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The Cure for Clutter

My Friend Debbie
     The longer we live and the more children we are blessed with, the more our lives are filled with joy and purpose . . . and with stuff! And . . . stuff can make us stressed! I want to spend my days enjoying my relationships with my family, not shuffling and sorting through all their things.

     All of us are endowed with different clutter "comfort zones." Some people love being surrounded by their stuff because each item holds a special memory for them. Others can't stand a single trinket on an end table. Most of us, however, fall somewhere in between. We love our things, and we have a hard time distinguishing between what is meaningful and what is merely a mess!

     Being of the practical mindset, I would like to encourage you that it IS possible to live in a clutter-free home, even with seven children ages 11 and under. My Friend Debbie God wants us to live peaceably, and we function best when we align ourselves with His character quality of order. ("For God is not a God of disorder but of peace." 1 Corinthians 14:33 NIV) The will of God is always possible!

     Most of us have a certain amount of clutter that builds up over time, and it remains that way simply because we don't think of it as clutter. By nature I am not a "packrat," but I am sentimental . . . so I struggle with where to put all the "refrigerator art," the cute projects made at Wednesday night church, the special mementos thoughtfully given from extended family, the birthday cards, etc. The list can go on and on. However, you can live clutter-free.
My Friend Debbie

     First, ask yourself the following questions in regard to your stuff:

     1) Do I love it?
     2) Do I use it?
     3) Do I need it?
     4) Am I in the process of "finding a home" for it?
     5) Does it serve others?
     6) Does it not take up space that could have been used to bless someone else-like another child, or someone in need of hospitality?

     If you cannot answer yes to these questions, then it's time for the "clutter cure"!

What you gain from the Clutter Cure . . .

1) You save money by decluttering. You will save hundreds of dollars by not making unnecessary purchases for things you may already have buried in your clutter.

2) You stay healthy by decluttering. The more clutter, the more mold and mildew build up in your home, which can cause allergy problems and headaches.

3) You gain "people time" by decluttering. I'd rather read a book to my child than spend half the day trying to find her missing shoe buried under clutter.

4) You become smarter by decluttering. Too many toys all over the floor hinder a child's ability to focus on the task at hand. Your own thinking process will become so much clearer as your living environment becomes simpler.

Practical Ideas for Curing Your Clutter . . .

1) Establish a "home" for everything. --No junk drawers!
-- Use a rubber bin, basket, container, drawer, or cabinet to house every item in your home.
--If you can't find a home for your things, they may belong better in someone else's home!

My Friend Debbie 2) Create a filing system.

Everything from owner's manuals, warranties, decorating ideas, coupons, bills, to health insurance papers should each have a labeled file.

3) Go through the mail immediately.

--Throw away the junk mail the minute you walk in the house.
--Put the magazines away in your magazine drawer or basket.
--This is a gift to your husband each day as he comes home . . . you have already sorted the mail for him.

4) Declutter before Daddy gets home.

The house doesn't need to be "perfect," but a simple 15-minute sweep (i.e. toys back in their homes, games put away, school bins back on the shelves, and the table set for dinner) will not only honor your husband who has worked hard all day to provide for you but will do wonders for your marriage!

5) Organize your books.

With more than 1500 books in our home, we placed labels on each shelf according to different topics. This took hours to organize, but it was worth the effort to easily find any book we need.My Friend Debbie

6) Tackle your clothing/closets.

Be willing to give away the articles of clothing that aren't being worn, wanted, or simply don't fit! Most of us cannot wear everything we have in our closets-there aren't enough days in the year!

7) Make your bed each day!

I had a roommate in college who, when I asked her why she made her bed every day, stated, "After a long day of classes and studying, I want to walk in my dorm room and feel peaceful and relaxed." I have never forgotten that, and now with the exception of Sundays, all beds must be made in our home before breakfast.

8) Declutter before bedtime.

Take five minutes to walk through your home and make sure everything is put away . . . so you can wake up the next morning with your home smiling at you!

9) Declutter the refrigerator.

Once a week, when planning your meal schedule, have a "clean out the refrigerator" night (a.k.a. "leftovers!"). A good time for this is the night before you do your grocery shopping. My mother did this regularly in my growing up years. The meals may have been interesting at times, but we never went hungry! This also saves you money because food doesn't get wasted, molding away in the back of the refrigerator.

10) Think vertically.

If the only space for the toys, games, or books is on the floor, then you may have too much stuff! Things lying around on the floor are hazardous. Moms carrying babies around or less-than-stable elders can easily fall over items on the floor, causing bumps on heads and broken bones. Look for homes "higher up" for your stuff!

Remember, a "cluttered home may indicate a cluttered mind." God took chaos and created order and beauty (see Genesis 1). We are called to do no less. May God cure you of your clutter today!

Copyright © 2008-2015 Alyson Shedd

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