When I tell people that I work as a declutterer and organiser one of the first things many say is
“I would never want you to see in my house !”
GOSH – this got me thinking! Is it me? Perhaps they believe my pad to be perfect. (It’s absolutely NOT by the way). As I delve a little further I discover there are usually quite a few people they don’t want entering their abode. But WHY and how widespread is this?
In this blog I try and unpick how we feel about our homes, how this affects our lives and what can be done to improve the situation.
I very quickly discovered that it’s hard to find credible data in this area. My first useful statistics appeared from a bit of UK research by Dulux (2013). It brings up some pretty interesting results. 7/10 Brits say they are ashamed of their home and nearly half don’t invite family around because of its state. Respondents were most embarrassed by their bedrooms, followed by bathrooms and then lounges. The caveat here is that this study was done by a paint manufacturer which did have more of a slant towards décor rather than clutter but it still provides an important glimmer of an insight into our emotions regarding our HOME.
The next “niche” report google offered me was conducted by Sugru (2015) in the US – no I‘d never heard of them either. Incidentally, they make mouldable glue! Their headline result pointed out that 61% of Americans in their study avoided inviting friends and family round because of their HOME SHAME. What was more saddening is that 62% feel that they will NEVER get their home to a point where they would no longer be ashamed of it.
General MESS and UNTIDINESS were cited as the main reason for their home shame. If these figures are reflected in the wider community then that is a heck of lot of people. And listen to this – nearly a third of respondents said they pretended to be out when someone they knew knocked on the door to avoid them seeing the state of their pad !
Finally let’s hop over to the other side of the globe to a piece in the Sydney Morning Herald. (16th May 2016). This highlighted that 59% of women stated there was a room in the house that they didn’t like visitors to see because of the clutter. They also unearthed that 4/10 Aussies feel guilty, anxious or depressed about their clutter. Another revelation here was that respondents would rather RELOCATE their stuff than DEAL with it.
To sum up so far, it appears that the majority of people suffer from negative feelings about the state of their homes at times. It doesn’t matter whether you’re young, free and single, in the midst of a hectic family life with young kids or empty nesters – it affects us all. And this is impacting on how we all live, in particular with those vital in-person connections.
Since working as an organiser I too have noticed that I have plenty of moments of feeling our home is not up to scratch. I ponder if my place is not purring away like a show home then how on earth can I help others? I do recognise I am a “work in progress” and accept that I’m not the only one to feel this self-doubt. BUT I don’t hang around long with those negative feelings. I replace my thoughts with something much more positive and uplifting which then allows my passion for simplifying and sorting to bubble back to the top.
WHAT CAN WE DO TO IMPROVE OUR SITUATION
· If you feel bad about the state of your place then it’s highly likely that plenty of your circle are feeling like that too – so let’s get this out, let’s talk about it. “A problem shared is a problem halved” - It may be an old saying but there’s quite a bit of evidence to suggest that sharing your anxieties is a great way to beat stress. On top of that, sharing with someone who’s experiencing those similar thoughts to you can provide an even higher level of relief.
· Don’t believe everything you THINK. Thoughts pop up in our minds all day long and we have a tendency to believe them but thoughts are NOT statements of fact. Indeed the mind can be quite a convincing liar ! It is these thoughts that cause our FEELINGS - embarrassment, sadness, etc. Identify your thoughts in relation to your home shame and explore as to how valid they really are. Is your mess really as bad as you mind is making out ? Challenge your thinking. You can change the way you react so that your thoughts serve you better. If you believe that your house organisation and tidiness is good enough then this can transform the way you feel.
· Prioritising. Investing a little time to work out what the important features are in your life right now is hugely worthwhile. Let’s say you have 2 children under 5 and you’re just back in full time employment. Accept that this may be a period where you let your house standards drop in some areas so that you can embrace the things that really matter – bathtime, walks in the leaves, stories, date night, manicure – whatever it is you have identified as vital for you and your families wellbeing.
· Get help. There is plenty of advice out there from all sorts of places that can enable you to move forward. The internet is awash with top tips, ideas, rules and extensive recommendations on how best to organise your house. Sometimes, the hard bit is working out exactly what you need to work on!
Professional organisers or clutter coaches are a brilliant resource to call on if you want more clarity and a motivational boost. We combine that crucial second pair of eyes with a wealth of knowledge and practical skills to enable you to take on the work that will make a difference to how you feel. APDO has a register of UK organisers near you.
So STOP WAITING for your place to be perfect. It’s not about impressing your friends. If you don’t invite people in then it’s a lose-lose situation for all involved. We don’t want to let “home shame” stop us connecting.
Let’s begin TODAY and commit to opening up – on all fronts !
As always I would love to hear from you on this topic.