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April Jeppson: It’s time to do a little spring cleaning at home

Every Little Thing by April Jeppson

April Jeppson

 

I came home from my uncle’s funeral Sunday evening refreshed but exhausted. It was so comforting being around my family — people that get me. However, the long drive, crying and not sleeping in my own bed had me yearning for home. When I arrived, I was greeted by genuine joy from my family. You would have thought I’d been gone for weeks, not just two nights. It felt so good to be back in my own house. Then I looked around, and a slow panic seeped over me.

I spent the weekend with my cousin. She is single, in her mid-thirties and owns her own house. Each room of the home is perfectly decorated and meticulously organized. Everything has a place and there are literally zero piles of anything anywhere. No heaping pile of shoes or mail or laundry to be done. Nope. She lives minimally and being the only one in the house, she really doesn’t have that much “stuff.”

Anytime I’m in someone’s organized home I think, “oooh I like this.” I daydream about how I’m going to declutter or come up with a better mail-sorting system. I think about how fast I could remove a few garbage bags of clothes from our bedrooms, how I’m pretty sure we still have baby toys in our storage room that we could easily gift to someone in need. I think about how I’m fairly certain we have a George Foreman grill somewhere in our house that I haven’t used in at least five years — so I should probably get rid of that, too.

I walk into my house on Sunday evening. I’m almost tipping over with the amount of children hugging me, and that’s when I look around. My family most certainly picked up the house while I was gone. I can tell it’s cleaner than when I left. However, all the cleaning in the world doesn’t help the 15 pairs of shoes you see when you first walk in my door. It also doesn’t remove the four inches of mail that still needs to be gone through. Or the leaning tower of coloring books that is beginning to take over my kitchen counter.

I live in this house every day. I walk past these little piles here and there and don’t give them a second thought. However, staying with my cousin helped me come home with clear vision. Everything, all at once, became very visible to me. It almost threw me into a frenzy. I couldn’t sit. I didn’t want to eat dinner. My brain was going a mile a minute, and all I wanted to do was spend a week purging my home of all this unnecessary clutter.

There’s this quote I like: “A cluttered room is a cluttered mind.” Looking around my house it was very evident that I was not being present in my life. I wake up, go to work, often go to a second job and then by the time I come home at night, I’m done. I’m not meal-prepping, I’m barely grocery shopping some weeks. Laundry day looks like me having the kids pick out the clothes that they need, because if I actually washed all their clothes it would take three days, and I don’t have three days. I can do two loads of laundry right now, so we need to make it count.

After calming down, reflecting and realizing that burning my house down and starting from scratch was not a viable answer, I started making a list. I mentally went through the rooms and wrote down what I would need to do in each. Then I thought about it for awhile. I don’t work this next Saturday, so I could do a little bit then. On Tuesdays I get home a little earlier, so maybe I could have the family help me for 30 minutes on one of the tasks. I even talked to my insanely gifted, organized girlfriend to get ideas on how I can do a little at a time and still make progress.

I can’t control the weather. I can’t control what or if I’ll get anything for Valentine’s Day. I can’t control if my kids are going to wake up on the right side of the bed. Heck, I can’t even control if my back is going to hurt or not when I get out of bed. I can control my home. I can take ownership of my chaos, and I can remove all these things that are mentally dragging me down. I can, and I will begin spring cleaning.

Albert Lean April Jeppson is a wife, mom, coach and encourager of dreams.