I gaze at myself in the mirror, the frustration evident in my expression. Your house is disgusting, I tell myself. Why do you keep losing the same 10 pounds of junk over and over again? Why can’t you just get it together and keep your house clean like other women?
That voice in the mirror – she used to stop me. Her unkind expression and tough words would discourage me. This time though, I look past the scowl. Instead, I gaze into her familiar blue-green eyes and see deep into her soul. I see weariness, desperation.
But I also see a spark of something else. I look deeper. That spark is a glimmer of hope, a longing to hear kind words.
You can do this, I tell myself, timid at first. You can clean your house. It’s just stuff. My thoughts grow bolder as I silently speak to my reflection. You’re capable. Just clean one room for now – only a few pounds of clutter. I believe in you.
I smile encouragingly at my reflection as I determine to finally get my house under control. I know that to make a lasting change, I need to stop shoving stuff into corners – stop “sucking in” to make my home look lighter. It’s time to actually throw away all the junk and then refuse to buy any more.
As I clean, I realize that decluttering is very similar to a food diet. Here are 10 examples:
1) We must throw out the junk.
If you have a sweet tooth like me, then eating healthy is nearly impossible if there’s junk food in the house! Likewise, a house filled to the brim with stuff is just begging for messes to be made.
The best way to combat this is to simply get rid of the junk! You (and your house) will feel so much lighter because of it.
2) The junk has to stay away.
Throwing away junk food is absolutely pointless if we’re just going to load up on sweets the next time we’re at the store. And getting rid of clutter is a waste of time if we’re going to buy a ton of stuff when we pass a yard sale. To make lasting improvements, the junk has to go away, and then it needs to stay away.
3) Tummy control panels can only do so much.
A tummy control slip might smooth out the lumps and a closet may hide some clutter, but eventually things are going to spill out if we don’t get rid of the excess.
4) We need to work hard if we want to lose some weight.
Most of us don’t expect to lose weight by watching TV and eating a bunch of junk food. We also can’t expect the house to get clean if we’re spending hours a day reading or talking on the phone.
In order to drop the extra weight – or excess clutter – we have to actually roll up our sleeves and get to work!
5) One bad afternoon doesn’t mean it’s another failed attempt.
Sometimes dieters eat 3 brownies on Thursday afternoon, then think they blew it so they wait until Monday to start back on their diet. But that’s 4 days they could have been making good choices instead.
Housekeeping is the same way – a huge mess on Wednesday doesn’t mean the house is hopeless until the weekend. Just start where you are and do what you can, when you can.
6) Maintenance is mandatory.
Sure, a crash dieter can lose a bunch of weight fast. But in order to keep the weight off, she must ultimately make the decision to improve her lifestyle as she finds joy in preparing nutritious meals and snacks.
Likewise, someone who’s putting her home on a clutter diet can learn to find joy in creating a haven as she develops the necessary habits for keeping a cleaner home.
7) We have to want it for ourselves.
While a get-together may spur us on towards a smaller waistline or cleaner floors, those things aren’t going to produce lasting change. In order to really create a long term difference, we have to want the change for us, and our goal should have more to do with better health or peace of mind, and less to do with a number on a scale or a “right” to show off a job well done.
8 ) Every little bit makes a difference.
Choosing a salad over a burger at the drive thru or washing dishes instead of checking Facebook may not seem like a big deal, but those little decisions add up to huge progress over time.
9 ) We should always offer grace.
The path to changing habits is a difficult one. It’s always easier to slide back into our comfortable patterns of junk food and junk rooms.
But that thing we do in front of the mirror, berating ourselves? Let’s stop that! Speak kindly. We should encourage ourselves. Let’s let someone else have the job of being our worst critic – we can choose love and grace.
10) Our worth is not found in our weight.
Whether the extra pounds want to cling to our hips or our closets, our worth is not found in how much we – or our homes – weigh. We are valuable because we’re us and no amount of dieting will change that.
Did I miss anything? What do you notice that cleaning and dieting have in common?