Truth be told, I used to be a disorganised, chaotic kinda 'hot mess'.
I loved to shop, but refused to get rid of a thing … aaand I didn't have an organising bone in my body. Back then, if you’d have told me that one day I’d get rid of 80% of my possessions, I’d have laughed in your face.
Not so long ago, I thought a "Minimalist" was a social outcast... who'd use their finger for a toothbrush.
I was your typical working mum. I checked my phone every 10 minutes and had a hard time sitting through an activity with my kids. Actually, I could hardly ever sit still. There was always something to do. And getting it all done meant I needed to be on my feet 24/7.
The sweeping. The wiping. The washing. The mopping. The packing. The stacking. The sorting. The organising. The folding…
There were work things to sort. Kids things to sort. There were the social things. The letterbox things. Then there was the cooking. Shopping. Bills. Banks. Newsletters and texts about playdates. Then in between it all this there were the actual physical things. Things that broke. Things that wore out. Things that needed updating. Mending. Dusting. Wiping. Things that would catch my attention.
Once the kids were in bed, I'd fall in a heap on the couch eating or drinking some really unhealthy as a way of escaping it all.
It all seems so obvious now. But at the time I couldn’t see the wood for all the trees. I had no idea what was really at the source of all my problems.
Back then, I would've said that being at home, was stressful.
It was almost easier being at work. It wasn't that I didn't love my family, or that I didn't have dreams and goals for my life. It was just that... well... there was never really any time to do all the meaningful things with the kids... or to be creative with things that interested me.
But I was just always …busy... doing things ... things that I didn’t really want to do.
My little babies seemed to be growing up at lightning speed. Soon they were off to Kindy, and then later on, to "Big" school.
And, if anything, life was only getting busier.
Somedays I'd look at them, and think to myself, that there was going to come a day where they'd fly this little little nest of ours… and I'd be wondering why I didn’t let the laundry stay on the line, why I didn’t just leave the dusting, and the mopping. And wonder exactly WHY I didn't spend more time outside with them, in their world.
But see, it always seemed to come down to a choice.
I knew if I chose the housework I'd feel guilty because I wasn't playing with my kids. But then I knew if I chose to play with the kids, I'd feel overwhelmed and grumpy.
I spent my weekdays at work. And that meant... I’d spend the mornings resembling that cartoon character 'Godzilla' grouching at my kids to hurry up and get ready, clean your room, pack your school bag and find your homework.
Heaven forbid if they couldn't and they made me late....
I’d sometimes wind up yelling and afterwards I’d feel so terrible and guilty…
Of course, they'd always forgive me, but that never made it ok.
In the afternoons I’d drive them to tennis, or dancing, or wherever it was they needed to be. Or we’d do some grocery shopping, or we’d just remembering in the nick of time that we had to buy a birthday present, or something for school, or we’d have to make something for dress up day at school, or an assembly item, or there was a last minute homework item that I didn’t know about.
Then after that, I’d cook dinner… and then I’d clean up… (and then continue to clean up.)
They’d look at me with their large brown eyes ... hopeful. “Mummy, can you jump on the trampoline with us?”
But tomorrow never seemed to come along.
This dilemma seemed like a weird one to bring up over coffee with my girlfriends … I mean everyone knew being a Mum was hectic.. and busy.. and stressful and overwhelming .... my life was just normal ..wasn't it?
No it wasn't normal.
But it was common.
And when something is commonly done by those around us, we begin to think that it is normal and then if it's normal, we assume that it must be natural and so, we don’t end up questioning it.
Anyway, I knew what they'd say... "Ohhh Emma... Go and do something for yourself." "Get a massage." Treat yourself, you work really hard. You deserve it."
Sadly, this seems to be our answer for all the stress and overwhelm in our lives doesn't it?
In the moment, it was tempting to do. Save for a holiday, where I could forget about life for a week. Or recharge with a massage, girls night or perhaps a night of indulgence with food or friends.
And that's what's Minimalism has given me. See there's only two ways to get rid of that listless, drab, heavy feeing.
1. Constantly escaping by spending money on holidays, food, experiences and indulgences.
2. Get rid of the stress and overwhelm at the root level. At the source.
But it meant going against the herd.
See, in a world obsessed with quick fixes, and magic pills, not many choose to go for the long term option because it may be uncomfortable, inconvenient and maybe a little time consuming.
Yes, it did take some time, and yes it did take overcoming some hurdles.
And while yes, I now spend very little time on housework, and yes it's a piece of cake to keep my house clean and tidy, and yes everything in my house has a place and it's so easy to maintain it all... this is not why I created this website and have the urge to scream about the benefits of Minimalism from the mountaintops!
It's not so much what Minimalism has given me, but who I've become because of it.
I'm the Mum I've always wanted to be.
And I'm learning that life is less about the big things, and more about the little moments between them.
There's an intention and purpose in my life now. I'm no longer the feather being blown around in the wind. I can feel it in the way I raise my kids as well as in the daily activities of my life. I didn’t even know how badly this was lacking before.
And it's weird you know. When I threw away all the old lipsticks, tupperware, books, clothes, shoes, and crap around the house I didn't need... a lot of other things went away with them. They weren't physical items, but they were things I'd carried for WAY too long... GUILT, WORRY, STRESS, OVERWHELM, INHIBITION, DOUBT, FEAR....
And I can tell you, since they've gone, life hasn't been quite the same.
And while I got rid of so many items, it was what remained that changed it all.
All the stuff I loved, and I could appreciate it a lot more now because it wasn't being drowned out by all the Clutter.
There was one thing in particular that stopped me in my tracks.
It was a notebook.
And over the years I'd written in it. Written ideas. Because, deep down, there was something I'd always wanted to try.
But I never told anyone, because it was so silly and ridiculous. Also I was too fearful of how I'd look and what everyone would think of me if I did.
What was it?
To try STAND UP COMEDY.
It's a little hard to describe how decluttering led to the confidence to finally try this.
But when you begin intentionally questioning all the physical items in your home, you begin to question why you agree to obligations you simply do not want to commit to. You declutter your entire life.
And spending less time on things you don't want, gives you more drive and confidence to do what you DO want to do.
And, at the age of 40, I've found something that totally lights me up.
I'm sorry to say that this story doesn't end with me hosting the Oscars or winning a prestigious prize, or mixing with famous celebrities.
In fact, this story doesn't really end at all. It's just to say that I can now go out and do something I really enjoy doing, JUST because it's fun and exciting.
Comedy takes me out myself, it tests my limits, allows me to be creative and find stories inside.
It's also something that makes me remember I'm not perfect, and even so, I can still laugh. And I can still enjoy life. Ironically, it's the hot mess I once was that is the person I am up on the stage.
And I think that when other people laugh with me, they are able to laugh at themselves. And I think we all have to be able to do that if we can move forward with our lives.
For none of us here are perfect.
If you have the urge to release the clutter in your home and to stop feeling like a slave to the housework and maintenance side of your life, I can say, wholeheartedly that you are in the right place.
I know just how difficult it can be to get started. How difficult it can be to know where to start, to battle the overwhelm and how to deal with all the different emotions and roadblocks that come up along the way.
THAT's why I created the (FREE) 7 Day Decluttering Challenge. And I'm so pleased with the momentum it's building and how it's kickstarting people into decluttering action!
The secret behind the challenge is in just doing one small, achievable task each day. One that takes little effort, but is designed to maximise results.
I'd love it if you joined us all and began to feel the sense of lightness and calm that so many others currently are.
The very idea of transforming your life so you can live this way excites me like nothing else.
But just know, you are in for so much more. I mostly look forward to the days that you begin to look deep down into what it is that sets you on fire. And then you begin to go after it with renewed confidence and vigour.
For there really is no other way to live.