My Life is a Circus!

Often people are overwhelmed by their homes after years of living and growing as a family. This spring I worked with a woman named Carrie who was an emptynester with a big house and 4 pedigree spaniels.

Carrie was competent and resourceful, but her overstuffed closets and bedrooms made her want to run away. She was overwhelmed by everything that remained from raising kids and managing their stuff, now that they’re grown and gone– sort of. One daughter was established in her career out of state but the other daughter was threatening to come home after grad school. The girls’ bedrooms were loaded with stuff and the third bedroom was a convenient spot for dumping wrapping paper, wardrobe overflows, suitcases and childhood toys.

There was also the matter of the master bedroom walk-in closet that was overstuffed and casually organized.

In the meantime, Carrie’s dogs were gorgeous and a delight but a handful, so she separated them into pairs and left two downstairs and let the other two come with us while we worked upstairs. There were a couple of interruptions when the pair were boisterous or just plain adorable, but their being with us generally worked out.

We decided to tackle the master bedroom closet first because that was Carrie’s biggest headache. Seeing that the grown and gone daughter no longer needed her bedroom closet, we decided to use that for some on the overflow from the Carrie’s master bedroom closet.

We cleared out the daughter’s closet and bag up the clothes for Goodwill, etc. Then we transferred some of Carrie’s clothes to that closet- predominantly the deep winter stuff, her black tie dresses and special event clothes. We left in Carrie’s closet her regular clothes, athletic clothing and the stuff she wears 90% of the time. We also pulled from her closet, that clothing that no longer suited her or her lifestyle.

Generally I advise people to cull that which you haven’t worn in a couple of years, especially if it two sizes too big or too small. It doesn’t matter how much you spent on it– if you can’t or won’t wear it– let it go. Someone else is going to love it.

Over the course of several weeks, Carrie and I worked our way through that big house. We sifted through the detritus of the third bedroom and either donated the extra stuff or organized what remained. Of course in the process of all this, some garbage was made but most of the stuff was donated. We donated that which was usable and discarded anything that was raggedy or stained.

We went on to organized handbag & suitcase closet, the linen closet, the guest bedroom downstairs, the dining room, the front hall closet, the cleaning stuff closet and the closet with all the dog gear. This was definitely a closet job! Many people shove stuff in their closets for years, to the point of crazy making and explosions. Once you start to pull stuff out and see what’s there, it’s easy to see what you no longer want or need, but of course this could be a daunting task. If you decide to take this on yourself- make sure you do it in the morning when you’re fresh and can make decisions more effectively.

Happiness is an organized home, but there are several levels of organization in a home- where does yours lie?

• A neat home – I can find my keys
• A controlled chaos home – you roll with emergencies
• Low level stress home – looking for my keys
• Somewhat panicked home- can’t find my keys
• Somewhat distressed home- keys, etc. lost on a regular basis
• Feeling overwhelmed and dysfunctional – impacts family and work

Most people fall within the first few levels and manage their homes and life pretty well. If it’s beginning to feel like life is a circus– then maybe it’s time to tie up the animals, reduce the chaos and take charge of your home again. Happy organizing!