it and make a playroom. Dealing with baby toys from your now 16 year old? Insane. Monk has a much lower threshold for toy clutter than I do...I have a much lower threshold for paper clutter than he does. It should balance ...but somehow doesn't.

Celia said...

Our house is in a continual state of insanity. When I was a nanny I was able to train K to clean up after herself by the time she was two and a half. So at least another year of this. I find that just keeping up with the laundry and cooking dinner and grocery shopping, and putting the toys away each night, and cleaning up after dinner is all I have the energy for. The time when I could and WOULD spend an entire day cleaning is in the past.

I have not polished my chandelier since last December. I have not polished the furniture since March. Same thing for dusting the china cabinet. My husband is ATROCIOUS at chores. It is all I can do to get him to take out the garbage and scoop the cat litter. he has cleaned the toilet precisely twice in eight years, and never cleaned the shower or scrubbed the floors. He will vacuum if I ask him three times. He will also cook dinner, but he makes a big mess and also then we don't eat till 7 30 or 8 because he does not get home till half past six. I absolutely agree that clutter drips into the rest of your life. And I hate it. But I am working flat out just to keep up with Peter. I figure the house will not look how I want it to for at least six more years.

Celia said...

As a matter of fact, on Ssaturday I fell asleep at 8 30, as soon as Peter was in bed, and my husband stayed up till 10 30. In the morning not one thing had been picked up. Even the dinner plates were still sitting on the table with congealed food on them. I hate waking up to a dirty kitchen. He is a great husband in many ways, but UGH I will never get him trained to be tidy. Though he is really organized with our bills.

Michelle said...

Clutter is a problem here too. And I have OCD issues, but lately have been so busy that I just can't keep up. I feel terrible asking my husband for help because he works crazy long hours and is not here much. So, I do feel it's in my place to do as much as possible. I think during my 6 week break, I'm going to bust my butt to get a ton of organizing done and try to regain some control.

Jessica White said...

I always feel that if one thing is cluttered it starts to affect others...even if only because my mind doesn't function right.

Any time your hubby is on a cleaning binge send him my way.