Are you just drowning in the detritus of family life…. a hoarder even?
It’s not difficult to imagine how an average person in the western world could literally bury themselves in stuff. These days we go through technological gadgets, electrical paraphernalia, whitegoods and toys at an alarming rate creating ourselves a lot of junk. Disposable versions of practically everything, whilst everything else seems designed to break anyway to ensure you keep buying more. And how many of us can be bothered battling a company for warranty or even just getting repairs these days when it’s often cheaper and easier to buy a new one?
Simplify, de-clutter, downsize, reduce-reuse-recycle, up-cycle, repurpose…
We hear the catchphrases more and more. Could that be because the overall message is one of the keys to fulfilment? Put simply, use what you need, make the most of it and be creative in your conservation. Value what you have, use it and enjoy it. Shed what you don’t. But with such cheap imported merchandise of every description imaginable so available, we pile up things we don’t need and it can get overwhelming and untenable. Every child’s Birthday brings a pile of new toys and Christmas brings an ocean of stuff to find homes for. Preceding generations by comparison had so little materially and didn’t waste a thing, which leaves us now with not only too much stuff to deal with, but an inherent attitude that we’ll find a use for it one day! Is it any wonder western society has a hoarding problem?
There’s no point in applying minimalist principles to family life though, and we should all be able to surround ourselves with the things we love. But once your stuff starts rendering you disorganised and unproductive, then you have yourself a problem. There might be different more complex reasons why someone holds onto their stuff; valuable or not. Some people loathe contributing to an already bad environmental problem, so they’ll hoard stuff instead. Others are emotionally connected to their stuff, many have a misguided plan that they’ll use it all someday or just a sentimental attachment to anything old. Many people won’t even get started on clearing out the clutter, because they feel the problem is bigger than them.
But if your family has just got too much stuff, like mine, it’s probably because you don’t have the time to go through it all and it just keeps on coming! I’ve considered a few ways to move forward rather than letting it get out of hand.
Organisation is a skill! It’s often not recognised that organisation and managing stuff is really something that needs learning, and often neglected to be taught. Many parents question whether this is even possible to teach kids about organisational skills. It certainly can, however, and involves lots of demonstration of the good habits. Your children will do what they’re shown (not necessarily what they’re told! As we all know). Keeping your child in a good routine and setting reasonable boundaries will include learning their management of their stuff.
The dreaded Toys. Before Christmas make way for some of the goodies. See if your little ones are happy to part with a few things they don’t use and give to a younger cousin or friend, or to charity; someone who’ll really appreciate it. They may feel less like they’re getting rid of their things and more like they’re sharing, helping and giving. (Didn’t work with mine, but you may have better luck!)
Use your Scanner. My child is only in prep and I’m already buried in drawings and creations. The two dimensional variety could be scanned directly to your computer and kept safely backed up in your “KIDS” folder. Then you don’t have to feel so guilty when you ‘disappear’ some of the hundreds of masterpieces.
Conquer Procrastination. Someone once said “Procrastination is the grave in which opportunity is buried.” We put things off for a multitude of reasons. Work out whether you are truly too busy to do something, or if you’re just putting off tedious tasks. When do you feel most energized? Whether you’re a night owl who gets that extra boost of energy after everyone else has gone to sleep, or you’re at your best in the early morning – take five minutes then to tick off another job, however small. Write your to-do list, organize one of your kitchen drawers or a shelf in the shed; cull your wardrobe, or make some progress on that pile of filing. However small the achievement, you’ll feel lighter for it. The difference it makes it can give the boost to continue in other areas of your life.
Tackle One Area at a Time. Pick one area of your home to work on and attack visible clutter first. Sort items into rubbish, charity, and ‘to keep’ (and only if you can find a home for it) and handle only once. Clear your desktop of old papers, sort the piles on your coffee table.
Try not to be overwhelmed by your stuff, instead break down the task and stop ignoring it. You’ll be amazed at how much calmer and productive you’ll feel.
“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know
to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”