Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My Clutter Companion Revealed

There is a particular item that abounds in my house that I find to be a very helpful thing in staying organized while simultaneously allowing me to let myself off the hook of truly getting clutter under control.  Let me share it with you now.
As seen in my master closet.
A peek inside.

This is part of my collection of reusable bags - the rest are in the trunk of my vehicle so that I have them on hand for the grocery store.  They look very innocent, don't they?  Many times I find them to be an excellent organizational tool.

This bag stays packed and stored in the master closet or laundry room.

This bag may be unlovely, but for $0.10 at a yard sale I find it to be the perfect thing to keep towels, bathing suits, shampoo, etc. corralled in one place for my youngest's swim lessons.

A well used and much loved storage solution in our house.
Our wonderful babysitter and friend, Heather, gave these personalized bags to each of the children for Christmas this past year.  The bags stay on the back of their seats at the kitchen table and allows them to keep the effluvia of childhood (rocks, stickers, crayons, drawings, books, toy cars...you name it, they probably have it stashed in there somewhere) controlled and in one place.  Whatever doesn't fit in there is supposed to find a home elsewhere in the house.

But there is an insidious side to my love of - and reliance on - bags.  They can be found hanging all around my house and, in the spirit of being honest in this space about what I am working on, here are some photos that I took this morning.

Bag of random things (knitting, books, opera glasses from our last trip to the theater, etc.) hanging on the office door.
A bag of stuff that I am giving away to a specific person from my master closet clean up and a child's coat that needs to be hung up in the coat closet - this is hanging on my linen closet door in the hallway.
This one is really embarrassing.  It is a bag full of toiletries and random crap waiting to be put away from a trip in January.  This is hanging on the closet door in my bathroom.
Remember that box of stuff that I mentioned from my closet clean up needing to be dealt with?  Well, here it sits - with a bag full of stuff on top, of course - untouched and at the end of my bed four days later.
I find that I often get to the end of a clean up and run out of steam, or I put straightening up off to the last minute and then quickly need to get a space in order, and my solution is to shove stuff in a bag to be put away "later."  Later usually doesn't come right away and then I end up with these bags looming over me as a giant undone "to do" around the house.  And the worst thing about my willingness to shove stuff in a bag and put it off until later?  This is the worst part.

In my daughter's room.
This is the front of my 5 year old's wardrobe.  As a parent I feel terrible because I know that I am the one instilling this habit in her.  And I know that I can't realistically expect her to get her room cleaned up without using this technique when she only needs to look around the house to see me modeling the behavior.  I don't want to parent from the "do as I say, not as I do" perspective, so I know that this change needs to start with me.

Does anyone else struggle with tucking stuff away for later like this?  What has helped you break the habit?

"Setting an example is not the main means of influencing another, it is the only means." ~Albert Einstein


  1. 1. nice use of the word "effluvia" in your blog. :)
    2. yes, I do have bags of stuff on random door handles. The only thing that works for me is to dump it on the bed so it forces me to put it away. I am interested to hear what other people do.

  2. Let me pose an alternative view point: is there a real problem with the bags? So, you are a bag lady. I myself am a box lady, "oh look here's a box. I'm going to put something in it..." Here's a way to deal with it: tell your husband that you will make him a smoothie in the blender if he will --right now-- make three bags go completely away. This relieves you of responsibility for dealing with it AND you get a smoothie. Mother's Day is coming up. I always ask for everyone in the house to through 10 things away as my present. One birthday my gift was that my husband completely emptied a closet -- keep, pitch, give away. Best present I ever got.