I’ll admit it. While I keep my kitchen and my work space clean and organized, my bedroom is nothing short of a disaster. It always seems that the inspiration to clean comes on Sunday mornings as I’m getting ready for church or on school days when I’m hustling to begin our lessons. It’s not that there’s food or dirty dishes up there; it’s just general clutter, maximized by a way-too-large percentage of my clothes being “hand wash in cold water.” (But I LOVE those sweaters!!!)
Earlier this week I came across this link on Facebook which promised one little tip to create tidying up magic. As it seems that my cleaning is usually after other people and it’s a handful of stuff as I walk through rooms and never seeming to get anywhere, the idea of changing my thinking about cleaning was intriguing. So what’s this great cleaning tip? Well, it’s actually two parts. One, clean by categories, not by rooms. Do all clothes, then all books, then all DVDs, then all papers and whatever. Two, keep only those things that bring you joy.
I like the idea of cleaning by categories, because if I cleaned by rooms, then one room would get messier in the process. For example, I have some books in my bedroom and in the living room. If I were to clean the books out of my bedroom, then I’d be shoving them on the bookcase in the office, making that less organized.
I can’t get into the “keep only those things that bring you joy.” If that were the case, then I’d be donating all my clothes, because I don’t find joy in material things. I enjoy nice clothes, and I do my best to take care of all my clothes. What excites me the most is finding a garment I like and waiting until it goes on sale to buy it. (I bought two sweaters right after Christmas for less than the price of one.) But I can’t rightly say that any of my clothes bring me joy, so telling this garment or that one, “Thank you for the joy you bring me” or “You brought me joy at one point” just wasn’t in my mindset. What was in my mindset was saying to two boxes’ worth of clothes, “You’re out of here,” “Loved wearing you, but that was years ago,” “You looked good on my pre-children body,” “What the heck is up with all these shoulder pads???” I folded each garment and placed it with care in a box, then I marked those boxes with fun labels.
As I went through my clothes, I could see the characteristics of each person who’d given them to me. This particular top was from my mom in a size too large to “camouflage my size.” That meant it hung on my small shoulders. This scarf from my grandparents (just not my style). That top from my in-laws – not my color. This other top from my in-laws… Hmmm… That’ll look cute with those pants and that jewelry. Purging that one, keeping that one. I haven’t worn that one in forever, but it’s got good memories, so it stays. As I said, in all, I packed two boxes on top of one that was waiting to be delivered, plus I ruthlessly trashed worn out shirts, jeans, bras, bathing suits, and panties. My youngest helped me, and she couldn’t believe what I was throwing away: “You’re throwing away a bra?!?!”
It felt amazing seeing the results of hours of hard work. I tell my girls all the time, “I’m not attached to stuff. I’m not attached to yours, and I’m not attached to mine” (which they know means I’ll throw their stuff away if they leave it out after I’ve told them to pick it up). They saw that in action today. “If Mom will throw her own clothes away, she’ll throw ours away, too!” My youngest helped me, and my oldest decided to clean her room during about half of the time I worked on my room.
Unfortunately, our local thrift store is closed on the weekends, but those boxes will be gracing their business before we head to the beach again. I’m not even done; I have more clothes to sort (some had to be washed), and my husband still has to go through his. There is something amazing, though, about being able to see real, tangible results of all the hard work.
What do you have that brings you joy? Can you get rid of those things that don’t?