“I have no idea where to start. My parents lived like this and now I’ve taken these awful habits with me to my husband and 1 year old son. My husband and I fight about it all the time. I want to save a lot of clothes because I hope to lose weight and fit back into them. I picked 1 room which is the living room. We are in a 2 bed 1 bath apartment and the rooms and kitchen are just as bad if not worse. I have to learn where to start somehow. Please help me!” – Chelsea
Chelsea, I completely understand how you feel! When my husband and I were first married (and for several years after…), I didn’t know how to be a great homemaker. For me, it wasn’t that my mom didn’t try to teach me – it was that I just didn’t get it.
Learning how to keep things tidy isn’t an easy endeavor, but it is a worthwhile one.
Can I offer you a little marriage encouragement? I read in His Needs, Her Needs that usually the things a spouse complains about is what the spouse needs the most. For example, if someone’s husband complains that dinner is never ready on time, there’s a chance that acts of service fill his love bank. When that need isn’t met, it’s depleting his bank.
So the next time your husband complains about the messy house, try answering with gentleness instead of defensiveness. Sincerely say something like, “I’m so sorry that I haven’t kept a clean home for you. I want to do better. Can you offer grace to me while I learn?” Then give him a hug. Keep doing that every single time he complains and see if it helps!
Make sure that you really are working on decluttering your home so he can see that you’re genuinely trying, even if the progress is slow.
Ask your husband what his top three housekeeping priorities are and focus on those. Maybe he doesn’t care if your son’s room is a mess but he doesn’t want to trip over toys in the living room. If so, let your son’s bedroom go for a little bit and focus on keeping things picked up in the living room! You can also pray for your husband to have a compassionate heart about your struggles.
As you work on decluttering and improving your cleaning habits, you can add more things in later, but for now focus primarily on the three areas that are most important to your husband.
And don’t forget that it’s okay to not do everything by yourself! If your husband is working outside the home and you’re not, then your primary job right now is to take care of your one-year-old child and your home. Keeping your outside activities limited will help you to be home enough to care for your home. If you’re working outside the home as well, then go ahead and discuss how to divvy up some tasks.
Tips for the Other Spaces
If you’d like specific bedroom and kitchen tips, email photos to me! For now though, here are a few basic decluter tips:
1) Take it one room at a time. Don’t even try to declutter your kitchen while you’re simultaneously sorting your clothes and cleaning out the bathroom!
2) Consider putting clothes that are too small for you elsewhere so you don’t have to see them everyday. Under-the-bed totes, or even a box in the top of your closet may be all you need so you won’t have to dig around clothes that don’t fit.
3) When you’re sorting your clothes, ask yourself a question: “If I saw this item at the store right now, would I want to pay to buy it?” If your answer is no, then donate it. Only keep the clothes that you really love and will be excited to fit back into!
I hope this helped you, Chelsea! I’m going to post your living room photos, and answer your specific living room questions, later this week but I wanted to cover the heart issues first.
If any of you reading this are thinking that you have the opposite problem – you want to declutter but your spouse won’t let you – then make sure to read this post about what to do when you’re married to a pack-rat.
What additional advice do you have for Chelsea as she works to create more peace within her home?