And now for a post on the lighter side.  A ubiquitous New Year’s resolution is to clean up one’s act.  Clear out some of that clutter that has accumulated over the year in closets, garage, and in-boxes.  You know what I’m talking about – all that stuff that teeters on the brink of collapse when you open the closet door to put away the holiday decorations.  Time to simplify your life and lighten your load! 

Although I’ve sworn off New Year’s resolutions and long term plans the urge to purge speaks to me. Clearly there is no room for clutter when you live in a 26-ft trailer with 4 other people, 2 dogs and a cat, and those exact variables are the reason why clutter plagues me. 

Christmas was a delightful haul for the children and an increase in the clutter bane for me.  Each child was presented with a trash bag before gifts were opened and wrapping and boxes were summarily dealt with but that still left all the presents.  My son got Legos.  Lots and lots of Legos. My youngest daughter got Barbies.  Need I say more?

We have minimal interior storage space and in our 4 months at the RV Park we’ve managed to accumulate several large Tupperware style tubs worth of junk/ebay items which are stored under the trailer along with the kids’ skates and scooter.   Having anticipated the additional stuff of Christmas I had mandated a clean out of cubbies and drawers of all old and unwanted toys and outworn clothes the week before but kids being natural hoarders, the clear out didn’t equal the increase.  Even after moving out a foot of books the small bookshelf is overflowing, and the kids’ canvas cubby boxes are full. 

We have one closet for 5 people, located in our small bathroom.  It measures approximately 55-inches high, 40-inches wide and 22-inches deep.  It has a rod at the top from which to hang clothes.  It contains my hanging clothing, two of my daughters’ entire wardrobes, towels, a tub of personal stuff (soap, shampoo, etc) that won’t fit in the tiny medical cabinet, the hair dryer, iron, and guitar.  I’ve tried a number of clutter reducing measures inside this space without finding the superior solution.  These include a hanging canvas organizer, 2 large plastic drawers, and a wire cubby/shelf unit.  Regardless of the method it wasn’t long before the socks and hair dryers and towels started oozing out of their confinement!  

And I think I’ve mentioned before that our bathtub is generally not available for bathing!  It’s usually full of bags of laundry or recycling- both of which accumulate faster than I’m willing to deal with them. 

Our lack of space doesn’t just challenge us and limit my ability to take advantage of all those buy one get one free stock up deals at the grocery store – it stymies the efforts of folks who would like to help us through donations.  Recently a kindly person dropped off 3 trash bags full of out-grown children’s clothing, thinking it would benefit us and we also received a holiday ‘basket’ (large box) full of canned food.  95% of the clothing went to the thrift shop and most of the canned food was dropped off at the homeless shelter!  Sorry folks- we are FULL!

One of my recent home improvement projects dealt with the clutter issue.  For Christmas a friend sent us a “RV Counter-Extension” which, when affixed to the edge of the sink would provide 12-inches of counter space.  I was very excited to receive this as we have no counter at all currently which means dirty dishes sit in the sink and normal appliances like coffee makers and toasters have no place at all.  It took awhile to get this counter extension out of the box because I had to buy an electric drill (on sale at Target over the holidays).  My old electric drill vanished with our renter.  But finally with the drill in hand I approached the project this week.  It didn’t take long to realize that this was one of those home improvement projects that would lead to additional projects.  The surface to which the counter extension was to be affixed turned out to be a very thin piece of plywood and the extension was solid oak!  The solid oak won, pulling the side away from the sink!  It’s back in the box until I figure out how to successfully strengthen the side (currently duct taped back in place)- mind you this area is not particularly accessible since it’s behind the few small kitchen drawers. 

I know the clutter experts are convinced everyone can conquer this demon.  We need to be willing to let go of things, we need to face the psychological issues that mire us in stuff, “You can not always control life, but you can control your clutter!” they say.   According to an article in the Denver Post:

‘Getting organized may have more to do with psychology than piles of possessions, according to professional organizers and the people who hire them. From low self-esteem and an inability to make decisions, psychology shapes a person’s relationship to his or her space and stuff. So the key to more organized lives may lie within the gray matter of the mind.”

Well, that may be true for all of the folks in their 4-bedroom houses with 3-car garages.  But seriously, I think the only answer to our clutter problem lies not in the gray matter of my mind but in – more space!