my honest take on decluttering while working full-time

I’ve been trying to get my motivation up to start decluttering, tidying, cleaning, whatever you want to call it. When I get home from work, stressed just from being around other people, it’s relaxing to be able to use my space without stuff being in the way. To not come home to more work. To not feel closed in and trapped by all of the clutter around me. Except, of course, that clutter is the state of my home right now.

The only rooms that are in truly usable shape are the ones I focused on when I took vacation time to clean. My kitchen, upstairs bathroom, and most of the living/dining room are still doing well since I just have to maintain them. I’ll admit that the dining table is a gathering place for clutter, but there’s still room to eat dinner. I haven’t made any headway in rooms that I didn’t get to during my Spring Cleaning Vacation.

Can I declutter even though I work full time? Yes, obviously I can. Others have done it. It is physically and mentally possible. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Or that I’ll do it.

The hard truth is that I care more about relaxing after work than about getting my house clean. And I’m no longer sure there’s anything wrong with that.

For a long time I’ve felt guilty that after I get home from work I don’t have the energy to do a lot. On a typical day (when I don’t stay up late and screw up my sleep cycle), I have four hours in which to do whatever in the evening. At least an hour goes to making and eating dinner. Almost an hour goes to walking the dogs. That gives me two hours PER DAY to relax. Two hours. If I had kids, I wouldn’t even have those two hours. Hats off to those who work full time and take care of kids. (Do you even sleep?)

So I have two hours. Two hours more than some others. I can almost hear someone say “You’re lucky to have those two hours.” And yes, I get that. But if I spend those two hours cleaning, where did they go? Not to relaxation. When do I get to relax in the entire fucking work week? So no, cleaning, you cannot have my two hours. I’m already washing dishes to maintain my clean kitchen. WHAT ELSE DO YOU WANT TO TAKE FROM MY LIFE?

Okay, okay, getting a bit melodramatic there. But I reject the idea that being an adult means only doing responsible things all of the time. Or that fun or relaxing things have to wait until every item on the To Do list has been checked off. I refuse to only enjoy myself on the weekends. And I also refuse to give my entire weekend over to another kind of job. To never-ending work. Life is hard, life is work. I get it. But it can’t only be those things because then what’s the point? I don’t believe in existence for existence’s sake. Life must also be self-fulfillment, its nature to be determined by yourself only.

Do I have a solution for others who are in a similar situation? How someone with a full-time, out of the home, stressful job can declutter their house without giving up their Me Time? No, no I don’t. If I did, my house would be cleaner. But when I find out, I’ll let you know. I’m sure it will involve giving up a little bit more of my two hours. I accept that. But not all of it. And not even most of it.

In the meantime, I’m going to try to stop beating myself up over not being an industrious cleaning bunny when I get home from work. Because who needs that life? I’m awake 16 hours. On a good day, I have 2 hours for myself. That’s about 12% of my waking day. Think about that. During the waking work week, I have the potential to not be stressed or moving or increasing pain for 12% of the time. It’s something. But it’s not a lot of something. Just one hour of decluttering in the evenings cuts that down to 6%. Sounds like something out of a dystopian novel. “You are allowed 6% free time. Be industrious. Free time is never free.”

One last thought… Does jealously guarding 12% of my day sound selfish? Before breaking down the numbers, it sort of seems selfish. I have time that could be spent on others or on useful projects but I choose to spend it on MYSELF? The gall of me! But then I realize… that’s ridiculous. Why shouldn’t I spend that time on me? I’m as important as anything else. Don’t I deserve some time, too? Some time for bathing, drawing, tidying, reading, cuddling, shopping, grooming my dogs, hobbies, etc. Everything needs to done in those two hours. No wonder I feel like I can never do everything I want. No wonder I feel so overwhelmed with all of the things I want to do or feel like I should be doing that I can’t even pick one thing to start on. And people do need time to decompress. I definitely do. I will become a neurotic bitchy mess without sleep and relaxation. So maybe 12% isn’t selfish. It’s the bare fucking minimum.

Remember that you’re important. That “To Do” list of stuff to take care of? You’re on that list, too. Don’t feel guilty for taking care of yourself. And I’ll try to stop feeling guilty, too.

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