My mother loves to shop and to collect items for the home. The home is her world, particularly as she is a lot less mobile as she gets older. When she had finished buying items for our modest bungalow, she then proceeded to fill a doll’s house full of stuff and then a mini doll’s house on the side. She is also a great collector and her china cabinet has a large assortment of china dogs and Beatrix Potter figurines. Collecting is my mum’s passion and at 79 she is unlikely to change now (and some may argue why should she). I on the other hand have little interest in collecting china, nor do I particularly crave a plethora of soft furnishings. In this respect, I could claim that I definitely do not take after my mother in terms of cluttering habits. Or do I..?
Our attitudes to clutter can often be formed at a very young age and usually stems from our own parents’ or guardian’s ways of acquiring and organising their possessions. If you are raised in a cluttered, or messy environment you may grow up rejecting any form of disorder in your home and become obsessed by neatness and tidiness. However this is quite an extreme reaction. A lot of people find that, although consciously they choose not to follow the example of a parent who shopped too much and gave nothing away, they may find that subconsciously they are prone to repeating the very same patterns of behaviour.
Initially I decided I was nothing like my mother, but when I thought about it further, I could see similar patterns. For example my mother hates to presents, or items that were owned by loved ones who have now passed on. This makes no sense I tell myself. And then I just can’t bring myself to part with a china seahorse that once belonged to my grandmother and find myself feeling guilty giving away unwanted gifts.
Also, whenever I visit my mother I see a home packed with stuff. A bit like my own. Yes I am sorting through my clutter bit by bit and have already given bags of stuff away to charity, but it still feels like the tip of the iceberg. Part of the problem was when I moved in to my flat, my mother shipped all stuff I was keeping at her house. Stuff that I had quite happily forgotten about and hadn’t dealt with the first time. Add a baby and a husband into the mix and my flat was bulging with possessions. I didn’t mean it to happen, but it did. And just like my mum’s house I also have multiple items inherited from relatives that I find it hard to part with. Once again the pattern is looking rather familiar…
Take a look at your own clutter habits and ask yourself who you have inherited them from. Understanding the problem can sometimes be the first step to treating it.