Feeling Overwhelmed by Life

Updated on November 20, 2012
J.C. asks from Blacksburg, VA
32 answers

I don't even have time to be asking this, but I am at wit's end so I thought I'd see if anyone had good advice. I think my main problem is that my house is a MESS. This is an ongoing problem - not a new thing - but it seems that it has gradually gotten worse, and I've had to tell my daughter a few times in the past few weeks that she can't invite someone over because the house is just too messy. I feel like a slob - why is it always so messy?? - but I WANT it to be clean. I think maybe I don't know how to be clean. The saying "a place for everything?" Well, I don't have a place for everything. I have a pile of stuff that I need to deal with - bills, coupons, magazines to read, catalogues I may order from, etc., a pile I need my husband to deal with, toys everywhere that have overflowed the storage we have, art supplies, shoes that don't fit in the bins (we bought bins for shoes this summer, and now our winter shoes are bulkier and don't fit), uneaten halloween candy, and the list goes on. Stuff is just everywhere. I am getting so stressed about it. I clean, but I just move things from one place to another so it's never really clean/organized.

On top of the mess, we are hosting 2 dinner parties this weekend. So, of course the mess is more of a problem. But I haven't even gone grocery shopping yet. And I don't even know what to serve!! I am so disorganized. My kids are young and are both at very demanding stages, and I feel like I'm just being pulled in too many directions. We've all been sick, which has added to the problem because I haven't had the energy to do things.

I am feeling overwhelmed like I would rather crawl into bed and not come out until the weekend is over. But I can't do that, so does anyone have any advice for me? Thanks!!

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answers from Dallas on

Pick a room (i suggest the dining room first then the living room since you are hosting dinner parties this weekend) and organize that room without even looking at other rooms until that one is done. Throw away or donate anything you dont NEED to have in that room. I will be doing this same thing this weekend as my house has become a huge mess as well. I do it about once a year and its the only way i can do it without feeling overwhelmed by the clutter.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Hi, Mama;

Sounds like you need help in learning how to delegate, say no,
and take a vacation.

You are not required to do all this work.

Let someone else do it.

Good luck.



answers from Boston on

Another vote for flylady.net...go there now! Here is the crisis cleaning to get you through the weekend. You can start the rest of the baby steps after:


Good luck!

More Answers



answers from St. Louis on

go thru each room with a trash bag. Eliminate all but the necessary living items. Put the bags into your car.

Once the dinner parties are over, take one bag at a time & go thru it. You will be amazed at how much you can let go....once you've eliminated the feelings of attachment & guilt. You will find yourself asking "why" did I think I needed this?

Once you get your emotional attachments disconnected over the piles of stashed items, keeping the house clean will be much easier. :)

& as for those shoes: forget the bins & keep those shoes in the closets or under beds. Those bins are just one more item left out for all to see!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Cincinnati on

First, you take the night off by having your husband watch the kids and you don't cook since you are preparing for dinner parties. Clean on Friday night the kitchen and living room. Well what you can in the living room knowing that toys probably will be an issue. When this is done and you still have time, prep some of the food for the weekend. Do bathrooms the day of the event so they will be the cleanest. Hell, if all fails throw everything into a bedroom and shut the door. You could take everything out of the room and then move everything back in but find places for it.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I like Sue H's suggestion.

Really, given your short time frame, you should just relocate everything, and promise to deal with it after your dinner parties.

As for dinner parties-
baked ziti, italian bread, salad, zucchini and brownies.
bruschetta, sausage and peppers, rice, salad and choc chip cookies
chilli, salad, corn bread, and ice cream
salmon bake, broccoli, rice, salad and pound cake with cream and strawberries.

Get some sleep, get some rest, get peapod to deliver your groceries.

When you are well and the parties are behind you do the following:
1. go through that removed clutter pile with an eye towards discarding most if not all of it. If you really needed it, you would have gone fishing for it.
2. declutter your hot spots (those places where clutter accumulates).
3. set up an everything in its place schedule. i.e. any toy not in the toybox by dinner, by bed time, before we leave the house gets put in quarantine.
4. abide by the everything in its place schedule.
5. declutter one room at a time.
6. further wean the keep pile by 50-75%.
7. be on the lookout for multiples. ( do you really need 12 oven mits)?
8. promise yourself you'll do one "extra" cleaning job a day, for at least 15 minutes, or until the job is done, whichever comes first.
9. set up an even exchange rule to prevent more stuff from accumulating. If you have 15 magazines in the house, 2 have to be recycled before 2 more come through the door.
10. reclaim your vertical and horizontal surfaces. declutter cork boards, walls, shelves, mantles, coffee tables, the back of the sofa, the shoe caddy etc.
11. A glass of wine can really improve your elbow grease.
12. you can do it.

good luck to you and yours,
F. B.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Here are a couple of suggestions for you. I'm numbering them because I really recommend doing them in a certain order.

1. Forgive yourself. You let your house get messy because you were busy being wonderful in other ways. You decided it was more important to have happy, fulfilled children than a spotless house. And you were right.

2. Now that you've forgiven yourself, get someone to take your kids out of the house (can your husband/partner do so this evening, for example?) and go on a crazy, mad cleaning binge. Your job is not to make the surfaces shine, it's to get rid of the things you don't need. For this, you need four categories: Things to keep, things to give away, recycling, and garbage. Then, put on music -- the kind you use to work out to, not contemplative singer-songwriter stuff -- set a timer, and see how many things you can get out of your life in, say, 2 hours. The fuller the give-away, recycling, and garbage bins get, the more points you get. Bills, you need. Aging magazines and cataogues you do not need. Old Halloween candy? Do the dentist a favor. Kids' shoes from last summer? Won't fit next summer, so into the give-away bin they go. I've done this, and if I pick the right music, it really is fun.

3. Then, do cleaning as a separate process from straightening. I'd ordinarily recommend hiring a cleaning service, but it sounds like you won't have time. Just use hot water and decent cleaning supplies. Don't worry about dusting every little shelf. You really want the floors mopped, major tables and counters scrubbed down, toilet and bathroom sink clean. Your guests won't be poking into your closets and taking showers at your house, so don't worry about those spaces for now.

4. And then, you'll have a cleaner house than you've had in so, so long. That will clear your head enough to plan a menu. And, by the way, pick one or two dishes you really love to cook. Ask someone else to bring dessert, salad, etc. Take shortcuts (e.g., rotisserie chicken) on the rest. And, if all else fails, candlelight. Really, they won't notice mess and dirt when it's too dark to see ;)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My suggestion is if you don't have time to organize everything figure out what you can hide. I know that sounds bad but when someone is coming over to our house to visit or to fix something I hide stuff that I can in my room and keep that door shut. There are only certain people allowed to see my room at any time as it is. If you have piles move them to your room and clean the other stuff that you can clean. You may have to tell your husband he has to help you!

Good luck and God Bless!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Baton Rouge on

Flylady is way too intense for me. I get tired just reading her system.

Take one room at a time. Get a garbage can and a big box.
Anything that is trash goes into the garbage can. Anything that is out of place but belongs in that room gets put away. Anything that belongs in another room goes in the box.

Go to the next room and do the same thing. When the garbage can is full, take it to the curb, replace the bag, and keep going.
When the box is full, close it, put it in a corner out of the way, get another box, and keep going.

This way, you have clear space to work in, and you don't have to see the pile of stuff all over the room. It's much less intimidating when it's contained in a box and you can pull out one item at a time and deal with it.
Once you have done every room, take out one box and put every item in it away. Then do the same with the next box until there are no more boxes.

As for dinner, make it easy on yourself. Pasta and sauce with a salad and garlic bread, a nice wine, a bakery cheesecake for dessert.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Take a deep breath, mama.

I think you need to visit www.flylady.net.

She has instructions for "crisis cleaning" as well as instructions on how to get your house in order on a regular basis.

Put on some music. Get a timer. Take 15 minutes and tackle something. Have your children "help" by giving them small chores to do. You'll feel a lot better!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

I am a big fan of lists.

When I am overwhelmed, part of it is that I don't even know where to start because there feels like there is so much to do. When you make a list, you get it out of your head, can see it on paper and have a better chance of prioritizing. You can only do one thing at a time, so pick the most important thing and start there.

For the dinner party... you're probably not going to get your house in tip top shape by this weekend, so create the illusion that it is. Put stuff in an extra room or garage if you have one and deal with that later. Put your mail and magazines in a box and stick them in a closet until you can go through them.

After the weekend is over do look at what you need and really want to keep (and you have a place for), what you want to throw away and what you want to donate. Start with one area or room at a time. See if your husband or a family member or friend can take the kids for a few hours when you are organizing something like a closet, because getting that in order mean making a big mess and putting it all back together again. Having to stop and start is frustrating. Be willing to get rid of things.

And take it easy on yourself. My thoughts about having a sparkling house changed when I had kids. Because of my work I have to keep it tidy and in some sort of order, but if you want to look for it, you'll find dust on things and unorganized closets. I'd rather spend time with my kids while they are young than worry about my house, and there's only so much you can do in a day.

good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I wish we lived closer....I would come help you. Do you have any friends or family you can call to come help?

I had to make a decision a long time ago that I needed to be more tidy and get rid a lot of the clutter, and most importantly to stop buying stuff we didn't need that would just add to the clutter. This has helped a ton!

For now, I say focus your attention only on the rooms where your guests will be and use the other rooms (like your bedroom maybe?) as a holding space for all the clutter you move out of the other rooms! Do you have any empty laundry baskets? Fill them with all the piles you have and put them in your room and lock the door :) and after your weekend is over you and hubby can go through them together.

~I had to relax a bit when it came to how clean I try to get my house when I am having friends over...I tended to stress myself out and want to make everything perfect...but my sister finally just told me, "If your company is going to be looking around and judging you for everything, their opinions don't matter in the end" and she was absolutely correct! So do a quick clean up. Do all dishes, wipe down kitchen counters, clean the guest bathroom and vacuum and clean up the living room. Mop the kitchen floor and you should be good.

Crank up the music and go for it! When you start to feel overwhelmed and like you can't get it finished just think about how good you are going to feel when you wake up in the morning and the house is finally picked up?!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

No one expects your house to be clean, Mama, you've got little kids! You do what you can, and try not to sweat the rest. My house has pretty much looked like that or worse ever since my oldest was born, and with a newborn on the way in two weeks, I can't see an end in sight.

Do you have enough stuff for a garage sale? I love garage sales, I hate junk around my house. It's a good way to get rid of the junk, and with the extra cash, you can buy new storage solutions to organize your stuff.

As far as the dinner party, I like buffet-style for the kids. Easy like mexican night. Serve quacamole, queso, tortilla chips, taco meat, warm tortillas, sour cream, cheese, salsa, refried beans, mexican rice. Put it all out buffet style. With margaritas!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

It's time to start throwing stuff away. I'm serious. Part of the reason houses get out of control is because we hold on to things, so next week, pick a room, and start dumping. Aim to clear about 25% of what you have, including furniture and toys. The less surfaces you have, the less there is to dust. We got rid of three pieces of furniture recently, and man does it open up my house! Also, when you get your mail, take care of all of it right then and there! Flip through the magazine, if there is something worth reading, put it by your bed, otherwise, recycle it. Aim to only touch things once.

But mostly, you need to baby step it. Do 15 minutes every morning and night. Start in one room and work your way around the house.

Flylady.com and purge. I've been purging for the last three months (two little ones and pregnant, who has time!).....but I am close. I have a few rooms left, and man does my house look better.

As to your dinner parties, we are having one tomorrow: roast chicken with pasta with a crab sauce. Salad and bread, cheese and crackers. Simple and yummy. I have pies in my freezer. All I am making tomorrow is pasta.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

your house sounds like mine. My husband says it looks fine and its not messy but all I see are the piles of sh*t. I have piles everyone needs to deal with, the art drawer is a mess and the cabinet doesnt fully close all the way and im terrified to open it. The ball corner and toybox that the balls go in have been occupied by toys that have made their way downstairs and that is my kids method of cleaning up. I just want to move so i am forced to go through everything! I make the piles bigger than they really are and when i look around that is what i focus on. But when I go to other peoples houses I see the same stuff and it doesnt bother me and I dont thing any lower of them. Im trying to breathe (although this post has my heart racing about all the things I want to get clean) I guess all we can do is stop, realize that those are piles of life, and we move on. Im just going to try to make sure the dishes are done and the toilets are clean.

Love that Jo W that is a awesome idea

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

Pick a room and clean it. Throw out the halloween candy, newspapers, & requests for money. It always feels good to just take a load out to the trash. If your kids draw a lot, pick a favorite from each of them and throw the rest out. If you were going to scrapbook these things, you would have already done it. At this point, realize it wont get done and toss it. There will be more, trust me! Bag up the stuff that doesn't fit the kids, as I am sure there are a lot.

If I have too many stuffed animals, I wait until she is at school or not around and start picking keepers and toss the rest. There are so many, she has never noticed.

Soon you will be on the road to a clean room!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

trash everything you dont need

coupons you'll never actually use trash--ones you keep in some organizer thingy

toys that are broken- trash

junk mail- trash
uneaten candy- that you dont want- trash

honestly the junk i have is ussually stuff my daughter made and every once in a while i go through and trash everything i dont need
find a new place you're happy with to store shoes..get a behind the couch kinda table and put a long table cloth on it, put it in the entry way and throw shoes under there?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on


My guess is that you are a perfectionist. You like things done a certain way and if you don't have time to do it that way you set it aside thinking you will do it later when you do have time to do it "the proper way." I would also guess that it is hard for you to get rid of things. Maybe you save the magazines afraid that you may have missed an article you would want.

If this is you then I would advise you to start purging and force yourself to get dump any magazine more than a month old.WHETHER YOU HAVE READ IT OR NOT! I would say to let go of cleaning perfectly. Just do an okay job. Allow yourself to do a job without having to do it perfectly. From now on limit yourself to one dinner party per month! However if this is a real issue for you then you may need a little counseling to work through it. Or find yourself a personal coach.

Also, hire someone to put up shelves in the garage and label them. That way you can put stuff out there you absolutely can't part with. But don't worry about saving things you "might" need. Purge! The sooner you get it clean around you the sooner your brain will feel less cluttered.

Now pat yourself on the back because you have a lot on your plate. It's no easy task organizing a family. You were brave enough to admit your troubles on mamapedia which says you are an honest person who is probably ready to really work on this issue.

Best of Luck.
And if I described you incorrectly........ never mind!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

If you have some kind of closet or extra space or storage room, just stick everything in there. Have only ONE space/closet, that you can dump things in. For now.
THEN, make time, and actually schedule it into your calendar, and on THAT day, spend time on sorting and throwing away things in that closet. And categorize things. And based on the category, THAT is where you put it away.

Or, if there is room in your garage, using big bins & shelving, label them with the "category" it is. Then put things in its correct place. And tell the WHOLE family, what the organization is, so that THEY can put things away, TOO.

For now, being you have 2 parties this weekend, just stick all your "mess" in one closet or place that cannot be seen. THEN on your scheduled day that you decide yourself, CLEAN out and sort and throw things away.
For example, there is no reason uneaten Halloween candy, should be still laying around. Throw.it.away.

There needs to be a place for everything. Categorize things. And then put the stuff there.

And cleaning/vacuuming/mopping/sweeping/dusting, is on ongoing regular daily, thing. And putting away things... SHOULD be something that your Husband AND kids, do too. Not only you.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I wish I lived nearby, I'd be over in a flash!
I LOVE to organize, it's very relaxing and theraputic for me.
Step one: THROW AWAY/RECYCLE the magazines, coupons and catalogs. Seriously, if you haven't read or used them by now they are just garbage.
Throw away the candy as well. Yes, yes, I know it seems like a "waste" because it cost money but it can either rot in your gut or rot in the dump, choose the dump!
If the toys no longer fit in the toy bins it's time to get rid of some of the toys. This is ESPECIALLY important now with the holidays coming up. Some people like to have their kids help with this but I find it easier to do alone. I get rid of everything that I know won't be missed, and if it is missed? I just play dumb. Gee honey, I don't know WHERE that green bear went?
All of this will take some time.
Keep your dinners simple this weekend (one pot things are ideal, with a salad and bread.) Throw away as much as you can and bag up the rest to deal with next week.
If you change your habits going forward it will get easier.
Don't save catalogs, toss them immediately, and if you clip coupons put them IN YOUR PURSE, so they actually get used.
Anytime you buy anything, a new toy, pair of shoes, a jacket, get rid of the same amount. You can consign or give to a good cause, or toss it. This is just basic math, if you keep adding without ever subtracting things WILL pile up!
Most important: take baby steps. Make small accomplishments each day and it won't feel so overwhelming.
Hang in there, you CAN be the master of your clutter, I promise! It's just a habit that takes some practice, and it's SO worth it in the end :-)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I grew up in a house like this and it was hard to undo.

This site helped me immensely. It is free. It is a clear plan with helpful reminders of what to do- and i like the philosophy- in 15 minutes a day...
Again, there is no gimmick (surprisingly- I couldn't have afforded a gimmick/) it was also nice to know I was not the only one..


First, you join as a FlyBaby. You will receive your e-mail “Welcome Letter” from FlyLady instructing you on how to get started. You will also receive regular e-mail reminders from FlyLady about zones, decluttering, laundry, shoes (honestly, shoes are very important here!) and more. Don’t feel overwhelmed! FlyLady will keep you on track using small baby steps. And FlyBabies — no peeking at all of the routines, etc., shown on the FlyLady website. You are just getting started!

Now, as you progress, Flylady will send you e-mails to help you develop routines to get you going in the morning and to send you off to sleep in the evening. She’s tough here —routines are very important! It takes 21 days to form a habit, but for SHEs, it takes 28 days. FlyLady is going to insist you shine your sink, too — you’ll soon find out why!

Decluttering is next. FlyLady will help you declutter your house using Hot Spot Fire Drills and the 27-Fling Boogie. If the thought of decluttering your home is overwhelming, don’t worry — Flylady has been there and knows what you are going through! In fact, FlyLady still has her own “dungeon” of clutter she is working on!

It doesn’t matter whether you are a man or a woman, single or married, working in or out of the home, have kids or not — this can work for you. You can easily adapt FlyLady’s system to fit your own lifestyle. You will find that, with time, your house and life will pull together.

“My prayer for all my fellow SHEs is that each finds happiness and pride in ourselves and our accomplishments. That we raise our children to be good, productive, and happy people. And that we light up a room with our smile.” – FlyLady

Getting dressed to shoes – FlyLady believes that you feel and act differently when you are completely dressed with shoes on your feet, even if you’re not leaving the house. It makes you feel ready to go! Read FlyLady’s essay about why you should get dressed to shoes every day.
BabySteps – As FlyLady says, “Your home did not get dirty in one day, and it will not get clean in a day either.”
Declutter 15 minutes a day – FlyLady’s principle is that anyone can do anything for 15 minutes. Just set a timer and declutter something for 15 minutes, and then stop when the timer goes off!
Take regular breaks – Cleaning doesn’t need to be a marathon! Take 15-minute breaks after a round of decluttering to rest your mind, calm yourself, and plan what you want to do next.
FlyLady’s 11 commandments – FlyLady’s commandments that will help you begin to FLY.



answers from Chicago on

Where are you hiding the cameras? No, seriously. This is my life right now.

Take a deep breath, and let it out slowly. Repeat this three times.

Say to yourself, "I am a great Mom and Wife. This will work itself out in it's proper time if I remain calm."

Take one room, and one container at a time, go through it.

Do you need it now? Set it in one pile. Do I need it in a month? Pile two. Do I need it in six months to a year? Pile three. I am NEVER going to use this. Pile four. Pile four will be put into a box to either toss into a recycle bin or donate.

Leftover Halloween candy. If it's wrapped candies, and you guys are NOT going to eat it, take it to the nearest shelter or food pantry and donate it.

Shoes. I got a small coated metal shelf unit at Sam's Club. I put current boots on top shelf, and school shoes on the bottom shelf. Summer shoes went into the bins that are in the closet.

Toys. Ultimatum time. Give them "10 second tidy" bins(aka clear 30 gallon totes). Keep toys you are playing with this week in this bin, or you lose them for x time(mine loses it one day for each time he fails to pick up)--and stick with it! I started this with my son when he was five. I laugh right now because after he gets done with homework and dinner, I get to hand him the bin to make him pick up his mess. These can be tucked into a corner when company comes or playtime is over.
I make my son pick up his messes 2 hours before bedtime(6pm). I also have a treasure chest with goodies in it(cheap animals from the dollar store, cheap beads, etc.) reward for good routine.

Catalogues. They have cheap woven baskets at Wal-mart. Get one magazine sized, and keep only the most recent ones. The rest go into recycling.
Ditto for coupons. Coupons are only good if you use them before they expire, so make one day of the week coupon clipping day,k and spend an hour with the family clipping and sorting them, then have a muffin and juice as a treat when they are done. My Mother did it after Church on Sunday, and we did this for years.
Art supplies. I'm an artist, so this is a topic I both know and dread. Get a clear tote for the art supplies, and ziploc bags. Place pencils in one, crayons in one(I have a crayon maker, so I have a bin for the rubbish crayons because we recycle those into new ones when the weather is cool or rainy), pens and markers in one. Stickers, glue sticks and glitter into one...The crafting foams and construction papers fit into a 2 gallon ziploc bag nicely. Place into bin when organized. This is another great kid project that can have a muffin reward afterwards.

Husband(I don't have this one, but this is what I'd do for mine)? March into that room and get your stuff organised. Give him his favourite snack or rent a movie of his choice(take the kids out to the library for a book) when he's done.

Hope this helps...It reminds me of what I get to do once this head cold leaves me alone for a bit.



answers from San Francisco on

No advice, just understand how you feel. I could have written your question. Love all the great answers.


answers from Huntington on

It looks like a lot of people have suggested throwing things away, and I am going to agree. I think it is hard, especially with Pinterest and Facebook and all the magazine articles and whatnot showing you "Look! If you clip coupons, you can get a month's worth of groceries for $46.97!" "Hey! Don't chuck your milk jugs! You can make a sweet stormtrooper helmet out of them!" "It only costs 36 cents to make this darling headband, and you can have one in every color of the rainbow!" etc etc etc. Honestly, you get sucked in and it is just a hop skip and a jump to Hoarderville. I have seen it. My mom, bless her, is very creative and crafty, but HO-LY-COW, she got to the point where she was visiting the thrift store 3+ times a week because everything was so cheap and you could possibly make something so very darling out of it. And she would, but she also ended up with a 6 bedroom home chuck full of STUFF. She has now decided she has become too attached to "stuff" and is clearing it all out, selling her house and getting a condo!
Ok, I went off a bit on a personal tangent there. But really, I have felt soooo much better clearing out all the stuff "for projects I may complete some day". Giant box of cut up fabric squares for quilting one day? I hate sewing! Various lightswitch plates from a remodeling project 5 years ago? Um, if I ever need a lightswitch plate again, they are like a buck each, I can buy a new one. Basically, I would just look and see: What have I not used in the last year? If you havent used it, it needs to go. Do one section a day and expect it will take a few months. One section might be 1 cupboard or 1 room. It's ok! Clear out the junk and the to do projects. In the meantime, do not add to the junk. Try not to buy anything else. Open your mail over the shredder or recycling bin so you have less to look over later. Also I would just surface clean until after your dinner parties- now is not the time to start sorting closets. Good luck!



answers from San Francisco on

Just take it one step/task at a time. Don't think about the totality of what you need to get done, because that is overwhelming and will make you want to crawl into bed.

Just think about the one task at hand. When that's done, move to the next. You will be surprised how quickly things can/will get done.

Also, ask your daughter to help. I'm sure she had a hand in the "messing" so she should have a hand in the "cleaning."

Take those piles and just put them in a storage bin for now to get them out of the way for the parties. Go through them while you're sitting around watching tv at a relaxed pace.

Good luck! You can do this!



answers from Los Angeles on

You know what I do when I feel like this? And it feels soooo good? Purge everything! If your stuff is overtaking your house, get rid of the stuff.

I get a trash bag and start trashing stuff. I ask, "Do I need it? Will it be missed?" If no to one or both, I trash it. In respect to my family, I alert my family to the trash bags outside and they can reclaim any stuff before trash pickup.

For the other stuff: Husband's stuff goes on the floor by his side of the bed; toys in trash bag or box outside; half of art supplies in trash; unfit shoes in trash; candy in trash; trash, trash, trash.

People will complain that I'm not donating the stuff, but I live in a city with street scavengers, so the stuff finds a new home quickly. Otherwise, the task of sorting between trash and donate can be overwhelming, so in times of anxiety I just trash it all.



answers from Salinas on

Start throwing stuff away right now. Honestly, a lot of the stuff you listed I would just toss. Magazines you want to read, how long have you been hanging on to them, Halloween candy to the trash or freezer. Catalogs? don't they have websites you can visit?

Get a few big boxes, throw everything you think you might want into the boxes and put them in the garage. Enjoy your weekend and the upcoming holiday and then in a few weeks ask yourself if you really need any of that stuff. The answer is probably no and now it's boxed and ready for the trash or to donate. Be ruthless, it seems to me you may be holding onto a lot of stuff you are being dragged down by. Every time you look at those piles you feel bad about yourself. Is it worth the possibility you might read a magazine or use a coupon sometime in the future to keep things that are making you feel bad?

Less is more, clutter is toxic. I am NOT a neat freak but I have a very open and clutter free house. There is a place for papers, bills and coupons, on your desk. If there are so many you cannot neatly fit them in or on your desk area you have too many.

Put 1/2 the kids toys into boxes and store, in a few months box up the other 1/2 and switch them. Each time you do this throw away anything that is broken or missing pieces and put anything your children have outgrown into a donate or "curb" box.

Just keep chipping away in little bits, set a timer for 20 minutes and see how much you can do, get your family to help. Even little kids can put stuff in a box. When mine were small we put a rope handle on a big cardboard box and they picked up all their toys by dragging it around. Then to the armoire or their room it would go. Finally, have a place in your living room for toys and books to be kept out of sight. We used the bottom 1/2 of a huge armoire. Throw everything in a few baskets close the doors and it's out of sight but the kids can easily get to stuff they want.

You can do it!



answers from Richmond on

First of all, take a deep breath and give yourself some grace. Now, get out a pen and paper and write a DETAILED list of the things you need to accomplish i.e. sort shoes, put away shoes, sort toys, put away toys, recycle magazines...etc. Do not create large, lump categories such as "deal with shoes." That is defeating b/c it seems like such a huge project. Break every task down into the smallest parts you can think of. That way, the jobs will feel smaller, you can convince yourself to devote 15 minutes to a small project and you will be able to mark things off of your list quicker (and feel satisfied and accomplished when you do). Brainstorm as much as you can and include it all! Then go back through the list and assign each project a # based on priority. Hosting 2 dinners this week? "Plan meal for dinner party #1" will probably be priority #1. Find time to hit www.foodnetwork.com or www.cooks.com and figure out a meal. Specifically look for make ahead and/or easy but delicious dinners. Mix and match home cooked items with premade items from Costco or your grocery store. People will forgive a lot if you feed them well but don't make yourself nuts trying to cook everything! After that is done, make a list for the store (making a grocery list should be on your master list too). Also, look at your master list and see if there is anything at all that you can delegate to the kids, to your hubby, to anyone else to get it off of your plate!!! If you can afford it, maybe you can pay for a 1 time cleaning by Merry Maids or similar. Or send your laundry out for fluff and fold this week. If not, then do the best you can. Go through the toys and weed out broken or unused toys. Donate to Goodwill. The same goes for shoes, clothes, art supplies, etc. If your house is to the point that people cannot come over then that means you have too much stuff. Time to purge and simplify. Magazines you want to read? Tear out the articles that you actually want to read, put them in a file and recycle the rest. Same goes for catalogs you may order from. Write the name of the company on the page with the item you might order and rip it out, get rid of the rest of the catalog. Put those in a file. Throw out the uneaten Halloween candy - does anyone really need it anyhow? Buy some over the door shoe holders and put either shoes or small items in them. Put one on the inside of every closet door if you have to. Tackle every piece of a project in small bites. Put the kids to bed at night and give yourself 15-30 minutes to tackle 1 or 2 things. You sound exhausted so just tackle something you can accomplish before bed. Need to pick up a bunch of stuff and have it put away? Assign everyone a task (even little ones can pick up their toys) and set a timer for 15 minutes. Make it a game - "let's see who can do the most in 15 minutes!!!" No one talks or sits down until the timer goes off. If worst comes to worst: pre-dinner parties, throw everything you can't deal with into 1 room and shut the door. Clean the bathroom the guests will be using thoroughly, make sure the kitchen is clean (they will not want to eat food they think was prepared in a dirty kitchen) and straighten the living space. Lower the lights, light a good smelling candle and fake having it all together for the night(s)! Friends and family are more important than a clean house anyhow. That said, you still have to commit to cleaning that room later or end up on Hoarders (kidding...sort of)! Check out www.flylady.com for more advice. Good luck!



answers from Philadelphia on

It sounds like you have too much stuff. Get a big trash bag and start throwing out the junk. Put the coupons you know you will use in an envelope and put them in your car or purse. Sounds like you are too busy to read magazines so get rid of them if you do not have a place for them. When my toy bins over flow that is when we start donating the unused toys. In my house all toys have to be able to be put away. When I see a McDonald toy on the floor, I throw it in the trash. Trash the Halloween candy. It is not good for you anyway and it certainly should not be causing you stress. Shoes that do not fit should be donated or thrown out if they are beat.
Get takeout for your dinner party or buy a couple of frozen lasagna. Buy the desserts.
I really wish I could help you.



answers from Appleton on

Go to a store and get some boxes. Sort stuff into boxes, unopened mail in one, toys in another ect keep going until everything is organized into boxes. Go through what needs to be handled right away, such as unpaid bills, you don't want your credit to suffer. Keep a certain amount of toys out for the kids to play with store the rest in the garage, basement, or closet. Every month or two take the toys they are currently playing with and store them and take out the ones in storage. Wow new toys for the kids. Shoes can go inthe kids closets, get a storage bench for hats, gloves/mittens, and boots, place it where you hang up coats/jackets. Now you have a place for this bulky stuff and a place to sit while putting on boots. Anything you haven't used in a few months -- toss. You can look online for catalogs and magazines.
As far as dinner parties make something simple. A pot roast in the oven or slow-cooker, complete with potatoes and carrots, add another veggie and a salad and a desert.


answers from Kansas City on

does hubby help? even if the kiddos are little (if they're big enough for playdates,) they can help too. even if it's just "busy" work while you do the real cleaning. i am always SO much more motivated if i ask for help from the family. maybe our situations aren't the same - but we both work full time so when the weekend comes, the mess can be overwhelming - thank the good lord hubby is usually more than happy to help, as long as i ask, and give him plenty of notice (so i'm not asking him in the middle of a football game or something - a small enough courtesy i don't mind sticking to) it gets VERY depressing thinking i'm the only one who cares or is willing to clean - when i already work harder than everyone else (because of course the cooking and childcare still mostly fall to me AS WELL as working 40-50 hours per week). so my motivation is others being busy too.

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