Clear Your Clutter – Guest Blog

Sandra Czachur is one of the founders of Ayurveda Apothecary and was a Client of ours previously; in this guest blog she shares her experiences of using our professional decluttering and organising service and the benefits of being clutter free. Thank you for the mention Sandra @vatasandra !

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This morning I heard the end of a Radio 4 programme about Hoarding. These days I like to think ‘how could Ayurveda help?’. In the past I have used the services of a Declutterer, The Clutter Fairy, and I can honestly say I felt so much better after ‘letting’ go of all the stuff I really didn’t need. It has also made me think my office could do with a declutter……

The Vedic science of environmental harmony, Vastu Shastra, identifies how clutter creates stress in an environment. Vastu, or “yoga for the home,” comes from the same wisdom texts as Ayurveda, meditation, Jyotish, and yoga. According to Vastu, stress caused by clutter reduces and restricts life-force energy. Depending on the area of your home or office, clutter impacts different aspects of your life in specific ways:

  • Clutter in the northwest affects relationships, business partnerships, and stability of the mind.
  • Clutter in the northeast blocks growth, both spiritually and financially.
  • Clutter in the southeast affects health and productivity. It also affects passion, creativity, and your physical energy.
  • Clutter in the southwest affects support, which includes your skeletal structure (showing up as back pain) and your career.

Clearing clutter is something everyone has to deal with. From a Vedic perspective, once it’s removed, it will free up the energy in your home or office creating an environment where you can thrive. Eliminating clutter simplifies your life and opens the space physically and emotionally for new possibilities to enter.

If your clutter is manageable then it is worth investing time to clear the clutter yourself on a regular basis, if you feel overwhelmed then it might be a good idea to ask friends or family to help, or engage the services of a professional declutterer like Lesley, The Clutter Fairy.

I’m conscious that maintaining a clear space supports my mental clarity, health, and joy. And I’ve discovered that the reverse is true, too: The way to create lasting order in my outer life—in my home, my schedule, and the way I use my resources—comes from clearing out my inner landscape and refocusing on my priorities.

Like most people, I still struggle from time to time to stem the tide of clutter and to balance a busy life. I try to remember that life, like Ayurveda, is an ongoing journey and that the small, positive steps add up and can eventually become good habits.

One small step at a time.

Linda Bretherton and Sandra Czachur are the founders of Ayurveda Apothecary. Our aim is to promote living in harmony with nature. We have designed a wonderful range of natural skin care products to match your own specific Dosha. For more information go to our website www.ayurvedaapothecary.co.uk

[Photo credit: PracticalCures.com]

When you’ve lost someone, the decluttering process is tough

I was pretty much born to be a Clutter Fairy, ask anyone I know, it’s not really work for me, it is second nature to be organised and I genuinely enjoy helping people declutter their homes.

Today I was reminded of something though – just how emotionally difficult decluttering can be. You see, I’ve been doing some decluttering of my own at our family home. I lost my Mum a few years ago to cancer. One minute it was Christmas and she wasn’t feeling too well, by Spring she’d been diagnosed and before the start of the Summer she was gone. She was 56, far too young to being saying goodbye.mourning-214439_1280

We thought about decluttering often, but it never felt quite the right time. But after 4 years had passed we were ready as a family and it was time to start clearing some of her belongings out. Everyone had their chance to take what they wanted and a little more time to get used to the idea. Not that it made it any easier for us. I declutter for a living, but I still found it very hard. I found myself apologising repeatedly to Mum for letting things go, there were the occasional tears and sometimes I just had to take a few minutes for a sit down, cup of tea and a quiet moment to myself.

But I understand that’s all part of the process and whether it’s a separation, bereavement, illness, breakdown of a relationship, redundancy, or whatever horrible stressful situation has been thrown at you, the outcome can often be that things get on top of you. It took my family a few years to come to terms with the fact that we would have to let go of Mum’s possessions, and honestly, there are a few things we just couldn’t bear to part with even a few years down the line.

But I know Mum would be proud, everything that left the house went to her favourite charity and all of her possessions were treated with the love and respect that they deserve.

  • Remember that to preserve memories you need to edit the highlights. If, for example, there is a dinner service that reminds you of happy family times, but it isn’t ever going to be used, keep one place setting rather than the whole service.
  • Decluttering the belongings of a loved one is often done in stages. Time is a great healer. Declutter what feels right now and then tackle it again in another year or so.
  • Only keep things that remind you of happy times.
  • Involve the whole family – everyone has their own memories of their loved ones and should be allowed to keep their own mementos.

So today has reminded me of what an amazing job our clients do and how proud I am of them that they took the plunge and asked for help and started their own decluttering process. It’s not easy, but it is worth it in the long run. So if you are thinking about calling us, please remember, we understand, we’ve been there, we know what you are going through and we are here to help.

Where the hell is it all going to go?

So, Christmas is all done – the money is spent, Santa has been, the presents are unwrapped, the kids are happily playing with all their new gifts and whilst you are loving the idyllic Christmas moment, deep down you are wondering where on earth all those toys are going to go. The cupboards are already full to bursting and at some point you are going to want to get your house back to normal.

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I’m not going to lie, as a Mum and as a Clutter Fairy, toys create a challenge in the decluttering world. It’s tough to keep them under control. Even if you are lucky enough to have a dedicated playroom, toys are big, bulky, fiddly with loads and loads of little bits just waiting to get separated from their friends! Your lovely friends, aunties, grandparents, godparents have all bought your little ones the latest toy and now you are faced with the challenge of creating some order.

Now I love decluttering, absolutely love it, but play rooms are my absolute least favourite job in the home. Why? Because you spend hours and hours creating order, creating a system, matching dolls up with their shoes and sorting out your Primo from your Duplo and no sooner are the kids back from school filled with glee at their new organised playroom when the boxes get tipped out and you’re (almost) back at square one.

I’m not saying playrooms are a lost cause but you need to manage expectations. Kids like to play, kids like to make mess, kids move quickly from one toy to another but kids are only kids for a very short amount of time so (as a Mum of teenagers) savour every moment and (as a declutterer) take a deep breath and try to do some small things to help.

  • Use the same organisational model as they use at playgroups and schools. Jigsaws together, craft together, lego together etc.
  • Have a large clear plastic box for crafts so you can see what’s in there and keep them contained.
  • Think about storage carefully. You need storage for toys and probably more than you have already. Most of my clients need very little additional storage in their homes once they have decluttered but if they do, it’s invariably for toys.
  • Can you declutter without your kids being there? Absolutely, but only you know your child and what you can let go without World War 3 breaking out so be sensible and mindful of their favourites.
  • Once they are old enough they should be fully involved in the tidy up process. It’s never too early to instil good behaviour.
  • Make tidying up fun and part of your regular routine. Taking time to turn the lounge back into an adult living space after a day as a playroom is important to the whole family. Introduce a 10 minute race against time to put things away.
  • Involve your children in recycling and donating. It’s a great way for them to understand the value of items and what belongings mean to them and all of us.

But most of all, enjoy the moment and psyche yourself up for a big New Years cull!

 

Gift recycling – are you a fan?

gift-1008894_1920.jpgHow fast did November go by? Can’t believe it’s December already and the seasons’ festivities are almost upon us. December is a busy time for us declutterers as it starts to dawn on people what needs to be done to prepare for that ‘perfect’ day.

It would be so nice if our homes were visitor ready year round but invariably they’re not and we always have a flurry of new clients wanting to declutter so they can feel proud of their homes when family and friends come to visit. Whilst I’m a big fan of November being the best time of the year to declutter, decluttering in December presents options to think a bit differently.

As a declutterer I have close encounters with people’s bad shopping decisions time after time. For me, if you’ve bought it, not used it and often can’t remember even buying it, it’s a no brainer to let it go to someone else who can enjoy it. For most of the year the options of where to offload your stuff are fairly standard:

  • family/friends (but please make sure they actually want your stuff so you’re not just involved in the great clutter pass the parcel game)
  • Ebay/Gumtree/Facebook selling sites
  • charity shops
  • Freecycle

But in December there are lots of brilliant ways to pass on your stuff and feel your impulsive purchase was not wasted. It’s called gift recycling. To be fair, it’s something that many people are uncomfortable with but as we all work towards a society with less waste it’s worth thinking about. December is a time for reflection on the year past, thanking those who’ve helped us and for thinking about those less fortunate. There are infinite opportunities to give gifts and extend kindness

  • teachers, TAs, lunchtime assistants, lollipop people (I’m pretty sure they’re not called lollipop people anymore so if someone wants to enlighten me I’d be grateful!)
  • toy appeals
  • food banks
  • secret santa gifts
  • school fairs
  • bottle tombolas

There are lots of possibilities. This list only scratches the surface. All you need to do is a good search around your home, look in drawers, wardrobes, in your food cupboards, in the loft, spare room. Gather your unwanted things together, make sure they are in date/not too dusty/still in fashion and gift away. Let the guilt go – despite your worst fears Auntie Beryl isn’t going to pop round and demand to know why you’re not wearing your Britney Spears slippers but someone somewhere is going to be delighted with them! And you are one step closer to that clutter free home. It’s a Win Win situation.

When does ‘stuff’ become clutter…?

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One man’s clutter is another man’s treasure. Defining what counts as clutter is a personal thing – no general rules need apply here.

For example, we may have a client who collects a certain kind of ornament. To one person that would be considered clutter as it takes up space on the sideboards that could otherwise be clear. But to this client they are treasured possessions that are dearly loved and cherished and they are quite happy to give up the sideboard space for them.

Defining clutter is much more about how the ‘stuff’ in your home makes you feel. Let me ask you a few simple questions:

  • When you walk into your home do you feel instantly relaxed and comfortable?
  • Do you enjoy having people round?
  • Can you always find what you are looking for?
  • Do the possessions in your life bring you joy?
  • When you look around at the things you own, can you honestly say you use, need or love everything you possess?

If the answer is NO to any of the questions then you have some clutter in your life.

If you do not use it regularly, need it sometimes or love it all the time, it is time to question whether it should stay.

Why not try your own attempt at decluttering asking yourself these simple three questions for each item.

Remember – start small and you will be surprised how quickly you will gain momentum!

If you need some help with the decluttering process follow us on Twitter @Clutterfairyuk and Facebook for more helpful tips on how to beat the clutter for good. Better still, if you are in Manchester, Lancashire, Cheshire or North Wales, give us a call and we will gladly come around and help!

A Clutter Fairy – what exactly is that?

As I was looking around at stuff I wrote just after I set up the business 5 years ago, I came across this and I’m happy to say, absolutely nothing has changed (except the age of my kids!)

Hi, I’m Lesley Spellman, wife, daughter, friend and mum to three kids 15, 12 and 8. For a lot of years I spent my time at home raising my lovely family and trying to create a happy place to live and was more than content. Then, I woke up one morning and thought maybe the time had come to do something a bit different. Back to work? Hmmm? No Friday coffee, child care in the school holidays, getting bossed around – maybe not. So I then moved swiftly onto the option of setting up my own business. Advice from friends was always to do something I was passionate about. In the passion stakes my home has always been high on the list – it needs to be welcoming to me as well as others, it needs to be functional and it’s a bonus if it is beautiful. I love being with people, talking to them, finding out about what makes them tick, and hopefully in some cases helping them. Oh and I’ve always been a control freak…

With my passions in mind and my controlling nature in check, I set up my professional organising business, The Clutter Fairy. It’s the perfect name for my business– it encompasses to a tee what I aim to do for people – whilst providing a constant source of amusement to those who know me well. Lesley Spellman and Fairy- not a likely combination!

Most people have clutter in some shape or form – it’s hard to juggle all the demands made on women in twenty-first century life– but wouldn’t it be lovely to have someone wave a magic wand and make it all go away? But what takes people from moaning at the school gate about their clutter to picking up the phone and calling me? It’s all about the extent to which it is getting them down.

Every client has a different need – at one end of the scale I have clients who want to declutter, have a good idea of what needs to go and just want someone to keep them on track and ensure the job is done thoroughly. By booking an appointment, it reaches the top of their to do list and the job gets done. At the other end of the scale, I have clients who are completely overwhelmed, often to a point of depression, have no inkling of how, why, when or where to get started and are desperate to make a change. They have read all the books, watched the TV programmes, bought the storage solutions but are still knee deep in the stuff of life. That’s when they start searching for an alternative and hopefully find The Clutter Fairy.

So what does The Clutter Fairy do? Well, first and foremost it’s all about trust. By inviting a declutterer into your home you are laying your whole life out to bare. I visit the client’s home, we chat about how the clutter came about, we have a look at each room in the house, see if any of them work well, assess which are the main areas of concern and then chat about how the job can be done and how long it is likely to take. By the end of the initial consultation, the trust is established.

Once we get started together, we work methodically through each room until it’s complete. I challenge items I feel may be questionable. If you don’t use it often, need it sometimes or love it all the time, it’s up for question. But ultimately all decisions about what stays and what goes are not mine to make. We sort things into categories for rehoming – different room, charity shop, family or friends, ebay, recycling. Very little ends up in landfill. And the key to decluttering success is getting the stuff out of the house on that day.

Once a room is clutter free, it’s time to start organising things into a system that works with your lifestyle. If you have five school age kids and work full time, your needs are going to be very different to a retired couple or a student. While we are working together we talk a lot about habits, changing them if necessary and chat about some strategies that will make things easier to manage long term.

I love my job. I love the difference that I can make to someone in as little as a few hours. As trite as it may sound, with every bin liner that finds its way out of the front door, I can see a weight being gradually lifted from that person’s shoulders. Decluttering is not rocket science – it’s a straightforward process of change but sometimes you just need a helping hand.

Ten months down, two to go…

I shared with you at the beginning of 2014 that my two best friends decided to go without buying any clothes, shoes or accessories for a whole year. I knew it would be tough for them. I never had any doubt they would do it but I thought they would be chomping at the bit to be out there shopping on New Years Day but it seems as if it has been more profound than that. Here’s a Q and A with Mary:

What have you learnt most from your ten months of abstinence?

I’m now a firm believer in “Less is more”. It’s so much easier having less. It takes less time to get ready to go out. I don’t spend hours agonising about what to wear as I have limited choice. I have got rid of loads of stuff that I don’t need. It makes things so much simpler.

You used to love to treat yourself to something new for special occasions. Has that been the hardest part?

Dressing well will always be something that is important to me but I previously mistook that for wearing something new. This is a real eye opener for me. Last year, I would always buy a new outfit for a special event. Now I am getting so much more value out of the clothes I have and allowing myself to enjoy them more.

You used to spend a lot of leisure time shopping. Has the shopping ban made you change behaviour?

I embarked on this challenge at at time when there were some big changes to my family life. I wanted to make sure I didn’t fill my newly found spare time shopping. I wanted to do other things, more rewarding things. This process has helped me so much. I have joined a gym, started singing, got my chickens at last and have been much more focused in running my business. I don’t need the boost I felt from retail therapy any more. I have learnt to address my feelings instead of covering them up going shopping. I am focusing on my needs now too as well as the rest of the family’s and that’s made me a more confident person. I am in a much better place emotionally than last year because I have faced change head on instead of hiding behind a clothes splurge.

Have you saved money?

I’ve not really kept count but I’m sure I have. But for me, it wasn’t just about that – it was a personal challenge and has become a journey.

Would you recommend this to anyone for 2015?

I would wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone brave enough to do it. In fact a couple of friends are giving it a go on a month by month basis. Good luck to anyone who wants to challenge themselves.