On the “Great Husband” scale of one to ten, I’m certainly not a ten. But I’m pretty sure I’m far from a one. I should check with my wife. Or not.
In my mind, I’m maybe a six or seven. Some days I might even make it to the eight or nine mark. Some. Days.
As of late, I’ve figured out how to move up a few notches. And it has truly saved my marriage.
A little background.
I don’t drink. I don’t gamble. (I swear a little.)
I’m a family man. Love my wife. Love my kids. Love my dog.
Cleaning house? Certainly. I’m happy to. Wash dishes? Move over. I’ll do that too.
Mop the kitchen floor? Yes, thanks. I find it therapeutic. Take out the trash? No problem, I was going to the garage anyhow.
Toilet seat? Returned to the ‘down’ position every time.
Toilet paper? I’ve replaced many, many empty rolls in my day, thank you very much. (Now, if could just teach a couple boys how to do that – life would be good. Really good.)
Do the laundry? Whoa! Wait a minute. That’s where I draw the line.
I’ve been doing laundry for a long, danged time. I helped my mom when I lived at home.
I did laundry in college too. I did screw up once. I put all my clothes in a ‘steam dryer’. My dress pants lost their creases. I had clown pants for the rest of that semester.
It was a life-learning experience. For sure.
I used to help my wife (even BEFORE we got married) with laundry. We spent many an hour in the laundry room at Le Chateau apartments. You can ask her!
It was AFTER we got married when it happened.
See, there was this time when I tried to help my wife by doing laundry. And. I failed.
It was an epic failure.
My wife’s favorite sweater came out of the dryer about 4,523 sizes smaller than when it went INTO the dryer. It was awful.
My heart stopped.
And it was that day that I did my last load of laundry.
(Don’t tell my wife, but there are times when I will sneak in a load of towels or cleaning rags. I feel pretty safe with those.)
Here’s the part about the laundry basket.
Still with me? Okay, because this is where is starts to get really good.
While I consider myself an above-average husband (and dad too) I am in the negative zone when it comes to keeping my clutter under control.
Hello. My name is Mike and I have a clutter problem issue.
I tend to collect things. Empty boxes, bottles and envelopes. Pieces of meaningful (and meaningless) paper.
I subscribe used to subscribe to too many magazines. Coins and receipts and nuts and bolts and carwash tokens tend to come out of my pants pockets and onto the kitchen counter.
Where they die a slow death. It’s a pitiful thing.
My computer bag overflows with papers and printouts and library books and pencils and pens.
The work surface of the desk in the master bedroom is many times covered with ‘stuff’. Like camera bags, warranty information, spiral notebooks, calendars and maybe even a coffee cup.
The basement is full of electronics, craft supplies, tools, and gadgets and gizmos a-plenty.
Clutter bothers my wife – a lot.
Ask my wife and she’ll tell you that she really doesn’t mind cleaning the house. It’s the time needed to clear the clutter that drives her into a frantic fit. It’s a two-step process: You have to de-clutter before you can actually clean. Uggh!
Not to stereotype, but guys sometimes just don’t get it. We hear the same message over and over again, but it never really sinks in. It’s the old in-one-ear-and-out-the-other process.
Men should outgrow that. As soon as they possibly can. Preferably when the wedding band goes on the ring finger. Just saying.
The light bulb moment.
Here’s where laundry and clutter come together.
Since I’m forbidden to help with the laundry. Actually I get to fold clothes now. But still can’t use the washer or dryer, okay?
It occurred to me that a laundry basket can hold quite a bit of stuff. And with the two handles, it’s really easy to carry that ‘stuff’ around.
I wonder. What if I used the laundry basket to help move my clutter (and my kids’ clutter) from where it isn’t supposed to be, to where it should be? Ding! Ding!
Winner. Winner. Chicken dinner.
I’m getting better and better at the de-cluttering process. Over the past few months, I’ve purges lots of stuff from the basement and garage. Most of it has gone to places like Goodwill.
A lot of the junk-junk has been thrown away or recycled. I’m a freak when it comes to recycling. Please don’t let me catch you put a plastic bottle or glass jar in the trash. That’s like fingernails on the chalkboard for me.
At least once a week, you’ll see me and my laundry basket making trips from room to room and going from upstairs to downstairs. It’s AMAZING the amount of crap clutter you can accumulate in just a week.
Here are some tips that you might find useful to cut down on your clutter:
Eliminate or cut back on magazine subscriptions. Do you really have time for them? Can you subscribe to the digital version on your iPad or Kindle or Nook?
Process daily newspaper and mail – daily. Don’t let this one get away from you. Junk mail should be shredded, recycle or trashed. With the crazy amount of identity theft that goes on, I highly recommend you use a paper shredder. We use this one (link to amazon) and love it.
Bills and other ‘must keep’ mail should be processed daily (or as close to daily as possible). I’m NOT a fan of buying storage containers to put your junk in, but I AM a huge fan of having an inbox or in-basket in your kitchen or home office.
Mail, important papers, field trip forms, etc., etc., should be put in the basket and processed daily (or as often as possible).
We have a built-in desk in our kitchen. Our checkbook, debit card receipts, incoming mails (the important stuff) goes in the basket. At least every other day we update the checkbook and shred the receipts. We open the mail and, assuming it’s a bill, we make sure it’s accurate (especially the credit card and gasoline card bills).
The due date is written on the outside of the envelope and the envelope (with the bill inside) goes in the ‘bill drawer’. We keep our bills rubber-banded together in due date order. The bills that are due the soonest are on top.
I can hear many of you asking, “Why don’t you handle your bill-paying electronically through online companies like Quicken.com and avoid the paper mail altogether?” Great question! The chief bill-payer at house is my wife.
If your wife prefers to handle bill-paying the old-fashioned way: with paper bills and paper checks, you just stay quiet and go with the flow, okay. We’ve been married for almost twenty-six years.
Some things you just don’t question. (Ask me how I know.)
I’m doing okay now.
Me and my laundry basket have a great thing going. And I’m moving higher and higher on the “Husband Scale” every week.
What is your best advice for keeping clutter at a manageable level? You can leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you.