If you have ever been to our home for any celebration, you would think that we have it all going on. Lovely home with lovely decorations. A lived-in neatness that is inviting to all comers.
And we really do live in our house. We don’t take off our shoes upon entry, and we come in through any door we please. For almost twenty-seven years we have lived in a house that most guests would not only consider inviting... but also neat and tidy.
However, if you opened up a closet...and looked behind the curtain… you would think that we lived in a house of horrors. Closets full of coats, hats, shoes, cleats, bats, balls, golf clubs, last year’s science project, Christmas decorations, Christmas lights, unopened Christmas presents, the baby Jesus from our nativity set, a half burned yankee candle, half of the pieces from Monopoly… etc… etc! I think you get the picture.
The way Cheryl always cleaned up is a little… how shall we say… roundabout…
She would take everything out of Room One and only put back what was neat and clean and looked perfect in there. In the course of cleaning Room One, she would stop and do laundry. She would then get back to Room One and put the unwanted items from Room One into Room Two. In the course of returning things to Room One, she would stop to fix the leg on the wobbly table. Then she would move into Room Two… moving unwanted items from Room Two into Room Three but not before she changed the liners in our cabinets… and we don't even have liners in our cabinets.
This zig-zagging would continue all the way up until she ran out of “the next room.” With nowhere else to go, the excess clutter made its way into our front hall closet or our pantry along with the regular closet/pantry clutter. Keep in mind that our front hall closet is about 2x4 and our pantry is about 3x6.
Throughout our marriage, I have tried to make life easier by making suggestions and implementing systems and procedures. For instance, in order to keep the laundry room clean, we (and by we, I mean Cheryl) should separate the clothes and do one load of laundry a day. Wash… dry… and PUT AWAY! I capitalize “put away” because things never got put away in the drawers. It is like being on vacation and living out of your suitcase only you are not on vacation and you are living out of your laundry basket.
My personal favorite system and procedure was the monthly cleaning of the pantry. Each month, so it seemed, I would drag all of the junk out of the pantry and throw away the out of date food, the butter container tops, last year’s Halloween candy (not sure how it got in there every month, but somehow it did), the broken plastic forks, the crab pot, the vacuum, the fondue machine, the chocolate fountain, coats, hats, shoes, cleats, bats, balls, golf clubs, the baby Jesus from our nativity set… etc… etc. I think you get the picture.
Each month, it seemed, I would warn that anyone who stashed something in the pantry that did not belong, would be shot on sight. I even posted signs. Seriously. I posted signs!
I also wanted to rent a dumpster and throw all of our junk away. If we haven't used in it over three years, we throw it away. This is met with great resistance.
No, we can't do that, what if we need it.
Needless to say, my suggestions and my efforts were in vain.
In order for a system to work, the system has to be followed. People have to buy in. There has to be cooperation. There were a myriad of reasons why my systems and procedures were abandoned by my family: time constraints, inconvenience, insubordination, and a general lack of love for me, to name just a few.
Some time last month, Cheryl read some articles and watched some videos. She has announced her new plans to change our lives and keep our house tidy and organized. I have to admit that I have met these new plans with a little bit of skepticism. Systems only work if systems are followed.
Cheryl, I have implemented systems in the past, you all have ignored my systems. Systems only work, if systems are followed.
But honey, the Clutterbug gal labels people like insects. Ladybugs are people who are beautiful until they open their wings. Once they open their wings anything can fall out… Coats, hats, shoes, Jesus from the nativity set. Ladybugs like visual simplicity with all of their belongings put away in general organizing systems. Butterflies flitter from here to there and like their things out in the open where they can see them… but they also need big organizing systems or they will look like they never finish one job before starting another. Crickets and Bees like everything very specifically organized. I found out that I am a ladybug!
You are a butterfly. I have told you for years that you zig zag.
No I do not, I am a ladybug. That's what my new friend said. She knows me so well.
Your new friend is a nut bug!
Oh and get this… this other Frugal Cheap and Fun gal has an awesome laundry system. You sort it, you wash it, you fold it, and you put it away.
That's my system! Whoa… wait... there are two new You Tube friends!
Actually, there are three but you somehow have managed to conflate them into one… but their way is better… they sort it all differently... so their way is better.
That explains why she sometimes looks Japanese and sometimes she doesn’t. So what do these chicks say about clutter?
That you have to know which system works for you… and of course, if it isn't lovely or doesn’t spark joy, you throw it away.
What if we haven't used it in three years?
Is it lovely? Does it bring you joy?
I don't know because... I haven't seen it in three years.
The new plans also somehow involve making lists.
I chuckle at the list-making process because in the time she takes to make one list I could have had two rooms cleaned and half a dumpster loaded.
I have asked Cheryl why she thinks that all of the sudden, her clean pantry and new pantry procedures are better than my clean pantry and my procedures.
Because everything has a place.
But everything in my clean pantry had a place.
Mine is better because it is! Your places were just stuff lined up. My places involve containers. Containers are the key. It's the C in the cleaning ABC’s… Containerize. Don't feel bad because your system didn't work. You tried.
Whatever. My system was just as good and containerize isn't even a word!
It has been two weeks and she is still buying containers. I think the butterfly lady must have stock in the container industry.
The fact of the matter is that I don't really care what system we use. I just want someone to come over to our house… enter through whatever door they please… walk around the clutter-less rooms… open every closet… and then grab something from our tidy, containerized pantry. And I want to get credit for it all.
You see... I am the reason that things work around here because I follow the new procedures!
It is the F in the ABC’s of cleaning… spark followage!
See… I can make up words just as well as Cheryl’s new besties!