Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Housecleaning Hang-up

I really love the idea of a clutter-free, more simplified home. I feel a bit envious when I look at all the photos on other blogs of people's beautiful clean houses - where every item they own is intentional and purposeful.

Note: there are four embedded links above, for the curious!

The problem is, both Tom and I are natural packrats. We're both suckers for neat trinkets and good deals, and we are both extremely nostalgic. Neither of us can resist stopping at a garage sale, flea market, or thrift store when we pass by. And it's so hard for us to get rid of things later. Recently, I feel like I'm constantly donating bags of stuff OUT to the thrift store, only to have it replaced again right away!

And while we've definitely cut back on our shopping since our little budget crisis some months ago...I think that mindset of "save money!" has only reinforced our hesitation to get rid of ANYTHING. Because "you never know when you might need it," and who wants to go spend money on something that you already once owned?

Another problem I'm faced with is that Tom doesn't exactly share these purging urges that I'm hit with every so often. Maybe it's because he doesn't have to spend nearly as much time as I do in the house, and to LOOK at the clutter all day. I've shared with him the philosophy that you should only keep an item it you either:
1. Use it.
2. Love it.

There are many many things in this house which probably don't fit either definition. In my moments of strength, I am all for giving such things away. But Tom doesn't agree with this simplified solution. And I can't just get rid of stuff without the approval of my Other Half - it's his stuff too, afterall.

Even now, sitting at the computer desk, I see SO many little cluttered areas that are driving me mad!

It is impossible to fit the scope of our book collection in a single picture
Okay, let me say that I love love love that our family is big on reading, and that we own a lot of books. However...storing and displaying all those books is a challenge. Right now we have five full-height bookcases along the wall of our bedroom. Actually, on the far right, you can see it's actually two short cases just stacked on top of each other. How unclassy! And none of the cases match at all. In places, books are just jammed in where they can fit. And little knickknacks are stuck all over the place.

Tom really enjoys the look of this, but I can't help desiring a little more order. We also have another bookcase in Sly's room which is filled with children's books. I worry about what our book collection will become in future years. Especially if we homeschool, we are surely going to accumulate many more books. We already own more than most people.

When we were first married, Tom made what was a huge sacrifice for him, and let us give away an entire bookcase-worth of books. As nice as that was, it was such a small percentage of the total. I'd love to weed them down more, but it will be very difficult to convince him to purge again.

Then I look to my side of the room, and I see that it's not just Tom's fault! I have no excuse for the amount of clothing I own.

I'm sure I own over 50 skirts - do I really need so many?
Here's a peek into my bedroom closet (and the rod extends further in than you can see, so there are more items than this). I also have an entire bureau filled with clothes, and full plastic drawer-sets in my closet. This closet is large enough that it *should* be able to accommodate both my wardrobe and Tom's. But there's no way. I make him use the closet in Sly's bedroom (hehe).

But I will saw that the small pile of scarves on the ground are things I pulled out the other day for giveaway. Yay!

Sweaters and jackets in a heap, because the shelf in my closet is too high to reach, and I have to just toss things up onto it.

The sad thing is, I went through all my clothes only a couple months ago, and gave away two garbage bags full. And I'm still left with all this! I need to be stricter, don't I? I mean...I wash clothes often enough that I'm never at risk of running out of anything. So I just need to learn to get by with fewer options.

And here's one that really gets to me. Empty CD cases. What do I do with them? A lot of the actual discs are in CD binders right now. Should I hang on to all the cases, or throw them away? I have been puzzling over this for years.

It doesn't take much space store a few CD binders - and I could even keep the little booklets - while getting rid of all the bulky plastic cases themselves. But one day, might I want the cases? Let's say I wanted to resell some of the albums? Or my children wanted them (much as Tom and I have been given vinyl records by our own parents. I can't imagine NOT having the covers as well).

But then I ask myself, how often do I ever listen to an actual CD anymore? Never! As soon as I get one, I rip it immediately onto the computer, and listen to the songs via iTunes. We don't even currently OWN a functioning CD player! So is there a reason to keep the actual hard copy at all? I know it would be wrong to keep the mp3 versions of the songs, and resell the actual CD. But it also seems terribly wasteful to keep the electronic versions, and just throw away the actual CD....What to do, what to do?

Seriously, if anyone has advice about the CD thing, I really want to hear it!

~ In Conclusion ~
It's impossible for a house to be truly clean when there is so much stuff that it cannot possibly be organized well. I'm sorta wishing now I'd embarked on the 40 Bags in 40 Days Lenten Challenge. But I suppose it's not too late to start something now...I'll report back in a few days on how I'm doing.


  1. 1. The scarves on the floor--any of them appropriate Mass head scarves? With those 100 missals I was telling you about came about 20 lace circle "veils" and I was thinking about setting out those and a small pile of pretty scarves at the wedding with a sign saying something like "Ladies, please consider wearing a veil in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament."

    2. I'd get rid of the cases. You might want the CDs at some point (ie if your next car only takes CDs, not your ipod).

  2. I know how you feel - having too much clutter stresses me out!

    When my husband and I moved into our tiny apartment, we had to down size quite a bit in regards to books and clothes. But we haven't missed anything one bit.

    I'm with Katie, I would get rid of the cases. We used to store our CD and DVD cases under our couch, if you can believe it. But we finally tossed all the cases and slipped them all into binders. It's such a better system than looking under our couch for a movie, ha ha!

  3. Good for you! It really is impossible to clean clutter. If Tom would be on board, it might be fun to do it together, get rid of 5 things each every day for the rest of Lent or something like that. If you still have your skirts by Katie's shower, I might have to go shopping in your closet lol! I can see why that would be tough, you have lots of pretty clothes.