Why I decided to declutter my house
A Journey of Self Improvement?
Having put myself out there and shared the bare bones of my story, I boldly announced a journey. A road to self-improvement and empowerment. Felt good. Felt fantastic. Felt a bit overwhelmed actually. I need to be organised. I need a path. Where best to start?
‘The path to success starts with a single step’ right? That little pearl of wisdom was clearly not written by a woman with three kids with a house full of stuff. Taking that step without injuring yourself on boat loads of lego or long abandoned Skylanders aint easy (and don’t even get me started on small furry Sylvanians who seem to be breeding in their annoying little plastic houses full of teeeeny tiny pieces of plastic crap)!
Equally Cursed and Blessed
In life I have been equally blessed and cursed with the phrase I’ve heard my mum use since I was tiny “how hard can it be?”. This means that I look at something pretty in a shop and think ‘How hard can it be? -I can do that’ (a small mortgage worth of craft equipment later and yes, I can do that, but do I have the time? It also means we rarely pay anyone to do any work on the house ‘how hard can it be? In fact, I start new challenges and launch headlong into new ‘hobbies’ with regular gay abandon – how hard can it be?
It has meant that I have learned to design clothes and pattern cut, I cook like a pro and give me a sewing machine and I’m freakin’ superwoman. We might save a few quid but it takes time and stuff…lots and lots and lots of stuff!
Home versus Business
I run my business with military precision. Everything is timetabled, I have lists of lists, spreadsheets about spreadsheets and a place for everything. But when I shut the studio door, I walk into a parallel universe.
I’m creative. I’m sentimental to a fault. OK I’m a hoarder. There, I’ve said it. A creative, sentimental hoarder with three young kids and a pathologically untidy husband. And I hate mess. This, my friends, is an A-Class head spinning situation. I have every picture the kids have ever drawn (my eldest is 11), letters going back to my teenage years, birthday cards from back in the day and boxes full of photographs from the days when photos were real hold-in-your-hands-and-cherish things. I even have all, and I mean ALL, of my kids’ baby things which is crazy. I’m 40 with a knackered back and husband who used the birthing pool as an oversized paddling pool less than 24 hours after the birth of our youngest child. The odds for more bundles of joy are not in my favour!
When I work I listen obsessively to podcasts and read blogs. This week was introduced to a brilliant blog called What Katy Said (you really, really need to go and check her out) and through her amazing ‘De-cluttering Motherhood’ posts and group, I discovered a little book of wisdom called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever ’ . I wouldn’t normally read something like this, I’m no Anthea Turner. I don’t get a kick out of donning my marigolds.
Does it ‘Spark Joy’?
But one thing led to another and I was strangely intrigued. The premise of the technique is that you approach items you may wish to ditch with one simple question. Does this item ‘spark joy’? And what occurred to me was this. Many of the items I hold on to for sentimental reasons are not things I hang on to for a sense of joy and memory, but more a sense of guilt. How could I get rid of that frock that cost so much money? How could I throw out an ugly soft monkey that my great auntie gave me when I was three or the coat that I will NEVER wear but was given to me by someone who is no longer with us?
It’s hard to find a path to a new and better life when you find it so hard to let go of the old. This book recommends ‘thanking’ the item before passing it on or throwing it out. Ridiculously this makes me feel so much better. It takes away some of that sentimental guilt. My husband thinks I’ve lost it good and proper this time and has a therapist on speed dial for me.
So, I’ve borrowed some marigolds from Anthea, stocked up on extra-strong black bags and am strangely excited about the prospect of regaining my house and seeing if anyone else can get a ‘spark of joy’ from the beautiful dress I will never wear (because it cost a bomb but made me look like a weeble).
“What’s a weeble mummy? asked my daughter. “It’s what your dad called me once before we got married darling ‘weebles wobble but they don’t fall down’. Ask him”.