Whether you’re living in a shared house, have 6 kids, or you are cohabiting with the love of your life – dealing with other people’s stuff is really hard work and a massive bone of contention if you are trying to live a simpler life. Clutter can raise all sorts of feelings of overwhelmed and anxiety but unfortunately it’s not the done thing to toss out your husband’s jeans or a flatmates favourite lamp. Not matter how much they stress you out. So, what can you do?
CLEAN UP YOUR SIDE OF THE STREET
You might be a minimalist but you still have stuff and this needs sorting. It’s an old cliche but you gotta lead by example. Leave their stuff and don’t get yourself all wound up and start a fight (note to self here). You’ll be amazed how dealing with your stuff makes you feel and those positive effects might rub off. Get our free decluttering guide to help you:
It won’t be instant but after a while they might begin to see that this whole decluttering thing is worth doing. My partner dismissed it at first but now does throw in a few items into the pile. Half of it is them not knowing how to get rid of stuff or having a mental block on it so if you can take that pressure away you’re onto a winner.
HAVE A STRATEGY FOR KIDS’ CLUTTER
Kids need very little in the way of actual toys, in fact, you could say they don’t need them at all. My purse, a old scarf and a tea towel are what seems to entertain my two year old. My mum said that ‘Fisher Price have got nothing on a cardboard box’ and she is bang on. We don’t have a playroom, we have a small living room – that’s all. So it can’t be overrun with toys or it would drive me insane. My tips after many ‘stepping on lego’ incidents have boiled down to:
- Only put a few toys out, make them accessible + store the rest
- Replace pieces of artwork + craft with the next one (that means throwing it away – I’m sorry)
- Find a ‘place’ for bags/shoes/coats. Box near the door/hooks at eye level etc
- Kids (and people in general) look after stuff they have less of. End of.
Kids really do come with clutter but they get overwhelmed the same way we do. We can teach them that less is more and it’s easier and cheaper for us. I call that a win-win, people.
ASK YOURSELF IF THE PROBLEM IS DEEPER THAN THE STUFF
When I first started to clutter up my life with stuff I wanted to feel safe. I remember thinking I wanna pack stuff in here so it’s really difficult to leave or move on. After years of moving around I wanted moving to be ‘a problem’. So, when I met my partner I too was a hoarder. Obviously, at some point my mindset changed and I became more minimalist in my values but that was 3 or 4 years in so it must have come as a shock. The stuff might need processing or it might not be about the stuff . Jasmine Harman (y, know off A Place in the Sun) set up Help for Hoarders it’s got lots of self help support and links to professional help as well as an active forum. Her mum is a hoarder and she worked with her on this programme. Check it out.
GET A SPACE TO RETREAT TO
Having a space or just a tiny corner, if that’s all you have, will really help. For both parties this is a really great idea. If you’re in a shared house your room can be your haven. Make a special effort to keep it clutter free and visually less stimulating. Take stuff out and calm the whole thing down. I share a bedroom, obviously, with my partner but I make it calm and inviting and it has very little clutter. Another idea is to think of the bathroom as your space and make it relaxing and ‘spa-like’. I like bathrooms. The only room in the house where it’s socially acceptable to lock the door. Any space you can find, even a corner, a space to retreat to is wonderfully calming and mind freeing.
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