But lately the clutter has become out-of-control. And sadly, 98% of the clutter was my daughter's stuff - her crafts, games, toys, books, and puzzles were no longer kept to certain rooms and certain spots, but infesting almost every nook and cranny of the house. The craft spot and storage area no longer allowed her a spot to do the crafts as her craft area had misc. crafts and toys piled all over it.
My beautiful China cabinet was a display unit for all of her games and puzzles. . .are you getting the picture?
So, for the past few months it really started growing and really started bugging me. Then it started bugging some of my girlfriends and they started saying something. Then I would say to myself, "ok, have to tackle this today" and then I would get sick to my stomach and get overwhelmed as I looked around and had not a clue as to where to begin. So I'd leave it.
Then I decided the best thing was to win the lottery - then I could afford to hire one of those professional organizer people who would just tell me what to do (or maybe they would even do it for me!) and then if I really won the lottery I got excited because that meant I could hire a chef and personal trainer too and perhaps be thin! Wow - if I just won the lottery I would be thin and be able to de-clutter my home - how much better does it get than that???
Well - let me tell you, it got a lot better!
One of my dearest and closest girlfriends came over on Saturday with her 2 kids for a playdate (and she was one of my friends who just a few weeks ago told me that I had to do something about all of Allie's "stuff" before she had another birthday in July and then more stuff would be on top of the old stuff. . .) and her son asked if he could do a craft project. I said sure and as my friend and I went to the craft area to get what he wanted, she looked at me and said, "Ok, this is it! Today we are cleaning this all up!".
And guess what, for the next 5 hours we did just that! We donated bags of stuff to other friends with younger kids for things that Allie has outgrown (Allie looked at us in horror each time we asked her if she still wanted her Dora or Elmo or Wiggles coloring books and she said the 24-piece puzzles were too easy for her because now she does 63 and 100 piece). My girlfriend convinced me that I didn't need to keep each and every scribbling picture of Allie's from the past almost 6 years and that a small sampling of 100 were just fine and no one would go to therapy if I threw away the remaining 200 of them.
My girlfriend's 10 year old daughter was a godsend because she was so excited to help that when my daughter who looks up to her saw her helping, Allie wanted to join in the fun. And she is even less sentimental that I am, so with her approval we got rid of lots of "stuff". You know all those little dolls, musical instruments and other JUNK you get from free kids meals and teacher treasure chests and birthday party favors? I couldn't bear to get rid of that stuff - but Allie was mature enough to get rid of 2 banker's boxes worth of junk!
No, we didn't hold the kids captive to cleaning the whole time - they cleaned, they swam, they ate, they played Barbies. But my girlfriend stayed until the last piece of "stuff" was cleaned up - either put away or donated or thrown away.
So, 5 hours after my girlfriend came over, everyone ended the playdate happy (ok, for some the playdate is still going on as I kept her son for a sleepover. . .). My house became de-cluttered (okay, at least the family room and craft room did - we still need to tackle Allie's playroom) and everything in those rooms are put away neatly.
But mostly what I realized was that my girlfriend is worth more to me than any lottery winning could ever be. She recognized that I was overwhelmed and didn't even know where to start and she just jumped in yesterday with two feet and said we were going to do it together. I'd rather be poor and have to cook and clean myself if it means I get to have friends like this!
So girlfriend, you know who you are, I can't thank you enough for caring enough to help me get it done! And after you left yesterday, I realized, a persons' relationships are all they take with them out of this life, so make the most of them and be sure to show the people you love and appreciate how much they really do matter to you. So I hope you know how much I love and appreciate you and as much as I would love to win the lottery, I would always rather have you ringing my bell than Ed McMahon!