Firstly, I appreciate this is such a luxury problem. How lucky I am to have a house full of things to struggle with. I promise you it’s not lost on me how privileged I am and I hope you don’t think me a massive bellend for sharing all of this. I promise I’m only an average sized bellend really.
I think it all started when I was 7 and my own Mum sadly passed away. (Yep, we’ve gone from bellends to the tragic early death of my mother VERY quickly. What a rollercoaster this is today). I remember one day my Dad decided it was time to clear out her wardrobe and I was horrified that he was letting her clothes leave the house. I wanted to keep her peach dressing gown and hold it forever. It was really distressing to me.
That’s a fairly normal response to feel during grief I’d imagine, but the thing is, it’s been almost 30 years and I still feel that way about all of her things. I also feel that way about all the things my children have ever worn, played with or made. Or any gift I’ve ever received. Or any clothing item I’ve ever worn to a special event. Or any trinket I’ve ever enjoyed. Or any useful object I may well use again, even if that use might not be for decades (like the crib I have saved in the loft in case my children ever want their future children to stay over night), I still hold on. I hold on especially tight if it’s linked to my Mum or my children and it’s definitely gotten worse since I became a Mother.
I try so hard and so often to, ‘get rid’ of things and usually I manage a bag or two of bits I haven’t had time to form much of an attachment to but that’s about it. Other than that, we’re full. There is no more room at the inn. None in the stables either. We are solid.
Lately I have been watching YouTube videos about minimalism and marvelling at the freedom these people seem to have. They don’t have to say, ‘sorry about the mess’ to every single person who comes to their house. They don’t constantly feel like they are living in a chaotic environment or like their eyes don’t know where to rest in the room do they? No, they are swanning around their giant spaces treasuring the three possessions they have, never stepping on lego, and collecting experiences instead of books. Making memories not boxes full of old toys in the flipping attic. I’m jealous.
I think minimalism might be a step too far for me but I would like to find a happy medium. I touched on it in my latest YouTube video and how I was thinking about seeking out a bit of therapy. I’m being pretty light hearted about it but when I looked up the symptoms of a hoarder, a few bells rang. In my head I mean, I’m not also collecting bells. (What japes).
For all my adult years I assumed I was just messy I thought perhaps I just don’t know how to tidy away my things or that it was positive to hold on to so much – resourceful even. Thing is, I’m not messy when I have a manageable amount and it’s not resourceful to have things you never use. It’s probably not ‘normal’ (whatever the flip normal even is) to feel like a bit of someone’s soul is living in your things either. Unless, of course, my darling Mum in heaven was actually Lord Voldemort and she turned her pink china pill box, her teapots, her pearl ring and a selection of account books into a horcruxes. I’m not entirely ruling this out but it’s quite unlikely. Letting things go is not the same as letting people go.
Why am I telling you all this though?
Well, partly because I just like sharing all the sh*t in my head. Also though, perhaps it’s comforting to hear this from someone else. I shared it on my instagram a few days ago and I had SO MANY people DM me to say they feel the same, particularly Mummies who can’t let go of their children’s things. You’re not alone. If you want to tackle it, you can tackle it with me.
I have STARTED the process of letting go. Here are a few things I’ve done so far that have helped.
- I’ve started calling it ‘zen tidying’, instead of ‘decluttering’. It makes it sound more like self care than a punishment.
- Go through one zone at a time. We recently pulled all the bags of clothes out the loft. I set up a folding table and one by one, went through the bags to decide what was going and what was staying. I didn’t let myself sit down until every bag was done. Stay on task!
- Take EVERYTHING out of the zone you’re dealing with and first pick out the things you MUST keep. Once you’ve done this, you’re left with a lot of ‘meh’ that’s easier to jettison. Don’t open a drawer and try to take out just what you don’t want. It’s more successful taking it all out and cherry picking. I don’t know the science behind this, it just is.
- Have your ‘supplies’ ready so you don’t leave a trail of destruction in your wake. I always have a black bin bag, a donate bag, a recycling bag and then a container for what you want to keep. If you don’t, you’re left with piles of stuff everywhere and then you feel more stressed than when you started.
- Watch inspiring YouTube videos to help you on the way. I love this one ‘I tried Swedish Death cleaning’ by Do It On A Dime, this one ‘Hoarder to Minimalist’ by Marissa Zen and this one ‘How I organise sentimental items’ by Natalie Bennett.
I think when I became a Mum myself I felt a much larger responsibility to always provide. If Darcy loved a toy, I wanted to provide every one in the series. If Pearl looked adorable in something, I wanted to have fill her wardrobe with five variations of it. I’ve attached being a ‘good mum’ with, ‘ensuring there is plenty of everything’. I don’t think that’s an uncommon feeling but it’s one I want to make sure I keep balanced in my mind.
This year, bit by bit, I aim to tackle it. I don’t have a set goal in mind other than to let excess go, welcome a bit of space and be more mindful in my purchases. I don’t think I’ll ever be a minimalist but I just hope to be a happier Mummy.
What do you think? A lot in here (like my house lol) but I’d love to hear your thoughts. Don’t be a stranger in the comments.