Clutter makes me anxious.
I am so NOT a minimalist. Like, at all. In this exact moment, I have on my kitchen countertop the following items:
- 32 diapers (clean, not in a box, just spilled out across my counter)
- An empty coffee mug
- My daughter's hairbrush
- An envelope that is stamped but has no address on it
- A pen (apparently intended at one point today to write aforementioned address?)
- Two frames from Ikea, still in the plastic wrap
- An egg poacher—for the record, I have not poached an egg in about five years
- An empty vitamin container (that is less than two feet away from the recycling bin, but miraculously not in it)
Yeah, not exactly embracing the life of simplicity.
But with spring finally upon us, I am not going to let that stop me from doing a major spring-cleaning decluttering session.
Until fairly recently, I've had this sort of all-or-nothing view of the clutter—if my house couldn't be immaculate, what was the point of even trying? But like everything in motherhood, "perfect" doesn't exist—and honestly, I don't think I want it to.
What's that quote? Perfect is the enemy of good enough.
That's my spring-cleaning goal this year: good enough. I just want to make my home good-enough-er, for these six reasons:
1. Clutter makes me anxious
Motherly's Anne-Marie Gambelin wrote that "Chronic clutter can create prolonged stress, throwing us into a state of low-grade, perpetual fight-or-flight—the system designed to help us survive. The fight-or-flight response involves the complex interaction of many body systems and organs that activate needed functions and minimize unnecessary functions during times of stress. These systems must remain in balance to maintain optimum physical and psychological health."
I feel that fight-or-flight every time I walk into my kitchen and see a sink full of dirty dishes, or a stack of disorganized mail. But when I walk in and it's clean—I can actually feel my mood improve immediately. I want more of that mood this spring.
2. I want to spend money on experiences, not stuff
I think that when my house is more cluttered, I end up spending more money… on more stuff. Either because I can't find something I need that's lost in the clutter, or because of a "not enough" mindset, I find that I am much more tempted to make spontaneous purchases when I'm not actively pursuing a more minimalist lifestyle.
When I am in declutter-mode however, I am much more likely to pass on the random purchases, because I have worked so hard to get rid of stuff—why mess that up?
And that means more money to spend on experiences with my family this spring and summer. I just found out about a local farm where you can milk cows and feed calves (for the record, I am about 6,000 times more excited than my kids about this one), and a motel made of converted train cars—those are the things we will remember and cherish, not the stuff.
3. I am craving get-up-and-go adventures
Spontaneity definitely gets harder when you have young children, but to the extent that it's possible I want to have the freedom to pick up and set off for a random day trip, or simply spend all day in the backyard looking for bugs. That is so much easier to do when my house is organized.
A professional-organizer friend of mine once told me that the average American spends 55-minutes per day looking for stuff. I am certainly not willing to sacrifice an HOUR every day looking for sneakers, butterflies catchers and bathing suits.
Decluttering my house gives me my precious time back. And that means more fun.
4. I want my home to feel like a haven
Spring and summer always get so busy. No matter how hard I try to have a relaxed schedule, it ends up being pretty full. End of year school activities, sports, birthday parties—it's a lot of running around. So at the end of a long, busy day, I want my home to feel like a haven, where I can truly relax, and get that calmness I crave.
5. Less screen time for my kids
I wish I was better at ignoring the mess and just playing in spite of it, but it eats at me and before I know it, I am up and cleaning.
Confession: When I clean, my kids are often in front of a screen.
By the end of our Pennsylvania winter, the screen time has definitely climbed up, so come spring we are always yearning to knock it back down to next-to-nothing. If the house has less clutter and is more organized, there is simply less cleaning to do. No excuses, we're going outside, kids!
6. I want to take care of myself
I have learned that if I am not actively and intentionally taking care of myself, self-care quickly falls away, almost completely. And that's not okay—for me or my kids. So this spring I am re-prioritizing me. I want to plant that little flower-garden I have been daydreaming about for years, take the occasional nap with the windows open, cook healthy meals with food I've bought from our local farmer's market, and go for walks on trails with my dog.
Again, I am working to get better at doing those things regardless of the state of my house, but the truth is that I enjoy them so much more when I know I don't have piles of mess to come home to.
By decluttering my home and my schedule, I can get more intentional with my time and actually spend some of it on me.
Maybe I'll even poach an egg.