I come from a family of organised women. 

'Cept I'm not.

My Mum has the tidiest pantry you ever saw. And she never runs out of anything. Her system for storing plastic containers and lids should be patented. 'Cept I can't seem to follow it. 

My sister Naomi in Germany has a very tidy and clean house. My Dad told me. That's really clean. And that's notwithstanding the production of a multitude of daily crafts, music and baking activities with two small children. 

I'm home all day too. I don't think you'd ever mistake my house for clean. 

My sister Suzie lives about an hour away. Her house, populated by three small boys and a grown up one, is a paragon of organization. I have been known to sneak open her cupboards. It's all in place. Her toy cupboard is stacked with clear boxes, all labelled, easy to get out, easy to pack away. Her eight year old vacuums. In fact, Suze has given talks about decluttering. She's super motivating. 

So when I was looking around my house yesterday, absolutely unable to start, stuff everywhere, I called Suze to talk me through it. 

She was so great. 

She said: if you want to eat an elephant you have to do it one bite at a time. In 20 minute bites, actually. She suggested I set a timer. Go go go. One bag for rubbish, one for giveaway stuff and one for stuff that had to be kept, but somewhere else. Only pick up things once. Do something with it. Start on one wall, do 20 minutes then stop. 

If the kids are still OK and occupied, go again. Small bites. One room/ table/ mantlepiece/ artwork-dumping-tray-mobile at a time. 





I really just need to get rid of so much stuff. 

Suze says do one declutter, and the next one will be faster and easier. (And you'll be encouraged by then to really think: has anyone used this in the last year? Do I need it? Love it? Can I do without it?)

I'm also facing down quite a big list of Christmas sewing that I'm already running terribly late on. I'm doing a bit every night but am feeling overwhelmed. Suze recommended a schedule, which I've done. I'm using iCal and have just listed what I intend to sew each night – and I can see when I'm due to be finished (before Christmas Eve!) 


One tabletop at a time. 

Best make it the dining table as I need to lay out a small girl's dress pattern!

Hands up if you think Suze should start a motivating how-to-declutter blog? (She's a bit busy this month – maybe next month?)


12 Comments on “muddle

December 9, 2010 at 10:50 pm

I also want to de-clutter lots. But have realised that’s the way my family rolls. How can you find it if it is not spread all over the dining table? And we just spent ages setting up that game! This is coming from a house that currently has lego all over the lounge room floor, a tent equipped with everything from the linen cupboard set up on the back deck, a dining table full of board games and Christmas wrapping stuff, and clothes mountain in my bedroom. It too will pass in ten years – and I will miss it.

December 9, 2010 at 11:13 pm

I am impressed and comforted by the photos of your house – it looks all so familiar. I have also had a quite major freak out about it recently and have enlisted the aid of my recently-on-school-holidays teenage neighbour to come over for 2-hour blocks (paid) and look after my kids. And what do I do in that time? – tidy and chuck out. After that comes clean the crap out of the place. And then- the experiment to see if we can maintain things at that level. Wonder if we can? If not, no matter, it’ll be great for a while!

December 10, 2010 at 6:41 am

In my head I’m a very organized person, but in reality, it just never seems to happen. My husband and I can have really good cleaning spurts where everything gets really pretty, but it’s the maintaining that we find really difficult. . . and then before we know it, the house is a mess again. Focusing on twenty minutes of cleaning in a go would be good though. I think, especially lately, and especially since I’m in my third trimester, the thought of cleaning just seems too daunting to even begin. Maybe I should try to do that once or twice a day and see if it makes things any better.

December 10, 2010 at 8:58 am

Love this post! My mom is super duper organized too. I’m only “sort of” organized. I may look organized on the outside, but the clutter in the mind – woah, if you could see it – would be a real eye sore!

But how lucky you are for that sis of yours an hour away. Great advice she gave you! I think getting rid of stuff is key to *looking* organized!

And so many people rant and rave about calendars…Hmmm…maybe they are on to something there too! ;0

Happy Holidays to you and yours!

December 10, 2010 at 10:02 am

Fi – Love this post and your sister’s advice. I definitely need to take it up too. In our tiny unit, it’s cluttered as soon as Kaia brings 8 pieces of artwork home EVERY DAY! For sure Suze should start a how-to-declutter blog, then she should run workshops, then she should go and help people in their own home. She would make stacks and I should definitely sign up!

December 10, 2010 at 11:48 am

Great advice – what a top sister!

December 10, 2010 at 2:13 pm

You’re all very kind but all my advice is borrowed from other people 🙂
Mostly Flylady and peter Walsh but lots of others have given me ideas along the way! Its hard to declutter but its even harder to maintain it once you’ve done the big purge (isn’t it unbelievable how it all just starts piling up again as soon as you’ve finished?)! Just keep getting back on the wagon when you fall off…

I find for me, the trick is to remember your goal- know why you are doing this? For me- a tidy house is not my goal, its a way to bless my future self. The less clutter in the house, the quicker it is to keep tidy and to clean. And the less time I ultimately spend on housework the better!

December 10, 2010 at 3:16 pm

love this. I too come from a family of super organised people and my house is total chaos.. always! No matter how often I tidy or declutter its seems to turn to crap again within hours…. I like to think its my creative side coming out.. but *sigh* my family are creative too.. and tidy!

December 10, 2010 at 4:10 pm

I read your post, turned around and looked at my house and thought
hmmmmmm yes I need to do some form of tidy up too.
But honestly if you have never been an organised person can you become one????
I would like to think so but I seem to fail each time.
oh well, we can all try

December 10, 2010 at 5:03 pm

Thank you!

December 11, 2010 at 8:54 am

Some great and motivating advice there. Your before and after pictures are inspiring!

January 1, 2011 at 12:05 am

oh I just found your blog and love it! I am hearing you on the stuff…….I am wishing I had a clearout BEFORE christmas and the onslaught of toys and stuff. I’ve told hubby tomorrow we are getting the toys organised….my other issue is laundry – the folding and putting away. I have a couch devoted to piles of laundry that need to be carried upstairs and put in the right place. just as I get on top of it another 3 loads come in from the line for the day!

happy new year


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