suggested amounts for household items? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 25 Old 10-31-2011, 07:28 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I am trying to declutter, and here is where I get stuck: I can't figure out  a "good" amount of certain items to have, and it's causing a mental block to my de-cluttering.

for example, I want to go through the linen closet and start paring down. But everytime I go to do it, I think: "Wait, I don't really have a good idea of how many bath towels I need. So I can't do this now." 

 

so that's really what I'm looking for a book, a list, something ......that gives me an idea of how many of each item in my house is a reasonable amount to have.  any thing like that exist?

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#2 of 25 Old 10-31-2011, 08:10 AM
 
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Sorry I don't have any advice for you, but I'm hoping others will. I am in the same boat with you. I have been decluttering for a while now (still a ways to go) and these are the areas that stump me too. notes.gif


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#3 of 25 Old 10-31-2011, 08:39 AM
 
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I saw a tip somewhere: put small round stickers on all the things you are not sure you need. Take the sticker off if you actually use the item. Set a date a few months later to check for stickers--if you haven't used an item, it can go. (You could sticker all the towels in the closet.) You can do the same for knick knacks: sticker them, and remove the sticker if you actually look at and enjoy the item. If not, pack it up.

 

I think it is personal to you and your family. For example, we use bath towels for a week. We have a place to hang them in the bathroom and live in a dry climate so they dry between uses. I do laundry once a week (in an apartment laundry room, so I can do several loads at once). So we only need one set of bath towels. We have 2 sets--it's nice to have a backup in case we need fresh towels before laundry day. At the most we will have one guest staying over, so we don't need extra towels for guests (they'll just use one from the extra set).

 

We do have some older towels around that we use for the pool. We are a family of 3, so 6 pool towels is plenty even if friends come to swim.

 

We have extra washcloths and hand towels and kitchen towels, since those are changed more often. But only a week's worth.

 

Same thing with sheets: we only need one set (wash, then back on the bed) plus a back up set (so we could make the bed if there was a reason to in the middle of the night). Plus one set for the sofa bed if we have a guest. When my son was little, we needed several extra sets for his bed, just in case. Now we only have the set that is on his bed (on the rare occasion that we need to change sheets without doing laundry, we just use larger sheets that fit my bed until laundry gets done).

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#4 of 25 Old 10-31-2011, 09:11 AM
 
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I like the stickers idea.

 

I would start by sorting out any worn ones/ones which you don't like using and get rid of them/cut them into rags, then go with the sticker plan on the rest.

 

I like to box stuff up out of the way, that way if I need to retrieve and item I can, if not I know I don't really need them. My bigger problem with towels etc is that I  know the ones we use regularly will wear out so I find it hard to get rid of the rest, knowing I will eventually be able to use them.

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#5 of 25 Old 10-31-2011, 10:29 AM
 
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I was taught to keep one towel (per person) for use, one for the hamper, and one for the closet. So, for the two of us, that's 6 towels. Since we ARE only two of us, that actually works out really well, because we don't do laundry all that often so it usually ends up being more like "one for use, and two for the hamper until I get around to washing them." xD I imagine with a larger family, we'd probably do laundry more often, and still get away with our 6 towels just fine. We hardly ever use hand towels, though, and never use washcloths - I could probably toss them entirely and hardly notice. Kitchen towels I keep about 4-6 because that's what comfortably fits in my drawer! LOL

 

Sheets we keep one set per bed, and just wash them and put them back on when they're clean. However we do not yet have any little ones who might need middle-of-the-night sheet changes, so that might change in the future. We have a few extra flat sheets in case an excess of guests means someone needs to crash on a couch or two.

 

Dishes/flatware I keep at least as many as I routinely entertain for. Right now, that's a set of 12 and I wish I had more, sometimes I need it!

 

I'd second the suggestion to box up whatever you think you don't need and store it for 3 months or so. After three months, just get rid of whatever you haven't dug back out of the box to use.


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#6 of 25 Old 10-31-2011, 11:05 AM
 
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I was thinking about the boxing up thing, too.  Like take a guess at how many towels you'd like to have and then keep just that many out and see if it works.  

 

For sheets, I'd really like to have two sets for each bed in use.  (My kids have their own beds but sleep with us, so I don't feel like I need two sets for their beds, or a guest bed if we had one.)  I do have a washer and dryer, but I hate it that it takes so long to get them back on.  By the time they're out of the dryer, I'm usually not in the mood to get them back on.

 

I have enough cleaning rags to go for a couple of weeks w/o doing laundry even though I do laundry every day.  When I was less organized, I would run out now and then and it scarred me.  Now I need lots. 

 

The kitchen is probably my next place to declutter and I'm sure I'll run into this problem there.  


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#7 of 25 Old 10-31-2011, 12:24 PM
 
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I agree box up what you don't think you will need.
Stuff like towels I would give it more than a month before you toss. Holiday guest and summer pool time can really use up some towels.

My family use a bath towel each a week but extended family need a clean towel each day.

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#8 of 25 Old 10-31-2011, 06:40 PM
 
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I have always heard 2 towels per person and 2 sets of sheets per bed. I have yet to pare it down that far. But it probably works out fine.

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#9 of 25 Old 11-01-2011, 12:32 AM
 
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> so that's really what I'm looking for a book, a list, something

> ......that gives me an idea of how many of each item in my house
> is a reasonable amount to have.  any thing like that exist?
 
Below, I'm going to offer a lot of detailed analysis. I don't really recommend slowing yourself down with all that analysis _unless_ you find that you're unable to get rid of things without it - which is what your post suggests.
 
But I'd also recommend that you always keep in mind that mistakes are expected, and normal, and just fine, and speed and ruthlessness of decluttering are more important than accuracy. It's absolutely fine to say, "Ah, we can probably get rid of all but one of those giant towels; John's the only one that likes them and he'll survive when it's in the wash" and then later realize, "Oops. Forgot the beach." You'll just buy another giant towel in June. No big deal.
 
So, some thoughts:
 
- You could start by figuring the minimum that you could get along with if you ignored any desire for variety. For example, if you had two queen-size beds, then in theory you could get along just fine with three sets of sheets total - two on the beds, and one in the wash. For that matter, you could get along with two sets, if you stripped them in the morning and got them washed and dried before bedtime the same day, but if you're out all day almost every day that may not be plausible.
 
If you do all your laundry once a week (or you have the goal of doing it all once a week after you're done decluttering) then you could figure how many towels you use in a week, plus an extra set for each bathroom while you're doing the laundry, and that's all you need. That might be too many towels and too much wash at once, so you might decide to wash towels twice a week and have half as many to wash and store.
 
The same is true for kitchen towels, clothes, dishes, Tupperware, pretty much everything that you have multiples of and clean at a regular interval - the interval drives the minimum. Shorter intervals mean smaller minimums and less to clean and store.
 
For other things, like dress shoes or winter coats, you may want lots but _need_ only one.
 
The "minimum" should, IMO, leave out issues like, "But using the same color towels all the time would be really boring," and "But they'll notice at work if I'm always wearing the same shoes."  It's just a starting point, so that when priorities conflict you know how much you can eliminate and still function. So, the snow boots are included if you really can't get out without them at times in daily life, but the extra pairs of dress shoes aren't included if you have (or could obtain if you had to) one bland decent pair that goes with almost everything.
 
- Then you could look at your storage. Homes are built with storage for a "normal" amount of things, plus, if your things don't fit in your home's storage, your home's going to be hard to run.
 
Here I'd say that the first question is, would your normal everyday easy-to-reach storage comfortably store all of the minimums, or do the minimums need some rethinking? (By "comfortably" I mean that the storage has some empty space left - you don't have to fold everything exactly right to get the drawer to close, for example.)
 
You mention a linen closet, so you can probably store your towel minimum, in theory if not in practice right now. I don't have one, so if I were a fresh-towel-every-day person, and I wanted to do laundry only once a week, I wouldn't be able to store my towel minimum in logical towel storage areas. I'd have to either compromise on the fresh towel frequency, or the laundry frequency, or I'd have to devote other storage (maybe dresser drawers) to towels.
 
And I really don't like the idea of things like dresser drawers for towels. I don't absolutely forbid myself to do things like that, but I prefer to try _very_ hard to reduce my things to the point that they can fit in the logical places for them, even if I would have designed those "logical places" differently if I were the architect of my house. Every time you have to do something like going to the dresser drawer on Wednesday to fetch the clean towels for the remainder of the week, that adds to your maintenance labor.
 
And forcing yourself to use the logical storage spaces also reduces some over-analysis. If you're declaring that The Towels Must All Fit Here, then you can make your towel disposal choices right now. If you allow yourself to consider that you could store extra towels there, or there, or there, and all of those places have a dozen other things competing for that space, then you can just grind to an overanalyzing halt.
 
- After minimums come priorities. Maybe you hate the idea of always using the same color towels, and the same color sheets, and the same shoes, and the same coat. Which one is more important to you? Do you love the look of your bedroom every time you change sheets, while all those multicolored towels just feel like a housekeeping duty? 
 
Do you want a wealth of shoes, and can you be content with the same crisp clean white towels and sheets every day if that means that you can devote half of the linen closet to a gorgeous display of high heels? (That sounds like I'm violating my "logical storage" rule, but if you've declared that the bottom half of the linen closet _is_ the high heel display and storage area, then it has become logical storage for those things.)
 
- Priorities and planning my involve changes - sometimes you may find that your existing things don't fit your new thoughts. 
 
For example, maybe you have the worn-out towels for the kids' dirty hands, and you devote a bunch of storage space to fancy fragile guest towels for when you have houseguests. You may decide to get rid of _all_ the towels in both categories, and get a high-quality set of white cotton towels that can be regularly bleached, to use for both purposes, and accept that you'll be replacing individual towels periodically when the kid damage is too great.
 
Maybe it's hard to cook in the kitchen because a lot of cabinet place is filled with gear that you only use for the holidays. Maybe you'll stop making some of those dishes and therefore get rid of that gear, or maybe you'll decide on a carefully considered violation of the "logical storage" rule and put all that extra gear away in the attic with the Christmas decorations, so that the kitchen's easier to manage the rest of the year.
 
Maybe you love to have lots of bed linens, and you kept buying the full sets with matching comforters, and your linen closet is bulging. It may be time to get rid of those extra comforters and buy duvet covers for the single comforter that you keep. If bed linens are a big priority for you, it might even be worthwhile to buy an extra set of sheets when you get a new set, and hire someone to sew them together as a duvet cover. Or maybe that thoought just makes you tired, and you realize that you were just doing the whole fancy-linen thing to fulfill expectations instilled in you by your mother, and you can embrace all-white-all-the-time with a sense of relief.
 
- Anyway. I recommend starting with the minimums. As a shortcut, I'd suggest that wherever you can bear to, just get rid of everything that exceeds the minimum.
 
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#10 of 25 Old 11-01-2011, 07:04 AM
 
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Ideally Id like:

2 towels per person with shorter hair, 3 per person with longer.. So for us 11 towels

1 beach towel per person- 5 total

2 bottom sheets per bed or for us 6 sheets

2 pillowcases per child's bed- 4 total

4 pillowcases and 4 shams per adult bed- so 4 and 4

2 washcloths per person- 10 total

1 lightweight blanket per person (we like to curl up with a blanket when we read and I don't like remaking the beds)- 5 total

4 hand towels per bathroom- 8 total

 


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#11 of 25 Old 11-03-2011, 10:55 PM
 
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I would love to pare down towels and sheets too.

 

But the problem I have is that my husband INSISTS that if we get rid of any towels or sheets, we have to keep all towels and sheets stored under the house for rags in the case of towels, and sheets for covering furniture and stuff when we one day can afford to renovate (if that fateful day ever arrives..eyesroll.gif

 

So when I look at sheets that look pretty good still even though we have too many, I can't stand to think of them being used as paint catchers!  And I can't stand to think of good towels and beach towels being used as rags.  So I just keep the towels and sheets all stuffed in the closets. disappointed.gif


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#12 of 25 Old 11-06-2011, 05:34 PM
 
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As others have said, it really depends on your laundry tolerance and, I'd say, stage of life. For instance, we have 7 nice towels, and I believe 2 dozen junk towels. Now, those 2 dozen junk towels are saved from my waterbirth 2.5 years ago, and will be used again next spring. I certainly don't need 30 towels, or the 15 that are in circulation, but I have a very definite and limited purpose for those extras. I expect to get rid of them next summer once I get into the post-birth nesting. Similarly we have one formerly nice sheet with a hole in it which will be used for the birth. After I pop, out it goes.

 

We cosleep, so we have 3 sets of sheets. 90% of the time I just wash and put back on, but I've found 3 sheets are necessary for those stomach flu days. When we no longer have kids in our bed, I expect we'll pare down.

 

So, what I feel to be a healthy minimum for a cosleeping family of 4 (my situation next year):

 

3 sheets per bed

3 mattress pads per bed (especially important for barf days)

2 towels per person plus 2 spares for guests (or barf days)

4 kitchen towels, 2 dozen rags

2 dozen cloth napkins (I wash once a week)

8 sets of dishes, doing dishes once-ish a day. We could probably get away with 4 if I felt I could do dishes in the middle of the day.

 


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#13 of 25 Old 11-07-2011, 09:12 AM
 
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quoting Crayfish :

 

But I'd also recommend that you always keep in mind that mistakes are expected, and normal, and just fine,
 
and speed and ruthlessness of decluttering are more important than accuracy.
 
It's absolutely fine to say, "Ah, we can probably get rid of all but one of those giant towels; John's the only one that likes them and he'll survive when it's in the wash" and then later realize, "Oops. Forgot the beach." You'll just buy another giant towel in June. No big deal.
 
=> I just wish I would get into that frame of mind
might have to put the words I put in bold on a poster near my work station .... to read and read and read again
 
spent more than 2 hours procrastinating at the computer AGAIN, this afternoon (reading about how to do it instead of doing it !)
instead of tackling my load of stuff
... not towels or sheet for me, am able to work out solutions that work for me, in different situations, regarding towels and sheets
more generally paper, books, knick-knack,souvenirs etc ...
 
I don't understand .... am able to work out solutions for part of my stuff
but I don't seem to be able to generalize the process to all areas that need attention
am like paralized by indecision ...
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#14 of 25 Old 11-07-2011, 04:34 PM
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by IsaFrench View Post
am like paralized by indecision ...

I may or may not be stating the obvious here, but remember that the perfectionism isn't just hampering you in solving the problem, the perfectionism most likely _caused_ the problem in the first place. Hoarding and clutter are about perfectionism, and about avoidance of discomfort.

 
It sounds illogical, but most hoarders are perfectionists. The house gets the way it does because they'd rather do nothing than do something wrong, or imperfectly, or both. It's not laziness, it's not sloppiness, it's a deep deep fear of error and imperfection, and an avoidance of the discomfort that they feel when they realize that error and imperfection have happened.
 
Some examples. When I say "you" I don't necessarily mean you - I don't know where your issue are. It's a general "you".
 
-- Those wads of paper towels that pile up on my mother's kitchen counter aren't there because she's too lazy to throw them away, they're there because of something like:
 
- Cleaning up just the paper towels isn't "enough" - she feels that she should clean the whole kitchen, scrubbing every corner and putting away all the things that she doesn't have space to put away. She can't do that perfectly, so she won't do any step of it, not even throwing away the trash that's on the counters.
- Maybe the towels could be recycled.
- Maybe the towels could be reused.
- She feels that she shouldn't have used paper towels in the first place, and she feels bad for having done so, so she'd rather not think about it - she wants to avoid that feeling. She'd rather do something else - like going out to buy more cloth kitchen towels because she can't find the ones she already owns, in the hoard. That makes the problem worse, but it makes her feel good. The action that would make the problem better - throwing away the paper towels - would make her feel bad. She avoids that bad feeling, and she makes the problem worse.
 
-- Similarly, if you want to get rid of knicknacks, you might think:
 
- I paid good money for those. I should sell them on eBay or I'll feel terrible about the wasted money and I want to avoid that feeling. But first I should find out what they're worth; I'd feel terrible if I didn't get the right price for them. I want to avoid feeling terrible, so I need to buy a book about collectibles. And I'd feel terrible if I shipped anything late to an eBay buyer. I want to avoid feeling terrible, so I need to make a mailing center. 
- Aunt Judy gave me that! It's a family heirloom. I should find someone to give it to, or I'll feel terrible, and I want to avoid that. Who would appreciate it?
- That would be perfect if I ever decorated this room in Arts and Crafts style. If I ever do that, I'll regret getting rid of it. I'll feel terrible. Avoid.
- When the whole house is perfect, I'll want to decorate with some of these things. If I get rid of any of them and then realize that it would have been perfect, I'll feel terrible. Avoid.
 
-- Maybe you used to have enough time for housekeeping, and you were able to sweep through the whole bathroom, cleaning and disinfecting every surface, scrubbing and whitening the grout, twice a week, and it took you three hours to get it perfect. Now you don't have the three hours, so "there's no point" in just giving it a ten minute wipedown; it won't be perfect, and you'll feel bad about that imperfection, and you want to avoid that, and you tell yourself that you'll get to it next week. And then next week. And then next week. And every week, perfection is farther away, so every week you're less likely to do it. Eventually, just thinking about the bathroom makes you feel bad. Avoid.
 
-- Maybe you used to have time to read the whole paper and all your magazines, and you've gotten busier, and don't have time to read. But getting rid of reading material that you haven't read isn't perfect, and would make you feel bad, and you want to avoid feeling bad, so you can't get yourself to do it. That weird, sick, guilty feeling that you get when you consider throwing a big heap of unread magazines into the paper recycling is a feeling that you avoid. 
 
And so on, and so on. The key to a clean happy house is not perfection; the key is a healthy acceptance of "good enough".
 
So the solution isn't to find the perfect solution, have a perfect house, and then resume your perfect ways in maintaining the house. The solution is to kill the perfectionism, permanently, now and forever. Perfectionism caused the clutter, perfectionism protects the clutter, and perfectionism, if it's not killed, will reclutter an uncluttered space.
 
And the solution to killing perfectionism isn't somehow finding a way to not feel bad, to find a way to both avoid bad feelings and do the decluttering. The solution is to feel the bad feeling. To do the thing, feel terrible, survive, and do it again. Eventually, you'll realize that the bad feelings weren't that bad, that you were terrified of a non-threat. But right now, you're going to have to just look at the terror of feeling bad, look it in the face and stop avoiding it.
 
If you've ever watched those hoarding shows, you may have noticed the psychologist on the _Buried Alive_ one who is always advocating experiencing the discomfort. Decluttering _hurts_. Learning to be OK with "good enough" _hurts_. If it didn't hurt, you would have done it already. You're going to experience fear and doubt and embarrassment. You're going to make mistakes and know that you made mistakes. And you're going to survive, and eventually the hurt will grow less and less.
 
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#15 of 25 Old 11-07-2011, 05:12 PM
 
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The right amounts vary so much! When D was an infant we needed like ten pillowcases!

 

I recently put the dirty laundry out of sight for nearly two weeks (it's just DD & I, so it does accumulate but ...we've got the space lol).... if everything else is dirty and you still won't wear it, then it doesn't deserve a space in your drawer! this exercise also helped me bring some less-frequented pieces (the ones I still refuse to get rid of) into my rotation, but if there's a lot of fat to cut then that's the main purpose!

 

We have less toys than anyone with a 3yo whose house I have ever been to. But there are still some I could chuck! Then again, I have three chairs for her (one that's a little high so she can sit at the dining room table, and two folding chairs that are perfect for her to sit with a friend at a bench that I've repurposed as a tot table), plus I still haven't gotten rid of the high chair :P that will be next to go!

 

I guess it boils down to, use and enjoy what you have, and know when you're not so you can get everything else out of the way.

 

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#16 of 25 Old 11-09-2011, 03:55 PM
 
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We have 3 sets of sheets for our bed. Two we got at the same time, back when we had more money, and they're divinely luxurious.  But they're not very hardy.  So I got another set that's tougher (and not as comfy) to rotate in.  I guess it's an investment to extend the lives of the two nice sets.  Works well.

 

The kids have 2 sets each. 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Crayfish View Post

Quote:

And the solution to killing perfectionism isn't somehow finding a way to not feel bad, to find a way to both avoid bad feelings and do the decluttering. The solution is to feel the bad feeling. To do the thing, feel terrible, survive, and do it again. Eventually, you'll realize that the bad feelings weren't that bad, that you were terrified of a non-threat. But right now, you're going to have to just look at the terror of feeling bad, look it in the face and stop avoiding it.
 
If you've ever watched those hoarding shows, you may have noticed the psychologist on the _Buried Alive_ one who is always advocating experiencing the discomfort. Decluttering _hurts_. Learning to be OK with "good enough" _hurts_. If it didn't hurt, you would have done it already. You're going to experience fear and doubt and embarrassment. You're going to make mistakes and know that you made mistakes. And you're going to survive, and eventually the hurt will grow less and less.
 
Crayfish


This idea is one of the tools for practicing 'radical self-acceptance'.  "Just sit with the feeling and observe it"  is one way to put it. 

 

Edited to add, there's another perspective.  Not everyone experiences these situations as failure, per se, but as simply a learning experience.  I know that sounds soooo trite (well, it does to me).  But it does seem to be a kind of personality thing.  Some people when they get an answer wrong don't particularly feel ashamed or bad.  Instead they're curious about what went wrong and eager to try again. 


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#17 of 25 Old 11-09-2011, 09:23 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by journeymom View Post

Edited to add, there's another perspective.  Not everyone experiences these situations as failure, per se, but as simply a learning experience.  I know that sounds soooo trite (well, it does to me).  But it does seem to be a kind of personality thing.  Some people when they get an answer wrong don't particularly feel ashamed or bad.  Instead they're curious about what went wrong and eager to try again. 


Oh, I completely agree that there's no _reason_ whatsoever to feel hurt or shame or anything like it when you make a mistake. I agree that it is a learning experience - not in the sense of "you've been punished and now you know better!" but in the sense that no one knows how to deal with every situation, and mistakes are inevitable, and there's no need to feel bad about them. It's much better to make mistakes than to refuse to try.

 

But if you're a hoarder or even a clutterer, there's a pretty substantial chance that you do feel strong negative feelings about  mistakes, strong enough that you avoid the possibility of the mistake. It's my opinion that that's where most hoarding/clutter comes from. I would even go so far as to say "all", because I've never yet seen any that didn't seem to have that cause. But I haven't seen everything, so I shouldn't be too sweeping. :)

 

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#18 of 25 Old 11-15-2011, 10:32 PM
 
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I may or may not be stating the obvious here, but remember that the perfectionism isn't just hampering you in solving the problem, the perfectionism most likely _caused_ the problem in the first place. Hoarding and clutter are about perfectionism, and about avoidance of discomfort.

 
It sounds illogical, but most hoarders are perfectionists. The house gets the way it does because they'd rather do nothing than do something wrong, or imperfectly, or both. It's not laziness, it's not sloppiness, it's a deep deep fear of error and imperfection, and an avoidance of the discomfort that they feel when they realize that error and imperfection have happened.
 
Some examples. When I say "you" I don't necessarily mean you - I don't know where your issue are. It's a general "you".
 
-- Those wads of paper towels that pile up on my mother's kitchen counter aren't there because she's too lazy to throw them away, they're there because of something like:
 
- Cleaning up just the paper towels isn't "enough" - she feels that she should clean the whole kitchen, scrubbing every corner and putting away all the things that she doesn't have space to put away. She can't do that perfectly, so she won't do any step of it, not even throwing away the trash that's on the counters.
- Maybe the towels could be recycled.
- Maybe the towels could be reused.
- She feels that she shouldn't have used paper towels in the first place, and she feels bad for having done so, so she'd rather not think about it - she wants to avoid that feeling. She'd rather do something else - like going out to buy more cloth kitchen towels because she can't find the ones she already owns, in the hoard. That makes the problem worse, but it makes her feel good. The action that would make the problem better - throwing away the paper towels - would make her feel bad. She avoids that bad feeling, and she makes the problem worse.
 
-- Similarly, if you want to get rid of knicknacks, you might think:
 
- I paid good money for those. I should sell them on eBay or I'll feel terrible about the wasted money and I want to avoid that feeling. But first I should find out what they're worth; I'd feel terrible if I didn't get the right price for them. I want to avoid feeling terrible, so I need to buy a book about collectibles. And I'd feel terrible if I shipped anything late to an eBay buyer. I want to avoid feeling terrible, so I need to make a mailing center. 
- Aunt Judy gave me that! It's a family heirloom. I should find someone to give it to, or I'll feel terrible, and I want to avoid that. Who would appreciate it?
- That would be perfect if I ever decorated this room in Arts and Crafts style. If I ever do that, I'll regret getting rid of it. I'll feel terrible. Avoid.
- When the whole house is perfect, I'll want to decorate with some of these things. If I get rid of any of them and then realize that it would have been perfect, I'll feel terrible. Avoid.
 
-- Maybe you used to have enough time for housekeeping, and you were able to sweep through the whole bathroom, cleaning and disinfecting every surface, scrubbing and whitening the grout, twice a week, and it took you three hours to get it perfect. Now you don't have the three hours, so "there's no point" in just giving it a ten minute wipedown; it won't be perfect, and you'll feel bad about that imperfection, and you want to avoid that, and you tell yourself that you'll get to it next week. And then next week. And then next week. And every week, perfection is farther away, so every week you're less likely to do it. Eventually, just thinking about the bathroom makes you feel bad. Avoid.
 
-- Maybe you used to have time to read the whole paper and all your magazines, and you've gotten busier, and don't have time to read. But getting rid of reading material that you haven't read isn't perfect, and would make you feel bad, and you want to avoid feeling bad, so you can't get yourself to do it. That weird, sick, guilty feeling that you get when you consider throwing a big heap of unread magazines into the paper recycling is a feeling that you avoid. 
 
And so on, and so on. The key to a clean happy house is not perfection; the key is a healthy acceptance of "good enough".
 
So the solution isn't to find the perfect solution, have a perfect house, and then resume your perfect ways in maintaining the house. The solution is to kill the perfectionism, permanently, now and forever. Perfectionism caused the clutter, perfectionism protects the clutter, and perfectionism, if it's not killed, will reclutter an uncluttered space.
 
And the solution to killing perfectionism isn't somehow finding a way to not feel bad, to find a way to both avoid bad feelings and do the decluttering. The solution is to feel the bad feeling. To do the thing, feel terrible, survive, and do it again. Eventually, you'll realize that the bad feelings weren't that bad, that you were terrified of a non-threat. But right now, you're going to have to just look at the terror of feeling bad, look it in the face and stop avoiding it.
 
If you've ever watched those hoarding shows, you may have noticed the psychologist on the _Buried Alive_ one who is always advocating experiencing the discomfort. Decluttering _hurts_. Learning to be OK with "good enough" _hurts_. If it didn't hurt, you would have done it already. You're going to experience fear and doubt and embarrassment. You're going to make mistakes and know that you made mistakes. And you're going to survive, and eventually the hurt will grow less and less.
 
Crayfish


I have never looked at clutter/housekeeping issues in this way.  What an incredibly insightful post.  I am not anywhere near being a full blown hoarder, but I still have A. TON. OF. STUFF.  The mentality is exactly what you are describing - hanging on to things because I am afraid of regretting getting rid of it.  And with housekeeping, I do sometimes opt to do nothing instead of doing a half ass job.  

 

I have gotten motivated to start clearing things out in the last few months though.  It started with selling some scrap jewelry - I made $1000 on stuff I haven't even thought of in years, let alone worn.  I couldn't believe it! So I then shifted gears and started looking at my home to figure out exactly what we could part with.   I am now trying to clear out a lot of things that we haven't used and likely won't ever use again, even if we move into a bigger place. What I keep telling myself is that I need the money and the space NOW.  If I end up needing to replace the stuff in the future, so be it - I will pick up only what I really need from Craigslist. It feels so so great.  We've gotten rid of lots of stuff already and made almost $400 on things that were just taking up space!

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#19 of 25 Old 11-17-2011, 07:21 PM
 
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If you havent used it in the last year...........donate or discard it if it cant be reused.........good luck to you sorry im not much help!

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#20 of 25 Old 11-24-2011, 01:13 PM
 
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I am a big fan of this idea. If you have a guest room or closet, or just a separate area to use for this experiment you can do this with anything... the linen closet, your wardrobe, your kitchen, your library, etc.

 

Start by putting EVERYTHING from the area you want to thin out into the spare room/corner/closet... and I mean EVERYTHING.

 

Using the linen closet as the example...

 

  • When you need linens, first go to the linen closet and get what you need.
  • If what you need is there, use it.
  • If it's in the wash, then wash it (best just to keep things washed as you go if you are lucky enough to have a washer/dryer in house). 
  • If you can't find it in either place, go to the spare room/closet, etc. where you originally put EVERYTHING. At first, you will be going to the spare room/closet a LOT, but then maybe not so much. 
  • Whatever is left in the spare room/closet after a set period of time (1 month for the linen closet, 1 year for the kitchen or the wardrobe, etc...) donate or sell without even looking through it all again (that's the trick). 

 

Good luck! 


Moo.

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#21 of 25 Old 11-27-2011, 09:30 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crayfish View Post

Quote:

-- Maybe you used to have enough time for housekeeping, and you were able to sweep through the whole bathroom, cleaning and disinfecting every surface, scrubbing and whitening the grout, twice a week, and it took you three hours to get it perfect. Now you don't have the three hours, so "there's no point" in just giving it a ten minute wipedown; it won't be perfect, and you'll feel bad about that imperfection, and you want to avoid that, and you tell yourself that you'll get to it next week. And then next week. And then next week. And every week, perfection is farther away, so every week you're less likely to do it. Eventually, just thinking about the bathroom makes you feel bad. Avoid.
 
And so on, and so on. The key to a clean happy house is not perfection; the key is a healthy acceptance of "good enough".

 

Spot on, Crayfish. Took me years to understand this was what was happening with me...

 

For me:

 - 1 bath towel per person, plus one extra

 - 1 sheet per bed, plus one extra of each size bed

 - 1 pillow case per pillow, plus an extra

 - drawer full of cloth napkins (that I no longer even fold!)

 - drawer full of cloth towels (again, not folded)

 - 1 bowl, 1 plate per person

 - 2 spoons/forks per person, 3 butter knives

 - one shelf for mugs, whatever amount fits comfortably

 - we just use mason jars for drinking glasses, as tupperware, for freezing things, etc. so I have one drawer for lids and rings, and one entire shelf for all different sizes (the amount varies day to day due to what came out of the freezer, what went to someone else's house, what I gave away in a jar, what I got from someone in a jar, etc.)

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#22 of 25 Old 12-02-2011, 05:26 AM
 
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#23 of 25 Old 12-03-2011, 05:20 PM
 
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We have been working on this subject for over 3 years - because of our intention to live full time in an RV.  It is rather hard to go from 2400 sf to less than 400! 

 

We just returned from our maiden voyage, and our home is too big, too full, and depressing.  I liked having to say excuse me - all the time - and bumping butts - and road noise ... so now I'm making mental plans to get rid of everything that isn't necessary in my future life-plan.

 

But, I keep getting hung up on sentimentality.  I have things I love.  

And practicality.  I have things I know I will use and need over the coming months.

 

I have gifted more things to friends and strangers over the past 6 months than some people ever have in their life.  It is monumentally freeing.  I am stringing thoughts together now that are probably not making sense, but I have finally reached a point where I can get rid of things that "maybe I will want" - and it doesn't really bother me anymore!!  I am comforted by the knowledge that I have resources to replace those "things" if I ever need them again.  I am still a perfectionist, and I still analyze every decision to the nth degree to be sure it's the right one, but I'm getting there!

 

 ... well, it's time to get off of the computer, drink a glass of wine, and watch a documentary with my family.

 

--janis


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#24 of 25 Old 12-10-2011, 12:56 AM
 
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Crayfish, you are incredibly insightful and IMO, very intelligent. Thank you for your post, it is much appreciated.

 

 


I agree!

 

Lately I haven't been able to do as much cleaning for various reasons and the other day I remembered Crayfish's post and then ran round and gave each bathroom a very quick wipe over, and a quick vacuum of the main living areas upstairs....it only took me about ten minutes all up.


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#25 of 25 Old 12-16-2011, 07:44 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Crayfish View Postspeed and ruthlessness of decluttering are more important than accuracy.

This is being added to my cleaning philosophies! Thanks so much. Now I am going to start weeding out stuff that I bought and thought I would use and didn't, like a bunch of insoles for my husband's shoes when he doesn't wear insoles... I've been keeping so much stuff that I might use someday. Now I am going to err on the side of getting rid of it, unless there is a sentimental attachment or I really couldn't get another one if I wanted (I do have some kitchen stuff of my parents' that is of a quality that's just not made anymore, for instance).

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