I bought a book called Stuffocation recently. I’m pretty sure it’s about how to declutter your house/life and free yourself from the consumerist accumulation of junk and gubbins. In a nutshell: less clutter = less stress. ‘Pretty sure’ because I haven’t actually read it yet.
It’s sitting beside my bed among a pile of unread/half-read books that make me feel guilty every time I look at them.
I like reading but I always grossly overestimate how much time I’ll devote to it as my past-time of choice. Plus, it can be tricky to squeeze it in – what with the working, the parenting, the blogging and the faffing on social media-ing.
But despite not actually having read Stuffocation, I’ve been thinking a lot about my relationship with stuff and how much crap I want or need in my life. I have a hunch that my life would be less stressful with fewer belongings. And I’d certainly be quids in if I bought less.
Anyway, I’m moving soon (not into a Teepee just yet) so I’ve been taking this as an opportunity to de-dupe, donate or dump the clutter.
While doing so, I’ve worked out a few rules/life lessons along the way. So here’s what I’ve come up with:
(PS: Any similarity to the advice in Stuffocation is purely coincidental although I WILL read that soon…)
1. Buy for the life you have, not the one you want
Over the years, I’ve been buying for some kind of fantasy life I don’t actually lead. It’s a lovely dream-life: aside from being an avid reader, I permanently rock an apron and almost certainly bake cherry pie daily. In this utopia, I use all the gadgets I buy because I am not fickle and faddy. I am thrifty and those really were investment buys.
A lie. A pitiful lie.
2. Check the cupboard, first. No. I mean it. Check it.
Put down the Garam Masala and step away from the spice aisle. A quick reccie of my kitchen cupboard will no doubt confirm that I have a Garam Masala jar of every vintage since 2007. And I don’t even like curry (see note on fantasy life above).
This ingenious ‘checking-if-you-already-have-it-before-you-buy-it’ rule also applies to egg cups, drinks bottles, shoe polish, echinachea, antibacterial wipes and those teeny-weeny socks for ballet pumps (No. These will NOT be the one brand that actually stay on your feet. Again, quit living a lie).
The party’s over. The music’s stopped. I’m left with nothing but memories and two cupboard-loads of bolognese-stained, BPA-free plastic tubs with missing lids. I need therapy.
4. Items that *should* have sentimental value, but don’t…
Thankfully, I never get gifts I don’t like.* But for those of you unlucky enough to receive that giant ‘I kissed the Blarney stone’ paperweight (oh hang on… it’s a thing) follow these simple steps.
1) say ‘thank you’.
2) keep unwanted gift for 2-4 weeks to appease any sense of guilt for not feeling genuinely grateful.
3) Optional: take photos of you ‘enjoying’ gift to WhatsApp to the giftbearer/plaster on Facebook (post privacy settings adjusted accordingly).
4) Bin/charity-shop/re-gift it.
Life’s. Too. Short.
5. Christmas-themed normal stuff
Christmas-themed bedding, blankets, cushions, tea towels, oven gloves, draft excluders. Great aren’t they? Sure. At Christmas. Not so great when you’re still tripping over them come June or they’re taking up valuable shoe storage real estate.
6. ‘Novelty’ anything
You know what would be a novelty? You not wasting your money on complete toot.
7. It’s OK to let some dreams die
As a P.E. club drop-out, I’m unlikely to have a ‘eureka/road to Damascas’ moment that involves me quitting my job to become a personal trainer. Especially not now I have audible joint movements. In light of this, I can probably go easier on the home gym equipment.
If I’m really honest, buying a punchbag and boxing gloves was a bit of a misstep. When my whole life flashes before my eyes, it probably won’t include a Rocky-style training montage.
8. Kids clothing
I’m bad at maths. So it’s taken me a while to appreciate that my son lives in school uniform five days a week and spends every other weekend with his dad. So he probably doesn’t need 15 lightweight long-sleeved tops to carry him effortlessly through the awkward trans-seasonal period.
I wonder if he’s up for doing an Instagram shoot…
Right, so I think I’ve learned some hard but valuable lessons there and I feel all the better for it.
So what are your anti-clutter rules to live life by? Or is ‘more’ really more when it comes to how much stuff you own? Whether you’re a reformed shopaholic or a happy-go-lucky-hoarder (or even someone with an uncomplicated relationship with inanimate objects), I’d love to hear from you in the comments…
*It’s not lying if it’s done out of kindness.