3 Ways Clutter May be Making a Mess of More than Your House

I’ve got news for you. The kids are right. There IS a monster in the closet, but it may not the kind of monster you’d expect. Its name is “clutter” and it may look perfectly harmless to you, like a pile of old bras, but this is actually one very scary, stealth beast we’re talking about. Why? Because it’s more powerful than you imagine. Think about it. It lurks in the corners. It grows in “the junk drawer” and it colonizes in the basement. Before you know it, one day, clutter is running the show and you’re just a prisoner in your own home.

You know what I’m talking about. Five years of your favorite magazine (you may eventually try that recipe on page 45!) Kitchen gadgets piled so high you can’t shut the drawer (Everyone has 3 zesters, right?). That crumpled bag collection (paper or plastic?) And old greeting cards for days (it’s a “collection!”) Touché, clutter. We know what you really are.

Now the sneakiest thing about clutter is not how it disguises itself as a collection. Or a to-do pile. Or things you “may possibly need one day.” It’s actually how it piles up so slowly – so subtly–you don’t even notice you’re drowning in a sea of stuff. So what are the effects of this clutter Chupacabra? Here are three ways clutter may be making a mess of your whole world.

Way #1: Clutter Can Make a Mess of Your Head

Scatterd stuff, scattered thoughts. Messy house, messy mind. When I look around my living space and see stuff everywhere, it seems to send my mind into a stressed out tailspin, sometimes without me even realizing it. How do I know? I had a pretty big organization makeover recently that helped me realize.

It all happened when I went to paint a room I considered “organized.” Well, of course, I had to move everything out of the room to paint it. And WOW I didn’t realize just HOW MUCH STUFF WAS IN THERE! So moving turned into me making myself pitch things I didn’t need, which was more than HALF of the items in the room! After a crazy game of tug-o-war with myself, I finally crammed it all into my trunk and drove it off to the local charity, convincing myself the whole way that I really wouldn’t need that TI-83 calculator ever again.

Back to painting. It went well. I loved the color. And gosh that fresh paint LOOKS great, but my newly organized space FEELS even better. What I gave up in unused stuff, I gained in square footage I had forgotten I had! I mean, I could have a dance party in there if I want! I truly feel noticeably more calm in that room, no downward dog necessary (but I totally have the space for yoga sessions in there now). Who knew that the before and after would really be about de-cluttering more than a drastic change in wall color?

Way #2: You May be Allergic to Clutter–Literally

Think about how much stuff you have accumulated in your home. Now consider that every single bit of it, down to the tiniest knickknack, collects dust. The next time you randomly sneeze, remember that disturbing fact. Everything from the pretty throw pillows we don’t really use to the out-of-date food in our fridge, to the empty diaper boxes you may need for something later begin to collect allergens and mold that can impact our health.

Way #3: Clutter Can Make a Mess of Your Priorities

If a pile of stuff sits there aaaaand sits there, there’s probably a good reason why. Maybe you or your family member just aren’t into that type of thing. For me, it was craft supplies. I’m dedicated to cooking for and with my kids, but it turns out, I’m a terrible craft mom.

For the longest time, I really tried to keep artsy materials around the house for the kids. I am SUPPOSED to do that, right? After all, crafts are so great for fine motor skills and creativity. But the reality is: I’m just not that into crafting. And when I look at art stuff, all I see is clutter that stresses me out. So finally, after tons of avoiding arts and crafts time, I finally accepted my non-crafting mom status. Do I miss it? Nope. And I’m happy to report that, without that stress, my kids and I have gotten way more into cooking together, exploring cultural recipes and making yummy memories. Win!

My Fix

Ever since my room “flip”  (or maybe I should call it my perspective flip), I have a fairly consistent ritual for keeping the big, hairy clutter monster at bay. It’s pretty easy and it goes like this. First, I walk around my house and wipe down everything that makes me happy. Framed photography, school art pieces my kids made, the fiddle leaf fig tree that I’ve grown for years. These are the things that matter to me.

The things I didn’t touch – the fake cherry blossom sprigs, the magazine rack with years of forgotten articles – find a new home. This exercise helps me not only keep a clutter-free and clear space, (and mind) but is also helps me to appreciate the stuff I really love. Plus, BONUS, the next time I clean, there’s less to dust, which means more time for playing, cuddling or cooking with the people I love more than any thing at all.

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