Frustrated, stressed and depressed with your way-too-small-home?
You’re probably finding it difficult to find space for new (and old) things in your cupboards or drawers and keep buying more and more plastic bins and storage cupboards.
I know the feeling. Back in the day my kitchen cupboards were bursting with Things-That-Might-Come-In-Handy and my TWO wardrobes (the spare room wardrobe was MINE!) never seemed to have enough room for the new things I bought (I was an Op Shop-A-Holic).
Honestly, how many potlucks and dinner parties was I realistically going to hold? Did I really need two of everything? Did I really NEED five different sleeveless puffer vests (so practical!) that I rarely wore. Or dresses that I NEVER wore? (so pretty!).
You might be squirrelling things away in every nook and cranny, making full use of every inch in your home. There’s no more room under the beds, or in those ridiculously high cupboards that you need a ladder to reach.
Maybe the rooms in your house feel like they’re shrinking because of all the extra storage. Maybe they’re starting to feel claustrophobic and the space left to walk or play is getting smaller and smaller.
You might be dreaming of renovating, extending your house to make more room for your family (and oh my, all that extra storage).
Or maybe you’re simply thinking it’s time to upgrade to a bigger house with extra rooms and massive cupboards! A rumpus room! A double garage and a workshop! Wouldn’t that fix all your problems?!
(I bet you can guess where this is going….)
Could you have too much stuff?
The amount of space you have in your home is static, it can’t be changed without spending quite a bit of money! But you CAN change the amount of stuff you have that fills up all that space.
One little bit of context here – we’re talking about a house that has basic storage, a wardrobe in each bedroom, a few kitchen cabinets and a pantry, a linen cupboard and a utility cupboard/laundry.
If your home does not have these things, install some storage! If you have a huge extended or growing family, you may need a bigger home to make sure everyone gets the space and privacy they need. If you need an entire extra room to store your incredible Christmas decoration collection which gives you immense pleasure, go for it!
I’m talking about a standard home of technically adequate size to house your family. The kind of home that has floor space for playing games, couches the whole family can spread out on, a dining table that can be used as a dining table. How about a kitchen bench that’s clear? Spontaneous baking can occur!
I’m also talking about the kind of home that’s super easy to maintain. Things have homes. They’re easy to put away and easy to pull out without having to move a ton of other stuff first.
The kind of house that you spend a minimum amount of time maintaining. There’s no need to wander around with things in your hand wondering where you can fit them.
No need to spend your precious time managing Things, moving them around to make more space. Moving them around to make more SENSE.
No longer constantly tidying up after the people in your home because they don’t know where things go either. Or it’s just too hard for them to put things away, so they give up.
So what is the answer? You guessed it!
Reduce the amount of stuff in your home.
It sounds simple right? But you know it isn’t or you’d’ve done it already.
So what’s stopping you? You might think you don’t have the time or the energy. But maybe it’s something else.
Maybe you’re having trouble letting go. Letting go of things that are STILL GOOD. That MIGHT BE USEFUL ONE DAY. That were ON SPECIAL!
Maybe you actually like managing all your things and always being super busy maintaining all the things.
Or maybe you just can’t bear all the yuk emotions that you’re feeling right now at just the thought of it.
Maybe you simply can’t work out how to do it and it’s making you crazy. You keep trying and it’s not working. You still wish you had a bigger, better home even after hours of hard work organising the one you have.
My point and I do have one (to quote Ellen DeGeneres)… is, if you’re feeling unhappy and overwhelmed by your perfectly adequate home you liked enough to buy or rent, then you might need to start reducing all the things that are the cause of your unhappiness.
No organising! Just reducing.
I’m purposely not using the D word here, because it’s a subjective word, a catch-all word. My client Selena and I were talking about the D word when I organised her kitchen. She told me her instant reaction was “It’s not clutter, it’s GOOD STUFF!” And she’s right! Of course it’s good stuff, you wouldn’t have it if it wasn’t. But the Tidy Lady definition of clutter is:
Good Stuff That’s Getting In The Way Of You Living Your Best Life. Right Now.
There are many decluttering systems out there, with nifty catchphrases. But they all have some things in common. They help you to prioritise your belongings and prioritise space in your home. They offer ways to find freedom from Things. They give you permission to get rid of things. They give you an opportunity to think bigger than the micro level of constantly struggling with the things in your home.
Sometimes they even look beyond the things to the cause of your clutter and this can be immensely helpful.
Talking over or simply thinking about how you’re feeling about your home and your belongings (and your life) can reveal thought patterns, behaviours and habits that are no longer serving you and the life you would like to live.
If you are unhappy in your home you are clearly not living your best life right now. And of course you can renovate, buy a bigger home, install more storage. But you might find it doesn’t take long for the same feelings to come up again.
It’s like the Bad Feelings are following you!
So how about this –
Change the way you think about your things.
Right now your things as a whole are probably causing you to feel a bit crap. But when you look at each item individually you Just. Can’t. Let. It. Go. For what ever reason.
So here’s the part where a little self knowledge comes into play.
What ever thought pops into your head when you can’t let go of something is worth arguing against.
Have an argument with yourself!
- Do you think you’ll never EVER be able to get this thing ever again? (is it the Mona Lisa?! Are we living in a 3rd world country where even the basics are hard to come-by!?)
- Would you die of heartbreak if it went to a home where it was actually desperately needed?
- Would you or your family cease to function on a societally acceptable normal level without this thing? (like you know, soap)
- Does this thing mean so much to you, you will lay on your death bed deeply regretting that you gifted it to a charitable cause close to your heart?
- Does the annoyance of not having 13 black T shirts to choose from outweigh the fact that you can’t close your T shirt drawer?
- Could you actually use up those products and not…. HORROR! Not buy or accept any more? (How many moisturisers, sets of coloured pencils, stashes of LEGO do you need?)
- Are you subconsciously prepping for The Zombie Apocalypse, the end of civilisation as we know it? Do you think you’ll need 12 sets of dusty wine glasses? (Look at the Civil Defence website – you’ll be amazed at how simple it is to prep for a real emergency.)
Focus on persuading yourself that it’s OK to let things go, in what ever way that works for you.
Then start doing it. A bit at a time. Slowly, slowly. Or… Fast! Fast! Everyone is different, and we are different from moment to moment. Go with your flow, but don’t give up.
You’ll find that you have a little more space here and there. That your life at home is just that little bit easier. Don’t lose that momentum… get excited about the fact that there’s a bit more room to move, that you feel lighter without the burden of all those extra things.
Work through any anxiety that you feel, be kind to yourself, start with easier things. Pay attention to thoughts and feelings as they come up, they’re telling you something about yourself. They’re telling you the reason why you are in this situation.
The why is the key to your happiness in your home and in your life, right now.