At this time of year, we are all committed to decluttering our lives of the crap that keeps tripping us up. My hallway for example is continuously lined with runners, wellies, swim bags containing clothes going slightly mouldy as they have been sitting in the damp conditions of the inside of a towel for nearly a week.
At this time of year, there are also an assortment of bags, usually the slightly fancier carrier bags I have acquired during Christmas shopping season. They are filled to the brim with all of the clothes my children have outgrown and also the ones I have too with the Christmas treats!
Tucked away at the bottom of those bags, are always a fine assortment of teddies, toys and knick-knacks I am trying to sneak out without my children seeing. Because as every parent knows, even if an item hasn’t been touched in at least a year, once it goes into the charity bag, it suddenly becomes your child’s favourite toy. They cannot be parted with this particular item on pain of death, or at least pain of losing your sanity listening to them complaining about it.
This is often compounded if you have a child with Autism as they literally cannot cope without certain items, even those you or the child didn’t realise they even owned! Patrick often spends hours wailing about items/places etc that he misses and I genuinely believe he does miss them as it adds to his sense of wellbeing to be surrounded by familiar items. This has included cars, holiday rooms, underwear, balls and even the specific coins he had in his wallet – he gets very upset when his money is gone, but then so do most of us!
The Play Therapist Patrick and Erin see, tells me to never remove toys or important items without the child’s permission, as it can be very detrimental to their sense of security and can disrespect their feelings. FFS! Really? I do of course respect my children’s feelings, but if I stuck to that rule all of the time, then my house would be filled to bursting, with every broken hairclip, one legged doll and colouring page we’ve ever been given in a restaurant!
To preserve my own sanity, the crap is either in the bin, or if still in one piece, it’s in the charity bag. And to anyone thinking of relocating your own child’s unwanted ‘stuff’ with my child, then, no matter how expensive it was or how wonderful the condition of it is, I politely tell you to kindly sod off!
Decluttering your home Marie Kondo style, may be your main January pastime and will undoubtedly rack up a few thousand steps in the fitness column of your new year goals, but the biggest and healthiest release you can give yourself, is to also focus on decluttering the mind.
One of the biggest gatherers of dust in my own headspace, has for way too long been what other people think about me or the things that I do. We all know a local Judge Judy, who convenes around her cauldron to sacrifice a poor unsuspecting ‘victim of the month’, and we all know to give her a wide birth, ignoring any passive-aggressive comments that slip so effortlessly from her immaculately l1
ip glossed mouth, at every opportunity.
But there a still a barrage of opinions, that we all need to learn to dodge. Often, those opinions don’t actually exist but are instead fabricated in our own minds, being our very own, Judge Judy of the things we did, said, think, wear, eat – the list is endless.
Facebook once quite rightly told me, ‘don’t flatter yourself that people care about what you are doing, they are too busy thinking about their own life.’
Although that is very true, it would be interesting if those time trackers we so often see, educating us how much of a lifetime we dedicate to peeing, sitting in traffic, or dreaming about Brad Pitt, actually tracked how much time we spend (waste) wondering if someone we know, took the comment we made three weeks last Thursday at the school gate, ‘the wrong way.’ Just as the worry begins to subside, the fact the person only muttered hello to us the last time we saw them, sends us back into stress overdrive wondering if it had to do with the fact they now A) ‘hate us with a passion’ because of what we said or B)actually is just because, they:
- Only got roughly three hours sleep last night due to a teething baby
- Spilt coffee on their favourite top this morning
- Are trying to figure out how many calories were in their breakfast.
- All of the above, plus 100 other things that make up their mental load.
As with any multiple-choice question, if in doubt pick B. I can honestly say, the many hours, days, weeks or possibly even years, I have spent worrying about what people think of me or what I have said have in fact been a complete and utter waste of time, that would have been much better spent playing with my kids, sleeping or eating chocolate.
Social Media has without doubt added exponentially to our feelings of fear about what people may think of us, as Judge Judy lurks troll like under every bridge of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter ready to pounce on any poor goat out for a stroll.
Even people we don’t know are wanting us to prove our worth, compassion, willingness to read their photoless post to the end, by liking, loving and sharing their post in support or a child, animal or group experiencing hardship beyond measure.
Let’s be honest, unless we are the ruler of a significant first world country, us pressing the relevant button on the keypad of our phone or laptop is not actually going to make the slightest frig of a difference.
When we think about St Peter standing at the pearly gates with a tablet of names of who is getting inside, I don’t think the tablet in question is in fact a Kindle Fire, with him using his online calculator totting up the points we have acquired along the way. 1=like, 3=share with a bonus of 100 if you copy and paste on your status for an hour. The gates are of course, kept permanently open for those who choose to personally PM everyone in their address book, insisting they keep the message going or risk the world falling off its axis!
So, back to the decluttering, once we have removed the carrier bags from the boot of our car, and deposited them at the charity shop, recycle bin or doorstep of our neighbours, let’s all try our best this year to declutter our headspace, even just a little. Set yourself realistic goals, it will not happen overnight. I know this particular section of my brain, is the only part of my body that gets it’s 10,000 steps a day, but the next time it pulls on its lycra pants for a hike, tell it to sit the hell down and fact check what it is you are freaking out about, chances are most of it is actually fiction.
In keeping with the decluttering advice of Marie Kondo, if it doesn’t bring you joy then it has to go. The wise words of motherly wisdom I gave my 13-year-old recently about these little and large stressors of life, is to:
Chuck it in the fuck it bucket and move on!