In this post: If you’re striving for a clutter free home, you’re missing the whole point. Read on to learn 4 simple reasons you should NOT have a clutter free home.
I have a bone to pick.
Have you ever been on social media and scrolled for hours and hours looking at beautiful pictures of clutter free homes? Yeah, me too.
I used to think that having a clutter free home was the goal. It was the ideal to be achieved.
I would waste hours upon hours looking at decor that I could never achieve in my 1970s ranch or with my two little kids.
It wasn’t until about 4 years into my decluttering journey that my mindset started to change. In this post, I’ll tell you 4 simple reasons why you should not have a clutter free home.
4 Simple Reasons Why You Should Not Have a Clutter Free Home
#1: Perfection is a Myth
You may have noticed when scrolling through all those pictures of clutter free homes that they look…soooo…perfect.
And that’s the problem.
Because, my friend, perfection is a myth. It doesn’t exist. So, if you set your goal on something you can’t obtain, you will miss the mark every. single. time.
And that can leave you feeling like you’re not good enough.
When I first became a mom, I wonder why everyone else had it all together, and I was struggling to remember to put the wet laundry into the dryer before it started to stink. Seriously.
My friends all had demanding jobs, but still managed to raise little kids all while putting home cooked meals on the table and making crafts for grandparents.
I wondered what was wrong with me. I felt unworthy, I felt I was a failure and I felt like I would never amount to much.
And that’s a problem.
Because when we based our self-worth on the perceived cleanliness of our homes, we’re setting ourselves up for failure.
Did my friends manage to keep a clean home all while juggling raising kids and full-time jobs? I don’t know. But it sure looked like it.
If you feel unworthy because of the state of your home, let me tell you this: You’re worthy just because you are.
Having a clutter free home doesn’t make you more worthy of a person. The fact that you are miraculously alive means that you’re worthy.
#2: Maintaining a Clutter Free Home Takes Time
When everyone’s portraying their clutter free homes, everyone’s missing the fact that it takes a lot of time to clean it.
Over the years, I’ve done a few informal surveys in my quest to figure out the secret to a clean home. I’ve interviewed over 100 women (most of whom are moms) and you know what I found?
It takes a lot of work to keep a clutter free home!
On average, most people with a tidy home spend about 2 hours per day cleaning. A handful spend less (about 1 hour per day) and few spend more (3+).
And here’s the kicker. When I ask someone how much time they spend per day cleaning, I follow up by asking them what that includes, and the vast majority of the time, they forget to include laundry, dishes or cooking.
While those three tasks might not be seen as “cleaning” tasks, they are most certainly important to home management…and honestly, their where we spend the bulk of our time.
Which means, that if we were to account for those activities in addition to sweeping, vacuuming, dusting, putting things away, etc…
It takes about 4 hours per day to maintain a clutter free home. Yeah.
Even on weekends…even on holidays. That’s a lot of stinkin’ time (28 hours per week to be exact).
I’m not shaming you if you want to spend that much time cleaning. By all means, you do you.
What I have a problem with is this idea that a clutter free home is the norm and the ideal and anything less is a failure.
This is a problem for two reasons:
- We’re not giving people with clutter free homes the credit they deserve for keeping it that way.
- We’re shaming ourselves into thinking we’re wrong or bad if we don’t have a clutter free home.
There are many things you can do to help save time when cleaning (check out this weekly cleaning schedule). But it’s okay for you to decide to spend your 28 hours in other ways per week.
It’s okay for you to spend 10 of those hours cleaning and 18 of them starting a business, playing the piano, or building forts with your kids.
At the end of the day, a clutter free home is nice to have, but it’s not the be all end all. The goal should be to create a home that is the launch pad to your dreams.
#3: It’s Dang Stressful
If you have kids, whoa boy is this for you. As a parent, I’m sure you’re not foreign to the scenario of walking out of the room for a couple of minutes…and coming back to find something dumped all over the floor.
I have a 1 year old whose mission in life is to pull everything out of every cabinet, drawer and box. He thinks it’s great fun.
Me…not so much.
But the problem is not that I have to clean up the same things over and over. The problem comes when I feel I MUST clean up the same things over and over.
I wrote a post all about why it’s impossible to be clutter free with kids, but here’s something you can appreciate even if you don’t have kids.
Not only does maintaining a clutter free home take a lot of time, it’s also dang stressful.
This goes back to point #1 about perfection being a myth. You see, if you’re goal is to have everything perfectly in it’s place, all it takes is one tiny thing out of place to start to raise your blood pressure.
About 4 years into my decluttering journey, I had a moment exactly like this. I had gotten my home to the point that it was mostly clutter free, save for the mementos I stashed away and was hoping to avoid for as long as possible. 😂
With one kid in school and the other in daycare, I hired a cleaning lady to come to my house and deep clean it. I worked ahead of her, putting things away and dealing with small unfinished projects.
She did a great job and my home was sparkling as much as it can for an outdated home from the 1970s (at least it no longer has its shag carpet!)
After she left, I was so proud of how my clutter free home looked. I felt like I finally had made it. (Which is a huge accomplishment for someone who has hoarderish tendencies.)
But then my kids came home from school. As I stood in my clean and tidy living room, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of agitation.
A mere hour after paying someone money to deep clean, a book bag was laying on the floor in the entryway, a few toys scattered around the living room floor and the kitchen sink had dirty dishes from snack sat in the sink.
A clutter free home is stressful because any item being out of place is a signal to your brain that your work isn’t done. The problem is, if you have actual humans who live in your house, the work will never be done.
There is definitely a correlation between clutter and anxiety, so I’m not suggesting you let it all go and stop cleaning.
But it’s okay to set your ideal as somewhere in the middle, an area that will both reduce your stress and still be realistic to attain.
#4: It’s Missing the Whole Point
This is your home we’re talking about. The place where you eat, sleep, dream and plan. The place where you relax and prepare for the week ahead.
Your home is not there for other people. It’s there for you.
The point is not to have a clutter free home but a launch pad for your dreams.
If your goal is to start a home baking business, that might include 20 baking sheets. Does the average person need 20 baking sheets? Probably not. If you read some experts opinion of how to have less clutter, it probably wouldn’t include 20 baking sheets.
So when you focus solely on the stuff, you miss the whole point. When you focus on the dream, you may realize that it’s not actually clutter to you, because it helps you get one step closer to your dream.
Before you declutter your home, take a moment to dream about what you want to do with it. Would you start a business, invite friends over or build epic pillow forts with your kids?
Determining where you want to go can help you figure out how to get there.
Wouldn’t it be bananas if you were planning a trip to Toledo and someone gave you a map to Minneapolis? I’m sure they’re both great places, but one map is completely useless to you.
The same goes for decluttering. You don’t need another decluttering method that tells you exactly how many spoons, shirts and pillows you need.
Because they’re not you and they don’t live in your house with your family.
Instead of setting the goal as a clutter free home, what if you set the goal for a home that sets the stage for your dreams? Can you just imagine all the cool things you could do if clutter wasn’t getting in the way?
And from this place, we start to remove the things that are getting in the way.