Too Much Stuff

When clutter becomes a safety hazard

I hold the tiny purple earring in between my thumb and index finger. It is the fourth time we have crossed paths this year. I want to save this earring from becoming an official lost item, destined for the junk drawer and eventually the garbage. I rack my brain and a visual comes. My oldest daughter’s large monster high doll: this is Elisabat’s earring.

I take the stairs two at a time, descending to the basement. I pull open the cedar chest that my father-in-law built. I pull dolls out one by one and reminisce over each one. Now that my daughter is nine, she never plays with dolls anymore. I played with dolls until age 12, but each to their own. I find Elisabat at the very bottom, pull her out and then push her earring back in her left ear. I sigh a satisfying relief of success. One item put away and only 100,000 more to go.

Have I even made a dent? Will it ever look like any part of our house is organized and tidy? It is often clean, but not tidy. My husband grew up in a tidy house. I grew up in a tidy house, but our house is anything but tidy. It is a constant hurricane of stuff shoved in bins, bags to be sorted, bags to donate, next size up bins of my oldest daughter’s clothes for her little sister to wear one day.

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My kids’ rooms are tidy and they keep them that way because they like it. However, in order to maintain their level of tidy, the rest of the house becomes a dumping ground and it’s hard to find the time to deal with it.

My youngest recently ran into my office and sliced her toe on a sheet of glass from a photo frame that has been propped up against my desk since August when I had to try to get a lizard out of my office (it crawled under the screen on our back door). Thankfully, her toe was a bandage fix and not a stitches fix. This was our wake up call.

We slowly started working as a family to put items in labelled bins and try to minimalize our amount of clutter and toys. The time must be made this winter. I have high hopes. Cooler and rainy days equals times to work inside. Our house has become a hazard. The junk and extra stuff must go.

My friend has a great strategy, which is to help each other organize one person’s house and then the next person’s house. It’s always easier to get rid of someone else’s stuff. It’s great to do a purge once or twice a year. I admit that without many guests and no parties and family dinners this year, we have really let our house go.

Another challenge, is to not get distracted. I can get a lot done when I’m home alone versus having three little helpers. It can be easy to go down the route of wanting to scrapbook when I find a set of pictures or for my kids to play when they find a long lost toy.

Small goals are a great way to start. Before we know it, little by little, pile by pile, a few minutes of time here and there we’ll tackle our clutter shelf by shelf section by section.

With Christmas coming, it is a great time to donate outgrown toys, so my kids can welcome in the new. It’s time to downsize, donate, and sell all our clutter. I think we’ll all feel satisfied when we can walk through our house from one end to the other and stay injury free. But first, I need to see if I can find the LEGO set that this tiny tire goes with.

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Serena Beck
Serena Beck works full-time as a Technical Writer. She loves to write, travel, and swim at the beach with family and friends.