Reader Jennifer submitted the following to Ask Unclutterer:
What is your advice for a seriously organizationally challenged family?
Our house looks like it should be on one of those messy house shows, the kids homework is all over, the daddy (coaches the boys baseball team) lost a check for $500 from a new baseball family, and the mommy (me) is just a hot mess.
I’ve ordered your book but I don’t know if our family can wait until November at this point.
My daughter’s birthday is in two days and I’ll have grandparents in my house doing that heavy sigh “at least they seem happy” thing … I guess I am looking for a band aid before the transfusion that is your book.
Thanks for being here, wish I found you earlier.
Jennifer, let me start by suggesting that you find a comfortable chair, take a deep breath, and close your eyes for a few minutes. You deserve some calm before the whirlwind birthday adventure begins, so go ahead and take it now.
Next, remember that even the most organized people in the world feel anxiety before their parents and in-laws come to visit. It’s natural. I know I regularly freak out before they come.
This visit, however, is a great opportunity for you. Let all of the grandparents see the mess. Don’t hide it, don’t try to find a band aid, just let it shine in its glorious disorder. Let them get a solid understanding of your “before” status, like the television cameras capture on the organizing shows you referenced. This way, after you get your home organized in the coming weeks, they will truly appreciate all of the hard work you did. They will know how far you have come, and they will be in awe of your “after.”
If letting it all hang out is too much and you still want to grab a cardboard box and toss some things into it before the majority of the party guests arrive, do it. Just don’t let this box become a permanent solution. But, if it puts your mind at ease in the short term, I don’t see the harm in it. Get your daughter to help, too. If she’s old enough to have a birthday party, she’s old enough to help with an emergency clutter pick up.
Also, try not to focus on the stuff and instead focus on your daughter and the people who come for her party. Clutter or no clutter, the people in your life are worth more than the stuff.
Finally, between now and when the book arrives, think about why you want to get the clutter out of your life. What do you want to permanently focus on instead of the clutter? Figure out what matters most to you, and this will help you significantly when it comes time to purge the clutter from your life.
Good luck and have fun! Happy birthday, too, to your daughter. Thank you, Jennifer, for submitting your question for our Ask Unclutterer column.
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