8 tips to minimise clutter in your home!

Look around your home, do you have the essentials plus a few other pretty household items or do you have countless items, some of which you do not even need?

Is your wardrobe carefully organised by garment/colour or is it bursting at the seams with clothes a) you have not worn in over a year, b) which still have the store tags on?

Does your hallway have a clear pathway leading to your front door or are there piles of shoes, coats and other items blocking the walkway?

Whilst not wanting to advocate living in a bare, souless home with no personal touches, de-cluttering can bring many benefits for the whole family.  The more items you own, the harder it is to keep your house tidy. Items create clutter, clutter creates dust and who really wants to spend the weekends tidying up? Nobody, as it is relentless, not to mention tedious.

Let me tell you, once children are thrown into the mix, you appear to accumulate toys, large and small. I can cope with the large toys, even electronic devices but the small toys that find their way under (your feet) the sofa and in nooks and crannies is a whole other story!

My daughter is such a creative child.  She designs theatre settings, clothes, anything you can think of using paper and other materials.  When she has completed her masterpieces, the lounge resembles an art class.  We now have a 'rule' that her work must remain in her room and (when I remember) we take photographs because she cannot keep them all.

Some tips to reduce clutter in your home;

1. As letters arrive, open them and either file or take action.

2. When you receive letters, invitations and information, take a photograph using your mobile phone and discard of the hard copy. 

3. Keep entrances to rooms clear, it makes rooms appear less chaotic and reduces the risk of accidents.

4. Unless your hallway is wide, try and keep it clear. Buy a shoe cupboard and keep coats upstairs in a wardrobe separate from your clothes.

5. Buy a toy box each for your children to store their small toys in. Ensure they are put away every evening. My son’s toy cars are kept in one place other than when he feels the need to bring a few to nursery…………….

6. Do not leave a room empty handed.

7. Give everything a home. Resist the urge of leaving items out just because you may use them later that day.

8. Sort through your clothes into piles of;
A. Keep
B. May keep
C. Dispose of

Be ruthless and truthful to yourself.  Only purchase what you absolutely love, not because an item is cheap or “will do for now”.

Do you live a clutter-free life?
If yes, what advice would you give to others?
If no, what is causing the hindrance?

Learn to forgive yourself!

Often we associate forgiveness with an act that we do unto others forgetting that we also need to forgive ourselves.  In fact, it is of vital importance we forgive ourselves if we wish to live freely, unbound by our past.  We cannot go back and change past events no matter how much we would like to. 

I have met a number of people who act out on their feelings, make errors and bad judgement but forgive themselves and move on. I have met others who spend far too much time going over situations in their mind and beating themselves up about it (not literally!)

Do you often have the following thoughts;

“How could I have done better?”
“How do I look to others?”
“How could I have been so silly?”

It can be difficult to forgive yourself when a decision made months or years ago is still affecting you and your family to this current date.  Each day serves as a reminder of the road you chose which appeared a good idea at the time.

I have always struggled to forgive myself and if I am not cautious I can wander as far back to my teenage years.  I have blamed myself tremendously for the way other treated me when I was too meek and petrified to stand up for myself. At the time I felt helpless but when I became an adult I realised that I could have stopped their actions as people can only do what you allow them to do.  Believe me, this eye opener did not encourage me as it dawned on me that I had an element of power to change my situation but did nothing.

I have had to work through these thoughts with prayer and speaking words of affirmation.

Four tips that I recommend;

1. Remember you are NOT perfect and never will be. You WILL say and do the wrong things from time to time. You are not required to go over and above to make up for your imperfections. 

2. Treat yourself well and others who too are imperfect are likely to follow suit. Make time for yourself to do the activities you enjoy.  A cost does not necessarily have to be involved. 

3. Look at your motives; are there ongoing issues which influence your speaking or acting out of line? However ugly and embarrassing it may be, deal with it by speaking to a family member, friend or counsellor.

4. Learn to love yourself as you are inside and outside.  Write down the qualities you feel and others say you possess. 

So to round up, it is clear that forgiveness of self is essential for one to live with freedom. It is an ongoing process which we should embrace, however unnatural it may seem.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and experience on this topic. Perhaps you have some advice to offer?

Resist the urge of “doing it all”!

I recently read an article about a woman complaining that she is fed up with bearing the burden of her household. She was annoyed that her family relies on her for everything; housework, packed lunch, making appointments, noting event dates, buying birthday and Christmas gifts. Her family expect her to have the answers all of the time.

Does this sound familiar to you, if not you then a family member or friend?

Sometimes we take on too much and we try to  be “everything” to everyone.  We delude ourselves into thinking that if we do not carry out a task, the heavens will fall. The reality is your child may have to eat school dinners if they forget to make their lunch AND pack it in their school bag or your husband may not have a gift to hand to his sister as you of course chose not to remind him.

I definitely take on too much which is entirely my choice. Nobody forces me or convinces me it is my role – I voluntarily pick up the slack. Part of the reason is I am a born organiser and I much prefer order to chaos. The other part is I see it as my responsibility to ensure our home life is smooth running.

One example, I used to pack my daughter’s school lunch, leave in the fridge for my husband to put in her school bag just before they left the house.  One day, he forgot to pack it and had to return home – thankfully he was close by when the school officer called. Ever since then I pack her lunch just to ensure there is no chance of her leaving it at home. 

I will not deceive you, I am known to complain when carrying out some of these tasks especially when tired.  My husband on the other hand will pace himself, he will mow the lawn, rest then hoover or wash the dishes.  I want to complete jobs one after the other then I wonder why I feel exhausted. 

Generally I remember the birthdays of my husband’s family members. He usually relies on the Facebook reminder!  I have the dates of our children’s school events/birthday parties fixed in my head and logged on my phone – I then raise a discussion on who will escort and collect them. 

Life is busy but everyone needs time out during some point of the day which is why we aim to get our children, fed, bathed, read to and prayed to by 8pm – actually closer to 8.30pm!

How much are you in demand?
When and how do you cut off?

What are your values?

What do you class as important and refuse to budge on?

The Cambridge English Dictionary’s definition of value;

The beliefs people have, especially about what is right and wrong and more important in life; that control their behaviour.

Values are often instilled in us from childhood. A parent’s way of living and thinking heavily influences a child as they are impressionable. Children absorb everything in their environment whether right or wrong.  Parents religion or non-religion, culture, lifestyle, dietary habits all impact on the child. When the child becomes an adult they of course will adopt their own values which may well be contrary to their parents.

My mother had high standards and I recall as a child she forbade us from eating food on the streets, dropping litter,  hanging out after school in our uniforms, watching films that were unsuitable for our age range. We were told to treat others kindly and to say please and thank you when being served. These are just the few I can think of from the top of my head – there are many more!

I struggle to tolerate lying and swearing and have always felt this way for as long as I can remember (long before I became a Christian).  I understand exactly why people do it but do not agree with it.  My values will naturally project to my children and I am sure they will try to resist some just as I did growing up. 

Culture plays a huge part in our lives. My parents are Jamaican and my husband is Nigerian – totally different ways of living.  My husband was taught to postrate to his mother and father every morning. He refers to senior family members/friends as sir or ma. Growing up I called anyone more senior than me by their first name – my husband was shocked that I was allowed to be so free.  My children now call seniors known to the family, aunty or uncle and I am happy with this as I understand it is a sign of respect.

As a child of Jamaicans, I too have a set of values, some of which derives right back to my grandparents. I have obviously let go of anything I deem to be nonsense (myths and superstitions).  The hardworking ethic and drive to succeed certainly comes from my past generation, my grandmother in particular.  She was a pioneer and always pushed forward even in the most challenging circumstances.  That I am thankful for.

What values have you inherited from your past generations?
What values have you adopted yourself?

 

Are you a people pleaser?

Do you worry about how you are perceived by others?
Do you worry that you will not be accepted by others?
Do you take on too many tasks/favours in order to stay on the “good side” of others?

If so, you are likely to be a people pleaser.

A people pleaser allows others to dictate what they should be doing and when they should do it.  People pleasers are more succeptable to being “played” with – manipulated if you like. A people pleaser goes all out even when it is to the detriment of their health and well-being, finances and personal time. Whilst there is nothing wrong with giving your time, money and expertise to others, your reasons for doing so should not be to seek their approval. 

If we are honest, we all enjoy being liked.  We are human and want to be accepted by our family, friends, peers and acquaintances. How far are we willing to go to be accepted, to gain recognition? What happens in the event that we cannot be there for someone- do we suddenly become redundant?

Looking back at a few friendships I had in my teens/early twenties, I was certainly a people pleaser. I gave far more than I received which was due to my low self-esteem and my need to “keep” the friendship.  I felt I always had to be giving in order to be accepted – that me alone was not enough. The danger is friendships can become unbalanced. The other person makes no effort and leaves you to do all the running which of course you do as you are “grateful” for the friendship. You then become resentful and your self esteem takes a knock.

In order to move away from being a people pleaser one must first identify the root of the problem. There will be one, perhaps stemming back to childhood, early adulthood, an unhealthy friendship/relationship.

One can then work on their self-worth in the following number of ways (please note these are only my suggestions);

1. Prayer

2. Self-help books

3. Treat yourself once weekly to do an activity you enjoy

4. Spend time with people who encourage and inspire you

5. Let go of unhealthy relationships

Once you move away from being a people pleaser, you are no longer bound by others. You have no need to feel guilty when you cannot commit or fulfil a request.  You can be at ease with who you are knowing you are accepted whether you are doing or not doing. 

Are you a people pleaser?
Were you a people pleaser? How did you make the break?
What advice would you give others who are struggling in this area?

Does frustration get the better of you?

Last week Monday I was tired after a two hour commute, I collected the children from nursery and childminder and arrived home knowing I would have to face the usual drill; evening meal, bath, story, prayers, make packed lunches, hang up clothes for tomorrow etc etc.

After dinner, I became extremely frustrated with my three year old son. He was insisting on his need to eat cake in the lounge as oppose to the kitchen. I told him he must eat around the table in the kitchen.  He then became stroppy, stood on the spot and cried (whilst holding the plate of course!) My son is extremely strong willed and stood crying for ten minutes but it actually felt like an hour. I was not willing to bend my rules in order to get a little peace but was definitely tempted for a few seconds. Eventually my son gave in and ate the cake in the kitchen.

Having witnessed awkward family situations whilst out and about, I can see why parents become frustrated with their children.  Whilst my son cried, my mind ran on the advert shown on television some years ago. A mother was out shopping with her two children and one child complained non-stop. Suddenly the mum dropped to the floor and began having a tantrum and caused a scene.  The children looked on embarrassed as if to say;

“What is up with mum?”

Mum had had enough – mum was having a fit just as children do. It certainly made them stop and reflect on their behaviour as you could see the shock on their faces.

Having children means your patience is tested throughout the day. You would like them to do one task and they have other ideas. I am learning they are their own people and their personality and character is developing each day.  My eight year old daughter is assertive and knows exactly what she wants. She will do/say anything to stay up later even if only for five minutes.  I am improving my skill of not negotiating with her which annoys me no end but simply telling her in a stern voice which she does not like at all.

I do not want to be a mother who constantly shouts at her children out of anger and frustration. If this means I have to walk away in particular situations to catch my breath/put life into perspective then so be it.  I have realised I have more impact if I speak firmly to my children and get them to reflect on their behaviour rather than acting out in frustration. 

How do you deal with frustration?
What advice would you give others?

Work in excellence!

I have been thinking about those who live a life of excellence. They do everything to the best of their ability, however menial the task may appear to others. Excellence is not only reserved for those in the public eye, in senior leadership or for those who want to aspire to more than what they are currently doing.  We should all work in excellence, with the intention of receiving great results.  Without excellence we can become complacent and sloppy.  Progress can rarely be made without working in excellence. 

When cleaning your home, I doubt one would get very far if they used a dirty cloth and ineffective cleaning products. If writing a dissertation, one would not fair well if they do not meet the word count or fail to spell and grammar check the content.

Cutting corners only brings disappointment.  It may well present as saving you time now but in the long run it will show you no favours. Your reputation will be at stake and you in turn lower your expectations.  Others can encourage, coach and mentor you but you need to make the decision to push forward and give your all.

Excellence to one person could be seen as average to another as perhaps they work smarter and are generally more competent in a particular area of work.  My daughter is a natural at drawing and anything remotely creative, she is constantly designing and building.  She has more creative skills as a child than I do as an adult. I still have the mindset that if you are not particularly gifted in an area of work it does not excuse you from delivering to the best of your ability.

I recall taking driving lessons 20/21 years ago and my driving instructor chastised me about changing gears. For some reason I would go into fourth gear instead of second and visa versa. He drummed it into me that this would hinder me from passing my test – no kidding! At the time I felt annoyed and irritated that I could not get this right. I made up my mind that I would focus on my gears as I had to pass my test first time.  The lessons were expensive as at the time I was a student and it cost almost £100 just to take your test. Suffice to say I got a grip on changing into the correct gear and passed first time.  Looking back, I would have continued until I passed as I was intent on being a driver- the fact I did not have a car did not matter one bit!

Do you veer towards working in excellence?
What have you sacrificed?

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