Climbing Mt. Clutter

February is “Clean Out the Clutter” month here at the Clarke household.  Month two in “The Money Saving Mom’s Budget” book focuses on priorities, time management, and removing the clutter.  My goal is to work room by room to clear out all that is without purpose, meaning, broken, or redundant.

The kids have a winter break this month that will last five days.  I have five  vacation days with which to climb Mt. Clutter that I don’t have to make up at the end of the school year. (We are a homeschooling family so we have some flexibility here.)  My husband wisely suggested that I space those days out amongst the weeks of February rather than use them back to back.  He seemed to think this method may maintain my sanity.  What would make him think it was possible for me to lose my sanity over clutter?  🙂

This is a fresh project for me so I’ve been excited about it.  (Actually I’ve been wanting to scratch this itch since January 1st but I held back.)

At 9:30 am yesterday morning, following Crystal’s instructions in ” The Money Saving Mom’s Budget” book, I gathered my boxes, trash bags, timer,  “Projects to Tackle” sheet, and of course, filled my cup with motivational coffee and got a move on!

“Where were your kids? ” you may be wondering.  Crystal suggests that you find a babysitter for the kids during this project.  We don’t have the luxury of in-state grandparents and I’m trying to reserve babysitting funds for our monthly date night.  I was just going to pray my kids gave me space.  (Very funny, I know.)  But thankfully, my next door neighbor’s children were able to play.  The kids were in the front yard for a couple hours.  God bless you my wonderful neighbor!

I managed to stay within the thirty minute time block  for the first two rooms that I worked through- the living room/personal office and dining room.   It took about twenty minutes instead of ten to complete the second step of  putting away the items in the “to be filed” and  “put away” boxes.  But it got done.

While I was in those rooms I was wondering what Crystal would suggest I do with the physical things that are part of the “Projects to Tackle” list.  This involved a box of childhood photos, materials for a craft project I’ve been “meaning to do” with my kids, and Little Man’s school work that needed to be filed for homeschooling purposes(there was too much to be sorted through right at the moment.)  What was I suupposed to do with them?

Thankfully, I had emptied a basket on the bookcase next to my desk that, eureka, became my “Projects to Tackle” basket.  So that’s what I did with those things.  Somehow this struck me as being the opposite of “clearing the clutter” but now they are listed on a sheet that will be assigned a time slot for accomplishment in the near future.

I have to say that going through the 3 drawer chest next to my dining room table was really gratifying.  There are knick knacks and linens in there that I don’t use.  I loved seeing space in those drawers!  I can say truthfully, that every item in those drawers is something that is useful/beautiful/meaningful to me.   Ahhhhh!

Then came the den.  I know that all book lovers out there can understand the pain I experienced at this point.  I think that is why I went over the 30 minute time block in this room.

Since my kids were born I have given them a book at Christmas that was either meaningful to me in my childhood (thus I wanted to share it with them) or was a book that they had loved reading during that year.  I wanted them to have copies for themselves.  I would also write personal messages in the books that I hoped they would cherish as adults.

Being a homeschool family who leans toward the Charlotte Mason style, books are crucial to our school day.  I’m supposed to have lots of “living books” for my children to freely peruse on their down time.

On top of that, in the first part of the school year we had exhausted our library’s leveled readers. I had then purchased quite a few from Goodwill.  I’m thrifty so I didn’t want to let go of them when I knew that Little Girl  is quickly coming up in the reading ranks and will need to use them as well.  Aaargh!

In the end, I gave up a lot of books.  I kept the sentimental ones, thinned out the leveled readers, and kept only the most crucial books for our curriculum.  We will just borrow more books at the library.  (Yes, we are that family who fills up a wheeled suitcase at the library.  Sometimes we still have to carry some books in our arms!  I gave up being embarrassed about this a long time ago.)

At this point I stopped timing myself, which I’m sure explains why I didn’t get through the whole house.  However, I managed to work through the kitchen part of our kitchen/schoolroom, the powder room, the master bedroom (not the closet-oh dear is that going to be a project!) and the kids’ bathroom.

I have projects on my “Projects  to Tackle” list.  I will have to go back and: clean out the spices, organize the cabinet underneath the kitchen sink, throw out old medicine, and sort out my little home management area.  To do in March:  complete my “Projects to Tackle” list.

On one hand I had hoped I would have accomplished more, but the day served its purpose. I am better equipped to judge how much “mountain” is truly ahead of me.  I can make a more accurate assessment of how much time and energy will be required as I plan the next climb.

What does all this mean for the big picture?

After reading “Money, Possessions, and Eternity” by Randy Alcorn, I came away convicted that I don’t want to be hindered by my possessions in my walk with God.  If He were to say one day, “Go“, would I be able to do it?

I certainly can’t take this stuff to heaven, so how important is it really on this side of eternity?  Are there things in my home that I don’t really need but just want, whereas giving them away could fill someone else’s true need?  Can I hold more loosely to my possessions, releasing my grasp when He says, “Give.”  Would I hesitate because I have become so fond of my things thinking that I own them?  Isn’t everything we have really His anyway?

My desire as I continue to climb Mt. Clutter is to keep those questions at the forefront of my mind.  I think I will even revisit the rooms I’ve checked off just to be sure that I can “go” and that in my heart I will “give“.

Are you taking a trip up Mt. Clutter this month?  What have been your challenges on this climb?


26 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by heather on February 3, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    You probably cant control what advertisements that you get on your page but the youtube commercial above is a bunch of women in bikinis sitting on a couch. Weird, lol.


    • So sorry for that. I’m not sure where that is happening but unfortunately because it is a free blog I don’t have a lot of control. I hope to change that though in the near future. Thanks for reading! I appreciate it.


  2. Very inspirational! Thanks for sharing 🙂


  3. Posted by Sara on February 3, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    I loved your post – very inspiring!

    (fyi -the advertisement above this comment box is a YouTube video with 7 bikini clad women as the opening screen shot – I didn’t click on it obviously, but wanted to let you know).


    • Hey Sara, Someone else said that too and I’m not really sure what is going on. My blog is a free one on WordPress. When I view my posts there isn’t anything else on the page. If you or anyone else knows what I can do to fix this problem please let me know. I am definitely experiencing a learning curve in all things computer related. I hope to have my own blog website soon where I am able to have more control. Thanks for letting me know and thank you for reading 🙂


  4. I haven’t started my list…yet. We have be SO Busy! Thanks for the encouragement. I’m glad I’m not the only one with piles of things I don’t know what to do with.

    Did you end up making your house dirtier when you were trying to declutter?


    • Audrey, first of all I love the name of your blog. I can’t wait to go check it out 🙂 I’m a little less than halfway through the process and see the value in having a place to put all the materials for the “Projects to Tackle” list. That place will need to be out of the house (such as the garage) or in an orderly looking basket somewhere. But even if I do that I will need to designate days in March that I will ABSOLUTELY complete those projects….otherwise I’m just moving piles. Of course I also need to declutter my garage so where will all those materials for “Projects to Tackle” go? Perhaps in my daughter’s outside playhouse ? (ha,ha,ha)


      • I know the feeling. Our garage is a little cluttered, but we both park in it so there is not too much space for storage.I’m starting my list now. I hope to have it done in a month! Yikes, I hope I can. I’m currently 7 &1/2 mo pregnant, So I figure that’s about all the time I have left.

      • Congratulations! That’s wonderful. That nesting instinct will kick in one more time before the baby arrives and fuel your efforts. Enjoy that wonderful bundle of joy:)

  5. Posted by steph on February 3, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Funny. I was just about to get up to start my spring cleaning when I saw this link on facebook. Thanks for sharing. Gonna start the coffee and set the kitchen timer. After I get some space in the book cases I’m gonna buy the book.


  6. Posted by ashley on February 3, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    At church recently there was a talk on such, with the bottom line being, “live simply, so others can simply live.”


    • I love that Ashley. The “Money, Possessions, and Eternity” book made a huge impact on me this past month. I want to keep going back to it so I don’t lose momentum. I want to have an impact where I am. I may only have a widow’s mite, but that is still something to God.


  7. The commercial is for Toyota Camry. LOL LOVE the post! 😉


  8. Thanks for your post I got the link from moneysavingmom.


  9. Thank you for sharing this! I’ve got quite a mountain to climb in my own house and this is just the inspiration I need.


  10. what a great post!! our house has been out of control and i was hoping to start climbing mt. clutter this weekend. definitely inspired after reading this 🙂


  11. Posted by Heather on February 3, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    I have been doing the same thing for the past 2 days. It feels so good to be free of stuff! Today I am in the playroom and don’t know if I will EVER get through in there. I will keep climbing!


    • You are so right! Isn’t great when your eyes fall on a (is it possible) bare spot on a shelf? 🙂 Anything related to kids’ stuff is especially difficult. It involves your memories, their memories, you can always come up with the “what if I need it again” questions…. tough stuff! You can do it though! Happy climbing.


  12. Posted by Sam on February 3, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    I saw the link on FB from Money Saving Mom. I liked your article alot. It expressed the same desires/concerns that I feel. My Mt. Clutter is sky-high at the moment-even when I “clean”, I don’t tend to get rid of a lot. Hopefully, combined with the book(loved it) and your thoughts, I can do more. Thanks!


    • The book was so helpful with its practicality. I love being given steps to follow. I am glad I could help further your resolve to cut through the clutter. Thanks for taking the time to read the post. It means a lot. 🙂


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