Blissful Ways to Conquer Clutter and Embrace Chaos

stormtrooper flowers
photo credit: DocChewbacca Ueno Park via photopin (license)

Our couch has endured sleeping, chocolate, pizza sauce, snow, mud, cats, kids, and more.

It’s more than one couch. Our couches have more incarnations than The Doctor. They endure everything short of locusts, by all accounts. The damn thing will stay until it collapses on itself like that house at the end of Poltergeist.

But, that’s how we do things.

We wear clothes until they fall off our shoulders. We squeeze every molecule of Polynesian dressing out of the tubs we procure from Chick-fil-A (they’re so friendly there, they don’t stop my girls from asking for 17 packets of sauce for a six-pack of nuggets.)

If you heard me driving Gabi recently – I thought my beloved Pontiac Grand-Am was destined fast for the scrap pile – you know I take the brake shoes right down to the screws.

I learned as a kid that Native Americans used every part of the buffalo they hunted. I loved that, even then. I’d keep Star Wars cards in my NFL lunchbox during the summer. I stored my Star Wars figures in cigar boxes and my cigars … well, I’ve never had cigars.

Nature vs. nurture?

Law and order pervade the balance I’ve wrangled with all my life.

It’s the order part I struggle with. I’m not always messy and cluttered. At points, I’m tidy as Seinfeld, with a car cleaned and vacuumed, a calendar neat and tidy, and even a keyboard (mostly) devoid of graham cracker crumbs. When I bring it, it’s brought.

Before it’s brought, oftentimes, it’s … rotten.

I’d need 10 10-minute tidies to even get to the neighborhood of chaos. My life is a series of deadlines and commitments from 6 a.m. to midnight, and beyond (it’s 12:10 a.m. at the time of this writing.) It’s a series of wins and losses, all with a common audience: my girls.

See, they’re affected and mixed in and operating on their own. Elise (mostly) keeps homework straight, with a layer of clean and dirty clothes covering all carpeted surfaces. Grace is much the same way. Both are artistic and free-minded types.

Marie’s the minimalist, in need of dresser and bed, mirror, and makeup, with furnishings right out of the David Thoreau school of minimalism. She’s most disturbed by the clutter of my car, yet most appreciative when she can find a sweatshirt or G2 in its midst.

As with most parental influence, where do the polarities of my chaos vs. calm existence impact my kids and the life choices they make?

A model of letting go

If there’s an idea that my girls can get new big-kid stuff, they’ll forsake even the most sentimental of toys. And you should see the price tags they put on them for yard sales. Out with the old, in with the new – cash only, please.

I dig that.

I dig that one girl slept with a soccer ball because she loved the game, and “it makes me think of daddy.” Or that another cuddles a bear named Daddy. I’d never admit it to her, but I’ve noticed the Rasta monkey I won for one is always in her bed.

As I work to dig out of my own prison of possessions, employing the KonMari Method along the way, I hope my girls see the pendulum swing for me away from hoarding and toward a better way to hold on. And let go.

I’m letting go of Starting Lineup figures and jerseys I don’t wear. I’m clearing space clogged by newspaper clippings and photo albums and knick-knacks that long ago lost shelf space (stuff referred to as komono in the KonMari Method.)

I’m a work in progress, and as such, I’m probably the best model for my kids possible. No, it’s not easy. No, it’s not helpless. There’s a little of each, and lot of the in-between. This goes for possessions, relationships, and dogmas, too.

Which, tonight could start with wrapping up this post, pulling on warm socks, and getting some sleep. If I could only find the socks.

[This post on Kim’s blog, Protean Mom, inspired this.]

chaos quote


  1. Charlotte says:

    I love this. Growing up, my parents kept EVERYTHING (my mom is a farm girl from Germany and I’m sure her “lack of” attributed to that in later years). Anyway, it makes me want to get rid of all the clutter in my life. Somehow I managed to fall in love with someone who holds on to everything and has placed sentimental value on a lot of items that I keep eyeballing and wanting to trash (though never would… I’m not that mean), but the struggle is real.

    OMG, your kiddos sleeping with rasta monkeys and soccer balls melts the heart ❤

    Beautiful post. Food for thinks always 🙂

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks, Charlotte. This post was about everything and nothing. I couldn’t easily render a headline to top the chaos, ironically. I find myself wanting to rid the clutter, but also get everything I can out of everything I have. I can’t stand the thought of things lying around NOT rotting in a landfill, or, worse, floating in a river or the ocean.

      The struggle is real, whether the person who wants to hold on to all and get rid of all is in the same partnership, or the same person!

      The rasta monkey, I noticed, was tossed behind a door this morning. I’m hoping that’s not at all symbolic! haha.

  2. I am reading her book now and working really hard to de-clutter. It is certainly a process!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I listened to the audio book, Jill. I’m into the spot where I go through all my papers. Easier said than done!

  3. Very insightful post – I really enjoyed reading it 🙂 Love your blog xx

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks, Clare! I can’t wait to delve into your work, too. I found myself daydreaming about that breakfast spread on your most recent post …

      1. Thanks Eli! Means a lot that you dropped by! x

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        I dig the colors at the bottom of your posts …

  4. Funny, I seem to go through a “de-cluttering” phase at this time of year. (Spring cleaning, anyone? *wink*) I’ve been donating books to my local library, throwing out teas that are too old or have gone stale (yes, even tea has a shelf life), and simply getting rid of things I don’t need anymore. I’m not a messy person, but I definitely have a habit of hanging on to things for too long, and the end of winter / beginning of spring is when I feel the most need to do something about that.

    Anyways, that’s what your post reminded me of, Eli. This was an enjoyable read, and I hope you’re doing well. 🙂

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      It’s human nature, right Sara? When the robins get frisky, it’s time to have a yard sale. I think Aristotle said that.

      It’s a fine line between living light and striving to get the most out of everything you have. Naturally, stuff will linger when you want to make sure you’re not wasteful.

      Great to hear from you, Sara. Let’s catch up soon.

      1. Ha ha, that sounds like something Aristotle would say. 😉

        Btw did you get my 6 words entry? And when does that go live again?

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        The Big A was one cool cat. And yes, I received it – both poignant and hunger-inducing, it.

  5. stomperdad says:

    DW goes through declutter phases every spring. We never know what’s going to go. Sometime I sneak through the “to-go” bags and save a few things from their demise. I inherited the “I might need that later” gene from my grandmother and father. Love the Rasta Monkey! My oldest sleeps with a monkey (named Monkey) and the youngest sleeps with a penguin (named Penguin).

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Kids get ruthless. Or they don’t want to do anything about decluttering. Hard to know what you’ll get.

      Oftentimes, I’m grateful I wasn’t named as some stuffed toys are – for the simple word for what they are!

      1. stomperdad says:

        Ahhh but you were named as a stuffed animal… Dad. Much better than Monkey or Penguin.

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        … or jackass.

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