The Family Junk Pile

Other families have them, right? A “ground zero” of junk – a shelf, corner, drawer, whathaveyou – where random odds and ends accumulate?

We have several of these “pockets of chaos” in our house, and they are beginning to drive me mad.

Here’s the kitchen’s designated junk pile:

kitchen junk pile

(It pains me more than you know to post this, because it's just so embarrassing.)

Let’s deconstruct what’s in this pile, shall we?  I see:

  • yarn
  • playing cards
  • eye drops
  • Scentsy bars
  • blood pressure medicine
  • rubber band ball
  • staples
  • watercolors
  • sunflower seeds
  • and so, so much more!

There’s even a junk pile within a junk pile here – see the plastic container in the back left of the picture?  THAT is a place where I started putting all the kids’ random bitlets I find on the floor, the desk, the laundry room.

This is starting to make me absolutely crazy!  It’s so hard to keep on top of because (a) there are 7 people contributing to the problem and only one of us (yours truly) who seems to care, (b) it’s difficult to go through everything myself without knowing the worth or use of each item to someone else, and (c) I get so overwhelmed at not knowing how to begin that I end up sticking my head – ostrich-like – into a book or the computer or tv or general Mommy Busyness.

Curious if anyone else is battling this problem of The Family Junk Piles(s) and if so, how are you dealing with it?  Are you just trying to tackle it room by room?  Do you give yourself 15 minutes to get done whatever you can?  Or, more like me, do you cringe every time you pass by, but remain too overwhelmed to begin?


  • Oh I so relate! It seems like every surface has piles on it! I spend about 30 minutes every week and about 2 hours every month sorting through junk. I get a trash bag and go to town. EVERYONE has to help. If someone decides not to put their bits and baubles away I tell them it must not be important so I’ll toss it. Works every time. 😉

    • “Bits and baubles” is the *perfect* way to describe what’s in most of our piles! 🙂 Thanks for sharing what works for you – I like the idea of everyone having to pitch in to get it done.

  • You should read Organize with Sandy – she has great and simple ideas how to get back on the track 🙂

  • we have a junk “bag”. I fill up a bag with all the junk and say I’m going to go through it “some day”. Bag is pretty full…

    • Oh…we have bags, too. Especially from when we clean out the cars. Those poor bags usually end up in the corner of the garage, never to be seen again. 🙁

  • Anonymous

    One thing I have found Stacey, is that if you clean off a space and leave NOTHING on it, it is less likely to accumulate stuff. If a space even has one or 2 things on it, especially if it is a space that people are used to piling stuff, they will keep putting stuff there. For instance, my desk, which is in the kitchen and I never actually *sit* at, was cleaned off before Christmas. It was empty on top except for a basket, in which all papers to be dealt with went. As long as I worked to keep it cleared off, it stayed clean. I slacked up, and you know what, it has become a magnet again! Same for my kitchen table.
    Now I need to go clean, lol! Oh, and teach your kids, don’t put it down, put it away.
    Being productive in stressful times

    • You know what’s interesting – I’m actually pretty good at keeping the kitchen table cleaned. It’s probably because we spent so much of our married life not even HAVING a kitchen table, and now we have one I truly love. The table is always a priority.

      I appreciate your insight into areas being like “magnets” – I think that’s very true! Now time to change some location-based habits!

  • Anonymous

    I did that with laundry baskets. Easy to hide! I finally had to start going thru them because I had nothing to put laundry in, lol!

  • Renee

    We have lots of junk piles at our house –and there are only three of us who live here! My husband is one of those “I’m sure I’ll find a use for this in the future” kind of people, and he can fill up an empty surface in seconds.

    When I clean junk piles that are mostly my daughter’s, though, I tend to throw stuff out. She hasn’t needed/wanted this in two months? That’s called trash. One day I cleaned out the drawer that we keep all her hair stuff in –brushes, clips, elastics, magnets, photos . . . see? Hair stuff. After I cleaned it out, she opened the drawer and said “wow”, but she didn’t complain about missing anything 🙂

    • I like your definition of trash – so true! I often think that if the kids haven’t looked for it or asked for it, then they must not need it.

  • Frannie

    We have that problem as well. Normally when my frustration level reaches its peak I tell everyone that if they don’t take a look through it and put away their stuff it’s all going in the trash.

    Sometimes it reduces the pile other times I just throw it all away. When you throw the pile away once it tends to increase the likelihood that when you ask them to go through it the next time, they will.

    • I’m tempted to try to the “throw it all out” approach. I’m *positive* that would leave an impression! 🙂

  • We did a severe decluttering and achieved zen house… but we dedicated a room to crafty things. So technically, we have a room just for junk piles (we save EVERYTHING, you never know what you can use for a project!)

    • A “zen house” sounds soooo nice! I’m not sure that achievable while the kids are still living here, though. 😉

  • Jenlynnthomas

    The bar counter in our kitchen is our catch all…and I cleaned it Monday! (or at least over half of it) Aren’t you so proud of me!

    • I *am* proud of you, Jen! Honestly, those types of piles are so easy to just walk by day after day – you almost get blind to it. Good job on cleaning it!

  • Ugh, we used to narrow it down to a pile or 2 in our old house but now that we have moved these piles are EV.ERY.WHERE.

    • Last time we moved, the company provided movers. I kept wondering what they thought as they packed up each pile of junk. Oh…the stories they could tell! 😀

  • We have these in various places around the house. They basically get cleaned up every other week before the cleaning girl comes LOL