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Space Invaders: Beating A Common Household Phenomenon

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

It seems everyone these days wants to start out with or upgrade to a huge McMansion. Granted they are ABSOLUTELY AMAZING, but most of us grew up in Levitt capes and turned out just fine. And, with families, much larger than many of us are having now.

But, the added space and luxury could make life much “easier”. My personal favorite is the additional kitchen counter space. Still, to quote my mom and several seasoned professionals, a nice home only remains nice if you are good at maintaining it.

In fact, I can vividly recall several families who were quite frequently complimented on their style and finesse albeit in their quaint but classic brownstone apartments.

The problem note the pros, at least for most, is not necessarily or always limited space, but a lack of space due to lack of organization and strategic placement and design. In fact, they cite clutter as a key culprit in most of our homes, and the reason for much of our frustration. In fact, they suggest that literally millions are drowning in clutter.

The experts add that homes are full of “stuff”, often times stuff we don’t need, use or even know we have. And, many times, it’s not even that we have the stuff, it’s that we don’t know how to properly store it. Add to that the fact that we’ve been conditioned to believe that stuff brings us happiness and that the more stuff we have the happier we’ll be and we literally have a recipe for domestic disaster.

On the other hand, a minimalist approach may not be the answer either. In fact it may venture off into the opposite extreme. Unless your home doubles as a showroom of office, having too few accoutrements and embellishments may make it feel cold and harsh rather than warm and welcoming.

Still, specialists suggest that cramped quarters and clutter rob you of real joy and blessings, taking your focus off what is really important in your life and home. And they add that often times, it’s not just about not knowing how to organize or what to get rid of, but perhaps partly some internal and personal disarray that’s taken over.

While traditionally a unkempt exterior/lawn was a fairly accurate sign of the potential “turmoil” that festered within, professionals point out that with two incomes and reasonably priced pros to take care of the outside, many a well-manicured lawn/home, are hiding some serious internal “disaster”.

Most folks they note place things in arbitrary places, planning on “officially” putting them away at a later date, but more likely than not, never getting around to it. Kids shoes are piled in a corner. Coats are tossed on the floor or hung over chairs, toys and books are in every room and on the floor, remotes, left on the couch, mail on the kitchen table, and before you know it, you’ve lost control, your home, and sight of all the space you thought you had. Even cabinets and closets are oozing with stuff and family members simply “cram” and “shove” things in without a storage strategy.

Experts suggest finding a home for everything and cluing ALL members of the family in. They also suggest placing things NEATLY in their designated space. For instance, cereal boxes do not belong piles on top to the refrigerator (in fact, NOTHING belongs on top of the fridge unless its flowers or some other decorative item), they belong in a cupboard lines up neatly next to each other and that’s where they should be placed once they are used. You can even invest in home furnishings that double as storage spaces to give you even more storage options.

Another “secret” is getting rid of things you don’t need. Scuffed, old shoes, faded clothing, garments with stains or tears, unless you don’t have others, or plan on using them to complete a specific project should be discarded. So should things that no longer fit (unless they have significant sentimental value) and things that you haven’t used or needed in a year. In fact, experts suggest that unless you are adding to a certain ensemble, you should get rid of one piece of clothing each time you purchase something new to replace it with.

Experts even go as far as suggesting that a clutter home, clutters your mind and takes your focus OFF your relationship. And, they add that clutter in your bedroom can damage your sex life. In fact, it is an “accepted philosophy” they say, that the bedroom should “provoke” intimacy by being a place of peace not chaos and that means keeping it cozy and clean.

Ideally it should not feature a TV because they only serve as distractions to intimacy. But, what they should feature is a clutter-free environment with plush sheets, a comfy comforter, mood lighting (perhaps via a dimmer switch) and an organized space from your floor to your chair, closets and drawers, it should all be pristine and “provocative” and it should fit your image for rest, relaxation, escape and intimacy.

And, they add; if you have kids, get them involved too. After all, it’s never too soon to teach them about pitching in or about being the benefits of being tidy (including knowing where to look for and find your keys when you need them).

Involve kids by engaging them in a “game” of cleanup and offer them some sort of reward for a job well done. Perhaps even devise a contest between siblings. But remember, kids learn by example, so if you want your kids to behave a certain way, YOU will have to be the first to teach them by leading the way.

As far as the garage is concerned, you may have a little more leeway here. After all it’s hard to keep it free and clear of the elements. Experts suggest using it for storing garden equipment, trashcans, even shoes (before entering the home). But, they also recommend storing items neatly on shelves and/or stacked neatly in corners.

However, once you get you home in the shape you want, you’ll have to make a consistent effort to keep at that way, which by the way is an excellent way to keep you and your family in shape.

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