Liv­ing room detox

Maryland Independent - - Southern Maryland Classified - Twit­ter: @right­meg

I’ve been in a mood. A get-rid-of-ev­ery­thing mood. How is that you can walk by a clut­tered nook ev­ery day for months and think noth­ing of it, then wake up on a Satur­day feel­ing like you must purge your home of any­thing that hasn’t been touched in the last 24 hours?

Some of it is the chang­ing of sea­sons. I feel the urge to re­or­ga­nize and tidy. Thanks­giv­ing is just a few weeks away, and we’re host­ing our fam­ily again this year. I’m OK with peo­ple think­ing we’re a lit­tle dis­or­ga­nized if they pop by on a ran­dom week­night, but not on a ma­jor hol­i­day. I love hav­ing ever yone over . . . and re­ally don’t want to feel em­bar­rassed by the chaos.

Plus, well, my mother- and fa­ther-in-law will be here. Their stan­dards are more ex­act­ing, and I feel pres­sured to clean so we can pre­tend to be in con­trol of the house for a week­end.

I woke up Satur­day and im­me­di­ately eye­balled the cor­ner of our liv­ing room. Wedged in be­tween two couches is an end ta­ble that has grad­u­ally be­come di­a­per head­quar­ters. We keep all those must-grab items handy, and that’s cool.

What’s be­neath? Well.

As soon as Oliver was mo­bile, he be­came ob­sessed with crawl­ing un­der the ta­ble to reach the open space be­hind the loveseat. It’s a de­cent chunk of real es­tate back there, and Ol­lie quickly picked up on its most de­sir­able qual­ity: we can’t reach him from that spot. I can’t, any­way — my arms are too short. And there’s no way I can pull him out if he digs in his heels.

Though he’s out­grown some of that ram­bunc­tious de­sire to hide and evade our grasp, Ol­lie still likes to crawl back and stow his pre­cious pos­ses­sions away from his sis­ter. Hadley hasn’t fig­ured out the fun of the “ta­ble tun­nel” yet, but we know it’s com­ing.

What’s grad­u­ally hap­pened, though, is the route has be­come lit­tered with toys. And not just toys: puz­zle pieces and doll shoes, books and coasters. It’s a com­bi­na­tion of push­ing toys there when my hus­band and I get tired of them be­ing un­der­foot, and the kids “hid­ing” them at other points. It’s be­come the Ber­muda Tri­an­gle of the John­son home: what goes in rarely comes back out.

I walk by this cor­ner con­stantly. I stare at it ev­ery day when I come down­stairs, and again when I get home in the evening. I’m a bit of a min­i­mal­ist in my heart, but two young chil­dren come with lots of . . . stuff. It’s just been wo­ven into the fab­ric of our house — un­til Satur­day.

What made me sud­denly fill with rage and angst at see­ing this ugly pile? I’ve been read­ing lots of ar­ti­cles and blog posts on de­clut­ter­ing, in­clud­ing an epic spread on a 31-Day Detox Chal­lenge by Jen­nifer Lif­ford, fea­tured in the Septem­ber “Fam­ily Cir­cle” (a pretty awe­some mag­a­zine, by the way). I ac­tu­ally trimmed it out of the maga zine and hung it on my fridge.

I’m just get­ting started with the home detox, but felt com­pelled to re­ally get started in ad­vance of the hol­i­days be­cause:

1. We’ll have vis­i­tors. Lots of vis­i­tors.

2. New toys and other gifts will be ar­riv­ing.

3. The kids are old enough to help clean, and they should be en­cour­aged to do so.

Also, this line from the ar­ti­cle: “Clut­ter drains en­ergy. It re­minds you of some­thing you’re not do­ing or you need to do, and you feel like a fail­ure.” Bingo! Dis­man­tling the Ber­muda Cor­ner was my first step. Crouched with my cu­ri­ous chil­dren stand­ing guard, I be­gan ex­ca­vat­ing my way through the mess un­til ev­ery­thing had been pulled to the cen­ter of the liv­ing room. The sheer amount of stuff un­der there would have been im­pres­sive if it weren’t so hor­ri­fy­ing.

Hadley played hap­pily with the puz­zles and books we un­earthed, grin­ning like they were all brand new. Oliver crawled un­der the ta­ble tun­nel to “help” me, but was re­ally just ex­cit­edly paw­ing through the toys he, too, had for­got­ten.

It’s amaz­ing how much bet­ter I felt with that task com­plete. I got out the vacuum next and deeply cleaned that whole nook, which gave me a great feel­ing of ac­com­plish­ment.

I didn’t re­al­ize how much that mess truly both­ered me un­til it was fixed — and now I can’t wait to start the of­fi­cial home detox. The 31-Day method from Lif­ford rec­om­mends start­ing with pa­per­work . . . so I’ll be get­ting the shred­der handy.

Let me just fin­ish this cof­fee first.

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