Once upon a time, my home was immaculate. Everything had a designated spot and that is where it stayed. If I got something out, I put it away immediately when I was done with it. No piles of unfolded laundry, no dirty dishes filling the sink. Yes, I was a super housekeeper…once upon a time.
That “time” was B.C. (Before Children). Seven years into my marriage came Child #1. Then 2, 3, 4, and 5. And with each subsequent child, housekeeping became less and less of a priority. It’s not that I didn’t want to have a nice, organized house—it was just, you know, life.
Life has a way of shifting our priorities, of making the urgent seem so much less. Housekeeping had been such a high priority in the early years of my marriage that extended family members were actually concerned about how I would handle the mess that children inevitably bring. But in light of my children, housekeeping easily slipped several notches downward on my priority scale.
Fast forward 30 years and I am now regretting letting my housekeeping, particularly my decluttering, fall so far down on my priority list. Don’t misunderstand, my house is not dirty, nor is it unkempt. And I would not have ever been a candidate for the reality TV show Hoarders. And yet…
Let’s just say 30 years adds up to a lot of stuff when it’s not regularly weeded out like a garden must be to thrive. Now that my family is in the midst of preparing our home to sell for the express purpose of downsizing and living debt-free, I am seeing just how many unnecessary things I’ve kept over the years. The mounds of paperwork alone is mind-boggling.
You may not be a family of 7 with 30 years of marriage within the walls of your home, but I bet you can still relate. Because really, we all have a tendency to hold on to things that we don’t truly need. And seriously, I am not quite sure why I thought I had to bring home every shell I encountered at the beach each time I was near the Atlantic.
So it doesn’t matter if you’re single or married with a dozen kids, the struggle is real. When life happens, it’s easy to let the little things slide—until they snowball and become big things that we can no longer ignore.
Just between you and me and the rest of the world, I have actually ignored the doorbell because of the clutter on my table and countertops—not to mention the half a dozen pairs of shoes blocking the doorway. There, I said it. Confession really is good for the soul.
All soul-bearing aside, my desire to once again be a good housekeeper has been reignited. And I have to say, with every bit of paper I throw away, every bag of clothing I take to the second-hand store, I breathe a little freer. Less really is more.
When it first hit me that selling our house would require that everything be gone through, I was a bit overwhelmed. But like a 1,000-piece puzzle, you don’t start with the whole; you begin with a single piece. And so my goal to declutter, organize, and ultimately, downsize our entire 30 years began with a single cabinet drawer.