Clearing clutter might sound like something that’s just a ‘nice have’ and not exactly something that is a matter of life or death.
Well, you’d be surprised. For a start, decluttering has been proven to help people lose weight and get healthy as you can see here.
But I also know from my work with Women Taking Action – a fundraising group of women that supports Family Partners (workers) at Action for Children – that decluttering is one of the things that the Partners always have to do when they help vulnerable families.
It’s a recurring theme: families that are not coping have always accumulated many piles of stuff that is often strewn about the floor or in bags. They also have cluttered and confused financial situations. One of the first things that the Partners have to do is to help them declutter, physically and mentally, so that calm, order and money-saving are instilled in the home.
From this position the family is better able to cope and is more likely to be able to stay together and grow.
Here’s an example of one of those stories, written by one of the Family Partners. It’s about Mary (name has been changed) who is 24.
Mary is a single 24-year-old mum living with ADHD and autism. She has three healthy children under the age of five but after a very difficult year Mary found herself tired, overwhelmed and began hoarding.
It all started when Mary found out that she was pregnant with her first child in 2010. As a new mother she was very excited and set about buying new clothes for her baby and made sure that everything was just right.
After her first daughter arrived Mary enjoyed two years of parental bliss. It wasn’t long until she found out that she was pregnant with her second daughter – she was thrilled to be welcoming another baby into her life.
Mary couldn’t wait and like most mums recycled her eldest daughter’s clothes for her new arrival. With good intentions she wanted to give away anything that didn’t fit but quickly fell into buying new clothes for her second daughter and then her son, who was born in 2014.
As the pressures of being a parent of three very young children built up Mary didn’t make it to the charity shops and started to stock pile all the full bags of clothes in her room to make some space.
In four years Mary had amassed 16 bags of old clothes which she put in various rooms around the house and various amounts of clutter which was stopping her from keeping her house clean and safe for her children.
Mary’s support worker saw that she was struggling and urged her to seek support from Action for Children.
Last year Mary met Lucy Edwards at Action for Children’s Family Partners project. The project is solely funded by ‘Women Taking Action’, a group of influential and inspiring women who are taking a collective stand, with Action for Children, to supporting children and their families before a crisis arises.
With the help of Lucy, Mary was able to clear the clutter. With a clean clear space for her children to play, learn and thrive in Mary was given the peace of mind she wanted and began to relax in her revamped home. Lucy was vital to this turnaround, without the trust that she built with Mary, Mary wouldn’t have been able to make these positive changes which were implemented before a crisis point was reached.
Mary said: “At the time my eldest daughter was displaying behavioural problems and I was in and out of the doctors with my own health problems – everything just got on top of me and I didn’t know where to start with clearing out my house. With Lucy’s help I’ve been able to declutter the house but more importantly provide a safe and clean environment for my kids to grow up in.”
As a member of Women Taking Action, I know Mary’s story very well and she, as well as many other people who get overwhelmed by clutter, are the reason why I’m organising the UK’s first declutter day. On Saturday 19th March I will aim to empower people by giving them the tips they need to clear their clutter. You can find out more here.
“People spend a significant proportion of time searching for and retrieving misplaced items within the home – time spent searching is time that could be spent on other tasks.” Darryl Brunt, UK Sales & Marketing Director at Fellowes UK
National Clear Your Clutter Day has partnered for the second year running with charity; Action for Children. If you would like to donate some of the money you make from selling your clutter you can find out how to do that here.