Monday, November 12, 2012

Cleaning Rage, Garbage Bags, Law, and Gospel (Part 1)

Upstairs was somewhat tidy. 
I’d been working to the point of sweat, and I was almost done. 
This was good, because I was tired.

I felt accomplished, but utterly exhausted.
Then, I went downstairs.

I saw what I saw, and instantly, my face turned ugly and green, and I became a gift-hating small-hearted Grinch.

But it was not just Christmas I suddenly hated. It was Easter and Valentine’s Day and Birthdays and ANY hallmark-created occasion for a person to give stuff to my children.
I grabbed a trash bag and considered cancelling all gift-giving holidays for the rest of my children’s lives.
I hated the gift bags and the small pieces and the disorder.

I slammed the Lincoln logs into the box, and I threw the Little People into another. I pitched the matchbox car with a missing wheel, and I seethed at too many toys, toys ruined and unappreciated and in my way.
At least once a year I become this person. I am driven to the edge by the clutter and the mess and the sheer amount of STUFF in this house. I seriously consider throwing EVERY thing away.

They can play with stick and rocks. I've had it.

I fight clutter constantly. I encourage my children to give. We donate our extra things often, and still, still our house bursts with mess and stuff.
 You've got to be KIDDING ME!” I yelled to nobody, as I discovered a pile of cotton fluff, ripped from the insides of the couch and used for baby bedding.
I cleaned.
No, I angry-cleaned.
And in my head I made a list.
I listed the infractions the misdeeds, the evidence of ungrateful selfishness, the inconveniences to their dear mother, the irresponsible thoughtless behavior.

So here’s the thing.
My list?
It’s not wrong.

This is a problem, and they are ungrateful, and they need a good lecture about this. They need to learn to work and appreciate and care for their things.

I often end days like this with a firm lecture and a huffy attitude and a few bags for goodwill in the van. Then I sleep it off, and the next day when they come home from school with another plastic spider, I just add it to our collection.

But this time, my angry cleaning did not end with a mommy-rant.
This time, it turned into a lesson on Law and Gospel, first for me, then for them.
Come back later this week to find out what in the world I am talking about.


Do you ever run around your house with a trash bag and a crazed look in your eyes?
How do you fight clutter in your home?


  1. Clutter makes me crazy, stuff and mess everywhere drives me nuts so in this constant battle at my house, I'm crazy and nuts all the time! I'm finding that I'm becoming way less sentimental everyday and taking the trash out a LOT.

    I've been meaning to make a post about my recent discovery of a great toy control method. I went out and bought 4 clear plastic bins, divided the toys between them and only allow one bin a day to be brought out. The kids can play with whats in that bin, then they pick it all up before bed and away it goes. The next day, another bin. I'm loving this system! It's simplified a lot for me and I really need that right now.

    Staying tuned for your Law/Gospel lesson!

    1. Aubri, let me know if you write that post! I think I might have a clutter-control link up at the end of the week or early next week! I like your idea!

  2. Cleaning rage. Oh my. This is so relateable. I have had my share of cleaning/clutter rampages, I assure you. May I offer a little light at the end of the toddler tunnel? The older they get, the less "junk" they collect. Toys need fewer pieces, the party bags are fewer, and the joy plastic toys once brought dwindles to almost nothing. It also helps to have them participate in the cleaning now and then if they are old enough. Teaching them right from the beginning to be discering about their toys is so helpful. "How important is this orange plastic centipede? Do you play with it? Not much? Then let's get rid of it. It's ok to do that."

    I look forward to the upcoming lesson!

    1. At least cleaning rage is somewhat productive! Better than simply beating the air or even running down the road (not that I would ever do that, ha!) because there is a cleaner house when it's over!

      Thanks for the encouragement- I LOVE when people tell me it gets better!

  3. Hi link-up neighbor...Those days are long gone for thing I did for a while...if they did not put their toys away during the day...we had a box...if the toys got put in the box by me or their dad...the toy remained in the box for a week or so...this helped them take care of their most loved toys...ones they really loved playing with... put the responsibility on them...and it took the nagging out of the equation...blessings to you~

    1. Ah, yes, like a clutter jail. I do that sometimes, then I make them PAY to get the toys back!

      You are right- nagging sure doesn't accomplish much!

  4. Replies
    1. come back for the rest of the story- I am blessed, you are right!

  5. Linking up--I did this too! I took pictures of my basement too!

    I saved things that were on the floor to wrap for Christmas!

    I yelled! I got the black garbage bags! It makes me crazy!!!

    praying for peace.

    be Blessed.

    1. SERIOUSLY, regifting is a great idea!!!
      Stay tuned for more and thanks for sharing your post too- those pictures! OH I relate to that!!!!

  6. >How do you fight clutter in your home?

    It is always an uphill battle but I find a loose schedule helps me incredibly. I take care of what I call "basic maintenance" ( cleaning up after breakfast, folding and putting away the clothes from the dryer BEFORE I put another load on to wash, etc...) and then I dedicate twenty minutes of hardcore cleaning/organizing in several rooms of the house daily(with a ten minute break between rooms to take a sip of water and stretch). I use (WONDERFUL WEBSITE!) to help keep tabs on what tasks are to be done, what tasks have been done, and to schedule a bit of time for myself daily for devotion or to read with my son. I can check off as I go and I can break down the tasks into compartments so that they aren't so daunting. I guess it is like a grown up version of a "chore chart"

    As far as the boy's toys go. We have some (very few thankfully) beloved ones. We hold on to those. My husband works at an apartment complex as the groundskeeper. We are blessed with toys and clothes weekly that are in great condition (some still with tags or in the box) but the residents are lazy and just throw them away instead of donating them. We donate stuff for them and recycle out our toys/clothes as well. My son is still a baby, so he doesn't mind us getting rid of things for "new" things. We have limited room so we can't hold on to much, and it is fun to give other children gently used items. I can't help but think,"WOW, some family is going to LOVE this" as I go through our stuff. I hope I can foster a sense of generosity in my son by example and including him in the process. I hope that as we clean up his room together that he will get really stoked like I do about finding treasures to give to other children/families.

    1. Oh, I like these ideas! I think i will be hosting a link-up later this week or early next on this topic, so please feel free to share a post with my readers then!

      I also try to do 'cleanign sprints' during the day- just ten minute or so of maintenance cleaning. I love the way you are helping your boys hold loosely to their toys!!!

  7. Ah, a topic dear to my heart right now. Will be curious to hear how Law and Gospel play into this. So glad I'm not alone when it comes to the challenge to managing clutter!

    1. part 2 will be up early tomorrow!
      Law and gospel to come!

  8. Umm, okay now I am on the edge of the couch wondering what's next. Can't wait to come back and hear it. And YES, I too hate the cutter. We keep toys boxed up and it storage and only leave out a little at a time. Then we trade them out throughout the year and it's like Christmas every quarter!!! And way less to keep up with at one time!

    1. I try to use the storage bins too (there are quite a few in the background of the picture above!) It makes me CRAZY when I get them all sorted and then they dump them all though! But barring that... it is a good system, in principle!

    2. by the way, part 2 will be up early tomorrow!

  9. Emily, This post made me laugh because I remember this exact scenario happening to me dozens of times!"the inconveniences to their dear mother" ha. Angry-cleaning. You explained it all so well. It all feels so very personal when looking at the mess, doesn't it?

    1. YES. Like, they are definitely OUT to get me!! :)

  10. Sounds like a real nail-biter ending, Emily! I can't wait to hear how you figured this age-old mommy problem out, my friend! Thanks for keeping it real and finding solutions you can pass along to the rest of us! :)

  11. Ah yes! I can relate all too well.
    I think mt advanced years and my lack of littles around the house has helped me much in this area.
    Over the past years I have actually described myself as the "un" clutter-er :0). We do not have clutter but it is NOT something I say to boast, it's just where I am at this moment.
    We have moved a lot and so we decluttered each time we did. Might I suggest: Go through your house as if you were moving to a house half the size. What would you keep? What would not cut the mustard as far as taking up precious space?
    If I do not use it once or twice a year, I do not keep it. If I cannot fit it into the dresser drawers it is not taking up space in our little home that is filled to the brim with 8 adult-sized people :0).
    We are minimalists but that does NOT mean I do not have or like pretty things. I just need to have a place for it is all :0).
    Hope you found your balance! Looking forward to where this brings you!

  12. Hahahaha, I remember those days well! Now that our kids are older, I have no one to rant and rave about, lol! Do know that this too shall pass, and as crazy as this may're going to miss the mess! Lol! BTW: Great blog...dropping by from "Leaving a Legacy" blog hop! Have a blessed day! ;-)

  13. Oh yes, the clutter! It is never ending it seems! This year the kiddos will only be receiving items we need for camping. We love to go, and they don't have everything we truly need for it. So that's where I'm going with Christmas for them! For everyone else they will be making homemade gifts for! I love a homemade Christmas and am looking forward to less stress and clutter this year! Thank you for sharing and linking up at Simply Helping Him! Blessings!

  14. You are very inspiring! With 3 under 5 and one on the way, I have had my share of cleaning rages. My way of (trying) to keep the clutter down is allowing only the toys they are playing with to stay in the house. The random junk toys that they all eventually end up with go down the road as soon as I can send them. That way there is only say barbies and pet pets. Not all the extras that contribute to the clutter. Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences. It helps to know someone else is out there going through the same stuff.

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