Is this quote in the book, or only the movie? I just re-read P&P not long ago, and I must admit I missed it…
It is a happy thought, though! Shelves — and the occasional well placed nail — are the key to keeping chaos at bay.
A whole bunch of you lovely readers wanted a de-cluttering post from me, and this filled me with dread. Remember I told you I’m not a particularly good housekeeper?
…than “look at me I’m so tidy” — even though I have no excuse at this point, having not one single toddler on the loose.
I was tearing my hair out, trying to think of what pictures I could possibly illustrate such a post with.
I personally have nothing photogenically uncluttered to show you, in my house or otherwise…
Also, it’s the liturgical season of St. Patrick’s Day, and things are a bit busy in the Irish step-dancing and fiddling world…
The other thing is that anyone who has ever sat in a waiting room with women’s magazines already knows the theory of de-cluttering.
You know very well that you need three things:
Possibly even one dresser, one closet or one shelf in a closet — good lord, woman, I don’t know what your home looks like!
People are very different. Some people consider one book on a coffee table clutter. Others are so festooned with fake ivy garlands and nick-knacks from the Christmas Tree Shops that wish you welcome, love, luck o’ the Irish, boo, harvest, red-white-and-blue, and everything else, as if somehow every thought in your heart must be memorialized on a plaque and displayed…
And some people have books and kids. (The dreaded Change of Seasons is nigh. Brush up on my clothing advice before you tackle this wretched chore.)
However, you decide by implementing the stern admonitions in my post on the secret to getting things in order.
These directives boil down to this: if you have clutter, don’t try to clean it up where it is.
Get it all out into the middle of the room, wipe down, dust, disinfect, and maybe even paint whatever it is you are organizing (do you know how delightful a painted closet is? Paint it white so you can see what’s in it), and then put back what you really want there.
If that means fake ivy, so be it — just, for the love of all that is holy, make sure you wipe it before you put it back. If it means underwear and socks, go. But don’t shuffle things around or you are wasting your time!
Remember I told you about the things I learned that time I had a cleaning lady for a while?
One thing was that if it happened that I hadn’t de-cluttered enough for her before her arrival, she simply put everything in a pile in the middle of the room, moving it slightly to clean under it.
After she left, I had to deal with the stuff, and you know what? It’s not that hard when it’s all in one spot like that and you know that the room will feel clean if you just put it all away or throw it out.
Now look at what is left. Whatever it is, it goes into one of four places:
1. in another spot in the room — the room you are working in.
2. in the laundry basket if its true place is in another room —
BUT!!! do not leave the room to put it away, or you will become hopelessly sidetracked! You will start cleaning that other room! You will forget that you are in the midst of a hellish nightmare in this room right here!
You will then likely end up in yet another room, and only after supper when everyone is exhausted will you remember, and then it will be too late. Your doom will have been deemed: to live, not in clutter, but in utter chaos.
Getting rid of the clutter is hard work. Right now might not be the ideal time if you just had a baby and the baby needs to be nursed all the time. Maybe you are sick? Maybe there are pressing things that have to get done…
If it is the right time, you’ll have to schedule it in and be ready for a hard day. But don’t exhaust yourself needlessly. Think.
Now, I have another secret for you.
Things that you “store” on the floor, be they children’s toys, books, pots, brooms, or really just anything, are always going to seem messy, and will make vacuuming and wiping down a pain.
This is where the shelves come in. And hooks. And nails.
As you are putting things back, or maybe just a little before, ask yourself if there is any way to get them off the floor? Or the counter? Any way at all?
Do you keep the broom in a corner on the floor?
This is going to sound funny, and you may not believe me. But if you keep it on the floor, besides not being good for the broom (the bottom will deform), you will feel like a bad housekeeper.
Don’t wait for the perfect broom holder. (I had one, and then I got a new broom with a handle too large for it. The nail is actually the upgrade! Sweet.)
Don’t wait for the perfect container. Pick up some clear cheap plastic bins and put the kids’ toys in them for now.
You can always use them for something else later. Put the bins on shelves. Look at thrift stores and yard sales for hutches, bookcases, and old cabinets. You might have something in the garage that could be spray painted. (Remember to peruse the Flickr group called Corners of My Home for inspiration — I love the amazing ideas people have for making the humble look lovely.)
Get some nails and hooks – and buy yourself your very own hammer so that you can pound a nail in a wall when you need to.
Sigh. You are asking for neatening advice from me?