Tackling the Dining Room

Decluttering-the-Dining-Room-Table title at ASlobComesClean.com_

Welcome to my Tackle it Tuesday post for this week. Any guesses what I tackled?

I had no intention of that picture being the first thing you see. I had planned to explain myself, rationalize, etc before the pic, but I’m still figuring out this Blogger stuff, and now I don’t know how to move it.

There you go. I am a slob. I know that it is in my blog title and I’ve been attempting to be totally honest, but there is always that part of me that hopes people won’t think I’m really as bad as I say. I am. Probably worse. Not sugar-coating things is really hard.

The above picture is my dining room. It is the very first room you see when you walk into my home. And there is no hiding it. There is no door to shut it off. You have to walk through it to get to my finally-clean kitchen, so by then you’re surely already thinking bad thoughts about me and you probably don’t even notice how sparkly the kitchen is.

When it’s clean, I love this room. It makes me happy to walk by it. The problem is that it is the first open space with a flat surface that I pass after getting the mail. And after getting the paper. So, things just pile there. (Again, I blame the inanimate objects.) It isn’t a room that is “used” daily either, so I can pretend it doesn’t exist, until the doorbell rings and my heart jumps and then I kick myself for letting it get this bad.

Here is my problem. When I set about to clean my house, (as is totally necessary this week since we are having the inlaws over on Saturday), I have to first unearth my house in order to start cleaning. It took me less than an hour to declutter this room. But, if I hadn’t let it get to this point, I could have spent that hour doing some deep cleaning. I could shine my beautiful floors that remain neglected. I could fix that picture that keeps sliding down in its frame.

I’m glad to have a deadline this week. Next week is when things will get really crazy. I have three major happenings next week, and for two of them I have big responsibilities. These are the times when I typically let everything go. My house slips back into chaos.

There is a difference this time. Typically when I know that a week like that is coming, I start to feel nervous and like any control I’ve had over my house is slipping out of my fingers. I feel as if I’m on top of a very unstable hill, waiting to fall at any moment.

This time, though, my kitchen is under control. For more than two weeks, my kitchen has been clean before 7 a.m. Even though my days will be crazy, pre-7 a.m. should be about the same.

I can do this.

Here are the after pictures. Again, I debated about moving that paper off the table for the picture. But it is a paper that has to be filled out and turned in tomorrow night at church. I also really debated about moving the bikes. The reality is that we use them. If we don’t store them in there, we have to drag them through the entire house each time the boys want to ride bikes. I’m okay with that.



And the VERY BEST part of all of this was that someone dropped by soon after I finished, and I opened the door and ushered her right in. No heart palpitations!

Check out my Decluttering page to see more of my decluttering projects and read what I’ve learned (from way too much experience) about how to declutter.

Decluttering-the-Dining-Room-Table pin at ASlobComesClean.com_



  1. 1

    Awesome tackle:-)

  2. 2
    Jennifer (Niffer) says:

    great tackle!

    about the pic… just click on it and then right click (cut). then put your mouse cursor where you want the pic to be and right click again(paste)
    That should do it!

  3. 3

    Way to go! We don't have a dining room so all our junk is right in the middle of the kitchen on our table, its horrible to have to shove stuff over just to eat dinner! I hope the longer I read your blog the more of an inspiration you are to me!

  4. 4

    Ah, you really do have beautiful floors!

    Great job, by the way! It looks great!

    • 5

      I have a really beautiful kitchen table that I need to deshredd but first I have to get organized cause I know I own a shredder!!

  5. 6

    I just found your blog tonight and am going backwards as suggested. I know this is a really old post, but I just can’t contain myself any longer! I must tell you- today I shredded mail for the first time in forever. It took me several hours- the shredder OVERHEATED. TWICE. I had to let it sit unplugged for 20ish minutes each time. I had to dump it 5 times. How shameful. Where do you think all that mail sat in its unshredded state? Kitchen counters, dining room table, hallway half bath, entry table- anywhere there was a flat surface. Now, I did this shredding extravaganza on my own accord. However, I added a calendar reminder on my phone to do this every Sunday from here on out after reading this far into your blog. Will this help? I’m not sure. Being today was Tuesday already, there won’t be much mail lying around on Sunday and the normal me will most likely tell myself, “Oh I can skip it this Sunday since there isn’t very much.” I do believe I’ve found my first non-negotiable task. Baby steps, right?

    • 7

      Great job! And the reality is that even if you do skip a Sunday (or two) you’re much better off for having done what you did, and the future times will be that much less!

    • 8

      I laughed so hard about the shredder overheating because I’VE DONE THAT, TOO! A few times, actually.

  6. 9
    Lindsey J says:

    I tackled the top of my fridge, which held a coffee pot, a pitcher, a soccer trophy, Weight Watchers material, assorted papers which used to be important before I lost them, and about an inch of dust. Kitchen feels much cleaner now!

  7. 10

    I recently found your blog and am reading it backwards like you suggested. We don’t have a dining room so our kitchen table has become the landing so for EVERYTHING in our house. Mail, school papers, coupons…every piece of paper that enters our home seems to end up on that table. It is so sad to have to keep everything in piles running down the middle of the table just so we can eat. The worst part, my kids are so used to seeing it this way that they don’t think there is anything wrong with it…sigh. Thanks for the inpiration and motivation to finally tackle my table!

  8. 11

    I have that same table and it looks just about how your before picture looks!

  9. 12
    omglawdork says:

    I know this is a crazy-old post, but I’m starting at the beginning and reading all the way through, as you suggest, and I have to tell you – seeing that picture was such a RELIEF. Because that’s what MY dining room table looks like. Because it’s right by the front door. I am learning so much about taking baby steps and recognizing so much of my own struggle in yours – and I cannot tell you how heartening it is to see that it can be done, and done long-term. THANK YOU!

  10. 13

    WOW. I had no idea there were others in the same boat! I am always overwhelmed and thinking where in the world did it all come from, and feel that sinking feeling whenever someone like a neighbor or an in-law comes to the door. I want to say, “I just spent four hours cleaning my bedroom, would you like to see that?” (And generally it doesn’t look like I’ve spent even five minutes in there, to what I consider “normal” people (with perfectly clean homes).
    I just discovered your site last night, and I am so inspired! Thank you! I’m going to get started right away. Your tips are already so helpful, and not all “obvious” like all the other websites. It’s actually more “I never thought of it that way” and refreshing. 🙂 The pics really showed me that you know what it’s like, and make me feel that I can do it too! Not to mention your sense of humor really keeps me reading 😉
    Now hopefully I can turn THIS place around, and KEEP IT THAT WAY, or at least learn to maintain with what others consider “obvious” daily/weekly chores. At this point I can’t even do that, till I can FIND those spaces to dust, wipe down, mop, etc.! I’ve felt at such a loss and never really was brought up to be organized or impeccably clean, not to mention I am so A.D.D. it’s ridiculous. And embarrassing. Our home was beautiful when we moved in (over 8 years ago), so can’t it be, again?
    Oh, and I wonder how many others feel they have “good reasons” for their house being in the condition it is in… (constant health issues have made it difficult to keep up, homeschooling and so much stuff, the basement flooded — twice, later an additional pipe burst in the kitchen, you work from home and have almost no time, your house has been under construction from various things almost since you’ve moved in… Not to mention the severe depression just lerking behind all the clutter… Anyone relate? 🙁
    Can you give me any pointers about how to maintain sanity when something is always under construction? My clutter just keeps moving! 🙁 Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had to trash a lot due to floods and things getting ruined. In fact my house was the cleanest it’s ever been right before our most recent incident when the kitchen pipe burst and within 10 minutes our house was basically destroyed. (Why, God? Why? Sometimes I think we aren’t supposed to have a clean house ;)) But seriously someone is going to have a heart attack or stroke if we don’t get it under control….. I’m tired of making excuses, and it’s really embarrassing, for me and for my [unexpected] guests.
    Time to “prioritize by visibility… ” 🙂
    Thank you so much for your inspiration and giving me the will to do this!

    • 14

      Just keep going! Those daily tasks are really the key. Start with the dishes and you’ll be amazed at how much of a difference just that will make and help you gain traction to make more progress!

      • 15

        I am just getting started with your wonderful website and I already know I love you and I already know how much you are going to help me with my decluttering and cleaning and organizing , if there is anything left to organize after I get done decluttering and cleaning!! Thank you in advance.

  11. 16

    I, too, have had serious issues with paper clutter-specifically mail. I had piles of it EVERYWHERE. The only way I was able to get it under control was to not let it in the house in the first place. I have a bag I keep my planner, bills/stamps, coupons, magazines, etc in I take to work each day. I really have no reason to bring inside with me each evening (I pay my bills online on my lunch break), so I generally leave it in my car. I found that by sitting in my driveway after geting my mail & sorting it then & there has helped me TREMENDOUSLY. I put the bills inside & the junk mail in the pocket on the outside. After clocking in each morning, I stop by the shredder & shred the previous day’s mail. It was such a simple thing to do, but I had to stuggle for many years before I had this ah-ha moment. You’re great Dana! Even more real than The Flylady (I love her, but failed soooo many times at ‘FLYING’) in my humble opinion. 🙂

  12. 17

    We have that exact dining set!

  13. 18

    Yeah. My table looks worse. There is still stuff from Christmas. Ya know, clothes and stuff. Also my sewing stuff. It’s pretty bad.

  14. 19

    Our houses must be set up the same way. We have the same habits. Our dining table looks very similar… Maybe we are twins! Everything I’ve read, and I started at the first post, got to the second and then saw your dining table at the bottom. I had to click on it to see what that was all about, because I couldn’t believe someone could be so much like me! My husband, ever patient, ever kind, but ever skeptical reacts in much the same way. I’d like to surprise him for once with a clean house that stays that way! I’m so glad to finally find a blog about someone like me instead of all these wonder women who do everything PERFECTLY while renovating their homes and producing gorgeous crafts, to say nothing of immaculate yards! Go Nony!

  15. 20
    Crazy Mary says:

    My dining room is mess! Besides the obvious table and 4 chairs’ there is bookcase for cookbooks – but small house. My pet peeve? Hubby has 2 LARGE totes of ammo in there! Aaahhh. Put them in garage? Oh no, too damp… Paper shredder, grandson’s bog box of craft stuff (cuz we do crafts on the DR table), kid’s easel (big/bulky) and of course hubby has a place in DR to charge electric power tools, I could go on…..oh, laptop on table, mail ., coupons, catalogs…!!! On a “good” day we can seat 2…there is so much stuff behind the other 2 chairs you can not pull them out. Thanks for letting me vent! I won’t bore/scare you with “tales from the garage” that we have not been able to park in for 3 yes. Seems my decluttering strategy is to move it from the house to the garage. My shame? When I retired I thought “now I have time to declutter and organize”, that was ten months ago and I honestly think things are getting worse. Love that I found this site. I am determined to start with the little things and go for it. Currently I will only allow 1 friend in my house (here’s is worse than mine and she does not judge), my other friends? Spotless houses, every room – are they really normal?

  16. 21
    Crazy Mary says:

    This feels like a safe place, thank you for that

  17. 23

    Crazy Mary is right. It does feel like a safe place cause it feels like home!!

  18. 24


  19. 25

    Have any of you ever worked really hard cleaning up before company and then pretended that you didn’t have time to do much? I figure my “after” cleaning is about like other’s “before” because of all the stuff still sitting around.

  20. 27

    We fixed our paper problem by getting two cute signs at homegoods. They are just a board with an alligator type clip attached. One says “to do” and the other says “dont forget”. The rule is, if you walk in the house with a paper it must go on one of those boards untill it is seen by whoever needs it. Then that person puts it away ( I say that instead of file…we discovered filing doesn’t work for us…the minute that drawer shuts we forget what the label was or why we labeled it that. We have a set of heavy duty white plastic covered binders. One for this year and each of the last seven years, and once big one for each member of the family to hold medical stuff, awards, personal mail and such. At the end of the year we just shred the oldest year and re label it for the new one!” The nice thing about those alligator clips is that you have to brace the other papers to the wall when you add something or it all falls to the floor, so they never get more than 3 or 4 papers deep!

  21. 28

    I just found this blog last week, & I’m reading from the beginning. I love this. And the paper thing is always out of hand. If I ruled the world, there would be no junk mail. In lieu of that, there should be a rule that envelopes full of it can be no thicker than what can go through an average shredder – WITHOUT OPENING the envelope! Also, none of those plastic cards or other geegaws that won’t go through the shredder. I did all the things suggested to stop junk mail, but they’re like weeds – get rid of one, & two spring up! Thank you for this great blog!

  22. 29

    I tripped over your blog today while looking for something else entirely (what to do with bulk ground beef), but I feel like it was meant to be. Not an hour earlier I was standing in my dining room, nearly in tears, thinking, for the hundredth time, I have GOT to clear that table ……. Just like you, my dining room table is the first thing anyone sees. And it’s such an embarrassment. A bucket, a blanket (?), 4 sweatshirts hubby doesn’t want, not one but TWO flyswatters … this is December, flyswatters? How long has it BEEN since anyone ate a meal at that table?

    I’ve been making excuses for the state of my house for so long — I worked too much, I didn’t have time, it’s the kids, it’s the dogs … but I realized today, I have no excuses. My house looks the way it does because I let it get that way. Time to say it out loud — ‘I am a slob’.

    Starting today, I don’t want to be a slob. I want to get my home under control. I tried Flylady years ago, but quit because the relentless emails felt like harassment after a point, and being unable to keep up with them became just another source of anxiety and failure. I’m now reading your posts oldest-to-newest as you recommend. I feel like you, and others who have commented, would welcome someone like me. Thank you so much!

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