When my daughter and I moved into my two-bedroom downtown apartment just over a year ago, we had very little for possessions. A classmate of mine happened to be moving across the country two weeks after we moved in and bestowed us some necessities for the house. We also received a donation of needed household items from a women’s charity in town. Slowly our new home was coming together. We were close to my daughter’s school, mine, and necessities needed in town. Then I asked my girlfriend for my items that had been in storage at her home for years. And I mean years. Boxes and bags and Rubbermaid totes appeared out of nowhere. They lived stacked in closets and my dining room begging me to go through them. They called to my then 6-year-old to be riffled through. To be
dumped out and then have their contents only semi-crammed in. With the mishmash of random furniture and no set place to put things, piles started. Everywhere. On every surface. Her grandmother in Alberta sends us boxes constantly. Care packages, items she stored for us there after we moved out of our two-bedroom house, Christmas crates, birthday barrels…it was never-ending. The result? I have been drowning in clutter, garbage, unused toys, broken things and still more boxes than I can count for a year. This has had such an adverse affect on my mental health. Me not being able to locate an item I know should be in a certain place, or that I just had is an instant recipe for a panic attack. I clean my areas I consistently use but the mess slowly creeps in one day at a time from the other areas until the entire apartment is utter chaos again. So, what am I to do?
It started, as most things start for me, with a book. Marie Kondo’s the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I’m not sure how I heard about this book but I believe it was an image of how people were folding her clothes on Pinterest. I then requested both her books from my local library and read what I could online. I pinned illustrated versions of her list of categories on how to declutter your house. And then the book arrived. After I devoured it in one sitting (it’s small and very easy to read), I instantly related to her concept of sparking joy. Kondo teaches that we should examine each item in our home by holding it and asking ourselves if we truly get joy from it. Through her process, you touch every item you own, going through your household category by category. While there are some cheesier, hokey parts to her concept I believed in what she was saying. But therein lies
another obstacle; I don’t have the clean space to gather all these items up and go through them one by one. I still have hope I’ll get to a point where I can do this. I like the idea of being able to check categories off a master list. Because of this book, I started searching online for more books on minimalism. I found blogs, YouTube channels, books, and Pinterest boards. Somehow, I feel the amount I found on the topic almost contradicted the concept of minimalism. But I was taken by it, minimalism. The idea that I wouldn’t be overwhelmed with junk. That everything would have a place, that I would have an apartment easily cleaned in an hour once or twice a week. The golden gift of time I could be spending doing all the things I currently feel guilty for doing because I should be cleaning. The clarity in my mind would mean I would be a better mother to my daughter, I would have more times to play the three out of 15 board games we own that we always play. We could paint together, play together, or just sit and read together and not have this deep sinking feeling in our stomachs as we looked out at the mess.
I’m fighting now, for this essential freedom in my own home from the junk and clutter that binds us to a life I am not happy in. I read books on minimalism. I think about the concepts every time I see something flash by my eyes on a screen or shelf that I want. And every day I try and do a little more. I’ve been given a gift of just over a month off school. And I plan to tackle this apartment. I will get it to a point of management. Today I hung up a pile of clothing that has been littering my bedroom floor for months. I cleaned off my desk and turned it from a vanity to a viable work/study space. The floor is still a mess of papers, books, and blankets, but it’s a step in the right direction. I feel lighter, I feel accomplished.
I am not alone in my struggle. How many of you suffer an overwhelming amount of “things” that you hold on to because you could use them one day, they were a gift and you don’t want to rid yourself of them? Share your story in the comments, let others know they’re not alone. I plan to keep writing about this topic through my blogging holiday. To show my progress. And to be honest about my starting point. My house is terrifying. I am ashamed. But no longer. Because I will overcome it all! I also welcome and tips and tricks, resources, or please, words of encouragement!