Cat · Organization · The Dreaded House

Vacuuming Scares the Cat (and other excuses for not cleaning my house)

I have a great title for a book. The ADHD Guide to Getting Your Sh*t Together (and throwing it out.)

I’m a really good housekeeper on the inside. Inside my mind, I mean. I absolutely love the idea of a comfortable, minimalist home where there is only what we need and use, and everything has its storage place, and everyone puts stuff away properly after they use it. I fantasize about hiring one of those “we take your junk” services, and a couple of strong men, and ruthlessly going through our house saying, “Take that, and that, and that, and that, and that…” and ending up with so much stuff just….gone. I don’t want to have to sort it, or have a garage sale, or haul it away myself, or sell it, or donate it, or see if one of the kids wants it. I just want it out of here.

But that is a fantasy because … I have slight hoarder tendencies. Not like newspaper to the ceiling, or anything. I have lots of stacks. Books I bought and don’t have room for on my shelves. Mail, both important and unimportant. LOTS of yarn. Three junk drawers in the kitchen. I am very territorial about my stacks. I have a general idea of what is in my stacks, and I get anxious if anyone moves them around.

I read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and I found it inspiring. I know people like to make fun of the spiritual aspect of it, but for those of us who have anxiety about letting go of things, it sort of helped. I would never take the time to address each and every item before letting it go, but there are some things that do require a little ritual to get that tiny extra push to get them out of the house. What I really found most useful about the book was Kondo’s different technique for purging. She advocates tidying by category of stuff, not by the room, or the drawer, or the closet. This appeals to my ADHD ability to hyperfocus (which is a negative term – I like to use the term super-engage). I can super-engage with purging one category of stuff without running into the constant problem of distraction (mostly).

For instance, if I start, in the traditional way, to clean out a junk drawer that has hundreds of items in it, I have to make a discard or keep decision about every item. That part is not hard, I am pretty ruthless. But then I have to make a “Where does it go?” decision about all the keeper items. If I find the stapler and the staples that fit it, I have to decide, “Does this really need to be here? I only staple something about twice a year. Wouldn’t this be better in a plastic box with the hole punch, and extra ink cartridges, and paper fasteners and large mailing envelopes? And where would I put that box? In the downstairs closet under the stairs! Oh, but there’s stuff in there already… .” And before you know it, I’m downstairs going through that closet and all the keeper stuff from the junk drawer is still spread out on the kitchen table. You see my issue.

I’m actually a good cleaner, once a room is uncluttered and everything is stored away. It’s that “putting everything away” part that kills the ride. That and the neurotic cat that hides for hours under the bed every time I vacuum.