I'm a binge cleaner. I can be casual about the day-to-day messiness of a crowded house, but clutter eventually drives me crazy. So about twice each year, I go through the house and pile everything I can find into bags to take to the Rescue Mission or to put into the trash. The easiest way to clean this house is to make sure we have very little stuff in it.
When my kids were little, I would do this in the middle of the night. I knew if I let them help, they would cling to every battered toy, suddenly deciding it was something fun to play with, their favorite toy in fact, and how could their mean mother even think of getting rid of it? Maybe I should have done this chore with them, and taught them how to sort through their stuff, but I have not the patience. So I would wait until they were all asleep, pile anything unnecessary into bags, and put it out in the car to be dropped off the next day.
My boys are plenty old enough now to clean their room themselves, but their standards are far lower than mine. Considerably lower. Not even close to mine. And over the winter, they had somehow accumulated a bunch of junk. So last week, when they were at school, I got a bunch of trash bags and went through all the stuff in their room, even emptying out the closets. I found games no one will ever play, binders full of school papers no one will ever look at again, broken toys, hundreds of miscellanous lego pieces, and way too many stuffed animals. I found enough dirty white socks to fill a laundry basket. I went through it all ruthlessly, getting rid of almost everything in the room, leaving only stuff that the boys actually use and With-a-Why’s favorite stuffed animals.
I was in a miserable mood last week, and I have to say that a bad mood helps tremendously for this kind of cleaning. Any kind of tendency to feel sentimental about stuffed animals or old toys disappears when I am in a pissy mood. I pile stuff into bags with great energy. "We don't need this. This is just crap. I can't stand the clutter."
Before my bad mood could evaporate, I used that angry energy to clean the whole upstairs of the house. Then I drove to the Rescue Mission and dumped out the contents of my car before I could change my mind about any of it. And somehow, that made me feel better.