This is totally my family.Naturalmaman, your family sounds pretty similar to mine. I grew up in a huge family in a not so big house, and the mess was always blamed on the # of kids, and my dad, who was a packrat specializing in newspapers, tools (he got a tool chest for Christmas once, and gave it a prominent spot right next to their bed!) and a garage full of stuff our neighbors thought they threw away. Well, now my mom is the only one left in the house and guess what? It’s still a mess! : The one major difference is that the garage is (mostly) clear and my mom actually parks in it. After dd passed (10 years ago), we all helped to clear it out. But the envelopes and papers on the dining room table, that’s the big thing. She has done a lot of renovation in the house, including a new kitchen, but it’s still a mess. (the fridge, forget about it, yuck.) She has had a cleaning woman off and on, but like a pp said, that doesn’t help if you can’t get to the floors, counters, etc to clean them. She refuses to ever sell the house, even though it is much too big and too much work for her to handle.
One thing that has made me realize is that it doesn’t matter how new or old your home or furnishings are, if you take care of them they will be in good shape and if you don’t, they’ll be a wreck quickly. Several of my siblings have a pretty bad packrat problem, one of them has a very serious one (hasn’t even let anyone into her apt in years and refuses to admit or deal with it. For me, it’s a struggle (especially at work…) but I try to keep on top of it. Throwing away junk mail as soon as it arrives is probably the biggest (and simplest) help…my ds still hasn’t mastered that. She seems to think that she’ll miss something big if she does it…Ed McMahon, or the best credit card offer ever…I don’t know. But I do tend to hold on to things also. DH went on a cleaning binge of the basement and I was so amazed at how many cardboard boxes I had kept (from moving, wedding gifts, etc). They were my security blanket….I had moved so many times in recent years, I guess I felt that I had to be prepared. I know that sounds pretty minor, but it seems like every time I’ve moved I have gotten rid of a ton of stuff, and yet it’s still all there.
One of my big goals is to scan and organize all the old photos that I have in boxes. I would love to get on top of that. I am so psyched about digital scrapbooking, it seems so much more my speed than the scissors and paper version.
I also really like the book Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson. I’ll admit, I haven’t read it cover to cover (like I planned when I bought it) but it is a great reference especially for those of us who can’t turn to mom for cleaning advice!!