Spring is most definitely Springing, hurrah! I’ve been pottering around the garden most days and it is HAPPENING out there (!)
We recently got bunk beds for the kids (A Gunmtree freebie- very pleased with ourselves) and it has led to a mega decluttering sesh. The new bed meant we lost the underbed storage space. Finding space for the things that were under the bed necessitated a clear out of the upstairs closet to make space for things under bed- which spilled out into sorting through the stuff under our bed and other areas upstairs etc etc you know how it goes. Chaos. We ended up donating boxes upon bags of baby clothes and kids books and other things I wasn’t using. There is now space for everything in the built in storage (which is ridiculously satisfying)
A blog post on decluttering is one of the most requested blog posts I’ve had. I talk about it ALL THE TIME, in my instagram captions, in my magazine column, and in my workshops. Because it’s amazing! Meaningful! Because you’re worth it (*hair flick*) Because it’s helped my mental health so much, and it’s helped me to figure out loads of other unexpected stuff too. But I haven’t ever actually written a blog post about it. I’ve been promising it for years and HERE IT FLIPPING IS. Spring felt like a good time to finally birth this baby.
My story of clutter
Having lots of stuff around me once felt really good; my home felt homely, storied, my things were indicators of my ‘bohemian London life’ (groan). We lived close to a brilliant second hand junk market which almost singularly furnished both my wardrobe and home. I also had (still have, if i’m honest) a proclivity for bulk buying non perishables. 🤷🏻♀️ Being a joyous hoarder and junk market addict meant I gathered vast legions of everything from vintage clothes to tins of beans; convinced that overflowing with beans in the case of a zombie apocalypse somehow qualified me as a grown up.
After 10 years of hoarding in our London 2 bed flat (oh how I loved that flat!) we moved to Kent. The move was one of the most stressful, disorganiased, back breaking things we have ever done. But we then unexpectedly had to move house 9 months later, into a storage unit, then out again. Ugh. There’s nothing like lugging 108946 boxes of tat that “was only 50p!” up 3 stories to make you consider burning ALL OF YOUR POSSESSIONS, with glee. After we moved everything to a storage unit, we went travelling around Europe for 5 weeks (unexpected bonus of rent savings!)
This trip led to a drastic rethinking of much of the way we were living. We fell in love with our simple tent life. We realised that you simply didn't need loads of stuff to make us happy. We realised that our little family unit was the most important thing in our lives, and the thing we wanted to protect and prioritise as much as possible. We realised we wanted to live in closer community with our wider family too, and create more of a 'village'. Simplicity. Thoughtfulness. Family. So we took up a rental agreement with the house next door to Dave's sister. It was much smaller and less impressive than the last one but it enabled us to live a better (much better, it turns out), communal life. When we finally moved into that house, I was determined to pare EVERYTHING back. Lots of boxes weren’t even unpacked before they were donated. Pretty much all of my books went and most of my china; then the furniture that was holding those items too. More and more stuff went. It was major. We’re talking van loads of stuff, gone.
We lived in that house for 3 years and it was the very best lesson in living simply in a small space. It forced us to be disciplined with our stuff and be really careful about what we brought into our space. This was no mean feat for a recovering harder like me!
Then, 18 months ago, we were given the opportunity to move into the rental house we’re in now. This house, this beautiful, bigger house. This house that I almost felt unworthy of. We were not looking for a new house and would have been content in our small space. But we fell so hard, and we went for it. But we really didn’t want to fill it up. We decided to not buy anything new for the bigger house, and instead allow the things we had to ‘breathe’ more. We will replace things gradually, for example, we’d like a bigger sofa for the lounge, but we simply didn’t want to buy lots more stuff, we didn’t have the pennies and the planet doesn’t need us buying more shit.
We have two kids and are both juggling freelance work from home. We are in the house ALOT. Although the mess is more frequent than it was in the pre kids office job days, and can’t always be dealt with quickly, having less stuff around makes juggling life so so much easier. There is less to tidy and clean, and things feel way calmer too. Despite being pretty careful about new stuff, I find that decluttering needs to be kinda ongoing. We tend to do a fairly big sort 3-4 times a year and I do ‘mini sorts’ as and when they need it. There is always a donation box or bag in my home filling up with things we have outgrown or no longer need. I wanted to share some of the surprising things that happened over 6 years of this process.
Some amazing, very unexpected things have happened over my decluttering journey.
The more stuff I discard the less stressed I feel. I felt myself physically and mentally exhale into the new spaces I was creating and it was amazing.
My house felt calmer, clearer and so much nicer. The energy of the space changed. I know that sounds woo. But it did.
It’s much quicker to tidy and clean = more time for other stuff!
Chucking out most of my wardrobe helped me to really think about personal style and identity (whoa; deep, man)
Same with my interiors style; It wasn’t until I’d got rid of most of it that I was able to really look at what I loved and create a home that reflects who I am now.
Taking control of my clutter, and dealing with my paperwork weirdly meant that I have took control of other areas too. 3 years ago I finally, properly sorted out my finances. We set up wills, an Isa, the right bank accounts for work and tax, all things i’d been putting off for years . It was the sweetest relief. That stuff really hangs on you doesn’t it?!
The clearer headspace meant I made some big life decisions I’d been putting off. Decisons like second kids, work projects, career focus.
It stopped my impulse spending. I realised that “less but better” has become a general mantra for everything; from house plants to jeans, and even friendships. I have become really good at switching off from the need to buy things (I didn’t realise how natural and pressing it had become) and I make sure I really love and need any new purchases.
It led to a major change in style. I used to like bright colours and clutter but as I cleared space (literally and figuratively) I found that I was actually drawn to a more neutrally coloured home. Colour is still a big part of my life but it looks very different now. If you’d have said this to me 5 years ago I would have laughed.
Decluttering leads to decluttering. Once I started, I wanted to keep going. I didn’t see major results for a while, but suddenly the feel of my home shifted and I was like “ooooh I get it!” and that “oooh” moment was incredibly motivating. I felt motivated to keep going, and I still do, 6 years later.
At the increasing risk of sounding like a fanatic, I’m a convert.
So that’s my decluttering journey. Have you gone there? I have so much more i want to talk about-my tips- especially for if you have kids, mistakes I’ve made, regrets I have, but they will have to wait for another post because this is already a bit of a monster!
I’d love to hear others clutter stories too!
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