I get asked this question a LOT. I also get asked:
- What’s a normal number of duvet covers for a family of [insert number]?
- How often do most people do laundry?
- Is it usual for kids to have this many onesies?
- How often do other people clean out their fridges?
- Do I have too many shoes / bags / hair products / spare cushions?
- Is it normal to have so many Barbies / toy cars / LEGO sets / dinosaurs?
And my answer is always the same…
“How much linen should I have?”
I get asked this when a client is stressed out by their linen cupboard. You’d think it depends on how many people live in the house right? Absolutely yes.
But what about the spare linen for visitors? And guest towel sets?
Then there’s the useful old towels and the blankets that might come in handy because they’re still perfectly good and really expensive to buy new. And all the gorgeous duvet covers that you no longer use, but you love with all your heart.
If you’re a bit stressed out by your stuffed linen cupboard, start with the two-of-each formula. Basically every person who lives in your house needs two of each thing. Two towels per person. Two sheet sets per bed. One in use and one in the cupboard. This works with any regular laundry routine. The really important part? The word need. How you feel about your linen is a different thing.
Your linen cupboard is a practical, functional space, best kept for frequent use, not long term storage. But you always have a choice. Look at what’s left after you’ve done the two-of-each. Could you declutter any of it?
Of course you could keep everything. But you will still have a crammed linen cupboard. You can choose. You could get rid of something else and make space in another cupboard or you could move into a bigger house. (If you adore and collect linen, make sure you have enough space to organise and store it well, so you can use it and enjoy it.)
Or you can make your linen fit the space you have by decluttering, finding better places to store some things and keeping and using only what you need and love (use the fancy sheets!)
“How Often Should I Clean My House?”
Do you love to clean? Floors, fridges, windows, shower walls, baths, behind the toilet… You might be saying “UGH! Bleurgh!” to yourself. Or you might be happily scheduling the dusting of skirting boards into your cleaning routine.
Maybe someone has said something critical about your cleaning. A comment, that you’re doing too much or too little. Or you’ve seen something online, an influencer, a Pinterest post, that’s made you wonder about your standards.
I have clients who happily vacuum every day and wash their windows once a week. Some use it as exercise, some have dedicated their time to keeping the house of their dreams. I have clients who loathe cleaning with a passion or simply don’t have the time to clean. Wait, what? I hear you say? Yes, they’ve decided that their time is better spent on other things. And that’s a personal choice.
How much and how often your house is cleaned is a personal choice. Within the guidelines for healthy home management – no mould, no bugs, fresh food, allergy management – anything goes.
You may have been raised by neat freaks or not, hate carpet specks or barely notice. The most important things to bear in mind are: Are you exhausting yourself, are you missing fun times with your loved ones, are you overwhelmed, not coping or feeling hopeless about everything that needs to be done. If you said yes, something needs to change.
“How Often Do Other People Do Laundry?”
Love doing laundry? Or are you hoping I’m going to say – As little as possible?
I hear from overwhelmed mums struggling with mountains of laundry. “I wash 3 times a day, and it’s STILL not enough!”, “All I seem to do is laundry! It never stops!”, “I have very high standards, but I’m not keeping up!”.
Laundry is a very interesting subject (to me anyway.) From clients that scour the house for washing and create washing because it gives them something to do. All the way to compulsive clothing shoppers who wash once in a blue moon, and spend days and days sorting, washing, drying and folding. Then buy more.
It’s all about choices. You can choose to have fresh towels every day. You can choose to change the sheets once a fortnight. You can choose to air your once-worn clothes instead of washing them each time. You can choose to only have 7 days of easy care clothes for your kids, that get chucked in a cute basket instead of being folded. Or you can Konmari fold every sock, pair of knickers and onesie in your house.
The more you have and the more you choose to do, the more washing you will have. If you choose to have more, you’ll wash more. If you choose to stick to a frequent routine, you’ll be washing more. For ideas on laundry systems and routines, you might like to click on the link below to my blog on managing family laundry.
“How Much Stuff Is Normal?”
First I’d have to ask you – Why are you asking? Is your stuff causing you or your family any problems? Or has someone said something that’s made you look at your stuff differently?
Almost always, when someone asks me this question, it’s because they think they have too much stuff. And often they’re right. Sometimes though, it’s just because they have unsuitable storage for their lifestyle.
If you are overwhelmed by toys, are struggling to fit new clothes in your wardrobe or can’t find things when you need them, you have too many things for the space you have. If you can’t use the rooms in your house the way you’d like to, because they’re too full, you have too much stuff for the space you live in.
Dishes for example. If you struggle to fit all the dishes and cutlery you own in your kitchen cupboards and drawers, you have too many for the space. If your dishwasher goes on only when it’s full, you’re going to need more dishes than the daily minimum (unless you fill it every day.) You could choose to have fewer dishes and wash them more often.
Everything is a choice. You could move to a bigger house, renovate or take over other spaces, but you may find that your stuff just grows to fill it all. You might find you’re back where you started. Or you could choose to declutter the things you don’t want to keep to make space for the things you DO want to keep.
The best measurement of how much you need is how you and your family feel about the volume of things in your home and how happy you are with the time you spend managing all the stuff in your home.
What IS normal anyway?
There will always be homes that are tidier than yours, and messier than yours. There will always be people who have more or less stuff than you. Or better or worse storage than you. There will always be people who feel differently than you do, about what is enough: things, housework, exercise, how long your kids should be on their devices…
Stop comparing yourself with others. If someone living in your home is worried or unhappy about your home, listen to them. If you feel that something is not working for you, you’re right. Listening to this feeling creates an opportunity to change how you do things, for the better. Your better. Your health, energy, sleep and time. Not to achieve perfection. Perfection is totally overrated.
Better means to achieve a happy family home. A home that’s easy for you to manage and leaves you time to do the things you really want to do.
Liz The Tidy Lady
Declutter & Life Coach ~ Tidyness Expert