R is for Reclaiming: Blogging from A to Z Challenge

The other day I was channel surfing and I stopped on an episode of Hoarders. I find something strangely fascinating and oddly inspiring about that television show. My husband doesn’t like the show because he finds it depressing, my daughter doesn’t like it because she’s a germophobe and it grosses her out. I like it because I see it and it motivates me to reclaim my space.

Now, to be perfectly clear, we are not hoarders. However, we are a family of five with a dog, and we accumulate clutter. We have rooms in our house that look as though they could be featured on that program but we also have rooms that do not. I know that I’m not a hoarder because I am willing to let go of things. In fact, I find it very freeing, as I’ve written about before.

Very slowly, we are reclaiming our space. I had taken this week off to visit with my mother and then took the latter half of the week off to clean the house. I was meant to have foot surgery tomorrow and I wanted to be sure that the house was in order whilst I recuperated. My bedroom still has piles of Christmas decorations that need to be sorted and returned to the attic. I promise you, piles are not a therapeutic and healing environment for me.

In a strange twist of fate, the surgery got pushed back two weeks, so now I have a few extra days to whack away at the chaos that has taken over certain rooms in our house. This enthusiasm has been, predictably, sparked by that episode of Hoarders and also by my mother’s visit. My mother is very organized and her home is meticulous. The same holds true for most of our family. My father and stepmother live in a gorgeously kept home and my brother and sister-in-law keep their house with two young children perfectly tidy. Needless to say, I envy all of them the energy and wherewithal to stay on top of keeping their homes in ship shape. (See? J is for Jealousy!)

When I do get motivated, I am extremely thorough and quite enjoy the process of sorting, purging, donating and labeling. My sister-in-law actually shared an article on spring cleaning and organizing and I recognized a couple primary reasons behind our chaotic clutter. The first is that we clean the “public rooms” first. Whenever we have company, the main floor of the house is given a good cleaning. However, boxes get filled and we take them to one of the three out-of-sight “catch-all” rooms: the basement, the sun porch or the attic. All three of these rooms overflow piles upon piles. Those are the hoarder rooms. The next room to fall prey to piles and stacks of boxes is the master bedroom. Again, out of sight from guests. I wonder if starting with the bedrooms would end up causing us to neglect the family rooms.

The other cardinal rule of clutter control that we consistently break is the “one in, one out” rule. In fact, we could probably stand to institute a “on in, two or three out” rule. Whenever we buy something new – whether it is clothing, a kitchen gadget, a new toy – we should be getting rid of something else. This is something we should do on a continual basis and something I hope to achieve by the end of the summer.

So, the reclaiming of the square footage in our home is an ongoing battle. Right now, our little house on the hill seems like it is busting at the seams but I know, deep down, that in when the kids leave for college in a few years, it will seem so quiet and empty. Until then, we’ll just navigate the chaos.

A Most Passionate Love Affair

On Thursday, I was at the office and some colleagues and I were discussing our weekend plans. One was grateful to be escaping the impending snow to attend a wedding in Florida, another was just looking forward to two days away from the office and I was brimming with the anticipation of filling the 10-yard dumpster that has been deposited in our driveway, hoping that the snow wouldn’t so apocalyptic that it interfered with my dumpster plans.

My colleague looked at me with surprise as I explained that I had even taken Monday off so that I could have three days to fill the dumpster.

“You’re taking time off to clean?” The look of disbelief on her face spoke volumes.

Yes. I take time off to clean. I revel in the delight of the dumpster. It would be a safe assessment to state that I am genetically predisposed to collect things. There are places in my house that if photographed and taken out of context could easily appear on Hoarders. The anxiety that stems from this knowledge is omnipresent. Despite the order and coziness of my living room, knowing what was lurks one floor below is a constant source of unrest for me. So, from time to time, we rent a dumpster and we fill it. Every toss of debris chips away at the hoard but, more importantly, at my accumulated disquiet.

Of course, this process is never a no holds barred purge of the clutter, which is why this is the third dumpster we’ve acquired in less than 18 months. The weekends devoted to the dumpster require thought, careful sorting, physical stamina and, God willing, a label maker.

My husband and children are always willing to help, which can sometimes, unintentionally, be a source of tension. My youngest daughter, bless her heart, actually likes to spend time with me, even if it means cleaning! However, I have a method to my madness and the best thing to do, until I need beasts of burden, is to leave me to my own crazy devices.

The payoff is a great. When the dumpster leaves us on Tuesday it will be filled to the brim and a bit more of our space will be reclaimed. I am sure that we will require at least one, if not two, more dumpster adventures in the spring but the good news is that there will finally be room for the Christmas tree!