Cleaning green is all well and good, but first you have to tackle the clutter. When I think of clutter, I hear the theme song from Jaws playing in the background and see evil dolls with glowing eyes closing in around me. The floor is covered entirely in Lego pieces and I can’t even think about cleaning the toilet because I simply can’t reach it without having the Lego logo permanently ingrained into my foot. It is almost always a daunting task because by the time we deal with it there is a mountain of mess to deal with. Clutter is one of those things that gradually builds up over time until it becomes an insurmountable task. And it’s not just about the time and energy it will take to clear the junk. There are other ramifications that may actually impact your health.
Clutter Is Stressful
We all want our home to be a sanctuary. It is a place where we come home to after a busy day to relax and unwind. There is nothing calming and soothing about being surrounded by clutter. Everyone’s mountain of mess comes in a different form. Maybe it’s the laundry that piles up or the mounting bills and junk mail that you have put aside to sort through “later”. It’s all about the toys and the piles of papers over here at our house. Whatever the source of your clutter, pretending that it doesn’t stress you out won’t do you any good because the gray hairs don’t lie! And if the gray hairs aren’t enough, the clutter causes me to spew curse words at my children thorough clenched teeth. The piles begin to take on a life of their own until they look so daunting that you just want to run away. You start to feel guilty for not being more organized. You beat yourself up for not tackling the task sooner. You threaten to send your children off to boarding school because why can’t they simply put their Star Wars guys back in their bins? And as you’re dodging another deadly foam bullet, the phone rings with a message to contact the credit card company regarding an unpaid bill. I’m guessing that it is buried at the bottle of Mt. Vesuvius that has grown in our “organization center” in our kitchen. This “stuff” takes on a life of its own until you simply can’t take it anymore. We already have enough stresses in our lives and we certainly don’t need anymore. We talk about using safe products for cleaning because we are concerned about our health. Unfortunately, emotional stress can take as much of a toll on you as all the harmful chemicals that can be found in most of your cleaning products. Fortunately, this is one of those stresses in life that we do have some control over.
Make Clearing Clutter Fun
There are actually ways to make clearing clutter fun! Okay, “fun” might be a bit of an exaggeration, but there are definitely ways to make it less painful. If you can pry your kids away from the computer and you threaten to permanently ban their favorite YouTube sensation from your house, then you stand a good chance of banding together to make this a group project. Put on everyone’s favorite music, if you can actually agree on what that would be. Dance around and be silly while clearing the mess. Singing and dancing are good for the soul and hopefully it will put everyone in a pleasant mood. If that doesn’t work, have them drop and do ten push-ups, because at the very least it will be entertaining to watch. There will probably be a lot of complaining at first, but it’s nothing that a good pair of air plugs can’t fix. Explain to your children that they can’t be very efficient if they can’t move. It is difficult to play with your favorite toys if you can’t find them! Then watch them roll their eyes at you while they sort the toys into the empty containers that have been collecting dust. This is a fine example of the teamwork that can help you clear the clutter. In all seriousness, this can be looked at as an opportunity to spend with our kids while accomplishing an important task.
Give The Kids Some Chores
The task of cleaning should never fall on one person when there are multiple people living in a household. There is no reason why everyone can’t be accountable for their own “stuff”. In other words, make the kids clean up their toys! Obviously, you will want to find age appropriate tasks for your child and that will likely change as they get bigger. At a young age, their task may be as simple as sorting blocks. Allow them to sort by color or shape to really make it a learning activity. As they get older, they can help by putting their laundry away or unloading the dishwasher.
Children also thrive on structure. If you assign your children chores on a regular basis you will likely find that more efficient than yelling at them to clean once things have reached to point of total disarray. It is also helpful to perform these decluttering tasks on a regular basis in order to prevent the clutter from getting out of control. In addition, kids will usually take pride in their work and they may even enjoy the tasks you give them. Most people find great satisfaction in accomplishing a task, and children are no different. In case you are concerned with somehow damaging your child, please note that no child has ever died from putting away a light saber. Keep the tasks you assign them simple to avoid them feeling frustrated. If all of this fails miserably, I find that bribery usually works!
Cleaning The Toilet
At least you can reach the toilet! Sadly, you are far too tired to clean anything else at this point. This is the point where you take out the vodka that you were going to use for a cleaning solution and pour yourself a nice stiff drink. Fortunately, the clutter is gone and you can tackle your green cleaning tasks tomorrow!
Kick Back and Relax
Once you are able to tackle all of your tasks you can sit back and relax. This is also a great time to regroup and consider your future strategy. Will you come out with guns blazing, ordering your children around like a drill sergeant or will you devise a stress free plan to keep your house, and your life, clutter free?