Life Decluttered

When you are physically or emotionally not at your best, there is often this exhaustion that permeates through your foggy brain and slow body. Maybe even a stress that vibrates through your spine down to your feet. It saps the energy from your mind and body in a way that makes every single thing on your to do list a monumental ginormous project that seems too hard to complete or even start.

As my mental health was going down the tubes over the past 5 years, my house was a constant source of stress and pain. It definitely contributed to the feeling of my life falling apart. Actually, it was never quite as bad as my brain made it out to be. However, it was never as perfect as the HGTV programs and Home Make Over shows had their homes. Whenever I saw socks on the floor or clutter on a counter top or a pile of clothes (mine or otherwise), I’d lose it, ‘knowing’ that I was terribly lazy, because I hated cleaning the house and didn’t train my husband and boys to do their parts. I ‘knew’ that I was a lousy mother. When I saw dust, I would worry about what it was doing to the lungs of the kids. When I saw clothes spill out of the kids closets, I could feel my blood pressure go up, because they just would not put away their clothes in the organized way I showed them. I fluctuated between blaming me and blaming the other members of my family. I hated doing the dishes, I hated seeing dirty laundry, I hated mopping the floor.

This was particularly shaming for me, as my parents are incredibly disciplined people who keep their house so nicely clean and organized. They have always taught us to put things away, clean as you go, everything has to have its home base, don’t buy too much stuff, etc. etc. I’m not sure where I went wrong… somewhere down the line I developed a huge resistance to chores and housework.

Recently, I found the Life Decluttered community on Facebook. It’s a group where people are incredibly supportive and encouraging of each other’s efforts to declutter. Everyone is very realistic too, about how difficult it can be to declutter, organize, purge, or have all our stuff ‘spark joy’ in spots that are their resting places. (They are also very strict about kicking out people who are not nice.) I found my flock! They showed before and after photos. They provided tips and tricks. They shared their stories of difficult health issues, feeling overwhelmed, or having financial challenges. But everyone takes a step forward and continues to make an effort.

What I’ve learned:

  • Make routines!
  • Be nice to yourself.
  • Be ruthless purging.
  • Done is better than perfect.
  • We all have way too much stuff.
  • Reorganizing a room can take a long time.
  • Clutter means that things don’t have a home base.
  • Keeping the house the way I want it isn’t a once and done.
  • If it doesn’t work this time, you can always try something else.
  • Too much stuff taking up precious space means less room for stuff you like.
  • We put a lot of emotional attachment to things that make them difficult to discard.
  • Someone somewhere struggled with the same thing and someone somewhere will have an idea that could help you get to your answer.

The more I throw out, the more I feel my home opening up and the more I feel like it’s a sanctuary. I never thought I would LIKE cleaning and organizing. But this group has inspired me!

More importantly, the boys have followed suit and are getting better at keeping their room clean and organized too. I guess it’s more effective to show them (and develop routines for them) than to tell (or yell at) them!

Published by Sherry Yuan Hunter

Sherry Yuan Hunter is a certified trauma recovery coach and certified parenting coach. Taiwan-born American-Canadian Chinese, married, working mother of two, Sherry identifies as a Sandwich Parent, Third Culture Kid, an untigering Mom, and Recovering Shouldaholic. Based in Toronto, Canada, Sherry has been working in student success programs at University of Toronto for 20 years, supporting students, young professionals, new managers, working moms, and new immigrants to success.

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