kiser_tamiOk, it’s Lent. It seems natural to put extra penance on ourselves by tackling some of those less desirable cleaning projects around the house. Go for it, girl. Personally, I’ve been on an uncluttering spree since the beginning of the year and I am really kicking in this Lent.  And yes, I have tons of stuff to declutter.  Even though I supposedly have been living the "Smart Martha way", formally for 3 years now, I still have a habit of accumulating stuff and worse yet, ignoring my old accumulated stuff.  NO LONGER.  I am beginning my uncluttered life for good.

Not only is clutter messy, but it can also give us a false sense of dependence.  We think accumulating or buying things can satisfy some need that we have.  So we buy and collect, but it only temporarily satisfies that need.  Soon we think we need to buy more and have more only to be disappointed again.

My children also have too much stuff.  I am trying to teach them the lesson of being content with what they have.  It seems like such a counter-cultural lesson.  Their friends have more toys. The TV and magazine ads taunt them with more toys.  And they think they can’t be happy if they don’t get more toys.  What happens when they do get more toys?  Are they happy then?  Only for a while.

Our lives also get cluttered.  We fill our schedules with so many activities. We are really asking for a "Martha" existence when we do this.  I think sometimes we think that if we are busy running around that somehow we are "important."  Just like in accumulating stuff, we get a false sense of dependence on all of our activities. We don’t have to think about being like Mary, because we really have too much stuff to do.

I am also trying to clean up this "clutter" in our family schedule.  I know that sports and music lessons are important, but so is hanging out and relaxing at home.  Pushing busy schedules on our kids teaches them to live a "Martha" existence.  I no longer believe that keeping kids busy keeps them out of trouble.  Raising children isn’t as simple as that.

So here are my thoughts for you for this month. I would never really describe myself as "having a lot of clutter," but when I looked around, it was there.  Maybe you have some clutter, too.

1) Are there areas in your life or home where you have too much?

2) Do you seek out buying things when you are sad or bored?

3) Do you fill your children’s schedule just to keep them "busy?"

4) Do you have enough "down time" to be Mary for your family and friends or are you too busy running from one thing to the next?

5) What need do I really have that all the stuff in the world won’t quench?  The need for Christ.

Only Christ is Sufficient!

Tip of the Month:  Simple Steps to DeClutter a drawer, shelf, closet, or room:
(If you are dreading a job like this, don't think about it and just follow these simple steps.)

1) Dump or empty.  Take everything out.  If you are cleaning out your "Plasticware" cabinet for example, just take every item out of the cabinet.  Wipe the cabinet out.

2) Sort in 4 Piles. Here are your 4 Piles that you will put everything into.  You can use bins or bags or whatever for these piles.  1 is keep these items here. Pile 2 is these belong somewhere else in the house. Pile 3 is give away.  Pile 4 is throw away.  With the plasticware, I make sure everything has a lid.  Ones without lids or lids without bottoms get pitched.  I also make sure I don't have more than I need.  When the stuff is all sorted, put the give aways in a box or bag and put to the side  Put Pile 4 in the trash.  And take the time to put the stuff from Pile 2 where it belongs--or ask a kid to do this.

3) Decide how to best organize or arrange your Pile 1 in your given space. Do not keep stuff just because you have a space for it.  Only keep what you need. And don't keep stuff if you don't have a space for it.  Sorry, it's got to go. Put them in the bag of give aways, Pile 3. If you need some baskets or other kind of organizers, put this on a shopping list to get later and use some kind of makeshift system (like boxes or bags) until you get what you want. For my plasticware, I use an organizer for lids and bottoms.  Those that don't fit this system, I store with the lid fitted on losely. I have no lost lids this way.

4) Teach Others.  You know if you don't show the other people in your home where the things belong, your drawer/cabinet/closet/room is just going to end up like it was.  Take the time to do this. I use post-it notes or other labels as reminders. Your drawer/cabinet/closet/room is going to get messed up again, but this should stretch it out a bit for you.

Happy Decluttering!

Copyright 2010 Tami Kiser