Am I the only one who occasionally fantasizes that a girlfriend will randomly stop by with a bottle of wine for an impromptu night full of gossip after the kids go to bed, but then looks around the mess that is my house and becomes terrified that an unannounced visitor will only result in a wellness visit from CPS? Just me? No, okay, that’s cool.
Seriously though. How do people keep their homes clean? Do you want to know how many times I’ve vacuumed this week alone? Four. Four times. The same rooms. Below is a photo of the floor in our dining room, less than 24 hours after I last vacuumed. How does this happen? Do my children carry breadcrumbs in their pockets? Are they intentionally messing with me? Where do all these bits come from??
The most offensive marauder in this home, however, is the “stuff” that has taken over each room. It comes in many forms and it’s everywhere. A glance across the room reveals a table with a brush, doll clothing, and Christmas cards scattered atop it. Note in the photo below that the ottoman is supporting, not my feet, but two drawing pads, five picture books, half a crayon, an empty iPhone 6 case, a flashlight, and a neatly folded dish towel. Missing from the ottoman is the television remote that has not been seen in weeks.
Why aren’t these things in their home? Mostly because they don’t have one. What do you do with extra Christmas cards? Surely you don’t just throw them out. They have my family’s photos on them! And half a crayon? I could mix that half together with all the other crayon bits scattered throughout my house and melt them all down in silicone molds shaped like hearts. I could. I saw it on Pinterest.
We are constantly warned not to compare our ordinary to other people’s “highlight reels” on social media, but I constantly find myself scouring through other people’s photos and finding that I don’t measure up in the tidiness department. Yeah, yeah, your kids are cute and you looked lovely on that date night with your husband, but the clutter-free living room I’m seeing in the background is making me feel seriously inadequate. Where are these people putting the 75 pages of schoolwork that comes home everyday? Why can they see their entire dining room table? Where are the wayward pieces of stale crusts on the floor? Where is all of their stuff??
Perhaps it was serendipitous that today I stumbled upon the “40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge.” It seems as though the challenge has not yet been updated for the New Year, but the whole plan can be used at any time. The concept is that you focus on one small area each day to declutter, filling a bag with items to donate, sell, etc. Not only can this program help me declutter my house, but it can also provide me with the opportunity to teach my children about selflessness and philanthropy as we decide together which of their older toys to donate. Just kidding – I’m doing this after bedtime. Hit the hay kids, ‘cause Mama’s gonna be drinkin’ some wine and throwing away your shit!
Then, maybe, just maybe, 40 days from now, my house will be Facebook-ready. Hell, I’ll even call CPS myself so that they can see that the only clutter in this house is empty wine bottles on the counter left there by friends I happily invited in after they dropped by. Wait…