Mmmm vacation. I could do with a bit of sun, however the lack thereof was a motivator for really attacking the list of household items I wanted to take care of during my vacation (without killing my personal and fun time). When I sat down to make my list, I had an unexpected moment of what I’d like to think was sanity with regard to my expectations of myself. Here are some revelations from that fleeting moment.

1.) Vacations have rarely meant rest for me. If I have a day off (including a sick day!), a long weekend, or some actual vacation time, I tend to sabotage myself by insisting on dealing with responsibilities before resting or doing something for myself. Not only do I set up expectations based on what I would normally want to accomplish (sweeping the floor, doing the dishes, etc.) but I go a step further and pull out my long list of “if I ever had the time I would” items. These items often involve some organization, Q-tip cleaning, and wiping down of unnecessarily large surfaces (walls, baseboards, cupboards). What does this mean? I do not give myself permission to just BE.

So this time…I decided that whatever responsibility-related items I had must be accomplished inside of a deadline, and would be spread out over the week so that there would never be a day built for resentment (the kind where you crash, exhausted in bed and bitter that you “never get time to yourself”).

2.) Lists are rarely my friend. We need lists sometimes to help keep us on task…sure. I’ll agree that lists are a necessary evil in a busy world. HOWEVER lists that never seem to end – the kind that are filled with more items than a person could possibly accomplish in a day or week, or the kind that takes 30 minutes to create thus filling time that COULD have seen a task or two complete – are far more detrimental than beneficial. In my experience, I can put more energy into organizing my to-dos than actually getting to them. Lists have also served as tools of self-sabotage because I end up frustrated with myself for not meeting unrealistic expectations that I set. Many times in our relationship my husband has questioned what actually NEEDED to be done…and more often than not items that I allowed to eat away at my time did not *need* to be complete at that moment.

So this time…I made a long list of wants and needs for the week of vacation. I then chopped some of the less necessary directly from the “need” category and put them in a secondary category called “It would be nice if.” I then spent time dreaming up activities that would be special, enjoyable and different so that I could feel that – by the end of my staycation – I had actually had time to unwind.

3.) Clearing out the clutter feels good. One of the items I put on my “it would be nice if” list was purging unneeded, unused, and unwanted items from ALL areas of the home (kitchen utensils, pantry items, clothing, office supplies). There is just so much STUFF that we accumulate as North Americans that it’s no wonder we struggle to keep clean and tidy and RESTFUL homes. I realized that the junk was really making me feel unclean and unsettled. Did I really need to display dozens of books I hadn’t read for years or may NEVER read? Did I NEED to have 13 salad/chip bowls stacked the height of my pantry shelf? Did two people NEED 9 spatulas?

So this time…as part of my cleaning routine, I took a cloth bag around with me to each room. I spent time organizing cupboards and shelves and, as I did so, grabbing anything we didn’t/wouldn’t/hadn’t used and tossed them in the bag. Generally I didn’t even know we HAD the items so surely I won’t miss them! I am going to donate all of the saleable items to a charity yard sale, and the remainder I will offer to friends/family. Whatever anyone doesn’t need I will turf but I’ll try to find a home for these items as best I can.

With a clean house, I’m looking forward to the forecasted sun tomorrow and getting my garden in, planters planted, and long-time friends visited.

Looking for some tips on de-cluttering? Here are some great resources I found in my travels for decluttering from zen tips to a freer home to laundry room makeovers and geek-specific organization.