Tag Archives: Mess

Self Care In A Pandemic (16) – tHE mESS yOU aRE iN (nOW)…

Have you ever seen (or perhaps you have been) a child fully absorbed in play, while sitting in the midst of a mess of toys and games and bits and pieces strewn all around it?

My parents have memories of me being that little child / toddler, and although I love to be neat and tidy nowadays I can relate to that child especially when I am absorbed in some kind of messy craft project. There are photographs from my childhood that show me sitting perfectly contentedly on the floor examining some little toy, object, or the bristles of an old fashioned style broom that my grandmother had that I had pulled apart, completely engrossed in my ‘activity’ while all around me is chaos. In one photograph of me as a toddler, I am wearing a lovely little summer dress and have found my way into a toy cupboard, have crawled into it, am chewing on my chosen toy, but in order to get to that happy state I had pulled out absolutely *everything* else and left toys all around outside the cupboard on the ground. But I am happy and content and have found my ‘sweet spot’ or ‘happy place’ in toddler life! 🙂

As we grow older, for many of us at least, we begin to equate mess with stress. Growing up, the phrase ‘tidy your room’ did give me a sense of anxiety and stress, because as good as I was at getting messy, I needed to put in a lot more effort to get things tidied up.

Now as an adult, with my own place, I like things to be neat and tidy, and aesthetically pleasing, and ‘just so’, and I do get a bit stressed I admit, because it is a daily effort to maintain especially when living alone. How can we have that neat and tidy space around us without having to put in the work of doing the dishes, tidying up, doing all the chores, and maintaining everything – and when you’re on your own it can be hard to keep up. I’ve written several posts about decluttering and tidying so if you’re using some of the extra time you might have in this pandemic year / lockdown depending on where you live, to get your home sorted, then there is plenty of advice to be found in my blog.

At the moment, I am at home in my parents’ house, not wanting to spend winter and Christmas alone as we face a second lockdown in many parts of the UK. Not everything is just as I would like it in my room and I’d love to do a bit of a ‘declutter’ but not everything here is actually mine, so I can’t just do whatever I want with this space. This got me thinking of some things I have said in my blogs in the past, including ‘enjoy your mess, enjoy your tidy’ and the importance of finding balance in whatever season of life, and of our environment that we are in.

Perhaps reading the title of this blog post, certain ideas or thoughts were triggered in your mind. What did or what does the phrase: ‘The mess you are in’ signify for you? Is it an actual physical mess of your surroundings, is it an emotional or psychological mess, is it the mess of circumstances, of failing health, of uncertainty, of worry, anxiety, fear, broken relationships, grief, death, or a shaken world, of poor job prospects, of financial difficulties, of unruly children, of a struggling marriage, or drifting friendships, of frustrations, pent up emotions, trauma, of stress of planning for Christmas with pandemic restrictions, of political unrest, of loneliness, of struggles with singleness, of the comparison trap, of friends moving on, of feeling ‘stuck’?

Life can be pretty messy sometimes, that’s for sure. But I invite you to imagine the image of the child sitting in his or her messy surroundings, perhaps with their eyes focussed on some little trinket or toy, completely absorbed and mesmerised in the joy of that moment of discovery and of play.

You will notice that in parenthesis in this title I encapsulated the word ‘Now’. What is the mess you are in now? Right now? It is big, it is bigger than you feel like you can handle, or perhaps it is simply frustrating and annoying. Do you know, that while as an adult you are not called to forget about your responsibilities and obligations, you still have the freedom to take a break from them, even if for a moment, and find rest?

You may not be able to deal with, tidy up, pray through or resolve the whole of the mess you are in right now in a moment, in a day or even a year. Broken things take time to repair, especially when they are precious. But in the midst of the mess and the chaos, you can stop. You can look with wonder and be absorbed in something really special – right NOW.

What will it be for you today? What chance will you give yourself to pause, to sit still even in the mess, and to dream, to imagine, to play, to wonder at? What life will you find in your moment right now? xx

Photo by Evgenia Basyrova on Pexels.com

Are you stressed out & drowning in clutter? Believe in yourself and make a change…

before n after room.jpg

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As promised, dear friends, here are the first of a few ‘before & after’ pictures from my big 2018 declutter, reorganisation & spring clean! 

One of the main reasons I am posting this series, other than to help me keep track of my progress, is because I believe from experience that the way we live and use our space can have a huge impact upon our mental health, well being, stress levels and as a result, our quality of life. 

I also want to encourage you, if you are struggling, that I wasn’t born tidy or organised, and from the pictures above you can see that it has taken considerable effort to overcome the challenges of disorganisation, clutter (and depression!), and to create a much happier, peaceful and enjoyable environment for myself and hopefully others.  I also want to encourage you that if you want to make a change, but are currently feeling overwhelmed, not to worry, you’re not alone, and it can be done. 

I’m sure that even looking at the before and after pictures, let alone being in the space, evokes an emotional and psychological reaction in you…the first picture no doubt represents somewhere that you probably wouldn’t want to be, whereas the second, ‘after’ picture is quite peaceful, ordered, inviting and aesthetically pleasing. 

So where do you start? Let me suggest a few helpful hints and tips on your journey…(and for more, check out my previous blog posts in this home & lifestyle series that you can find from my main menu).

  • Know what you are dealing with, and break things down into smaller more manageable tasks. What I mean by this is that you will absolutely, definitely feel overwhelmed and daunted and perhaps even confused if you say to yourself, ‘I need to sort out / tidy / clean / declutter my house / flat’ etc if you don’t have any idea of how you are going to do this or where to start. Even if you feel like your entire living space is chaotic and that you can’t do it, believe me (and the pictures for proof!) that you can. Start with a pen and a notepad, and jot down the key areas or rooms of your home or flat. For me, this would be: the hallway, hall cupboard, my bedroom, small en suite bathroom, spare room (or dumping ground as it was for a long time), main bathroom, open plan living, kitchen, dining area. These can be broken down further, but that will be once you have focused your attention on a particular area. I find it helpful, even if I am doing different tasks simultaneously, to work as much as possible either by room by room and / or by theme.

 

  • Once you have chosen where to start, say for example, the bedroom, think about the  items you use there, what you need, and your daily routine. Then think about how you will create a place for each type of thing. For example, storage of clothes, toiletries, bed linen, etc. Name places, even in your mind, but writing it down initially helps, and be disciplined in how you think about storage.

 

  • Next, when faced with a mess like that above, you will need to lighten your load and begin to declutter, bin, recycle, give away and sort the items that you do have. I found it very helpful to keep myself from getting overwhelmed to set aside some time and to look upon this stage as a game or a puzzle to solve. For example, I would perhaps get a big bin bag and start by identifying and throwing away all of the things I could see that could go straight into the bin. I did the same with items to be recycled and sorted them into papers and plastics. I also went by item type, and created a single (yes, just one!) identifiable storage space in my home that I could either immediately start putting things away in or where I would be able to once I had done more work of creating that space. For example, an easy step was to begin to identify the many plastic bags, take them out of the room, fold them and put them in one single place that I could go to when I needed a plastic bag. I did the same with other bags, and types of items such as scarves, etc. With clothes, towels, etc, I got them all out of the way and put them to one side, after which I washed and dried them and sorted them: some would go to charity, some for storage for the appropriate season, and others would be the clothes that I need for current use.

 

  • Sometimes you will need to purchase additional items to help you  create a system. For example storage organisers, boxes, etc to create order. I have a small / medium sized wardrobe in my room with sliding doors. This can be tricky to make the most of the space available and I know that some people with these cupboards prefer to take off the sliding doors for easier access. I personally like the idea of being able to close the doors as who can guarantee that they’ll always keep their new system tidy?! I found that a lot of space was being wasted because there are no shelves or drawers inside, and any clothes that can’t go on the hangers tend to find themselves heaped in a pile at the bottom of the cupboard. So working from the inside out, I created additional storage space by buying this easy to assemble item as shown above and have organised my clothes and accessories so that the hanger space and the ‘free space’ is utilised. I have taken care to not pack the space full of stuff, which was made easier by getting rid of things when decluttering as well as creating storage space under the bed, by purchasing a very affordable ottoman to go at the end of the bed, and storage bags for underneath the bed, all with a specific purpose for particular types of items.

 

  • You will find that certain types of items just don’t belong in the room that they are in and that you will need to create an appropriate space for in the ‘correct’ room at a later date. You can begin by finding a temporary space to gather items of that type so that they don’t stay in the room that they’re not supposed to be in.

 

  • The whole process can be time consuming, depending on how deeply you are in your clutter, and can sometimes feel laborious, or overwhelming. However, you can do it! A wonderful place to start is with your imagination and inspiration. Daydream about your ideal room, and how you are going to make it that way. Having a strategy will enable you to accomplish so much more and much more quickly, as you work to a plan and don’t get caught up in the emotional baggage of how you got to this state in the first place. Perhaps you only need some ‘fine tuning’ in which case, as I develop my own, I will post guidance and tips on a daily / weekly / monthly / yearly ‘maintenance schedule’. Make sure that you don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. If you read over my previous posts you will find advice on the importance of having a space that you are happy to go to, even the tiniest ‘cosy corner’ so that you can take breaks, enjoy ‘now’ and allow yourself to rest and be refreshed.

It is a process, but if you turn your process into a puzzle to be solved rather than a chore to be endured, you might find that you enjoy it a whole lot more, and create the home of your dreams….right where you are!!! All the very best with your homemaking journey, friends. xx

 

Enjoy your mess…enjoy your tidy…

pexels-photo-302810.jpegImage from WordPress free photo library.

“Enjoy your mess, enjoy your tidy”, that’s a little childlike phrase I made up for myself to help me to keep perspective, keep calm and resist the temptation to be overwhelmed.

If you think about it, as perhaps silly and simplistic as it at first seems, it is quite a loaded little phrase. For I’m sure that I’m not alone in the temptation to feel overwhelmed when outer clutter begins to encroach upon my inner calm, that as it is, is quite a delicate thing to try to maintain.

In seeking to encourage myself, I also encourage you to put your housekeeping ‘to-do’ list down for a moment, regardless of what is going on around you. Have a cuppa, take a deep breath, and enjoy a moment of a recalibrated perspective.

Instead of feeling overwhelmed or annoyed at yourself for the mess you’ve managed so far not to properly attend to, “enjoy your mess”. Look around you at all of the stuff that you are privileged to have to mess up your home in the first place. Take a moment to be truly grateful that you have a home to get messy, when so many people go without. Be thankful that you have more than enough, and perhaps more than you need, and instead of feeling guilty about this, and planning how to give more to other people, first just STOP. Be. Enjoy the mess.

And enjoy the process of tidying. Of being able to move and have the ability to do things, be grateful if you have been so blessed that you have limbs and movement, and perhaps even freedom from pain. And if you do not enjoy these things, consider what you *are* able to do, and enjoy and be thankful for those things.

Slow down, take your time, rushing through each task doesn’t necessarily make you more effective, but it probably does make you more overwhelmed.

And when you do reach that place of being able to ‘enjoy your tidy’….truly enjoy it. Even if you are on your own, or if you have kids rushing about, or if things seem to be descending into chaos again. Just take that moment. Enjoy. And keep this in mind as the days go on and the cycle repeats. And don’t forget to take care of yourself as you take care of your home and those you love.