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  • Writer's pictureJo Hall

Decluttering & Organising - 3 things a declutter expert wishes she'd known years ago!

Updated: Oct 12, 2023

Holding on to childhood toys & books - my parents kindly "allowed" me to keep all the toys and books from my childhood, it sounds strange writing that, but what I mean by allowed, is that they didn't hesitate in letting me put anything I wanted to up in their attic for indefinite storage. I'm one of four children, so multiply that by four and that's an attic full of stuff!

Maybe they did this because they themselves, for whatever reason, hadn't kept much from their own childhood, I'm not sure. What I do know, is that I really appreciated this (and I still do). Once my own daughter was born, I loved being able to go back to my parents' house, have a good rummage around in the boxes and pull out the things that I myself had loved playing with.

BUT (and this is the thing I wish I'd known), whilst a two or three year old is generally happy to play with whatever you give them, by the time they reach five, six, seven, they very much have their own ideas. So there's no point in keeping absolutely everything, especially books and toys that are aimed at older children.

Let me give you a couple of examples, I spent hours and I mean literally hours and hours in my bedroom or in the garden playing with Sindy and Barbie dolls, so I kept them all of them, sure that if I ever had a daughter, she would also be amused with them for hours? How wrong could I be, not interested in them whatsoever! As a seven,/eight/nine year old, I was "in love with" the Hardy Boys and scoured car boot sales, in order to be involved in more of their adventures. Surely my daughter couldn't fail to thank me for holding on to my entire collection! Wrong again, I couldn't persuade her to read a single one!

Barbie Sindy Tiny Tears retro toys vintage

Of course there were some toys that I had kept that she loved and certain books that did become firm favourites, but the message here is, don't keep everything. Times change and children are their own people, with their own tastes and preferences.

My advice to my former self would be to keep a variety (more of a taster), of the sorts of toys and books I used to read and play with, but don't keep entire collections.

If, when the time comes, your children or grandchildren do become interested in a certain type of toy, you'll have fun sourcing more to add to those you've kept.

101 Cleaning products? - imagine the money I'd have saved, if I'd realised years ago, that the majority of household cleaning can be done using baking soda and white wine vinegar! Yep that's right and it doesn't take up as much storage space. Oh and by the way, it's better for the environment as so much plastic packaging waste comes comes from cleaning products. Have I even mentioned yet that it's better for your health as it's all natural and chemical free?

Why do so many cleaning products exist I hear you ask, ever heard of marketing? I had, in fact I've got a degree in it, but just like you, it didn't stop me buying a different spray for the bath, the shower, windows, surfaces, the list goes on and on!

Meal planning - this is without doubt one of the secrets to a stress free (and healthy life)! How do you feel when it gets towards the end of the day and one of you kids says "what's for tea"? They all do it don't they and they have no idea what is actually involved in getting that wonderfully nutritious plate of food on the table in front of them on time! It relies on having the idea for what to cook in the first place, having the necessary ingredients in stock in your fridge, at the right time (and in the right quantities) and then doing the food preparation.

kitchen storage retro vintage glass jars

Sounds simple doesn't it, so why is it something that causes so many of us so much stress? If I'd taken the steps necessary to put a meal planning process in place, I'd have avoided many years of stress when my daughter was younger.

Meal planning relies on having a good shopping list, which is in turn made easier by having a decluttered and well organised kitchen. I wrote a guest blog on this earlier in the year for Lunchbox Doctor: How Cluttered is Your Kitchen? for help with meal planning why not download my Meal Planner & Guide.

Jo Hall is a Professional Home Organiser and Clutter Free Living expert 🏠

If you would love to have a really good sort out but don't know where to start, or maybe you've made a great start with it, but have since lost your way, Jo can help!

Jo works online with clients worldwide 🌍 via 1:1 sessions, DIY resources and group courses 👩‍💻 Guiding overwhelmed people to break free from the burden of stuff.

Get in touch to fix up a no obligation chat: Less Is More

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