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Sometimes people living in squalor place expectations on themselves that make it harder to clean up their houses. Releasing yourself from these burdens can free you to make progress with your house, and your life. Ease up on yourself!

Recycle everything

We are all made aware nowadays of the finite capacity of the earth to store our garbage. The Squaloree takes this message to heart, saving jars, cans, plastic bottles, newspapers, eggshells (don't laugh! I did.) We enforce our own zero-waste policy..or do we?

Often these items for "recycling" are simply stockpiled for a lifetime in the house or garage, and are never actually put back into circulation (the whole point of recycling.) This is effectively the same as throwing things out, only it turns your house into the equivalent of the dump.

If you are filling up your house with recyclables you are not actually recycling, consider being honest with yourself and releasing yourself from the expectation that you will recycle. Allow yourself the freedom to simply discard these items, if that makes it easier for you to clean up your house.

You are not saving our landfills by turning your house into one.

Consider doing your bit to help the planet by reducing the amount of "potential landfill" you buy. From the slogan Reduce, re-use, recycle, focus on the Reduce part.

When you have got on top of your own personal conservation problem, you might think about setting up a small, easily maintained recycling system.

But for now, keep things simple. Newspapers, magazines, jars, cans, stuff that would be okay if it was repaired - bin the lot.

I think I'll keep this in case...

Squalorees like to be prepared:

  • in case the kindergarten needs egg cartons
  • in case we take up bottling fruit
  • in case our grown-up children move in
  • in case our grown-up children move out
  • in case all the lightbulbs in the house blow while the shops are shut

The problem with this thinking is that the vast majority of future events we are preparing for, simply never occur. If a lightbulb does blow, we can't remember where we put the 17 lightbulbs we know are in the house... somewhere in all the clutter!

  • in case the electricity is cut off
  • in case there is a worldwide shortage of something
  • in case we find out what lock this key opens
  • in case we lose (or gain) weight
  • in case we need a screw (of this exact size and thread)

All this preparation for the future is detracting from our quality of life in the present. You can't live in anything but the present

Think about how people who don't save all this stuff - and who don't live in squalor - manage. If they ever need a screw, it's no big deal. They go to the hardware store and buy one - when they need it.

  • in case the urge to knit peggy squares ever hits us
  • in case we decide to homeschool
  • in case we discover what this mystery object actually is...
  • in case the first two lawnmowers break down, we have a third
  • in case there is an earthquake

There are some events for which it is prudent to prepare. Your local authority probably has a pamphlet on how to prepare for an earthquake. But you can't see into the future, and you're fooling yourself if you think you can prepare for every eventuality.

Set limits on what you store "in case". One or two spare lightbulbs is probably enough. And if your house is in order, you'll stand a greater chance of finding them.

  • in case we have overnight guests (oh, NO, now there's a laugh...)
"Oh, Mama! You really are..... ......making progress!!!!" That is what my much beloved DD said when she found out over the phone that I actually put the big, empty box that the lawn mower came in three years ago at the curb on Wednesday so that the friendly trash guys could haul it off....see, I am in a mess, but I am making progress....all thanks to my SS sibs. I have always thought that nice big box would be really good for something, so I saved it...turns out it really was good for something...
TRASH!! Moodle

Keeping it all clean

In addition to the burden of keeping all this stuff, we then place on ourselves an additional demand: it must all be kept clean. And of course, it's not. There's just too much stuff, for a start.

(Let's not overlook the fact that collecting and gathering all the stuff that makes up these piles takes time. We can't clean the piles because we're out poking around in second-hand stores and yard sales, looking to acquire more pile material.)

We berate ourselves for not being able to keep our house, and all its piles, as clean as our friend's and neighbor's. "It's all so dirty!", disregarding that they don't have all our piles.

Have you noticed that? Some people just don't have piles! No doubt the future events gods have something in store for them, but in the meantime, they're living happily (at least as far as housekeeping goes), whizzing around getting the housework done in an hour and a half session.

I think if these clean friends and neighbors of ours were shown our cluttered houses and were told they had to keep it all clean and organized, they would cry. Take a look at the amount of stuff in your home and ask yourself: is it reasonable to expect one person to manage and maintain this amount of stuff? Is it worth the effort that would take?


Never turn down a request for help

Are you Someone Else?

  • Someone Else will do it.
  • We can leave that to Someone Else.
  • Someone Else did a great job on the club newsletter.
  • Someone Else always steps in to manage the cake stall, or sell raffle tickets

If you suspect you might be Someone Else...let someone else be tagged Someone Else for a change!

The local [insert special interest group here] group will not cease to exist if you don't help out at the next fundraiser. If they do, they weren't much of a group, and didn't deserve your support anyway.

Every request for your time and energy for volunteer work means less time and less energy for freeing yourself from squalor. Is that what you want?

Especially for adult women, we are often conditioned by upbringing and our culture to feel guilty refusing a request for our time and energy, as if these are of no value unless they are serving Someone Else's purpose!

Your time and your energy are your resources, and you are perfectly entitled to use your resouces to fulfill your own needs first.

If you decide to refuse a request, you don't have to give a reason or make an excuse. The fact you have decided not to, is sufficient.

Look after yourself first, so you have the resources to help others second. And that includes providing yourself with the kind of home you want to live in, that will nurture your spirit.

How can it be selfish to take care of yourself when you know that it's absolutely true that you cannot give away what you do not have? So, if you're being self-righteously selfless, you may be a great, well-intentioned martyr, but regardless of your intentions you will cheat everyone in your life - your kids, spouse, friends, coworkers, your church - you cheat the whole world out of you. Dr. Phil McGraw, Self Matters

Never accepting help

I got myself in this mess, I'll get myself out.

Adult women in particular are socialized to be nurturing and responsible. Some women believe that they should be able to do everything themselves.

Some Squalorees have absorbed this one so thoroughly, they even feel guilty about paying someone to help clean up the mess.

Accepting help is not "cheating".

Whether it is hiring a helper, or accepting (free!) help from relatives or friends, admitting you need help is a sign of strength of character, not a weakness.

This website exists because one woman (not me) had enough strength of character to admit that she had a problem, and seek help for it on this thread. From that beginnning, countless people have been helped. We admire Kimmy for her honesty and courage.

Learning to accept help can be very rewarding - both for you, and for the people you let help.

Perhaps you worry that allowing others to help you clean up means you will lose control of the process. If that's the case, be honest with your potential assistants about this fear. If your family and friends care enough to want to assist, they will care enough not to take over.

It is OK to have someone help you. It gives you moral support and keeps you moving.

Ask for help when it is needed. Accept it when it is offered.

I needed help and this site let me know that I wasn't a failure for asking for it! I worked with a cleaner for 5 hours on my teeny apartment and the great part was, I couldn't sit down or get distracted by other things. Nobody called me (usually if I'm attempting to clean up on my own, and somebody calls, it's the end) but if I had thought of it, I would have turned off the ringer.
Because my apartment was so small, it really wasn't that expensive, but if you have a big place, maybe you could get someone to help you do one or two rooms at a time. Or, if you have an understanding cleanie friend or relative, get them in on the action (although personally, I felt better with a stranger looking at my dirty underwear than anyone I knew -- and more guilty if I stopped working and she kept going). messiemiss