New approach to others' clutter--wish me luck
I am about to go in a new direction, and it may not be all good. So, I'm already aware of warning bells in my head.
I am lucky in that my DH is nowhere near a true "pack rat"--but has a problem with incoming mail and daily papers. We get a lot of financial documents that he keeps but cannot keep to an organized approach. A few years ago we moved to a home in which one small bedroom is now his "study" and all of this goes in there in boxes, and you can't even walk in it. That room may be something I try to tackle eventually (would have to be WITH him) but not right now.
But, he piles it up on our only table for meals, and in several chairs, and boxes plus large piles of newspapers have crept into our bedroom. I've asked and discussed, and he agreed that dining table was important so we could have family meals, but if anything, it's getting worse. The reason the above room problem is going to come up is that, it's reaching max junking capacity so that, we used to be able to toss stuff in a box, before a meal or visitors, and place in room "to be sorted later," but now there is not much later going on.
Part of the dealing with it problem is that, as many of you know, it takes more than 10 minutes to clear something like this up, and now his backup plan of tossing in study is failing, and that was one of my coping methods--but now I feel bad about it, because now if I put a box in the study, it may be teetering on edge, or hard to find, so I don't feel as good about that, as these are "our" bills and important papers.
So, So I have to ask myself--do I live with it? I go over all the same arguments--he is a great person--I mean really great. He does huge amounts of stuff for the family--works hard, does bills, invnestments, trash, car maintenance, computer maint, just loads of stuff. So, he is not sitting around like Archie Bunker.
But, part of what I do is the cooking and cleaning and work at demanding job. We used to have a cleaning service, and I want to get one back. The reason I let the service lapse was, it was a hassle to get my family--and me-- to "clean up" for the service when I had 2 kids at home and all of us not so neat. Even though, that was a kind of organizational strategy that kept you on your toes--but was hard if had a tough work day the day before cleaning crew was due. And I would find that I was usually the one that did that final hour of picking up, usually making me late to work.
So, I struggle with accepting----since of course I know I am not perfect, and who knows how many things I do are not what DH would prefer. I should be happy with live and let live. I mean, if I was finally successful at bartering instead for some favor in return, what if what he wanted was something I couldn't stand to give up or stop doing or do or whatever?
To return to the point, I decided to stop discussing and nagging, but found things only piled up more and if I then asked for a special occasion, he did not or could not take care of it.
So recently, I was trying to clean these areas, and of course there were too much papers and stuff piled up, and so I just decided I was going to move it and act like that was okay. One approach, though this can just be self-serving, I know, is to assume that he doesn't really intend for the house to look like that, and it's just my job to clear it up, to clear the table and then cook and serve a nice dinner; to move all the stuff out of the BR and then vacuum--the same way that he takes care of certain things without going over it all in detail first.
Interestingly, I am so not a very neat person in terms of BEING very neat all the time, but I love how I feel when my home looks neat and clean--I feel so good and calm--so I have the ability to, at intervals, clean up and enjoy everything tidy. And I have trouble thinking I have to accept not being able to have that. And that means really everything I can see--so, dining table is piled up and unusable, I'm okay with that for a day, or week, but not forever, not every day of the year, even if the adjacent kitchen and den is neat.
Along with this, I am paying a lot of attention to clutter or mess of my own. Duh! Meaning, it's doubly important that I don't say, my magazines are okay on the table but your stuff isn't, etc. And, I am trying to focus on the moving stuff as part of cleaning, not just picking on someone else's pile for no reason. Have any of you had to refrain from just focusing on someone else's mess? That is so much easier and more fun than your own! So, because I can only tackle things in stages, I had to keep reminding myself, leave his pile alone until it is the only place left to clean.
But it partly boils down to, what junky families don't understand is, you can't take advantage of most cleaning services if you're junky--they're not personalized enough to move your stuff and they won't clean well around it. Plus, if you work full time +, you can't clean up everything in one day, and you have to plan. For example, I spent 2 evenings de-cluttering surfaces and have yet to "clean"--that is stage 2. So again, part of me feels like I'm just returning to the idea of, I'm a professional woman and this is how I keep house.
The "study" itself is another issue. I've offered to work together , taking a couple of days off from work even, to organize, buy shelves, and do whatever. Hmmm-hmm, he says.
After we'd lived here a few years, I just decided, let that room go because he deserves to have a room of his own for that--I have a similar room I keep pretty neat as a combo guest room, and he doesn't bother me about it.
Now the problem is as I noted above--you can no longer walk or add stuff. Again, while I can't do this right away, I'm wondering, do I just find some time I can take a very long weekend and just go after it myself. Ideally that job actually requires collaboration, because one has to decide on some rudimentary organization strategies in order to place new stuff into the re-organized room--these papers in a box or a file? Put the months mail in a box and line up a row of boxes floor to ceiling? Now, I have assumed that he would HAVE to make those decisions, but I am even re-thinking that. So in the "bad" way to look at it, it treads on control issues and my deciding, your approach isn't good enough for our family-- that's not comfortable place to be if I want to keep my good relationship, so hence, the bells going off. The naive do-gooder approach is to say, honey, I know you're too busy to be bothered, and I had time to do it, so I figured that's what you wanted (or you would not have let it get this way).
One might say, our personal papers and records deserve better. I tried not to use that excuse, because he somehow manages to keep track--I've told him he can't die and leave me to sort through it all though!
Now, another thing--and this is kind of funny--is that I've also started to think, am I really being kind and thoughtful and loving enough in other ways? So, I am working harder at that too. That is part of my concept of just saying, cleaning up is part of what I do for the family--I assume you want me to--and there is no nagging or trying to make DH change into someone who wants to do that himself.
Well, I guess this proves I'm all caught up in the typical go-rounds about how my organizational strategy is best, and not able to accept the great things I do have.