10 years and 3 days ago when I found FlyLady on the internet, if someone had told me I just need to change a few habits I would have laughed them right back out the front door. And as it is, that is the bulk of what has changed in my life. It just happened to be the right habits I suppose. Now, I know some of you are going, but I tried that and it was just so overwhelming… and you are right. I am there again actually, so let me tell you what happened, and where I am at now.
So, 10 years ago I wasn’t really functioning. I had a 2 year old and a 2 month old, and about 6 months before I had not only just moved on my own for the first time, but subsequently gotten sick with the flu from moving on a really yucky day. Now my 2 year old got sick at the same time, but after a few days he got better. I never really did. The symptoms lingered, then changed, and as many of you may understand, never really went away. And by mid-summer my clutter and emotions had thrown up all over the new place…. imagine that.
Now, for those of you who don’t know who the FlyLady is, she teaches people how to take care of a house and declutter through online posts, and emails. Lots of them. Which is why it can be a little overwhelming. But at the same time, if you are where I was, it can be good too. See, she email reminders to do something. It might be your morning routine (which is one of the habits that stuck) so that you aren’t still in PJs at bedtime because you never got dressed. Or never brushed your teeth, or ate anything. So if you are burying yourself in a computer with email to keep from feeling the pain of doing anything, you can totally get those email reminders to work for you…. just get up and do the little things she says to do and you will get somewhere before the end of the day.
In my world though, after awhile, it was unsustainable. It got overwhelming. I made some habits. I broke some habits, and overall, the house got progressively cleaner, albeit, still very cluttered. What I needed was a hybrid. Something that helped declutter more, as well as break the habits that created the clutter. And helped clean. Well, as with most in life there is no one size fits all approach. I found that I had an understanding of habits, but as they moved and progressed and the system changed (it is pretty well back to where we started as being able to sign up for emails again, but it wasn’t at one point), that I needed to change the clutter, not just the cleaning around it.
Somewhere this became a post about how I found my habits, not about creating habits, so I will have to write again on habits soon… but Where FlyLady taught me to clean, Marie Kondo taught me to declutter. By the point I had found the Konmari method almost 8 years had gone by. My house was a disaster again, although, I had added a few more health issues and my kids had grown up quite a bit, and we still kept some modicum of peace with morning and bedtime routines. And obviously, creating a cocoon requires a reduction in available volume of a house. But the weight of stuff can be crushing too.
But the weight of stuff can be crushing too.
For those who haven’t heard of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo it is a book written by a woman in Japan about her journey with stuff and instructions for how to declutter your own home. All at once, in about 6-12 months. Forever. Now, she just had a baby, so I’m not sure if that will change anything, but the idea I think is sound. Declutter anything that doesn’t bring you joy whether in and of itself, or through its function, and make sure everything has a home. Quickly glance through your things once or twice a year to make sure they still fit, and you never have to declutter again.
Well, the closet was easy. I had been on the Project 333 path for some time, and the kids were overwhelmed by the quantity of clothes they had. When they asked I gave them the criteria (and for my daughter I did wind up giving her a set amount of hanging space), and they quickly whittled their closets down by about half. The books were easy (although I keep finding boxes socked away in the storage areas, we don’t follow the once you do a category anything else from said category is automatically gone, mainly because at the time we had a 10×30 storage unit piled in one 13×10 room). We decluttered tons really quickly until I hit paper. And I’m still pulling paper out of places a year later. But we are getting better. We are finding things, we are discarding things, we are opening up spaces in our home as well as working through the emotional side of our hearts too. As long as we work on it a little every day, we are making progress, and every step is a step toward that point when we hit equilibrium… when stuff is not an anchor, the home is a cocoon that wraps around us as we grow in our lives.