I wanted to tell a story about clutter. How it happens and how it builds until it starts to cause us stress. I’ve purposely kept the clutter to minimum here to illustrate a point but I can promise you that clutter gets much more out of control in our small space. This clutter took only a few moments to gather.
I have found over the years of living in a small space is that everything needs to have a place. If it doesn’t then it floats around the home landing on horizontal surfaces, the floor, or worse, shoved somewhere to never to be found again. What I’ve gotten better at over the years is noticing sooner when something doesn’t have a home.
To explain this in photos here is our entryway.
Mail - opened and unopened. In the photo above you can see a wooden box in the top right. That holds our mail and current papers we need to deal with when we find time. Mail is usually placed on this ledge and then opened. It’s either recycled or if it’s not critical it goes in that mail box for future filing, scanning.
Theo’s new sensory necklace - this is a new addition to the home and hasn’t found a permanent spot yet. I’m thinking it will live on Theo’s top bunk ledge. But because we don’t have a set spot for it, it’s currently floating around.
Trevor’s Fisherman’s Friends - allergy season means more fisherman’s friends for Trevor. Currently the live here.
Sunglasses - Every new season brings new accessories that need a new spot. Sunglasses have been piling here recently.
Random Toy - This has a spot in the kids room. Someone just needs to put it there.
Hair Elastics - There is a jar in the bathroom for hair elastics, these just have to get there.
So while much of this clutter has a location in the house and just needs someone to put it away, a few items like sunglasses need a home. I keep a bag looped on the peg rail for gloves/mittens/hats in the winter but I don’t think that same solution will work for sunglasses. Sunglasses would get damaged in a bag and no one in our house would be diligent enough to put sunglasses back in a case. So I picked up a couple of trays to corral accessories like the sunglasses and mints. One is on the top shelf for Trevor and one is down low for me and the kids.
Don’t Forget to Edit Your Organizing Tools
Trays and dishes and baskets can be a great way to corral smaller items but there is still the risk of “out of sight, out of mind”. Take for example this beautiful dish made by my friend Mary of @tinypotterystudio, which currently has change, buttons, screws, dead batteries and a broken robot arm in it. I share to show that I still have to edit the organizational tools. If they aren’t edited regularly, they stop serving their purpose and clutter just builds in other areas. In a small space there isn’t room for un-wanted things. For example the robot arm. Are we repairing the robot or not? If not we need to get rid of the arm. If we are repairing it, we need to put it on the list so the pottery dish can be known for holding change and not broken parts.
Embrace Your Current Reality
I think another way to deal with clutter is to accept your current reality. For example we currently have face masks hanging on our entryway peg rail. We also have hand sanitizer and moisturizer at the front entry as shown above. This is our reality right now so ensuring it is accessible makes life easier.
Other Actionable Coping Mechanisms
With all the injustice and heartbreak happening in the world right now, most notably police brutality against Black people that has led to the recent protests; decluttering is clearly a coping mechanism to release some stress. I wanted to mention some other things I have been doing to confront my own internal biases and white privilege. I don’t share these as an exhaustive checklist or for a pat on the back. I only share to credit the sources that I am grateful to be learning from. My work is just beginning and I know it is not enough but I am here for it.
I took this course from @iamrachelricketts and highly recommend it. I am planning on taking 102 soon.
I ordered this book to help with some conversations I have been having with the kids about Racism.
I signed these two local petitions anti-racism in Schools, Black History in BC Schools.
I’m listening to podcasts This American Life episode 708, New York Times The Daily, Every episode from Still Processing including their recent YouTube special, Brene Brown with Ibram K. Kendi and more.