Sunday, 18 January 2015

Decluttering our lives

Decluttering is something I love to do and with the beginning of a new year there are articles everywhere about decluttering our lives.  My husband hates it, as he is a hoarder, whereas I will throw something out if we don’t need it or haven’t used it in awhile.  What’s the point of things sitting in a box if you haven’t got room to display them, it’s broken or if it no longer fits you? 

When windowsills are full of clutter, you don’t get as much sunlight into a room, which will affect your mood.  I’ve read lots of posts on facebook this month about living as a minimalist as it helps to make you happier.  We don’t need all the possessions we surround ourselves with – don’t get me wrong I love photos up of our kids, have various things I’ve collected from places I have visited and I keep some of our children’s artwork and prized possessions but do we need to keep everything?  I often recycle artwork into birthday cards for people and will keep a select few pieces of artwork each year.  In the loft I keep a plastic box for each child with their school work and my intention is that they will all have just one box for their whole school life.  If I kept everything there would be no room in the loft for everything else!

I heard an idea on television this week about how everyone should keep a suitcase full of their favourite things and once this is full, if you have something else to add, then you need to remove something else first that you no longer need.  It’s a good idea to adopt especially when we live in an age where space can be premium.  Some of the favourite things I have are memories of places I went as a child or family trips we have done with our children and so don’t take up a physical space.  Children do not always need toys – a treat to visit a zoo, the seaside etc can offer so many good memories.

Most children I know, including our own have a wealth of toys – many are rarely played with, as there is too much choice.  They also find it hard to keep their rooms tidy, as there are too many things to find a home for.  When you have a tidy bedroom, you tend to sleep better, as the room is clear, which will help to keep your mind clear, rather than focusing on the things that need to be put away.  This works for children and adults and is something I try to encourage our children to do, especially our ASD children who can struggle to sleep. 

Our youngest son has an Ikea storage system and everything is put away in a drawer each night, so that he can’t see it.  Apart from his soft toys at the end of his bed, which he likes for comfort and his lego models that he has out on display, he can’t see much when he’s in bed to distract him.  Unfortunately, our daughter is not the same and would live in a pigsty if I let her.  She likes to leave clothes where they fall and scatter the floor with every book and craft item she owns.  She also seems to collect everything going, whether it is snow shakers from places we visit, keyrings or a sweet wrapper that has a special memory attached to it.  A typical child you could say, but to help her to go to sleep and wake up in a calmer environment, I am encouraging her to take responsibility for her bedroom and tidy it up as she goes, rather than reaching Friday and wondering why there is no clear floor space in her bedroom.  It is a work in progress and I do not expect miracles overnight, but by breaking the job into smaller pieces, she is gradually tidying up each area of her room.  Clothes, books and craft items are the easy things to deal with, it is the scraps of paper, sweet wrappers, ornaments from places we have visited that are proving harder to do.  We have bought some pretty boxes to store things in, so at least the room is tidy and then in a few months time she can go back to them and see if she still has the same attachment to them.

Our neurotypical son is the easiest of the lot, as he knows he won’t get his pocket money each week if he doesn’t keep his room tidy, so he is motivated each week to put his clothes away and keep his room in a reasonable state.  Unfortunately, our daughter is not motivated in this way.  With her Oppositional Defiant Disorder, she would rather forgo the pocket money then clean her room.  

Obviously at the ages of 6, 10 and 11, we don’t expect our children to keep spotless rooms, but it is a good habit to get into, to keep their rooms in some sort of order.

I’m far from perfect either as our dining room table can be used as my craft table or desk for my volunteer work, but I’m trying hard to get into the habit of putting things away as I use them.  I can't imagine having no mess, as I think that is impossible with three children and a puppy, who seems to have accumulated a basketful of toys already in the 3 months he has been with us.  However, we can reduce the amount of things we have and by working together as a team, we are decluttering our home and making it a happier place to live in.

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