Are you always ready for visitors to pop in unannounced? The answer for most women these days is NO. I know most ladies wait until about one hour before their husband comes home to tidy up the house. The rest of the day, the house is a pig pen. I definitely used to do this! I had to learn to have better housekeeping patterns. If I knew someone was coming soon, I would frantically run through my house, stuffing things into drawers, cupboards, and closets. These areas would get so cram packed full, that if you would open a closet door, you were liable to get run over by the avalanche of my junk! My mother in law would purposely open my closet doors and chuckle at me, saying, “OH, what is this?" It would drive me crazy. I knew she meant well, but it was plain embarrassing to have someone finding out your hidden lifestyle as a hoarder.
My nickname was the Clutter Queen!
My Hoarder Story...
I used to be a classic hoarder! My mother knew it. When I was young, my mother would threaten to throw all my junk into the driveway out of my second story window. And she did one time. I had to run outside around the back of the house and gather up my junk, hauling it back to my room, making fifty or so trips. My mother was taught to clean well by her mother who kept a fine home. I should have been better in my own home, since I learned from the best. When I talk to my mother now, she tells me how frustrated she was with my stubborn sloppy tendencies. In fact, she had to keep my door shut just to keep from seeing it and allowing it to make her want to run me and my junk out of her home for good. When I first got married, she invited Mark and me to their home for a meal. When we pulled into the driveway, there sat what looked to be a caravan of plastic bins streaming from the back door 50 feet.
She looked up at my tall, handsome husband and said, "She's your problem now!" Thankfully, my husband is not a pushover.
He looked at me, dumped two of the tubs out and said with steadfast authority, "Okay, you have two bins. Whatever you can fit in these bins, you may keep. The rest is going to the dump!" All I could think was how merciful my dear husband was to allow me to keep a few of my special things.
I went through bin after bin of school papers, my dogs baby teeth (weird!), dolls I saved, rocks (really?), stuffed animals, and old worn out clothes. I saved everything. There were over 40 bins, so it was a long, laborious afternoon-the afternoon the hoarder was caught red handed. I love that my husband is strong for me when I am weak. I can tell you one thing; this was a purging that needed to happen in order for me to grow into a better homemaker. Today, I do not miss that trash. I cannot even remember what I threw away that day. For the few years after that, there would be more bonfires filled with trash purged from our closets. My transformation did not happen overnight. The habit of saving everything was a hard one to break.
Get this Hoarder in Order!
It frustrated my husband. He just hated all the clutter and especially hated how I would stuff his things frantically in places that only God would know to look. Going on a mystery treasure hunt right before he would leave for work was not a game my husband wanted to play. It embarrassed me when his mother would come for a weekend visit. She was not fond of me from the beginning, so it was a hard battle ahead to convince her that I was worthy of her son. I wanted her to like me so badly. I wanted her to think I was a good wife and mother.
Finally, I did what most women would not dare to do...
I asked my mother -in-law to help me organize my home!
One closet at a time, I let her pick through all my stowed away messes, while she would ask me the dreaded questions; "Why would you keep this?" "Do you use this?" "Is this garbage?" Usually it was something that, uh, I should have thrown away! She taught me to put each thing in a certain place "its HOME." When I am done using it, I had to return it to it's "home." Wow, this went against my nature. It took years of training to get me out of some pretty bad habits of laziness.
Now I am known as the Clean Freak!
There Is Hope...
If I could learn new habits and train myself to be organized, than anyone can. My home is a place of order today, so you know there is hope. My home was never blatantly messy. I was a surface cleaner with stuff stashed under the beds and into the closets where no one could see it. My husband was not happy with my closets and drawers full of clutter and trash. I had to learn charity towards him in this manner. I had to love him enough to make his home a haven of peace and order. It makes him so very happy when he can find things. I have realized that it is unseemly behavior to cram things and lose things just because you feel there is not enough time to do things the right way.
I have special areas to store my husband's tools, his mail, his flashlights, etc. I make sure he has a shelf for his things. He still gets a little nervous when he is looking for something in a sparkly clean room. He wonders if I stuffed it somewhere, because the memory was traumatic for him. I tell him right where I placed it, on his shelf with the other things that go together.
Now, I usually can have people drop by and my home is in order. The kids help keep it clean, although I have to get on their case for stuffing things in the cupboards and into their own closets sometimes. It is just laziness on anyone's part if they can not put things back where they belong. Training the kids to be organized is something that I have had to work on. They are a lot more organized than I was when I was a kid.
When you practice charity, you are ready to welcome people into your home at any moment and make them feel safe that when they open your closet, they will NOT risk their lives.
One drawer at a time...
If you are a clutter queen like I was, every drawer, every closet, every cupboard is packed with junk. It is very overwhelming to think of organizing the whole heap in one day. I recommend setting your goal for one drawer per day. It only takes 30 minutes at the most to organize one drawer, so that is doable, right?
This post was written by Erin from the Keeper of the Homestead. If you need more help in the homemaking department, order Erin's brand new book Living Virtuously: Keeping Heart and Home HERE.
For God is not the author of confusion,
but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
I Corinthians 14:33