A Simple Approach to Living With Less

When Life Gives You Lemons, Don’t Let Them Clutter Up Your House

We’ve all heard the popular quote: “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” This popular bit of advice is all about making the best of a not-so-great situation. It’s great advice to battle that sense of helplessness we feel when life doesn’t go our way.

Chaos Leads to Clutter

It happens to the best of us. Something unexpected comes up and throws us completely for a loop. A sick family member, a job loss, or a new baby. When my life gets chaotic it generates clutter all over the place.

  • Menus don’t get planned so we spend too much, eat out too much, and leftovers get lost in the back of the fridge.
  • If I’m lucky, laundry gets washed but it goes unfolded and sits around in baskets all week.
  • Toys that get left out quickly become an overwhelming mess pile that grows exponentially every day.

Most of the time it’s easier to just look the other way than take the time and mental energy necessary to conquer chaos clutter explosions.

When Life Gives You Lemons

As I was considering how chaos affects our battle with clutter, I wandered off on a tangent collecting alternatives to this lemony bit of advice. Listed below are a few of my favorites.

Favorite alternative “When life gives you lemons…” quotes:

  • If life gives you lemons, keep them, because, hey…Free Lemons!
  • If life hands you lemons, throw them back and yell “I WANTED CHOCOLATE!”
  • When life give you lemons, eat them, they are good for you – life knows best.
  • When life gives you lemons, do what we all do with unwanted gifts: Thank the giver, then re-gift them to someone else.
  • When life DOESN’T give you lemons, you’ll soon find that you miss them.

When I read that last quote, I thought to myself how very true it is. If I anticipate bad things up ahead, I do my best to avoid them. However, the times I battle the chaos, the bad news, and the turmoil and make it through to the other side have the biggest impact in my life. When you’re able to find an inner strength that you didn’t know you had, your victories are that much sweeter.

Practically Speaking

So what can you really do when the chaos finds you and your home is beginning to show it? Here are some practical tips that I use:

  1. Enter triage mode. This is a tip I picked up from my dad. He’s an ER doctor and he taught me to always tackle the biggest “bleeder” first. So evaluate the most pressing need and take immediate action.
  2. Do two things well. You can’t fix all the problems or the messes at once. Just pick two things and do them well. Everyone needs clean clothes and people gotta eat. When I stay on top of laundry and meal planning, life seems to go more smoothly. Your two things might be different but those work well for me.
  3. Keep your bedroom clean. At the end of a hard day, it is so nice to collapse in a bedroom that is clutter free. Whatever it takes keep the piles far from your bedroom oasis. Even if you have to hide them outside your door or throw folded clean clothes back in the dryer (yes, I’ve totally done this) keep them out of your personal space!
  4. Just keep going! There are plenty of motivational cliches I could throw down right now, but I’ll skip those. Most of the time getting through the chaos comes down to just keep going. They aren’t always special tricks or shortcuts. It’s just hard work and gratitude on the other side that you made it.

Do you have any lemons in your life right now? How are you keeping them from getting the best of you?

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Article originally published on 03/28/2012

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  1. I’ve had a hurricane of lemons of late – ill family members and hospitals. A reader on my blog told me ‘life throws lemons at you – bake a cake’, and I did, a lemon drizzle one to be exact. Baking calms me, and gives me time to think. What I’ve found from being under-fire is that I can’t put things off, just in case my attention is needed elsewhere. I’d promised a friend a fairy toadstool 1st birthday cake for her daughter, and knowing that at any time things could take a turn I got on with it, and got it delivered ahead of time. Lemons strangely can make me productive!

    • ps – I need to get that last slogan printed on my running vest. Good advice!

    • Faith Janes says

      Hi, Jo! That’s such great advice not to put things off. It’s much easier to go with the flow when you stay on top of things. That way you can deal with the pressing issues, emergencies, etc. without feeling the added weight of all the things you put off.

  2. Wonderful post Faith! =) You must have been inspired, because you have no idea how helpful this one was for me. I was so excited to see and new post then I read it and became elated! I’m going into Triage mode today. =)

    • Faith Janes says

      Hi Melissa. Yep, definitely inspired by real life. Things have been crazy around here. Most of the time what I write is just as much a pep talk for myself as it is for anyone else. 🙂 Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

      Best of luck with Triage today!

  3. I wholeheartedly agree with the laundry/meal planning. When everyone has fresh, clean clothes and healthy home-cooked meals, it’s amazing how much happier my household is.

    I am a minimalism newbie, so I am still battling the piles of “needs to go to the thrift store,” “needs to be sold on eBay,” “needs to be picked up by friend/family member who wants it.” Sometimes it feels like I just moved my clutter from inside my closet to the hallwag where I can trip over it.

    But I have to be patient. I can’t fix it all in one day. But I CAN do a thrift store dropoff run tomorrow. And maybe take pics of the never-worn cowboy boots destined for eBay 🙂

    • Faith Janes says

      Patience is key! After all, we didn’t create these messes over night so we can’t pretend they’ll get cleaned up over night either. It sounds like you’re off to a great start. I tended too be too impatient for the eBay portion of the decluttering but I hope it works well for you.

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Sissy.

  4. I read your posting and was jaleuos

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