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Monthly Archives: August 2012

A life less cluttered

Yesterday I received an email with the title ‘Declutter your home’ on which you clicked and were transported to a brief but beautifully presented blog on organising your house. Some good advice indeed.

Ironically the original email was from an online store which provided a list of new and useful products to help declutter – none of which was a skip bin, a wheelie bin, a dust bin or any kind of rubbish bin for that matter.

The adage for decluttering as quoted in the blog is ‘a place for everything and everything in its place’. As one who struggles when things seem a bit crowded (trains, my desk, my mind) ‘everything’ could really just be ‘some’ things. Aren’t there ‘some’ things that we can put away and other things that we could just throw away?

When I tell him about a great sale, the Cliche often responds to me, ‘oh yeah save thousands’. It grates on me when he does this … mostly because he is right. Do I need to buy things to save money? That’s how I feel about the email. How can I be decluttering my home if I am buying more things to put in it?

With two small children and a house that needs a lotto win spent on it in renovations, decluttering is a full time job – or maybe I am simply confusing that with cleaning up. Here are some of my necessities:

  • sunscreen – this is just a given
  • internet access – if you’ve read my previous post you’ll know why and fortunately this doesn’t take up much room
  • 50 old cloth nappies to wipe up spills, to use as extra sized bibs on porridge mornings, and for cleaning the car
  • 20 sets of colouring pen, crayons or pencils because two year old art needs to have the hues exactly right to keep two year old tantrums to a minimum
  • 500 pieces of the ‘little people’ toy set because we need to confuse our children by giving them cave men pieces and the Noah’s ark ones (okay I added this one for sarcasm but also because sometimes they are handy to deflect the before-mentioned two year old tantrums. Actually sometimes these can cause the tantrums).

Not so long ago I travelled for a year with nothing more than a set of goods and chattels, that weighed between 14 – 18 kilograms on any given day (‘given’ I spent some time in Argentinian wine country). I admit that I occasionally sent a parcel back ‘home’ with the odd souvenir. I can’t claim to have reduced my entire life to only a few kilograms. I did leave some of my favourite furniture behind, in very good hands.

However, it highlighted to me that:

  • you can survive wearing the same seven pairs of undies, if you hand wash them, for a year
  • you can wear your climbing boots to the symphony in eastern European countries if you don’t care what people you are never going to see again think of you
  • you don’t need to take them from home if you can make the appropriate hand gestures for motion sickness tablets in pharmacies in Ecuador (the trick is saying ‘el mar’ and pretending to vomit)
  • you won’t end up with too many double headed eagle souvenirs if you learn quickly enough that someone nodding their head in Albania is really saying no.

We adapt. Yep, I have said it. We are human beings and we adapt and sometimes we bask in the joy of adapting and other times we resent it. Back after my travels I adapted into the new surroundings that come with two healthy, happy, messy, children, a house needing renovations and sharing it with someone who is more than happy to plan it with me (we’re adapting to each other’s style). As a result I have an overstuffed home that probably needs a declutter involving a seven metre skip bin.

Maybe I only need sunscreen, internet access, nine old cloth nappies, ten sets of pens, pencils and crayons and 50 ‘little people’. Maybe what I need to do is simply hit ‘unsubscribe’ on those emails purporting to make to make my life less cluttered, and virtually start decluttering.