How to Declutter

“Clutter? Let me have a crack at it!”

When I was a kid, we lived in clutter. Very happily. It had to be cluttered. We were a family of seven in a three-bedroom bungalow with all the stuff of growing up – Big Wheels, baseball bats, bikes, skateboards, surfboards and hundreds of books, games, teddy bears and toys. We didn’t notice the clutter at all. A game of basketball? The living room could turn into our court. Baseball? We tried it once in the living room and smashed a window. We declared it a homerun – and then fretted over what Dad would say.

I can’t remember the repercussions. They probably weren’t bad. My parents were pretty lax. I guess they had to be with five children.

My Dad preferred going on holiday over home improvement or even home repair for that matter. So while the house deteriorated, we darted off for holidays to Baja California, Big Sur, Colorado, Mammoth Mountain, Sequoia and Yosemite, and on weekends to Mount Badly, Table Top Mountain and Strawberry Peak near L.A., where we grew up.

We loved it and we brought more stuff home and the house filled and what wasn’t in use went into the attic, the closets and the garage. The rafters in the garage soon were spilling over with stuff now years old and forgotten. This proved advantageous on Halloween. Enter Mum or Dad’s closet and emerge as a dandy, gangster, ghost, hippy, pirate or a witch.

Something similar is happening in our closets here in Argentina. In it goes and there it stays until an exceptional day.

I guess this is one of those days. My wife has decided to attack a kitchen cupboard. She took out all the notebooks, pens, paper and odd toys and piled them on the kitchen table. Ahh! I thought, the clutter! I tried to help but she had a plan on what to do: put this there and that there and it would be a clean and organized cupboard.

My solution would be to try her approach for a few minutes and then when it became overwhelming I would follow the reclutter method. That is, to stuff it all back in and shut the door. Out of sight, out of mind.

Well, yeah… that’s not going to cut it. Is it?

My daughter wants to have a crack at helping out. She’s emerged from our closets as a witch for Halloween – and with a spell for decluttering:

Be gone mess
With a wave of my magic wand
Be less
And no longer at hand.


We watched the pile. For my witch, it was gone and her business was done. She moved on to try her spells on the piles in the living room. And we started moving the piles still ominously cluttering the kitchen table to the countertop to make room for lunch. The only solution, really, is a big trash bag. Or a very deep witch’s hat. I’ll ask my witch.

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