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The Packrat Versus The Housekeeper

How does one keep a clean house with packrat tendencies?

“Mommy, sometimes you are allergic to fun.”

This is what my child tells me when I’m on a cleaning binge and can’t think of anything but getting rid of junk.

You might not know it these days but I am actually a closet packrat. Not with everything – I have no problem getting rid of Tupperware containers or magazines or old clothes. No, I mainly want to keep sentimental stuff that pertains to my children.

I keep the usual things: the hats they wore at the hospital, the first lock of hair, the baby footprints, the first drawing – but I have a hard time getting rid of the not so usual things. Things like their first tooth. Or their first toothbrush. Or the tissue from the first time they blew their own nose. Or the crust from the first time they ate a sandwich.

That’s why I’m so glad that someone gave me a scrapbook at my first baby shower. I’ve discovered that if I keep tiny pieces of things – things like gift wrap, cards, baby band-aids, doctor visit notes, drawings, etc. – that I don’t feel like I need to keep the entire thing.

As you can probably imagine, this frees up a lot of space around here. If I didn’t do it this way, I probably wouldn’t be able to walk around for all of the traced hand artwork, Sunday School pages, dried flowers and notes to Santa that would be residing in my house because I couldn’t bear to part with them.

While my scrapbooks are growing thicker and thicker every year, I have somehow managed (up to now, anyway) to keep them contained to one book per year. It’s getting harder with each additional child, though. It’s much more difficult to chronicle the events of four lives than two or three!

Now that I have my sentimentality issues contained between the (strained) covers of a scrapbook, I am free to deal with the rest of my house. How do extra toys and books and shoes and random things find their way into my house on such a regular basis?

Stuff breeds more stuff. I completely clean off the kitchen counter. Then a kid leaves a juice cup and a pencil on it and the next thing I know, the counter is covered with junk again! It multiplies.

Whenever there is stuff out of place in my house, I have low-level anxiety. The older I get, the worse it bothers me (just ask my mom – this was NOT the case when I was a teenager.) These days, I am constantly looking for stuff to throw out, donate or otherwise get rid of. I have a “Goodwill box” in my laundry room to collect stuff that can go. Move it along, I always say.

Maybe I’m a little bit allergic to fun, but I prefer to think that I’m allergic to clutter.

Unless the clutter happens to be a tooth or an important sandwich.

gail gorby June 11, 2012 at 01:35 AM
Yep !1 It's the memories that matter,and your scrapbooks are the "BEST"!
Devone July 03, 2012 at 03:07 PM
It's getting harder and harder with each kid... I guess I can't have any more or no one will have a baby book at all!
Sharon August 01, 2012 at 03:47 AM
Your scrapbooks are extraordinary! I am so impressed, and love looking through them. They are priceless! I have never had the problem of wanting to get rid of all the clutter in my house; I do have trouble getting rid of Tupperware, magazines, and old clothes! (I am a packrat.) I just try to keep my clutter out of sight as much as possible. That's a job!

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