Garbage and clutter are not the same. The first refers to items that have no purpose except to be thrown away, eventually to a landfill. Clutter, on the other hand, refers to useful items out of place. Take, for example, a typical young teenager’s room – so often an example of clutter run amuck. How many a mother, forgetting her own girlhood, has exploded with exasperation promising dire consequences!
But clutter is something nearly every one of us deals with in some way or another. What kitchen doesn’t have a drawer for the odd pieces that are lost to their original purposes? Garages that have no room for cars, hallway closets, bottom drawers… we all know what I’m talking about.
Clutter becomes an embarrassing element in our homes, however, when it spreads out over common living spaces and reflects family members’ habits that give evidence to their having hardly a scrap of tidiness. The results showcase, rather, careless droppings from whatever occupied their thoughts and actions as they were passing through. (This is absolutely expected behavior in certain preschool years, but soon loses its acceptability when the kiddies lose their ‘cuteness.’)
If you keep house so that you can open the door to an unexpected visitor with ease, this isn’t for you. But, for the rest of us, I believe there is a high road between complete chaos and military precision. And, I’d like to suggest that a family, its members working together as a team, can achieve this way of life.
Of course, I’d like to explore ways to cope with cluttered thinking and multi-tasking, with simplifying life by cutting down on the amount of things we own and thus must manage, with coping without a housekeeper, and the like. But, instead, I’ll just end by suggesting that calling a family meeting to discuss this topic would be a good place to begin. Finding ways to ban fault finding and creating fun ways to joyfully pick up after yourselves would follow closely afterwards.
I’m working on a game that has three characteristics:
1) it engages everyone in a cooperative activity to de-clutter an area,
2) it includes rewards that are either enjoyed by everyone in the family together or provide a blessing to someone outside the family, and
3) it is simple enough for participation by even young children.
How great it would be if you would share something you discovered that copes with clutter in a busy family’s life.
‘A place for everything and everything in its place’ was my grandmother’s watchword. That may be an impossible goal for modern families. Perhaps a better approach would be to take your family through an exploration of the following verses and find ways God’s Word speaks to your hearts and habits today:
I Timothy 6:6&8; Philippians 4:11,12 and Hebrews 13:5,6.
If any of the above piques your curiosity, or even seems like a life preserver to grab hold of in your present sea of frustration and embarrassment, why not join in the conversation? Together, I’m sure, we can find a way.