Tell me if this story sounds familiar: remember that time you tidied up the whole house and then sighed with contentment because everything was put properly away and it all just felt so nice and under control. Remember that blissful time, three days ago?
But now? Now there it seems there are self-multiplying piles of stuff everywhere! Suddenly the desk drawer wont close because it’s to full. Piles of “the-stuff-of-life” start to appear on the corners of counters, and the top of the furniture starts a collection of things that came out of pockets.
You find yourself muttering “For golly gosh sakes, where is all this stuff coming from?!” or probably more realistically you holler “All the servants are fired, they are not doing their jobs!” Cause there’s nothing like blame-shifting for dealing with issues…but I digress.
Clutter creep is a real problem
Even for a thoughtful homemaker (such my lovely self), clutter creep can be a real problem. I live in a small house with six other people, so when the stuff starts to sneak it’s way into my home, there no where for it to go! To say it’s frustrating is an understatement!
As for me, I’m learning to do the real work of tidy home keeping up front. This means I have to work hard at preventing clutter rather than just reacting when things get out of control!
I know it’s easy for me to shop (especially in holiday season!), and I know it’s easy to say yes to so many activities that bring in clutter both to our house and schedule. It takes real works or me to develop the habit of not allowing that excess into my life, but I know it’s worth it. Otherwise, before I know it, the clutter will start to close in…
Here’s few little habits I’m trying to develop to stop the creep!
Never shall it pass the threshold of my home
This is way harder than it sounds. Sunday School crafts, freebies from events, junk mail, stuff that comes out of kids backpacks or the diaper bag. It just sneaks in little by little.
Trash to the trash!
This may seem obvious, but it is amazing how much actual garbage will be brought into my house and spread around unless I make it stop. Junk mail, flyers, or anything that needs to be thrown away goes into the outside garbage or straight to the garbage/recycle when we get inside. Don’t wait!
Two powerful words “no thanks”.
The first thing I do is remember to decline free things. I don’t need them, and a polite “no thanks” is one of the most powerful things I can say.
I don’t need a frisbee with your brand on it. I don’t need a fridge magnet. I don’t need more pens, or T-shirts, or reusable bags. This seems like a small thing, but over time it really add up. I just say “no thanks”.
Use online ordering to your advantage
Another thing I do is use online ordering in my favor. For me, impulse buying in shops is a temptation that I have to fight in an ongoing way, so simply buying one thing that I need online is the way to go. I just hop onto Amazon prime and order the necessary thing, and I don’t stick around to browse. And done.
Give it a home right away
Everything I own must have a designated place to live, otherwise it will just float around the house looking junky. If I can’t find a proper place for something, it’s time to consider why I even own it in the first place. Give it a home or give it away.
Projects and To-do items
I know ya’ll know what I’m talking about here. Pictures in frames that I’ve been meaning to hang in the hallway…for months? They end up piled on top of the piano.
That sewing project that you’re going to finish when I get a free weekend? Those curtains I’m going to hang sometimes soon…My house can get taken over by these little project pretty quickly. If I’m not going to do it now, I’ve got to put it away. And if I forget about it, I guess it wasn’t really all that urgent anyway.
When I was a teenager, my sister and I made up a name for pieces of furniture that always seem to be magnetically attracting piles of stuff. You know, that table or corner or chair that always seems to have a pile of stuff forming on it?
These are called “JCs”. Now, it’s important not to entirely blame a JC for collecting stuff, because it’s the humans that set the stuff there, so habit changing is always important to consider.
But I have found that it’s a huge help to me to just eliminate the places that make it easy to not put stuff away. For me these include entry way tables and side tables, and shelves.
I’ve reduced the number of placed we have to set stuff, and this forces me to put things away rather than just set them down. This really helps me develop a habit of tidiness.
Stuff attracts more stuff
Stuff attracts more stuff. I don’t know how, but it just does. If I see a collection of stuff starting, it’s always in my best interest to get that stuff put away ASAP. No excuses! It takes one minute, Jane, go!
Steady progress is better than a whirlwind
So these are things I try to stay aware of to keep that clutter from creeping in! As a Christian homemaker though, I always keep in mind that fretfulness in the pursuit of clutter control is never helpful. Habits take time to develop, and steady progress is better than a whirlwind clean up that will pass so quickly.
I want these habits to become second nature so that I have more time to devote to developing the skills that God has given me.
I’d love for the ability to prevent clutter creep to become natural for me, rather than a constant battle.
I’ll be honest, progress seems slow sometimes. Just when I think I may have reached a good balance, I start to notice how I’ve let all the little things puddle up in the corners of countertops or the back of closets.
But I also try to be kind myself and remember how far I’ve come. My home IS my haven for my family, and though I press on for improvement, I won’t let perfectionism steal away the joy of knowing how much I’ve accomplished already.
I’ll be using these notions just as a tool to cultivate the peace and purpose I know I was made for!