“You can’t organize clutter….”

February 6, 2012

I still remember coming home from the hospital with my firstborn and dumping everything (except him) in a chair-and-a-half near the laundry room.  It made perfect sense at the time:  luggage would have to be emptied and laundry done, so I will put this right here.  Weeks later, the chair was still full to overflowing with suitcases, laundry, gift bags full of gifts, CD’s and a portable CD player (yes, this was the “olden days”), and a huge amount of “freebies” that the hospital gives to new mothers.  Every time I looked at it I wanted to cry, which meant every day:  it was sitting in my kitchen.  It was an unavoidable mound of mess that overwhelmed me each time I looked at it.  I had no idea where to start.

I remembered, rattling around in the back of my post-partum brain, hearing reference to a website on household organization run by someone called “The Flylady.”  I Googled it, found it, and began reading furiously.  My favorite phrase, which I grabbed hold of and hung on tight, was “You can’t organize clutter.  You can only get rid of it.”

The freedom those words gave me!  You mean I don’t have to put this stuff away?  I don’t have to find a place for it?  I can just get rid of it? kept echoing in my head.  Bit by bit, I attacked the pile, and discovered it was much easier to put away the sweet gifts and CD player when I wasn’t trying to find a home for things like a dozen gift bags and twenty tubes of Vaseline.  The moment of total freedom and exhilaration I experienced when that chair was empty is hard to explain.  Empty, clear, free, peace—all are words that come to mind.  The best part is that now, in a new home and placed in a different room, that chair is where we snuggle to read our bedtime stories.  That is what it was made for!  To cuddle with kids and make happy memories together, not to “store” piles of stuff that have no home.

That clearness and freedom, that peace, is what I’m hoping to encourage you toward.

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One Response to ““You can’t organize clutter….””


  1. […] I’m thinking back to when my first child was born, and realizing that NO, I refuse to do THAT again.  Let’s see how on top of things I can be […]

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