Is it possible to change? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 15 Old 02-27-2013, 06:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I aspire to be organized and have a tidy home.  In my heart I really want this!  But I wonder if it is possible to be a tidy clutter free person if you're not that way already.

 

My parents are pretty messy.  Our home was always cluttered.    

 

Once I started to live on my own I found that I could live with less clutter and stuff if I made the choice.  For a year or two I even had a color coordinated closet!  

 

But then the man I married was very messy.  I would even say he was a boarder-line horder.  You could not walk through his room with all of the clutter and there is one very large room that is completely filled with his books.  He would get angry when I tried to put things away or clean the house because it was too disruptive. I was able to keep the clutter at bay in the main rooms, but never really tidy.   

 

After 12 years that relationship has ended and I'm on my own now with two young children.

 

I want to start new.  The house is now mine and I want to make it a beautiful place for myself and my girls.  But there is still so much stuff here!  I am feeling overwhelmed.  I guess it is too much to ask of myself to move quickly through sorting and organizing with two small children (ages 5 y.o. and 8 months old).  He has only been out for 4 months and it will take time to go through everything, especially with a young baby. 

 

I can declutter and I can organize pretty well.  I just seem to not be able to keep up with the changes and slowly the clutter comes back in and things get disorganized again.  Some systems I set up work (like my linen closet stays fairly organized) but others (like papers and clothes) just don't seem to stick.  Sometimes I feel like I just can't "see" what needs to be put away. 

 

I guess I'm wondering if it really is possible to change.  Even if I get rid of half of what I own, would I still find myself with piles of laundry on the floor and stacks of unruly paper?  Can I really learn to be one of "those" people who seem to naturally keep a tidy house?

 

I think a large part of my sadness around this is I want something different for my children.  I want them to have a calm and soothing home.  And, I want them to learn how to care for their belongings.  It seems to me that clutter is not a respectful way to care for what we have.  I'd like for them to have a better chance than I did to learn this growing up.  I have been able to keep the toys very minimal and have them arranged somewhat nicely.  So that is something, I guess. 

 

Has anyone who is messy by nature successfully changed their habits and been able to sustain that change over a long period of time?  If so, how did you do it?!

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#2 of 15 Old 02-27-2013, 07:31 PM
 
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Yes, people can change.
Main goal for you now is to limit your possessions. The more you have the harder it is to stay organized.

First, has your ex taken all that he is going to. Is anything still up for debate.

For clothes, if it is mostly the kids, as they grow, really limit what you bring into the house.

Best of luck on papers. That is my issue. For me just giving it time helps. After a couple of months things often loose their importance.

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#3 of 15 Old 02-27-2013, 09:50 PM
 
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You can change. You just didn't learn the skills from your parent, and you lived for years with the idea that those skills were _bad_. So of course it's going to take a while to fight off that mindset and acquire the skills.
 
> I can declutter and I can organize pretty well.  I just seem to not be
> able to keep up with the changes and slowly the clutter comes back in
> and things get disorganized again. 
 
This is, IMO, almost always about still having too much stuff. Even if you have a place for everything, in my experience you also need to have some empty space.
 
One strategy that I've found to be absolutely critical is "landing spaces" - temporary places to put stuff, designed around the way that you live - the way that you _do_ live, not the way that you wish you did.
 
If you know that you don't file or sort or recycle papers quickly, don't fight your nature - instead, make a place where those not-yet-sorted paper stacks belong. A shelf, or two shelves, whatever will hold several weeks' worth of paper backlog, so that you have several weeks to get to the papers before they make anything untidy.
 
The same for the laundry on the floor. Is it on the floor because there's no place for dirty laundry? Because the place for dirty laundry is too small? Because it's a pain to sort and once it's sorted you don't want to stuff it back in the hamper? Don't solve this by requiring yourself to fulfill some stringent laundry routine - instead, for now accept that you will have a large volume of dirty laundry, and buy an appropriate number of hampers or other containers. 
 
A place to kick off your shoes, that will hold a week's worth of kicked-off shoes. A place to dump the keys and the mail and those two bags from the drugstore, that will hold two week's worth of coming-home litter. And so on. Everything organized so that nothing falls apart if you neglect to do something Right Now.
 
I realize that these strategies require space, which will require getting rid of more stuff. But it sounds like you are able to slowly get rid of stuff, so that you will slowly acquire the space that you need for these systems. If you are having trouble with that, I'm happy to burble on about that topic, too. :) 
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#4 of 15 Old 02-27-2013, 10:10 PM
 
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Yes, you can change!


joy.giflurk.gif

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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#5 of 15 Old 02-28-2013, 05:49 PM
 
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Remember you showed before your relationship you could be different than your family! You can definitely do it. I am finding for me it is all about doing little things often.... before I waited and let things get crazy before doing huge cleans.

Why don't you join us in the 2013 in 2013 thread?

I would like to write more but I am in bed putting my DD to sleep (on my tablet - I love this thing so much it have me back so much time!)

Keep posting. I am finding it is really motivating me. I have got over 800 things out of my house so far this month!
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#6 of 15 Old 02-28-2013, 07:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the encouragement!  I really hope that I can get there.  I think a large part of the frustration is that I really want to make the changes and make them NOW.  But it is so slow.  I finally realized part of it is because I'm just tired and I find it hard to even do dishes when I'm tired.  And part is that I have two young children and everything just moves sooo s-l-o-w-l-y with little ones.  So I'm kind of in limbo right now surrounded by a lot of stuff.  Sitting and nursing and just looking at the "stuff".

 

And to sort through all of the stuff means having things even more messy for a while.   Once my husband gets the last of his stuff out of the house I will have more space to work with.   It may take him a long time to get in there since it is wall to wall stuff and he doesn't have much free time.  But once he does, I will then have a huge room that can be my sorting room.  I feel like I just want to move everything out of each room in the house and only move back in what I want to keep.  I don't see how else to do it.  It is so overwhelming to think about trying to do, though.  

 

I really do like the idea of finding solutions that fit with the type of person I am.  I can't do detailed organizing (like having papers in order inside of a file folder) but I can do bigger general organizing.  Like the basket idea for catching stuff.  I love that.  I do some of that already with our shoes and I keep a basket on my kitchen counter to put things in.  Somehow the stuff doesn't seem to make in in the baskets still.  But it is close enough that I can toss them in quickly if someone is coming over.  I just don't know why I can't get it in the basket or box the first time!   

 

I guess my hope is that if I can purge 50% of what I own then it might just automatically take care of itself?  Maybe I'll join the 2013 in 2013 (I wonder if that would come close to 50%?).  Part of me feels a bit scared to let go of so much now that I'm single.  I think my financial fears have me scared of radically getting rid of stuff.  I am ok right now, but what if the day comes that I can't afford to rebuy something I might need?   But I am also so desperate to have things different and to really try to transform my relationship with the "stuff".   

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#7 of 15 Old 02-28-2013, 07:19 PM
 
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You would be surprised to see how are fast 2013 comes. I managed to pull 65 things out of my 18 month olds closet yesterday. It is so clear and easy to see his clothes now. I can guarantee you I won't miss anything!

If you look there are probably thousands of things in your space you haven't used in years. The magic is getting rid of all that so the rest is easier to enjoy and keep tidy!
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#8 of 15 Old 03-09-2013, 07:14 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaRuga View Post

 But I wonder if it is possible to be a tidy clutter free person if you're not that way already.

 

YES!! I used to live in complete chaos and not know where to start. I used a system and become a reasonably tidy with very little clutter person. You can do this, and you will feel so much more peaceful as you start down the path!

 

He would get angry when I tried to put things away or clean the house because it was too disruptive. I was able to keep the clutter at bay in the main rooms, but never really tidy.   

 

After 12 years that relationship has ended and I'm on my own now with two young children.

 

I suspect that as you declutter and reclaim your living space, you will also feel like you are reclaiming your life.

 

I just seem to not be able to keep up with the changes and slowly the clutter comes back in and things get disorganized again.  Some systems I set up work (like my linen closet stays fairly organized) but others (like papers and clothes) just don't seem to stick.  Sometimes I feel like I just can't "see" what needs to be put away. 

 

For me, part of getting past this was accepting that it will always be an ongoing process. Stuff keeps flowing into our lives, so stuff needs to keep flowing out. I find some types of items easier to keep under control than others, and paper clutter is something I have to really work at. (I have a pile of papers on my kitchen counter that I will be dealing with later today!)

 

Living in a mostly clutter free home requires an commitment to keep getting rid of stuff.

 

When I first started down this path, my oldest child was four. She just started college. We've gone through a lot of life phases and stuff, and continuing to let things go has been necessary.

 

I guess I'm wondering if it really is possible to change.  Even if I get rid of half of what I own, would I still find myself with piles of laundry on the floor and stacks of unruly paper?  Can I really learn to be one of "those" people who seem to naturally keep a tidy house?

 

On the " people who "seem" to naturally keep a tidy house " issue -- honey, please don't compare your life to what you think is going on in other people's lives. I suspect that at this point I strike others as one of "those" people, but it takes ongoing effort and systems that work for me. And like I said, I'll be going through my paper clutter latter today! 

 

Has anyone who is messy by nature successfully changed their habits and been able to sustain that change over a long period of time?  If so, how did you do it?!

 

I started with someone else's system (flylady) and then gradually morphed it into my own system

http://flylady.net/

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaRuga View Post

Thanks for all the encouragement!  I really hope that I can get there.  I think a large part of the frustration is that I really want to make the changes and make them NOW.  But it is so slow.  I finally realized part of it is because I'm just tired and I find it hard to even do dishes when I'm tired.  And part is that I have two young children and everything just moves sooo s-l-o-w-l-y with little ones.  So I'm kind of in limbo right now surrounded by a lot of stuff.  Sitting and nursing and just looking at the "stuff".

 

I use a timer. When I'm tired and I need to clean the kitchen, I'll set the timer  and work for 10 minutes. The kitchen may not be done at the end, but the most important parts got taken care of. It stays under control. Part of keeping things caught up *for me* is letting go of the idea of actually doing everything right and perfect, and just doing a little bit, but doing it consistently.

 

And to sort through all of the stuff means having things even more messy for a while.

 

It doesn't have to. It sounds like things are pretty out of control at your house, which means a lot of stuff just needs to GO.  My suggestion:

  1. Get a trash bag and a box (or laundry hamper or what ever).
  2. Set the time for how long you can work (even if it is just 15 minutes)
  3. Put trash in the trash bag and donations in the box.
  4. When the timer rings, take the trash out and put the donations in the the car for the next time you are out.

 

It only makes a bigger mess if you are attempting to organize your clutter rather than get rid of your clutter.

 

I have a list of questions I ask myself to decide what to keep and what to let go of, and I'll type it up at the bottom.

 

 

 

 Once my husband gets the last of his stuff out of the house I will have more space to work with.   It may take him a long time to get in there since it is wall to wall stuff and he doesn't have much free time.

 

I think this is a really unacceptable situation. I would talk to a lawyer about the legalities of getting a dumpster and putting all his stuff in it and having it hauled away. If he cared about this stuff, he would take it. But he doesn't. Its just a bunch of trash. You don't have to store your ex's trash.

 

I guess my hope is that if I can purge 50% of what I own then it might just automatically take care of itself?  Maybe I'll join the 2013 in 2013 (I wonder if that would come close to 50%?).  Part of me feels a bit scared to let go of so much now that I'm single.  I think my financial fears have me scared of radically getting rid of stuff.

 

Oddly, we seemed to have MORE money when I got a serious about decluttering. It seemed like everything we had was nicer, and I become much, much more careful about what I bought because I didn't want more clutter to come into our home. I also found that I stopped buying multiple of things because I couldn't find them -- like scissors. When I did my first declutter, I found something like 20 pairs of scissors. I don't do stuff like that I now because I can find what I want.

 

My home has not learned to do this for me, but once I got started, I was more motivated to continue and I found ways to approach cleaning, decluttering, and organization that really work for me. But I still have to do it.

 

My decluttering questions:

 

Do I love this item?

 

Have I used it in the past year?

 

Is it really garbage?

 

Do I have another one that is better?

 

Does it have sentimental value that causes me to love it?

 

Does it give me guilt and make me sad when I see it? **

 

What does this represent?

 

Why am I afraid to get rid of it?

 

How long am I going to carry it around? **

 

Does it bless my family? Could it bless someone's family?

 

**  these questions were especially powerful for me and helped me get rid of a LOT of stuff. I had tons of unfinished projects that I felt horrible about, and threw them away. I also had a lot of stuff that was fine as stuff, but not helpful to me or my family and yet kept taking up space. Asking how long I was going to carry it around was a very different way of looking at it rather than "it is still usable/good enough?"


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#9 of 15 Old 03-09-2013, 02:04 PM
 
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I use almost the exact same questions as Linda On The Move posted above. I used to have *huge* clutter issues. My mom lost everything in a house fire when she was younger, and that trauma has led her to save every.freaking.thing as a result. She's a tidy person, though, and has tons of stuff neatly packed, stacked, and organized into every square inch of space in her house. I am not that organized and so my clutter was just hanging free all over. It was bad. I remember buying new socks and underwear for our family several times because I couldn't find any of the *dozens* of pairs that each person already had...Paperwork, kitchen stuff, toys, clothes....all of it. My house was out of control. It took me awhile- 18mos probably, but I have it all sorted now. Being able to step back and take away the emotional connection that you feel with "things" is crucial, IME. I saved gravy boats that my great grandmother brought when she immigrated from Italy. I hated them. But some part of me felt that keeping them was obligatory. Then I realized that I could hang onto the memories of the person, and not have to figure out where to store the damn gravy boats, AND probably bless someone's life who actually collects stuff like that all at the same time. It's a process. But you can do it. You can DEFINATELY do it. Start small. Tell yourself, "Up until now, this is what I did. But from now on, I'm doing it *this* way"


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#10 of 15 Old 03-09-2013, 03:11 PM
 
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> Once my husband gets the last of his stuff out of
> the house I will have more space to work with.   It may take him a
> long time to get in there since it is wall to wall stuff and he
> doesn't have much free time
 
This part struck me. Do you really have to wait for him?  Is he legally entitled to store his stuff at your place until he's in the mood to move it? If he's a hoarder, then I fear that he may never really get around to moving it. I realize that if he's a hoarder he's also not going to want you to touch the stuff, but, well, he may just have to deal with that. It seems to me that you could box it, stack the boxes to minimize the amount of space his stuff takes, and eventually give him an ultimatum that he can come get it or he may lose it.
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#11 of 15 Old 03-09-2013, 03:39 PM
 
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Yes, you can change. I have always lived simple but I always wanted to live with even less. It has all been a process. Do not overwhelm yourself.

Make a list of your top 5 priorities and how you can improve these areas. Take it one drawer, one closet, one pile at a a time. You will get there. (((HUGS)))

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#12 of 15 Old 03-09-2013, 05:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks everyone.  The ideas and support are very encouraging.  I've started to make a little progress and I'm starting to feel better.  I've joined in on the 2013 in 2013 too which is helping me focus on a goal.  I like the idea of setting a timer for decluttering too.  I already do that for cleaning projects sometimes and find that is really helpful in keeping me on track.  

 

I appreciate the list of questions too.  One thing that I am happily letting go of is my mother's sentimental attachment to everything.  I have realized two things.  First, a lot of my family history isn't so great.  I don't really *want* to hang on to things just because they belonged to my grandmothers or great grandmothers.  There weren't a lot of good memories there and so why carry that stuff around.  There are a few things from the family that I really love, but I love them for what they are, not for any memory of the people they came from.  Second, I am learning that having fewer items from people that I love is much more meaningful than having a lot of things from that person.  So, I've been able to clear out a lot of old family stuff that way.  Most of what I have left is more recent stuff from my own life now.  That already feels like I'm making progress from my family patterns.

 

As far as my STBX goes.... I almost gave him an ultimatum on his stuff, but realized I must wait until we finalize our separation agreement.  I don't want to make waves.   He has asperger's syndrome and hoarding type tendencies seem to come with the territory there.  But it also makes him really brilliant in his work.  I'm grateful that he is supporting me and my girls so that I don't have to work full time.  So, I'm not eager to shove his stuff out.  However, I have suggested that he just hire a moving company rather than try to do it himself.  Of course, he hates the idea.  Once the separation agreement is done, I may move ahead with hiring a moving company and just getting him a storage unit.  He won't like it, but it might light a fire under him to do it himself.

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#13 of 15 Old 03-10-2013, 01:26 AM
 
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There's some great advice on this thread.

Can I just say to the OP that you sound like an amazing person who's really been through a lot (and with such a young baby - did I read it right that your youngest was 4 months old when he left?). I don't know you beyond this thread, but I'm convinced you'll get wherever you want to get. smile.gif

Mother of two living in UK. Daughter (2007) born in USA, son (2010) born here. I'm pro natural birth, midwife care, breastfeeding, co-sleeping, baby wearing and a keen advocate of cloth diapering. I'm a full time working research scientist (physical sciences) and I'm pro-vaccine.

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#14 of 15 Old 03-11-2013, 06:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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There's some great advice on this thread.

Can I just say to the OP that you sound like an amazing person who's really been through a lot (and with such a young baby - did I read it right that your youngest was 4 months old when he left?). I don't know you beyond this thread, but I'm convinced you'll get wherever you want to get. smile.gif

 

Thanks!  luxlove.gif

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#15 of 15 Old 03-21-2013, 06:49 AM
 
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I think the storage locker is an amazing idea! The stuff is out of your hair and you can move on and get the house organized/decluttered/settled to your liking. Meanwhile his stuff is safe from the elements and he can deal with it on his own timetable as quickly or as slowly as he is comfortable doing so. It's a lot more compassionate than shoving in on the front lawn for instance - something I'd be a little tempted to do on bad days wink1.gif. Good luck and good work on 2013 in 2013 so far!!
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