Decluttering:: In My Home and In My Heart

I can’t be still. Don’t get me wrong—I want to be still. I want to relax. But every time I sit down, I think of 796 other things I could be doing and even if I am too exhausted to get up, I pull out my phone or my iPad and try to squeeze something into that time. 

You would think my productivity would be through the roof, right? 

But it’s not.

Decluttering:: In My Home and In My Heart

And so for the past few weeks, I have really been thinking about this dilemma. And I have come to realize that this year I need to do LOTS of decluttering. But this year, instead of just the customary pulling-everything-out-of-the-cupboards decluttering {because I have already started that one}, I feel like I need to do a mental decluttering, too.

So, while I am already referencing Toni Hammersley’s beautiful {and highly motivating} book The Complete Book of Home Organization as I do a deep clean in my house, I thought about how I could apply those same decluttering and organization principles to my metal clutter. 

How many things am I holding onto mentally and emotionally? How much better would I feel if I were to free up the space inside my heart and mind that is currently cluttered with less important old messes so I could have more space for the things I want and need?

In her book, Toni from A Bowl Full of Lemons breaks her checklists into four categories::

  1. Prepare
  2. Sort
  3. Clean
  4. Organize

Prepare for Decluttering

I think that if I want to prepare my heart and mind, I have to do some prep-work. I need to sit and just be quiet. That is hard to do in this season of my life, but I am trying to eek out a few minutes here and there to just sit with my feelings and thoughts, even though it feels a whole like doing nothing. It’s not. It’s a part of the process.

I am a writer, so I focus better when I put words on a page. But this prep-work might look like talking to a professional, praying, meditating, or going for a walk. Just like I need to measure my cupboards and prepare the new cupboard liners, I need to really get a feel for the space in my heart. That will take more than one session. 

I cleaned and covered my kitchen table before I started filling it with dishes and kitchen tools from my cupboards. What can I clear from my schedule this week {or month} so I have the space I need to move things around in my heart and mind so I can effectively declutter?

Decluttering:: In My Home and In My Heart

Sort

As I removed everything from my kitchen cupboards and laid it out on my kitchen table and counter, I tried to keep similar items together. I immediately pulled out the sippy cup that is missing that plastic thing that keeps it from leaking everywhere. My youngest is five now, I think we can survive without it. Laying everything out at the same time while I am decluttering helps me see what I’ve got and it helps me see what I have, what I need, and what I need to have less of.

I know it sounds obvious, but those gold-rimmed glasses that we got as wedding presents and haven’t used in years are not going to jump out of the prime location in my cupboard and store themselves in my garage. I have to do the work to set them apart from the everyday cups and glasses we actually use. The same is true with some of the things I’m hanging onto inside. Just like those gold-rimmed glasses that have been taking up space and I haven’t given them any thought, I am hanging onto feelings I haven’t processed and things I need to forgive and forget. I was reminded of this last month when I had an awkward phone conversation with a family member that brought up some hard feelings I didn’t even realize I hadn’t ever dealt with. Chances are if you start pulling stuff out of your emotional cupboard, you’ll find some dusty, space-hogging gold-rimmed glasses, too. 

Clean

This is the most obvious part of any job, right? The scrubbing, the good-smelling cleaners and the right tools for each area to be cleaned. Scrub brush or micro-fiber rag? Bleach or vinegar? Once I’ve done the prep-work and the decluttering, it’s time to get to work. I am still working on forgiving some things I didn’t even realize I hadn’t dealt with before. But I know that putting in the work will leave me with a fresh, clean space and that always motivates me to put on the gloves and really get in there and scrub. The same is true when I am talking about my heart and mind. I have to be willing to put in the work, whether it be difficult conversations, talking with a therapist, or finally letting myself feel the heartache and allow myself to move on—or all of the above. 

Organize

After decluttering, before I can put any of my kitchen items back into the cupboards, I have to consider how I use my space and what items I use most frequently and which {like my gold-rimmed glasses} items I am not using very often. 

What are my priorities? What does my family need from me right now? How can I make space for the things that really matter? I can let go of that perfectly justifiable offense because it really isn’t serving anyone to hold onto it. It may have been a perfect excuse to put some much-needed distance in an unhealthy relationship. But maybe now that the distance has been established, the best thing I can do is let it go. Letting go is so liberating! 

Organizing gives me a chance to reevaluate my habits, my morning and evening routines. Am I checking my social media too much? Should I wait and check my emails during lunch? Do I have any notifications coming in that I don’t need/want? This is the time to put the things I choose to invite into my life in their places so that I am using the space I have most efficiently. 

An Ongoing Process

I have five kids. I know that cleaning, decluttering and organizing is not a one-time thing. I mean I just did one of these major deep cleans in 2019 and I try to maintain it pretty much all day every day. I can accept that the same has got to be true for my heart and mind, too. But that initial feeling of having clean cupboards and drawers that easily open without utensils crammed so tightly they jam the drawer halfway is SO worth it. And even the thought of having the mental and emotional clarity to keep moving forward is motivating me to keep trying. I know I have work to do. Lots of it. But I am ready to prepare, sort, clean, and organize so I can get where I want—where I need—to be.


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Alissa is a wife to her best friend {since 2003} and a grateful mother to four boys {2009, 2009, 2010, 2012) and one girl {2015}. And if you're going to be friends, you should know she has a deep and abiding love of chocolate. She's survived infertility, IVF, two NICUs, cloth diapers, a food allergy, and so much more! In 2017, she officially began writing and publishing children's books and LOVES it! When she's not writing or picking her kids up from school, she'd like to be reading/singing/laughing/napping/traveling/crafting/learning something new. But in reality, she's probably grocery shopping/cleaning something/telling her boys to stop fighting. She lives in Katy, blogs at AliMcJoy.com, and occasionally visits Instagram {@alimcjoy}, and Facebook {@alimcjoy}. She is a big believer in living life--especially mothering--with intentionality. If she's learned anything it's that accidental success is a myth: decisions determine destiny. She will also be the first to tell you she is not even close to perfect, but she's giving life her best shot one jam-packed day at a time.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Beautifully said! Very motivating, I realized this week that I had some forgiving to do from my past and am going back to that step in your book, Joy On.

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